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A Beginner's Guide to Hand-lettering with a Focus on Artistic Expression

Editor's Note: Make sure you have your audio on for this...

Hand-lettering is a form of artistic expression that combines the elements of calligraphy, typography, and illustration to create a unique and expressive piece of art. It offers endless creative possibilities, from simple quotes to elaborate designs, making it an accessible and enjoyable form of artistic expression for anyone. As a result, its popularity has grown in recent years.

Not only is it a fun and creative way to express yourself, but it can also be a powerful tool for promoting many ideas and perspectives to the general public and potential clients. This micro-guide will explore how I hand-lettered a meaningful Bible verse that effectively reminded us of our shared experiences and possibly promoted racial equality.

On a recent Sunday, Philippians 3:14 was a takeaway verse from our pastor at First Pres, Tim McConnell. This powerful verse speaks to humanity's journey and the importance of striving toward our ultimate goal. The verse reads, "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." This verse serves as a reminder of the importance of perseverance and determination, even when faced with obstacles and challenges.

Hand-lettering can be a powerful tool for getting the word out. We can visually represent our common humanity and promote racial equality by handlettering quotes and verses that speak to our shared experiences and struggles. This is particularly important in today's world, where division and hate remain pervasive.


My Process for Handlettering Philippians 3:14

Hand-lettering this verse (or segment of a verse) was a fun and meaningful experience, and it's easy to get started, even if you're a beginner. Here's my process for this piece:

A. Gather Supplies

You will need basic hand-lettering supplies, including a pen, paper, ruler, and pencil. If you are new to handlettering, investing in a calligraphy pen or brush pen may also help you achieve a consistent and professional-looking script. I started using this art form in 2014 with a simple collection of ink pens, brush pens, and Molskein notebooks. Later, I acquired an iPad once I realized I wanted to make a living from modern calligraphy and handlettering. So the iPad was my primary tool in executing this design.

B. Choose Your Story

Take some time to reflect on the meaning of Philippians 3:14 and how it relates to your journey.

  • What about the words that you are planning to create stand out to you?

  • What is the key message you want to communicate?

  • Do you need to present the entire text, or will keywords suffice?

Let your mind and heart expand with images, ideas, and colors...perhaps listen to some music. Experiment with different styles, fonts, and designs until you find the one that best captures your vision.

C. Practice Your Lettering

Practice your lettering on a separate piece of paper or scratch pad before you start your final piece. I messed up many pieces of parchment or watercolor paper, thinking I knew exactly what I wanted to produce, only to find out there was a bit of "finessing" that needed to happen.

Focus on creating consistent letter shapes, spacing, and sizing. In my case, the iPad was my "scratch pad" for generating ideas. Regarding style, I was looking to replicate a 30s type font, something reminiscent of Art Deco typography.

D. Finalize Your Design

Once satisfied with your lettering, trace your design onto your final piece of paper or surface using a lightbox or tracing paper. Fill in your letters using your chosen pen or brush pen.

E. Share Your Art

Share your hand-lettered piece on social media or with friends and family. Inspire others to join you in promoting diversity and inclusion through artistic expression.


Artistic Prompts and Using Midjourney to Generate Images

In addition to traditional handlettering, there are other ways to incorporate graphic artistry into your creative expression.

The Midjourney platform allows you to generate images based on keywords and phrases. You can use this tool to create images that best serve the concept you are trying to develop.

In this case, I wanted to promote diversity in the imagery. I entered my prompt, using specific words indicating race and gender, decided on my preferred design style (in this case, I was looking for a 1930s-styled poster), and let Midjourney generate a series of images to select from or refine.

Check out some of the "runners-up*" for imagery. Click the image on the left to get an enlarged view of the options.

I then used this image, creating and drawing the ribbon element and adjusting other elements in Procreate to get the style and focus the way I wanted.

Hand-lettering the keywords and deciding their location to direct the eye to the runner was one way to promote inclusion through artistic expression. Here is the final piece:

Whether you're a seasoned hand-lettering pro or a beginner, you likely have everything you need to get started on your own hand-lettered project. So gather your supplies, choose your design, practice your lettering, and share your art with the world.

My love of #moderncalligraphy and the desire to make some never before seen #lettering like this is my chance to create some #goodtype with #procreate. This #handmadefont is #oneofakind and #handlettered on my #ipadpro because #typematters.


TOOLS || iPad pro 10.5 / #applepencil

APPS || @procreate @splice_app @mid.journey / music "The Rising" by Joel Martinson on Splice

BRUSHES || @stefankunz @ianbernard @visualtimmy

CONTACT || for links to view other designs, check out items from my #Etsy store, or contact me for #commissions, or allow me to come up with something for your business or home!

*See what I did there? #dadhumor

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