Since I started my hand-lettering journey back in August, I’ve made a lot of mistakes and learned a LOT of tricks. Since the new year is coming up (can you believe 2016 is almost over???) I figured I’d share my progress with you, as well as some of the things I’ve learned over the last 5-6 months.
#1. Open an Instagram account, yesterday.
I know it seems silly to start an IG just for lettering, but trust me, you will be grateful that you started one early on. I keep my lettering/business IG separate from my personal IG, just so that people aren’t spammed with family stuff when all they want is art-related stuff. If you link your IG to timehop, in a year you’ll be able to see your progress and be blown away by how much better you’ve gotten.
#2. Don’t be discouraged!
The hand-lettering journey can be super discouraging in the beginning. (We all know my slow-going beginnings). When I opened my first Tombow brush pen and tried using it for lettering, I almost cried at how my handwriting looked. There’s a huge learning curve to writing with a brush pen that isn’t there when you’re writing with a standard pen on paper. Stick it out!! I’m amazed when I look back at my first pieces. Amazed and also really embarrassed, because I was totally posting those on social media for everyone to see. But don’t be afraid to post, because everyone has to start somewhere, and you will be encouraging another beginner to post and feel proud of their work!
#3. Follow your #goals.
I follow hundreds of people on Instagram. When I first started really getting into IG, I was mainly following bullet journalists. However, as I got into hand lettering, the majority of the accounts that I follow are hand-letterers and calligraphers. Some of my favorite hand-lettering artists are @theblushingscript, @lettersbyshells, @lesliewritesitall, and @everytuesday.
#4. Keep practicing, but don’t feel guilty about taking a break.
Sometimes we get stuck in a rut, and stepping away from our work is the best thing to keep us from getting burned out. I use several different tools to hand letter. Sometimes I used a pointed pen, other times I go the opposite way and use my iPad to create digital lettering pieces. When I get “writer’s block” with one tool, I like to switch to something else. I find this to be really helpful when I get frustrated or feel like a piece isn’t coming out the way I envision it.
#5. Different strokes for different folks.
Some tools that I love or swear by might not work for you. That’s fine! You might hate the pentel touch sign pen, or you might love the prismacolor brush marker. There are so many tools out there that work for different people. And just because someone on Instagram uses a product, that doesn’t mean that you should jump up and spend $10+ on the same item. I’ve gone out and bought pens and thought “why the heck does this person love this thing so much? It sucks!” We all have different preferences for tip flexibility, “juiciness”, etc. Find what works for you and stick with it!
#6. Keep you artwork, even if you think it sucks.
This kind of goes hand-in-hand with starting your IG account. If you don’t keep the actual pieces on paper, at least photograph them so that you have a way to look back on it later for comparison. I kept pieces that I thought sucked, as well as just random scraps of paper. I also threw a lot away, which I really regret now that I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress.
#7. When you practice, practice the entire alphabet.
This may sound like an odd tip, but practice writing out the alphabet in both capital and lowercase letters. You don’t have to do drills (like writing out the alphabet over and over). Just try to write the entire alphabet once every month or two. This will help you to see your progress very clearly later on.
A little peek at my 6-month progress:
Here’s a little before/after of my progress so far.