Basic Hand Lettering reference sheet

I woke up early today and thought I’d organise my ideas about basic hand lettering into a reference sheet, and this is what I’ve come up with.

The foundation of hand lettering, to my mind at least, is to practice, practice, practice drawing your basic letter shapes, both upper and lower case. Bullet journaling can be a good way to practice hand lettering and to try out variations in letter forms and styles. My current bullet journal is very functional and minimal, but I do use different letter styles in the headings for each day and collections and so on. Mind you, I could do with a lot more practice.

Notice is said your basic letter shapes, not my basic letter shapes The reason I say this is that the more I’ve struggled with my hand lettering and it not looking like other peoples, the more I’ve come to realise that it’s MY hand lettering, my style, that I need to work on.

Yes, I draw inspiration from other people’s work, but at the end of the day I’d like my hand lettering to be mind, with my ‘stamp’ on it, my uniqueness, my quirkiness, my imperfections.

I struggled with this idea in the early years of my artistic journey, and now I’ve realised I’m having the same struggle with my hand lettering.

Hand lettering is exactly that – done by hand, not by machine. If I want perfect letters, then I can use fonts on the computer. What I can’t have is perfect hand lettering as in perfect like a computer font. 

What I need to work on accepting is that my hand lettering is good enough, it’s human, it’s an expression of myself.

I spent a lot of time and effort in my teenage years to change my handwriting. I realised it looked a lot like my mothers. I didn’t want to be anything like my mother, even down to my handwriting, which actually is more like fast hand lettering as I really do draw each letter. I gave up joined-up cursive writing at this time too. My handwriting isn’t entirely print, some letters do get joined up.

I came up with my own style of writing that I like, mostly. It’s usually teeny-tiny too, so writing BIG is a problem for me.

Hand lettering is, for me, an extension of my own style of printing/drawing my letters.

This doesn’t sit all that well with me at this moment, but it feels more authentic to me.

I want to use my own letter shapes as the basis for my own hand lettering, along with all the imperfections that my bring. After all, it’s all the little imperfections in my drawings that make them uniquely mine, that make them human. Even when I draw digitally I make sure that there are imperfections in my work – the slightly wobbly lines, the imperfect circles and shapes and so on.

I am working on having the same kind of attitude towards hand lettering and stop thinking that mine has to be perfect like computer fonts, that it is just another way of artistic expression and perfectly imperfect.

Notice that I say this is about me and my attitude towards myself and my hand lettering. I’m not criticising anyone who has different opinions. I just know I can be incredibly hard on and brutally critical of myself.

It’s so easy in this day and age with so much available on social media that you compare yourself to others and judge yourself as seriously inferior or a failure. As my inner critic already believes that I am a failure and useless at anything I do and tells me this, it can be a lot harder for me to believe that what I create is good enough. I believe that about my drawings, I don’t believe that about my hand lettering, yet.

What I’d like to achieve is hand lettering that stands out as being ‘Angela Porter’ and for me to be comfortable with my hand lettering, not worrying that it’s nowhere near even good enough.

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