On Hand Lettering Everyday


On January 1, 2012, I started this crazy project here on my blog called 365 Days of Hand Lettering. Recently, I’ve been getting lots emails and tweets from folks interested in learning more about my daily hand lettering process, so I thought I’d talk a little today about what the experience has been like for me since I started 114 days ago.

Truth be told, when I started this project, I had no idea how challenging it was going to be. I’m not sure what’s more challenging: having to think of something new to post every day or the actual process of hand lettering my ideas.

Here’s how it works for me most days: I get up at about 6:30 in the morning. My partner brings me coffee (she gets up much earlier than I do). I grab my pencil/pen cases and paper from beside my bed, and I hand letter something for the day. Then I walk over to my scanner, scan what I have made, clean it up in Photoshop, and post it on this blog.

There are, of course, days when I can’t get up and hand letter something first thing in the morning, so I might work on something the night before. If I’m about to travel I might even prepare 2-6 posts at one time in advance of my trip.

But generally, it’s a pretty simple and straightforward daily practice.

I get lots of questions about the project. Here are a few of the most frequent:

+What materials do you use?

Most of my materials are pictured above. Depending on the style, I use pencils, pens and ink. Erasers and blender “stumps” are handy when I letter in pencil. Simple fine-tipped pens are my favorite lettering tool, and the ones that I have ended up using most often.

+Do you trace or copy?

I don’t trace when I hand letter. I do copy (look at reference) when I am attempting a traditional form of calligraphy, like Copperplate. But about 97% of what I letter is my own design.

+How is the project different than what you thought it might be?

I thought I’d be doing A LOT more traditional calligraphy. I have found working with ink and nibs pretty challenging & frustrating, and I prefer pencils and pens and working in my own styles. I began the project working exclusively with ink and nibs and brushes. I only use them about 1-2 times a month now.

+Do you feel like your hand lettering is improving or changing?

YES! Whenever you practice something every day, your skills will improve inevitably. I also feel like I am beginning to develop my own styles of hand lettering.

+Are you enjoying yourself? Or do you ever feel like you want to quit?

Hand lettering everyday is a lot more challenging than I thought it would be. Some days it feels really fun. Some days it feels like a chore (and I have to redo something 5 times to get it as right as I can). I do like the discipline of the process. When I did my first daily project in 2010, I felt the same way. The daily encouragement from people who read my blog and follow me on twitter also helps tremendously!

+How do you decide what to hand letter each day?

It’s totally random for the most part! One week I focused on “days of the week” as a theme, and I might do something like that again. But usually it’s whatever strikes me that day. If I have time, I might letter a long poem or an elaborate letter. If I am in a hurry, it’s usually short and simple.

I have enjoyed lettering poems a lot lately. Who knows what will be next!

+Will you teach a hand lettering class?

Probably not, or not at least for a long time. I am far, far, far from being an expert at lettering. I am self-taught and I need a lot more practice and refinement before I’m ready to teach others.

+Do you take commissions for hand lettering (e.g: a tattoo design or wedding vows)?

Yes. Just email me with your idea and we can discuss timeline and fee.


I have 251 days left, people. Thank you for your continued support.