I miss my handwriting!
I used to love my handwriting and enjoyed writing a personal note and addressing it with flair without any effort involved. It was a natural extension of my personal style – the flow from my brain to pen to paper. I enjoyed doing it and seeing the pretty script of others arrive in the mail or a note set on my desk at work and being able to recognize immediately who wrote it just by their handwriting.
What happened? Computers, email, and smart phones are making our handwriting obsolete – a lost art. Even our signatures can be digitally created nowadays. I don’t want this to happen, but there seems to be less and less need to reach for a pretty pen and paper when a few strokes on a keyboard does it all for us. In my daily life, the only thing that seems to get written down anymore – pen to paper is my grocery list tacked to my refrigerator or a quick note left on the counter to remind my hubby or kids to do something.
I can’t bear to see handwriting become obsolete. I want to start or be part of the “Save our handwriting revolution!”
Handwriting is as much a part of our personal style as how we decorate our home or what we choose to wear. It can tell so much about us. The way we form our letters and put them together so they flow into words is truly an extension of our personal style that I miss seeing in myself and others. It is one thing that we can claim as truly our own
A reader left me a comment recently wanting to know if I knew of a site where she could get a font of her handwriting. I love fonts and they have become wildly popular as a way to express our style digitally. I think we or at least us visual types also need our very own font of our real handwriting as a way to express ourselves online and a chance to say –” look” – “this is me” -“who I am” – “my style”.
I have been intentionally trying to find more ways to put pen to paper over the past few weeks. I do write in my daily planner and that gives me some personal satisfaction.
I follow a few stationery blogs – they always have such inspiring images. Recently on PaperTasteBuds they posted about one of their Paperfinger lettering workshops. Doesn’t it look like fun event? Girlfriends being creative, wine, and pretty handwriting. Seeing this tells me I am not alone in my love for handwritten script.
My love of handwriting goes back to when I was just a kid. I remember Santa bringing me a book about handwriting analysis when I was in junior high. I found it fascinating that every single time you put pen to paper, you are revealing a little bit about yourself.
You may be saying to yourself that your handwriting is awful and that there is no help for you. I like to think about it this way. Our handwriting is a bit like our body type. We can’t choose it, but we can exercise to get in shape – same with your handwriting – a little practice and learning some new techniques will get your handwriting in shape in no time.
How to Improve Your Handwriting:
As a creative blogger, I receive books to review from time to time. I only review the ones I like and this one, Creative Lettering – Techniques & Tips From Top Artists arrived on my doorstop last week. I never know what book is going to be in the package and was quite excited when I opened this, since improving my handwriting has been on my mind lately. It was one of those meant-to-be moments.
I have been practicing what I learned in the book.
The best way to start trying to make your handwriting prettier is to simply start writing with a pen or pencil more. Gather some pens to find out which one feels right in your hand and that flows across the paper nicely for you.
If you don’t have a favorite – try a fountain pen or calligraphy marker. I like the markers made by Sanford and one that is called – Elegant Writer. I buy them at the craft store. Most writing looks much better right away with one of these pen’s intense ink and slight variation in width because of the flat nib.
My favorite pens are called Penstix’s. They are made with India Ink. I don’t have a photo of them, but you can find one in this post: Hand Lettering an Envelope for a Wedding or Graduation
If you know how to write the alphabet, all you need is a little practice on lined paper to gain lettering as a useful and beautiful new skill set and one that will improve your handwriting at the same time. It doesn’t require changing your basic handwriting – just taking it up a notch with better spacing, a curl or a flourish.
In college, I took a hand lettering class. Before we were allowed to use ink and fancy metal nib pens, we had to use a carpenter’s pencil – they have a wide flat lead – like the nib on a calligraphy pen. It allowed us to see how each letter we made in italic calligraphy had thin and thick strokes as we formed them. Most of the class was spent just using the pencil and holding it on an angle and drawing slanted lines across the lined paper over and over again. Having to make page after page of angled lines until we got the feeling for holding the pencil the right way felt a little like having to write – “I will not chew gum in class…” on the grade school blackboard a hundred times as punishment for doing something wrong in class. I may not have liked it but also recognized how important it was to acquire this basic skill.
Only when we had the basic strokes of each letter down were we allowed to graduate to a real pen and ink. Our final at the end of the semester was being able to do the complete alphabet and numbers from 0-9 in the traditional italic calligraphy style as well as a modern lettering alphabet that we created ourselves.
It is practice that makes perfect when forming letters over and over again on paper. It really will help make your handwriting pretty.
Creative Lettering highlights a collection of artists – including calligraphers, painters, collagists, card makers, and graphic designers – offering up their own unique perspective on hand lettering.
Each of the 16 lettering artists has provided an explanation of their favorite tools and how they use them, an overview of their signature lettering style and technique with step-by-step instruction complete with photos, and an alphabet sampler of their own font that you can study and practice.
They give great advice.
There are even a few DIY projects in the pages – like this hand lettered ornament.
They also provide pages of ideas on ways to find inspiration to enhance your own unique script.
I started practicing to find my style of pretty lettering using this tutorial from Lisa Engelbrecht.
I gathered up my pens and tried out a few of the techniques.
I used a fine tipped Sharpie and wrote my name a few times.
and then made a double line on the left side of each down stroke – cool! Not too hard.
I went further by filling in the double lines with more ink to create a bolder look.
I started out by printing my name and making flourishes on printed letters as I got the hang of accenting down strokes or adding a curly cue here and there. It is when you start connecting those letters into your script that your efforts will pay off. I promise if you practice a little you will reach an Aha! moment.
I may never be a pro, but I can enhance my own handwriting and print to enhance a note, gift tag, a letter to a friend, or even my grocery list.
One of the tips that got me the most excited is to use a paper stump. When you pencil-in letters. It gives a shadow effect that adds dimension to each letter. When trying it out, I got to thinking that this technique could work when doing chalkboard lettering – a way to add some dimension to the overall effect of the chalkboard design. I tried it and found that it worked very well with chalk! You can buy paper stumps in the artist’s supply aisle at the crafts store.
There are so many tips in the book from which I know you will glean insight – even how to make dingbats and doodads to enhance the look of your letters and handwriting.
I truly enjoyed this book, cover to cover, since it is written in a very open and personal meet-the-artist kind of way. All of the artists have websites so you can learn even more about their techniques by visiting them.
One of the fun features to read about each artist was discovering which letter they most enjoyed drawing. I am a doodler and know I have my own favorite – it is the letter “K”. What is your favorite letter to write in script?
Creative Lettering will guide and inspire, it will encourage you to creatively experiment with lettering and develop a style of your own. From grocery lists to chalkboards – pretty penmanship can be yours.