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Naive Brush Lettering Exploration on Capturing Naïveté

Naive Brush Lettering Exploration

This project started in January 2017. My objective was to create a Naive Brush Lettering style based on the hand lettering of Monica Garwood.

I started by doing what I knew and pushing that towards a less consistent style. To do this I had to fight my tendency to start stokes heavy at the top and get lighter near the bottom. This lettering needed to start light and get heavier at the bottom. And it needed a lot of variation in letter size and weight.

brush lettering samples

This was just a start. The lettering wasn’t smooth flowing and effortless. That would take more practice so I could make it faster. I was finding out that

achieving naivete hand lettering is harder than it looks

I kept at for a couple more months. I could see that it was progressing. Finally, I had to call it good. I’m happy with the end results. I also know I can always come back to it and make it even better.

Ta-da! My new Naive lettering style; fluid, playful, and a cool texture.

Naive brush lettering style of USA,KC,Portland

 

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Hand Lettering Today – how naive is too naive?

How naive is too naive hand lettering?

Do you ever see hand lettering and think “a kid could have done that”? It doesn’t appear as if there’s any real skill involved? I’ve asked myself that many times, especially since I spent years honing my lettering skills. My goal was to have consistent angles, widths, and spacing. If it wasn’t as “perfect” as possible, it wasn’t worthy of being used for anything.

Well, I’ve had to rethink all that. Perfection is good, it can also be boring. Given: some lettering does have to be perfect, if that’s the tone for how it’s being used. For example, would a fancy hotel, perfume, or jeweler take the chance that their brand looks sloppy, goofy, or just plain poorly done? I don’t think so.

On the other hand, say your client wants to appear youthful, daring, or cutting edge; now a little “imperfection” is a good thing. It gives it a human touch and the imperfections add interest; it’s not boring, it’s unique, and it’s definitely not a font.

But how far to go with the imperfections before the lettering starts to look sloppy or goofy? Well, that’s a judgement call and it’s not an easy one.

naive hand lettering examples

Naive hand lettering; the good, bad, and ugly.

One of these I really like. The other two don’t cut it.

As an experiment to help satisfy my doubts about how easy or hard it is to make naive lettering, I found lettering online that I really liked – because it was so naive. It was fun to look at. I got out my brushes and set to work on trying to mimic the style. I thought, “If I can make nice, consistent lettering with a brush, then making widely inconsistent lettering would be easy.”

How wrong I was. It is hard. Making “perfect” lettering involves getting into a rhythm and flow. Each stroke starts heavy and ends light. The letter and word spacing are consistent. Naive lettering required me to fight those tendencies. Now I didn’t want all that consistency. Some letters are heavy, some light; some letters are tightly spaced, others widely spaced; capital letters can mixed in. There is a rhythym, but it relies on inconsistency. Instead of thinking of the next letter having the same feel as the last one, I am forced to constantly think, “How do I make this letter different from the last?”

Well I did persevere, and I am happy with the results. But I’ll never look at naive hand lettering and think “that looks easy.”

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Hand Lettering Explosion

Explosion

From Naive, to Calligraphic, to Typographic,  to Vintage,  to Highly Refined, to Computer Made….

… it’s everywhere.

Have you noticed the preponderance of hand lettering today and wondered why there’s such a resurgence? It’s showing up all over the graphic design world: logos, packaging, advertising, book covers, editorial, and more. Ever wonder why? There are a number of factors that have led to this resurgence.

It’s part of the do-it-yourself (DIY) movement. People love creating their own graphics. Not being “perfect” is part of the charm of hand lettering and that takes the pressure off the creator to not obsess over being perfect, something graphic designers tend to do (for good reason).

It is a rebellion against the cold, slick, digital world of the graphic design. Designers can, if they choose to, do almost all of their designing on screen. There are thousands of fonts to pick from. This approach works well for slamming jobs by cutting out the pencil-to-paper stage, an unfortunate reality of business. Using hand lettering does take longer, but it puts the human element back into design.

Hand lettering is highly adaptable. It can be made to fit any format and any mood. Unlike type, hand lettering evokes authenticity and personality. And a big bonus: it’s very popular with youthful demographics.

Be it good, bad, or ugly, I’d love to hear any opinion you may have on why hand lettering has taken off.

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My New Website is Finally Done!

website announcement graphic

I am thrilled to announce that my new website is done and up on the internet. It took a not-so-subtle push from Google with their constant reminder “your site is not mobile friendly” (you Luddite!).

I even have a blog where I will be attempting to demystify hand lettering and offering my opinions, tips, and tricks to those interested in using and learning hand lettering.

My many thanks go out to the team at ICON DESIGN, LLC for their hard work and diligence. And a special thanks to Pamela Myhre, Icon’s Grand Poobah, who is a joy to work with.

icon blog