5 Things I wished someone told me before I started lettering

5 Tips for lettering

Starting Lettering, I was full fire. A lover of the letters since I first took a pencil in my hand “writing” in my phantasy alphabet into my little Mermaid notebook back in ‘89, I constantly worked on my penmanship. My mom would get tired of me trying out new writing styles, and working on them until perfection for 6 months, just to then decide I wanted to change my “r”s, my capital Ds and maybe spin a twist on those ff’s. My handwriting was a project to me.

In the end, when I professionally started lettering (you never know it’s professional, until you look back), I wished I had someone to turn to, to give me advice on this crazy lettering journey. Have no fear, my advice for you is here:

1. Don’t compete, connect!

We are not at the Hunger Games, this is not Jeopardy, we are not here to save our lives! This is supposed to be an inspirational journey off of which you might even earn a buck or two but should never lose focus of what matters! Creativity! Therefore, try to connect with that “competition” you can only gain experience and profit from fabulous creative people that are in similar situations. Comment on Instagram accounts, ask questions about their work and process. You will learn so much from others! Maybe try connecting in a chat group? I am connected with fantastic letterers in an Instagram chat group. Some have thousands of followers, others only hundreds (like me), but in the end, we are connected by the passion we have for lettering.

2. Don’t compare!

To put it in my dad’s words: “I don’t care what grade the others got on the math test. I care about what you got!” Don’t compare yourself with others. Others have different backgrounds and experiences. Some may have come from art already, have a naturally great handwriting, practice 1000 hours a day, etc. Only compare yourself with yourself!

Look at your own work from today, compared to a couple of weeks, months or even a year ago. I bet you see a difference. And that’s all that counts!

3. Don’t buy crap!

You don’t need all the fancy equipment you see on Instagram, rather invest in good products, but be sure about what you really want.

You could go into the store and buy all the crap you want. In the end, you might find out that you love faux calligraphy in pencil…what a waste of money! Be cautious about your purchases and make sure it’s really something you feel passionate about trying out or belongs to the basic tools you need. In case you decide to invest in material: Don’t go cheap. Rather spend more money on really good watercolors, than buy shitty quality that won’t make you enjoy using it. Check Instagram to see what others use, or just simply message them and ask what their favorite pen/colors or paper is.

4. Set small goals and practice regularly!

Feel funny about the “r”? Maybe you can’t get the “f” to connect with the rest of the word? Practice words that challenge exactly those problems over and over again until you got the hang of it and then move on to another challenge.

People sometimes write: practice every day. That tip put me under soooo much pressure and made me feel like a failure if I wasn’t able to do so. So maybe, for you, your goal is to practice every other day, or once a week? Maybe a lettering-lundi on Mondays?

Following Lettering challenges on Instagram are a great resource for inspiration, connecting with fellow Letterers (see Point 1) and keeping you on you your toes! Make sure you find a challenge that fits to you and will be fun and will also be manageable timewise. I especially like challenges that are set to post something every other day or even less to prevent me from getting frustrated. I especially recomend the @happyletteringchallenge (short words and many followers) as well as @Letteringchallengehq and of course my German Lettering Bitches from @Laeddergaeng

5.Document your process.

From the very first lettering experiment…take photos of EVERYTHING! Even if you feel it’s ugly or you are embarrassed about it. Make a folder on your phone just for those photos so you can scroll easily through your process and how good you have gotten!

I encourage everyone to use instagram for your crafting adventure. Even if go incognito without revealing your true identity in a separate account, make your journey accountable!

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