Between the ages of 15-18 my black fine liner was my best friend. He (and I say he because it sounds like I had some semblance of a boyfriend, which I clearly didn’t) was always there for me not far from my teenage reach. I spent my weekends with him and most of my week nights hand lettering my latest masterpiece. I made yearly calendars all hand made, hand drawn and hand lettered as Christmas presents, I had stalls at markets selling hand lettered cards, I decorated my school diary with words and of course smudged pencil shavings which I thought were ever so pretty at the time. Groan. I was obsessed with drawing type and if Instagram was around in the early 90’s I think I would have achieved cult status. I was absolutely prolific. Then, it all stopped.
At 18, I was lucky enough to be accepted into what was then a very popular and competitive Visual Communication course in Melbourne. I was one of the younger ones and because I thought I needed to be like everyone else my hand lettering went the way of my overalls and pink Esprit t-shirts. It was time to break up… ‘it’s not you, it’s me, I’ve changed, we just don’t… fit’. I had to be a ‘serious’ designer now. I had to draw serifed typography alphabets with Dennis the typography teacher who got so excited over 19th century gravestones it was criminal. I had to design 3D animals with paper, look at the use of positive and negative space while illustrating confectionery which usually ended up in my mouth before making it to paper. I had to learn photography and even how to draw from life. The latter would make hysterical fodder for another post. With the onset of the computer in my final years of study, the idea that someone would hand letter was inconceivable and well, kind of daggy.
But, in the last few years there has been a resurgence and hand lettering is trendy again. How cool! With the popularity of social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, hand letterers now have the opportunity to display their wares and I see now, that big brands are starting to employ the services of hand letterers from all over the world in their marketing and promotional material. More coolness.
You may have seen by hand lettered, illustrated memes around the traps before. Producing these each week is such a happy thing for me to do and I look forward to incorporating my hand lettering skills more and more into my commercial design work as time goes on.
Hand lettering is cool again and I salute thee!