A stealthy resurgence happening in the design world—a rebellion against the cold, sleek, digital environment in which we designers spend most of our time. Hand lettering is not-so-quietly making a colossal comeback, exploding into the forefront of design. It no longer has to hide on the B-side or apologize for looking hand lettered. Categories that used to be forbidden, such as logos and packaging, now embrace this historic form of typographic expression. It’s appearing everywhere—even on A-list products such as movie titles, magazines, book covers and advertisements. Hand lettering is out, proud and absolutely amazing.
The beauty of hand lettering is its flexibility and adaptability. It can be found in so many forms and so many different types of media that it appeals to almost every audience. From whimsical to elegant, and old school to new school—there is hand lettering inspiration out there for everyone.
Hand lettering involves taking a completely different approach to the use of text in design, moving away from the skills used for traditional typography. Whilst typography concentrates on the art and technique of arranging type, generally using preexisting typefaces, hand-lettering is the art of drawing letters. To put it a little more simply, typography is graphic design, whereas lettering is illustration.
Let’s celebrate this illustrative and creative expression of letters by looking at a six designers who have turned hand lettering into an art.
25 Stunning Hand Lettering Projects
Mary Kate McDevitt: Whimsical Charm
A graduate of Tyler School of Art, Mary Kate has made a career out of sweet and fanciful lettering projects. There’s sense of cozy delight in her work like the feeling you get from a comfy chair and a nice cup of tea. With clients such as AT&T, Chronicle Books, Sesame Street, O magazine, and the United States Postal Service, it’s little wonder Mary Kate is such a sought-after letterer.
All images ©Mary Kate McDevitt
Louise Fili: The Epitome of Elegance
Fili’s name commands attention in the world of hand-lettering. She is the Queen Mother of letters and has trained some of the top lettering artists of today including Jessica Hische and the (below-mentioned) Dana Tanamachi. Gracefulness and old-world charm emanate from every logo, restaurant branding, book cover and poster she creates.
All images ©Louise Fili Ltd.
55 Hi’s: Cheeky Playfulness
55 Hi’s Ross Moody began his career tinkering on the side with hand-lettered silkscreen prints. Several years later his love for the craft has seen him develop a successful business producing greeting cards, posters, calendars, glassware and more. His often sarcastic, sometimes cheeky, and always beautiful lettering stands out in the market, his approach typified by his invitations for the Semi-Annual No Pants Dance.
All Images ©55 Hi’s
Matthew Tapia: Sketch Perfection
Tapia is a designer and letterer based in Hawaii. His fearlessness in sharing stunning hand-lettering pencil sketches and whipping out sharpie-drawn sayings has endeared him to over 37,000 Instagram followers and proves that hand-lettering doesn’t always need “finishing”to be beautiful.
All Images ©Matthew Tapia
Eric Marinovich: Jack of all Letter Trades
The other half of Title Case (http://titlecase.co), Eric Marinovich has a wide stylistic range. Marinovich’s hand-lettering portfolio ranges from primitive to elegant to grunge to everything in between, an impressive lettering diversity that matches his equally impressive client list.
All Images ©Eric Marinovich
Dana Tanamachi: Chalk Princess
There’s something beautiful about nonpermanent works of art—the preciousness we give to something that could disappear at any moment. Dana Tanamachi’s command of chalk art lettering is far from precious, however. Her tenacity, dedication and finely-tuned talent produce gorgeous works of chalk art lettering for a wide variety of clients including O Magazine, Google, TIME Magazine, Bloomingdale’s and Target.
All Images ©Dana Tanamachi
If you’re interested in learning about hand lettering and typography from Denise Bosler, check out her Hand Lettering Power Course at HOW Design University.
Introduce hand-lettering into your repertoire of design skills with this 2 week Hand Lettering Power course. Denise Bosler, author of Mastering Type, will provide you with the skills you need to add a personal touch to your typographic communication from research and sketching to developing dynamic layouts with custom lettering. You will be given the opportunity to communicate your love of hand-lettering through the process of self-discovery and experimentation as you explore your typographic voice and creative style. Register here.
Denise Bosler is a graphic designer, illustrator, and professor of communication design at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania. She earned a B.F.A. from Kutztown University and an M.F.A. from Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Denise has focused her design work on print collateral, product packaging, and identity development in both print and digital projects.
Looking for more hand lettering and typography resources? Check out these items from MyDesignShop.com:
- The Perfect Pen Hand Lettering Kit
- Mastering Type Download Collection by Denise Bosler and Jason Cranford Teague
- Typography for the People: Hand-Painted Signs from Around the World (eBook) by Daniel Bellon & Klaus Bellon