A Way With Words: Linzie Hunter’s Illustrated Resolutions

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Scott Kirkwood shares the story of Linzie Hunter’s latest hand lettering project, in which she spent a month capturing New Year’s resolutions in perpetuity—even the ones that are already distant memories.

London-based Illustrator and hand lettering artist Linzie Hunter has tackled assignments from well-known brands like Gillette, Hallmark, and Nike, as well as publications like Los Angeles Magazine, Mental Floss, and The Wall Street Journal. But the illustrator’s latest project had no client at all.

“Towards the middle of last year I realized that I was only doing commercial work,” Hunter says. “I hadn’t done much in my sketchbook, and I know from experience that’s how your work gets dry and boring. It all just starts to look the same—and that’s not good. I thought for January, maybe I should do something that’s inspired by other people.”

So she invited her thousands of followers on social media to send in their New Year’s Resolutions, which she would illustrate—one a day, for the entire month. As you can see from the final product, Hunter’s colorful palette and whimsical lettering style bring a childlike sense of wonder to our pedestrian shortcomings and unfulfilled dreams.

Linzie Hunter hand lettering

“I figured, if the only thing that comes out of it is 30 new portfolio pieces for use in licensing or self promotion, that’s a pretty good result,” she says. “But it turns out it’s been a really nice way to connect with other people.”

Resolutions quickly flowed in from the United States and the United Kingdom, and as far away as Brazil and New Zealand. Hunter lost track of the number of submissions somewhere around 100, but she estimates the final tally approached 250. Not everyone understood the concept, or the numbers at play, she says: “I got a few e-mails that said ‘I sent you my resolution a few days ago—when will mine be done?’ and I had to apologize and say, ‘No, I’m so sorry, that’s not really how it works!’”

“I thought I’d only get people saying ‘Lose weight,’ or ‘Get fitter,’” she says, “but there were actually very few of those. The majority were about getting away from the computer to spend more time with people and less time on social media, which is ironic considering so many of them were submitted from Twitter and Facebook.”

Here are several notable resolutions from the series:

Linzie Hunter hand lettering
Linzie Hunter hand lettering
Linzie Hunter hand lettering
Linzie Hunter hand lettering

Hunter started her career as a theatre stage manager, but soon found her calling in illustration. She attended a few classes at Chelsea College of Art and Design, and fell in love with mid-century design, collecting books, magazines, furniture and knick-knacks that reflect the era, as her inspiration. And although her work appears to be torn from a sketchbook, most of it originates with a Wacom Intuous tablet and pen, which allows Hunter to experiment with colors and brushes on a whim.

Early on, she earned paychecks producing editorial work for publications including The Boston Globe, The Guardian-UK, and Time. But things really took off about seven years ago, with her first self-assignment, a series of hand-lettered images based on the subject lines of spam e-mails such as “Local Chicks Who Need Lovin’ on the Side,” and “What to Look for When Buying a Repl1ka Watch.” She posted some of the work on Flickr (in the days before Twitter and Facebook had millions of devotees), and the series’ popularity led to a call from Chronicle Books, which published a collection entitled, “This Secret Weapon Will Give More Power to Your Little Soldier.”

Linzie Hunter hand lettering

Hunter’s series of hand-lettered images based on the subject lines of spam emails.

Since then, Hunter has been consistently busy, but she still finds time for personal projects, including a series of “uninspiring messages” that turn the typical Pinterest fare on its head.

When asked if she had plans for another side project anytime soon, Hunter laughed and immediately said “No.” After a month of late nights spent following the suggestion from Canadian Tara Hunt (“Create”), she’s now heeding the offering from Annie McMoore of Ireland: “Get more sleep.”

Check out more of Linzie’s illustration and hand-lettering work here.

Linzie Hunter hand lettering

One of Hunter’s ongoing poster series of uninspiring messages.

Scott Kirkwood lives in Washington, D.C., where he serves as creative director for the National Parks Conservation Association and sits on the board of the local AIGA chapter.