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HAND LETTERING - Unique. Crafted. Beautiful.

Posted on 8 Dec 2016 by Olivia Grima with 0 Comments

Last month we published ‘5 signs you need to refresh your brand’ and if you answered no to many or any of the questions posed, then perhaps this article may be of some interest to you. Hand Lettering, once understood, could form part of your brand refresh, if what your brand communicates lends itself to a ‘hand crafted’ solution.

Now, you may be asking, ‘Well, what exactly is hand lettering?’ ...Is it calligraphy or it is typography? The answer is neither. There are differences between these three practices, so let me define them quickly, before moving along:



Calligraphy is normally achieved using an ink dipped nib pen, with varying degrees of pressure, to create thin and thick lines in a single stroke. Invitations, letters or cards are often written in a calligraphic style when the writer wants to communicate a message with great care and beauty.


Example of Calligraphy. 


hand lettering.

Hand Lettering mimics calligraphy, in that it uses the same principles of applying varying degrees of pressure to create thick and thin lines, though the tools usually used are brush pens, sharpies or gel pens. Hand Lettering also allows the artist to hand draw and layout each letter uniquely to create a style and composition that aligns with the brief they are working with. Often, what is produced by hand is then scanned to a computer and digitised for use on posters or within branding projects.


hand lettering3Examples of Hand Lettering.




Typography is the art of designing considered and consistent Typefaces or Fonts used within screen or print projects. It’s what you are looking at right now. A font is designed by a type designer who considers the full breadth of characters a writer may utilise, ie. all letters in the alphabet (both lower and uppercase), glyphs, accents, numerals, and ligatures.

In the context of what we do at Solutions Outsourced, for the most part we purchase Typefaces and Fonts when required to meet the brief of most of our client projects. Though we now have the interest and desire to produce more crafted, unique and detailed outcomes through the art of hand lettering.



Example of Typography.  



type by hand workshop.

In late October this year, I attended a ‘Type by hand’ workshop at the Tractor Design School Sydney, run by Wayne Thompson of the Australian Type Foundry, to learn the craft of hand lettering. The workshop started with us practicing light and heavy use of a Tombow brush pen to achieve thick and thin lines, an exercise designed to build and establish muscle memory.

Before attending the workshop, Wayne requested we think of a word, words or a phrase to use in the afternoons session of the workshop. I chose ‘okey, dokey’ my grandmother's last words before she passed away, after I told her I would be back to see her in the morning. I wanted to treat these words in a special and considered way, to represent the importance they had to me.

During this exercise, Wayne gave personal guidance on all of our work and demonstrated writing styles that could be achieved by mixing up writing tools and experimenting with inks to achieve more natural results. Some of the tools used included ruling pens, brushes, and textas. Dissolved coffee was offered as an alternate drawing medium to the usual black ink. Coffee gives a gold and stained outcome, producing a beautiful result.


okey dokey2

Practice with a Tombow Brush pen, final outcome of 'Okey Dokey' exercise and examples of Wayne Thompson's work.



kombi life australia branding.

Our most recent project for Kombi Life Australia, produced using our new hand lettering skills, has been enthusiastically received by the intended audience and captures the nostalgia of the Kombi era and culture, perfectly visualising the dream described in the client's brief.


kombilife concepts

Initial sketches of Kombi Life logo. 

final kombi logo4

Finished artwork of Kombi Life logo. 



have a chat with us.

If you feel inspired to communicate who you are and what you do a little differently to your competitors, or make your next campaign a step above the rest, drop in for a chat or give us a call. We’d love to hear the ideas you have.

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