An Introduction to Hand Lettering

There are many people who believe that hand lettering is just another phrase for calligraphy, but they are wrong. Even though there are some evident similarities between these activities, the fact is that hand lettering is a different type of writing. In its essence, hand lettering is a form of drawing.

Most people think that hand lettering is a difficult task. Obviously, this type of writing/drawing requires discipline and some talent, but just like any other skill it can be mastered with the right training. The best way is to learn more about the basic things about this art and everything will become much simpler. Once people learn how to use hand lettering, they will be able to create many different things including comics, greeting cards, banners, invitations, signs etc. 

Even though we are living in a digital age where design has become almost exclusively related to technology, the truth is that some old design techniques like hand lettering are reviving. Instead of using precise and sharp designs for their packaging and logos, many companies are using hand lettering as one of the oldest forms of expression. You might not have noticed this, but the truth is that hand lettering is present everywhere around us- in magazines, newspapers, movie titles, music videos, ads, book covers and many other places. 

One of the best things about hand lettering is the fact that artists can unleash their creativity. This is a flexible typographic expression that doesn’t recognize any boundaries or regulations. In addition, this is also an adaptable form of expression found in a wide range of forms and in almost all types of media. The ability to get a unique product that will make your company stand out from the crowd is one of the reasons why so many business owners opt for hand lettering. 

In order to understand the power and beauty of hand lettering, it is the best idea to check the work of the top hand letterers today. In this article, we will highlight some of the best professionals in this field. 

1. Mary Kate McDevitt 

Mary-Kate McDevitt is one of the most popular hand letterers today. She graduated from the Tyler School of Art and it didn’t take much time before she decided to become a full-time freelance designer. I the last six years she had an opportunity to work with many different clients looking for different things. Some of her notable clients include Nike, Nintendo and CMYK Magazine. She was involved in different projects like preparing book covers, advertising headlines, posters and product packages.  Once you take a close look at her work you will know why she is so popular. Every hand lettering project she made is a small piece of art.

2. Matthew Tapia

Matthew Tapia is probably the most famous hand letterer from Hawaii. He is also a successful digital designer. Actually, he started his career as a digital designer but later decided to include the forgotten art of hand lettering in his portfolio. What is interesting about Matthew is that he is quite popular on social media platforms especially on Tumblr and Instagram where he frequently shares his work. He is focused on pencil sketches and his ability to create attractive hand lettering projects without special finishing. 

3. Jessica Hische

Jessica Hische is one of the top lettering artists in the world. At the same time, she is a very successful illustrator too. She went on Tyler School of Art and got a degree in Interactive and Graphic Design there. She was quite ambitious and started working at Headcase Design right away. After a while, she became a senior design at Louise Fili. Jessica is a successful freelancer now and works for several websites where people can check her work.    

4. Louise Fili

Most of the hand letters that are popular today are younger because this is the generation that decided to revive this lost art. However, there is one person that is slightly older who helped them rediscover hand lettering – Louise Fill. Every experienced hand letterer is familiar with the work of Louise Fili. She has personally trained many successful artists like Dana Tanamachi and Jessica Hische. She has successfully completed many book cover, poster, restaurant branding and logo projects. (2)

5. Rylsee 

Rylsee is the artistic name of Cyril Vouilloz, a well-known visual artist born in Geneva who is living in Germany now. He has a vast experience in the field of typography, mural painting, and design, but a few years ago he developed a passion for hand lettering. This young letterer obviously likes traveling because he has worked all over the world and his work was featured and showcased in USA, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Israel, Brazil, and France. His specialties are promotion, branding, and in-store display installations. Rylsee is also known for his satirical expression through hand lettering.

 6. Dana Tanamachi

There is no doubt that there are many wonderful things about nonpermanent artwork. The fact that we are providing something precious to a piece of work that disappear quickly makes that thing very special. Dana Tanamachi is a designer and hand letterer specialized in chalk artistic lettering. She is known for her full commitment and dedication when she is working on some project. Dana’s talent was recognized by many successful companies that have used her services to promote their services and products. Some of these companies include Google, O Magazine and Time Magazine. 

7. Jon Contino 

Jon Contino is a New York-based artist who has been interested in mass marketing and street art since early childhood. This is when he realized that in order to stand out from the crowd; artists must make a combination of modern artistic techniques and old artistic techniques. That’s why he started using both typographic illustrations and hand lettering in his projects. Today, he is a top-rated freelance illustrator and one of the owners of CXXVI Clothing Company.

8. Ross Moody 

Ross Moody is best known as an owner of the popular 55 Hi’s website founded 6 years ago. He started this website at the time when he was creating funny designs for his own needs. Back then, he was part of an advertising company, but he soon realized that he wants to do something more meaningful and he wanted to do this as his own boss. People use this website to buy hand-lettered prints for different events or simply for decoration. He is also producing posters, greeting cards, glassware, calendars and other items that come with his easily recognizable hand lettering style.

9. Jake Bartlett

Even though Jake Bartlett is primarily a motion graphics artist, he also completed a huge range of hand lettering projects. This LA-based artist is an expert in Adobe After Effects program which he has used for more than a decade now. He was working for a successful company before he decided to start working from home as a freelancer. He had clients like YouTube, Yahoo!, NatGeo Wild and Pepsi. Now he is teaching others about the beauty of graphics and hand lettering.

10. Eric Marinovich

Eric Marinovich is the co-owner of title case.co a popular typographic company. It is good to mention that the other owner and main artisan in this company are Jessica Hische. Erik is a popular designer and letterer who had clients like The New York Times, Nike, the Gap, and Nescafe. He was involved in different types of hand lettering projects and his work is a little bit different compared to the work of traditional hand letterers.

Hand lettering is a unique art that will definitely become even more popular in the near future because people and companies are interested in handmade artistic work.