Brushing Up



Lately, it seems hand-drawn type is everywhere, with a big spotlight on calligraphy. At one point I really wanted to master calligraphy and in doing so be able to recreate some of the popular styles I’d noticed had been showing up often. I tried watching some tutorials, picking my friends’ brains and experimenting, and what I learned was much different than what I originally expected. The first thing was that I wasn’t so great at doing anything that was clean and balanced. I especially struggled with the popular styles that used continuous lines. The second thing was that I had more fun doing styles that were messy and unbalanced anyway. So I pushed myself to move the brush in different ways than any of the tutorials I found.


brushing up

I’ve always been enamored with typography. Even before I knew what graphic design was I was drawing letters for my own custom skateboard designs. Of course, these never made it past my sketchbook, but I regularly think about how stuck I was on letterforms as far back as when I was a toddler. I have to thank early deck designs from the “Bones Brigade” era for getting me into typography before I understood exactly what it was, and Art Chantry for keeping my interest piqued once I did. I’ve also got to give a shout out to artists like Morning Breath Inc. and Jon Contino for continuing to inspire me.


brushing up
brushing up

I’m certainly no master at hand-drawn type, and perhaps the styles I’ve come to admire aren’t the ones that are mass appreciated. But there’s something about imperfection that has consistently struck me. And there’s also something about each person’s handwriting that amazes me. We all learn to write the same way, yet somewhere along the way we develop a style that is our own, which is such an incredible thing to me. There can be clues about people’s personalities within their handwriting, or hints of their mood reflected in their pen strokes. With a brush pen, anyone can amplify their style or add a different emotion to it. I’ve learned to embrace my own styles, and really love seeing other people carve their own as well. For my maker Friday, I started by wanting to teach a basic lesson on calligraphy, but realized beforehand that I’d enjoy it more if everyone simply experimented for themselves and put something on the paper that was unique to them. It also was fun to do a collage with everyone contributing, which shows how many different looks and styles can come from a small room of people. I’m usually more impressed by what a person who doesn’t consider themselves creative does than I am with someone who has been formally trained.

I hope this post inspires you to grab a pen or brush and have some fun with it.

This summer at ThoughtMatter, we’re ending every week with a “Maker Studio Friday” activity. During each session, a different studio member leads us through a hands-on activity that results in each of us having made something with our hands and minds. The activities help us keep our minds open, and pushes us to create better and more innovative work for our clients.

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