Here’s a confession: hand lettering used to terrify me. For a long time, the internal editor that I’ve pretty much learned to silence when I’m drawing ran wild when I made anything with words on it. All of my lettering work looked shaky, forced, and wrong, especially when I compared it to the smooth, pristine lettering I saw on Pinterest and Instagram.
Of course, as I realize now with perfect hindsight, I just needed to practice. But at the time, I chose avoidance, my discouragement masquerading itself as disinterest.
At the beginning of 2021, I began my first Bullet Journal. Weirdly, I wasn’t even thinking about lettering when I started; I just wanted a creative way to manage my time and meet my goals. But obviously, Bullet Journaling required me to write, and not just journal entries in my regular handwriting. Each journal spread allowed me to play with different themes, different layouts, and different ways of writing while I was planning my schedule.
My journaling was very much focused on time management (with cute drawings thrown in), but accidentally, I had also created a sort of “writing sketchbook.” My Bullet Journal became a private, pressure-free space to experiment with lettering. Only I saw the outcome of each page, so it was easier to accept the occasional weird, wobbly letter. I didn’t set out with the intention of practicing hand lettering every day, but in a pleasantly stealthy way, that’s what was happening.
Eventually, my confidence grew to the point that I was ready to start making actual lettering pieces again. I felt much more knowledgeable about drawing words, and much less stressed. My lettering still has a long way to go, but through journaling I’ve learned to embrace mistakes and enjoy my practice.
Do you keep a journal, or make hand-lettered art? How does one impact the other? I’d love to hear your experience!
P.S. This post marks the launch of my new website and blog! I’m excited to be updating this space and writing about art, faith, and life. Welcome aboard!