Beyond words: the art of hand-lettering

As the things around us become increasingly digitized—yes, including notes and invitations—the authenticity of the handmade has become ever more valuable. The design community’s enthusiasm for hand-lettered typography has reached a fever pitch, and we’re not sorry to say we’re part of the crowd.

Our designers specialize in all manner of visual disciplines, so calligraphy and hand-lettering are firmly in our wheelhouse. In this series of photos, art director Cat looks beyond staid fonts to create an expressive design through the character itself.

Step 1. Cat sketches different type styles in pencil.
close up of person sketching different type styles in pencil

Step 2. After choosing a style, she redraws the letters and refines the concept.
close up of person redrawing letters and making them appear 3D

Step 3. Cat uses a lightbox to transfer the drawing to heavier stock paper.
close up of person using a lightbox to transfer the drawing to heavier stock paper

Step 4. Using a fine watercolor paintbrush, she creates a wood grain texture.
close up of person using a fine watercolor paintbrush to create a wood grain texture

Step 5. After applying a few watercolor washes, she outlines the finished art in ink.
final lettering and outlining the art in ink