Hand lettering is a term bandied around the art and design world, but when you tell people you hand letter, “You mean calligraphy?” “Oh wait….typography?”, blank looks all round.
Calligraphy is a term most people are aware of. My mum was a calligrapher in her spare time, she’d sit for hours with her set of odd shaped pens creating beautiful, eloquent pieces for the local school. However, even doing a search on a popular stock image website, the term ‘calligraphy’ brings up a whole host of hand lettering which may also add to the general confusion.
One definition of calligraphy is;
a visual art related to writing. The art of giving form to signs in an expressive, harmonious and skillful manner.
Calligraphy is more precise than hand lettering, rules and rigidity apply.
Typography too is a term familiar to many;
the art and technique of arranging type to make written language readable and beautiful.
Typography is more about the logistics of type; line length, spacing and size.
Moving away from traditional rules, Hand Lettering in short, is the ‘art of drawing letters’, making it a much more flexible and accessible art form. Predominantly an analog medium produced using pens and brushes but also digitally using illustration programmes. The recent resurgence of hand lettering is immense, people are now desiring analog hand-drawn over standardised-digital in the same way that film photography and vinyl records are popular and delicious.