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5 Ways To Pimp Your Handwriting
If you’re an Instagram addict like we are, you’ll have noticed that there’s a huge trend at the moment for hand lettering. Given the current popularity of pastimes like bullet and travel journalling, it’s not surprising that so many people are uploading these dreamy spreads of intricate calligraphy.
But what happens when your handwriting just isn’t that pretty?
Here are our top tips for making your letters that much more swoon-worthy.
Tip #1 - Be realistic
Nobody sits down and instantly scribbles one of these masterpieces. Proper hand lettering takes time, effort, and a pretty good instinct for geometry. To make something worthy of hanging on the wall like this, you need to plot your words carefully, draft everything out in pencil, tweak and refine until it’s perfect. And while that’s great for a work of art, it’s just not realistic for heading up your to-do list in the middle of the work day. So if your aim is to produce faultless pieces of calligraphy, you can stop reading here. We’re looking to jazz up our regular handwriting in a much more achievable way.
Tip #2 - Learn your letters
One thing that has really helped us to get the most out of our handwriting is to do a teeny bit of study into how it should be done properly. Understanding the parts of the letter, how to form the different strokes and what on earth sans serif means… this information alone will just sit in your subconscious and make your writing better. We really enjoyed learning about the basics of calligraphy from Creative Lettering and Beyond. This super-accessible book teaches you the theory, along with lots and lots of exercise pages for you to get your pen out and put your learning into practice.
Tip #3 - Try different tools
One thing that has really helped me to learn to love my handwriting has been switching up my pens. My guilty secret is an unwavering love of the cheap and cheerful (and chewable!) Bic biro. But, while they might be uber practical, the reality is they just don’t do your handwriting any favours.
Some of the best tools we’ve found for really pimping our writing are dip pens and brush pens. While using bottled ink is incredibly unrealistic in an office setting, the act of writing with the flexible nib of a traditional dip pen really does help you to get to grips with the strokes and flow of cursive lettering. Apply pressure on the down-stroke, the edges of the nib separate and more ink flows onto the page. It really is a fascinating process. Try the Nikko G for an easy, spatter-free beginner’s nib.
Brush pens are like super-flexible marker pens, but in essence work much the same as the dip pen in that they really respond to the pressure of your hand. Tombow are renowned for their brush/fineliner combos and come in a huge array of delicious colours.
For an everyday alternative, Lamy is a great place to start. The genius Germans who make these pens have shaped them in such a way that you can’t help but hold them in a proper calligraphy grip. And while they might not produce the thick-and-thin strokes of a calligraphy pen, you can easily change the nibs to find the breadth of ink that perfectly suits your handwriting. Besides, the Safari is a design classic that no self-respecting stationery aficionado should be without.
Tip #4 - Practice makes perfect
Writing by hand is more often than not an exercise in muscle memory rather than a conscious action. As such, practicing your lettering really will make a difference to the overall appearance of your handwriting. Repeatedly drawing curves and circles might sound painfully boring, but we’ve found it’s actually a great aid to relaxation and mindfulness, and is a fab 5 minute activity to accompany that afternoon cup of tea. Luckily, in this age of social media, you will find hundreds of free printable resources to help you hone that cute curly handwriting style you’ve been hankering after. Just search ‘hand lettering’ on Pinterest and you’ll see what we mean.
Tip #5 - Just cheat
As wonderful a hobby as calligraphy is, sometimes there’s no shame in deciding that life is just too short. We don’t all have hours to spend perfecting the flourishes on our capital Qs, and it can be disheartening to start practicing something without immediate results.
As such, we completely condone going retro and reviving the primary school skill that is… TRACING!!!
And believe it or not, you can actually learn a lot from copying fonts. In our increasingly paperless world, it’s daft to think that calligraphy ought to be limited to flowery joined-up handwriting, when most of our time is spent reading a variant of Arial on a smartphone. Tracing different fonts will absolutely give you an insight into the different ways that words and letters can be constructed, and is sure give you a broader repertoire than those who only focus on cursive lettering.
Added bonus: that Instagram-worthy journal layout doesn’t look so unachievable now, does it? Shhh, we won’t tell anyone if you don’t!