Where it all started: Hand lettering has been around for hundreds of years. If you’re from the UK you’ll definitely know that if you go into a small town that you’re going to see some pretty rad looking sign painting on top of old shops. I’ve lived in a town for all my 21 years of life and I still love it. The heritage is still in place without compromising relevant structures that need to be put into place. What I love about my town is the history of sign painting on shop banners. I always think to myself that if I lived two hundred years ago that I would be a sign painter instead of a designer.
Hand Lettering Is A Passion
Back in the good ol' days, we obviously didn’t have the modern printers that we have now. So making a sign above a local shop window wasn’t just a case of throwing some pixels together on a screen, it was an expert profession that was highly sought after. I think nowadays we can be more appreciative as a whole over this because the vast majority of shops now have machinery that is able to make signs and banners printable. So when we come across a shop with a proper sign-painted look, a lot of us appreciate the time invested and the “human” element of imperfection within the design. This is my fascination with hand lettering.
Logo design is another passion of mine. I love the idea that I can use my experience and expertise to translate the vision of a company and their values to make the face of that company. Logo design has always fascinated me because of the amount of work needed to go into designing the logos, but how simple and obvious they turn out to be.
The Imperfections Make The Work Perfect
You’ve heard the saying, “I’m only human” - knowing that it’s impossible to reach perfection in themselves, and thus making it unique. This is so true and is what society looks for. The world isn’t perfect and that means humans aren’t perfect, we mess up and let our friends and families down. We say and do things we shouldn’t, but this is part of what makes us human in some cases. I feel the same way about hand lettering.
Hand lettering is fun to me because I’m encouraging myself to not make the ligatures perfect. In contrast when I’m designing a clean typeface on my computer or using fonts. You can see that we have Adobe Illustrator to make perfect straight lines — we can use mathematics to map out our anchor points so they’re perfect. This isn’t a bad thing, in fact I encourage this! It’s a vital part of the design experience in the world we live in today to have the ability to design with vector art software, but with hand lettering we realise that we’re allowed to get it wrong to a certain degree. Go to your Instagram account and search “#handlettering” and you’ll see so much work from artists creating amazing letterform compositions by hand! This is what hand lettering is. But if you also look closer, you realise that there are imperfections. These aren’t technically intentional, they are there because of our lack or ability to maintain a straight line continually throughout the work. If you were to see that same composition of work in clean, computer generated fonts then it would take away the beautiful human element of the piece. The world is full of clean fonts and designs.
Graphic Designers don’t need to have much of a drawing ability anymore, they just need to have the knowledge and theory behind them to use certain fonts. So when we see these hand lettered designs we start to relate to them. The imperfections of the piece make the work perfect and something I’m quite good at is not being perfect! But if you class yourself as a perfectionist you may be striving towards a non-achievable goal. I’m not saying this is bad or good – I could say that either way there are advantages and disadvantages of having a perfection mindset.
When designing clean logos I’ll still use my hand lettering skills but the final composition of the work will look near enough perfect regarding straight lines or mathematical anchor point placements. What sometimes bothers me is my mindset that everything needs to be perfect when I’m designing a logo for a client. My current work is mainly designing logos that are hand drawn with the help of technology. I’ve posted content on my Instagram and YouTube channel all about my hand lettering and logo design style and this has resonated.
What I’ve learned over designing hand lettered logos for many clients, is that a lot of these clients love the fact that these logos resonate with humans! I’m not saying that every logo design has to look hand drawn, but depending on your brand it may be the best decision you make.
I’m currently doing a full re-brand for a Upwardchurch.org I love these guys! They are now one of my favourite clients because they trust my process of design which is super important for any designer. Basically, I’m designing a Lifestyle brand – and the best way is to make what I call a Signature Logo. A Signature logo is exactly how it sounds, a Logo that looks like someone’s signature. If you were to see the logo, you might say it looks like it took me a couple of seconds to quickly scribble this out on paper and scan it in. But in reality it took around 5 days to get to what you would be seeing. The audience of your company will resound with a logo that has an imperfect style. It makes it relatable.
CURRENT TREND OR TIMELESS VALUE?
I think a lot of people regard hand lettering as a designer fad that will soon dissipate. I certainly do not agree with this. From my research, knowledge and experience I know that because of the huge rise in clean, perfect logos that the world is appreciating more of the craft in hand lettered logo designs. One thing I always ask myself when designing a hand lettered logo for a brand like Upward Church is, “Is it timeless?” I can think of so many brands from the top of my head that have amazing timeless logos. I’ve based a lot of my inspiration of them. Brands like Boots, Kelloggs, Ford, Disney and many more. They are all timeless and I’m inspired by that. However, one problem I’ve seen in the design community is that a lot of newer designers are jumping on vintage and rustic design trends. The problem with trends is the trend! They don’t always last, I’ve always tried to hold to myself in making logo designs that don’t follow current trends, or if I do making sure that the logo design is just inspired by that trend. Not based fully in the most current popular fad.
Logo designs are not all about the aesthetics; it’s more important to design them with functionality at the forefront. This is why it’s good to think outside the bubble we live in. When we think outside the bubble of design trends and “norms” then that’s when we create logo designs that are functional to the customer and timeless in the world.
LEARNING LOGO DESIGN
I have a new Hand Lettering Logo Design course coming out in June 2016 and I’m unbelievably excited to be sharing this with you! If you’ve ever wanted to make a living as a Logo Designer then this course could just be the catalyst of your new career. For more information about this click the link down below and sign up for a free brush lettering email course!