The Art and Artifice of Hand-Lettering

By Lauren Gallow and Ellen C. Caldwell

Is there a reason we’re so drawn to hand-lettering right now? Why are we craving handmade cards, signs, and posters in this moment? Why do we gravitate towards making hand-lettered flyers and signs and cards as opposed to designing on the computer? Maybe it’s just because we don’t know how to use Adobe InDesign and Illustrator… but we think there’s more to it than that.

And it’s not just us. We see hand-lettered signs, posters, and murals all over Seattle and Los Angeles – and all over the internet and social media. Unique one-offs and mass-xeroxed posters alike. We see it in the commercial success of letterpress printing, represented by companies like Rifle Paper Co. and 1canoe2. We see it in the graphic design of our friend Molly Kennedy-Darling and in commercial and gallery art like that of Gemma O’Brien, Ken Davis and Gary Green.

Gemma O’Brien, Sydney-based typographer, illustrator, and hand-letterer (also known as mrseaves101 on Instagram), uses her love for fonts as her driving force. In a recent interview with Citizens of the World, she described the foundation for her passion: “I’m drawn to words and letters because they are inextricably linked to language, culture and human experience. As an art form they can say so much both in the content and the ideas or memories they can evoke. From an aesthetic point of view it would seem that the familiar alphabet of 26 characters and numerals would be limiting, but those constraints allows for a vast range of creatively representing them.” It is this kind of creativity that we crave and covet.

Read the rest here at New American Paintings.

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