Brush Lettering—Another Look, and Other Approaches to Hand Lettering

April 20, 2015

If the above embedded video doesn't play please view it on YouTube.

Tonight, Monday, April 20, 2015 the MCBA Visual Journal Collective will meet at 7 p.m. at Minnesota Center for Book Arts. I'm not sure of all the details, but I remember coordinator Suzanne Hughes saying at the last meeting that it would be about lettering. She's asked a couple people to talk about their approach to lettering in their visual journals. (The meeting lasts from 7 to 9 p.m. and is free and open to any adult journal keepers regardless of experience.) 

Bring your journals and a couple pens or favorite lettering tools if you have them and we'll experiment and share recent journal work. Hope to see you there!

I wanted to share the work of some brush lettering masters because they popped into my mind when the topic was discussed: Pierre Tardif and Glen Weisgerber. (I write about them below). And that got me looking at other videos on YouTube where people hand letter the most amazing designs. Check these videos out.

I first stumbled upon the brush lettering videos of Pierre Tardif in the fall of 2008.

His short video demonstrations for block, script, and other lettering styles on YouTube are inspiring. His skill obviously comes from dedicated practice. You can see Pierre Tardif's website here.

I think these videos should be required watching for anyone whoever picks up a brush whether the intent is to letter or not. His brush handling skills are amazing. You can see how he controls his stroke weight and angle by the amount of pressure he does or doesn't put on the brush. Going letter to letter this pressure is exactingly consistent while maintaining the infinite variety needed for each letter. 

Watch his brush when he turns—see how he'll use portions of the brush to finish off a stroke end. This is the type of brush control every artist wants whether painting a landscape or a portrait. 

I first mentioned lettering artist Glen Weisgerber in a post on Tattooing in December 2013. Weisgerber isn't a tattoo artist, but I found his videos when I started looking for lettering examples in relation to tattoo art. As I said in my post from Decemeber 2013, Weisgerber is a genius. You can see one of Weisgerber's lettering demos here.

Some lettering artists use airbrushes and that's something you might want to try in your journals as well. (As with any tool there is a learning curve.) Here's Jaime Rodriguez doing scrollwork with an airbrush. And he has another demo with lettering and scrollwork here. (If you do take up the airbrush promise me that you'll wear a respirator!)

Here Art Solis airbrushes some graffiti style lettering on a t-shirt.

Working with a fine tip pen this artist gets inventive with swirls and decorations around her letters. (It's interesting to see what she's doing even though the video quality is poor and flickering.) Her YouTube name is "OvernightArtist" and she has a number of other videos for different lettering styles.

But the most interesting video I've found on calligraphy which would be useful and doable in a journal is this "How to Do Modern Calligraphy" video with Paul Antonio. In just a few minutes he gives you some great ideas. How can I not love someone who makes a protective well for his sheet of paper and then starts to play?

If the above video doesn't embed view it on YouTube here.

There are also calligraphy books out there. I review one Lisa Engelbrecht's "Modern Mark Making: From Classic Calligraphy to Hip Hand-Lettering," here.

Then of course, always remember, if you aren't interested in lettering you can use those lettering pens for sketching because each type creates interesting and unusual lines. I love sketching with parallel pens and you can see some of my sketches using parallel pens in this section of my blog.

Have fun and be inventive.

  1. Reply

    Roz, you always have the MOST interesting posts! Thank you!!

  2. Reply

    That was an eye-opener for me. Love the splashing!

  3. Reply

    Thanks Cathleen. I’m glad you enjoyed this. I could watch Tardif and Weisgerber work all day long!

  4. Reply

    Viktoria, that last video with the splatters and splashes everywhere was great fun.

    I use acrylics with abandon but I never make a shield or “well” (though I do have sheets of plastic to put on the floor) and everything gets covered with paint splatters after awhile, so I particularly liked that idea.Besides which he obviously was having so much fun.

  5. Reply

    Thanks for the super great informative post. I took a lettering class in college so somewhat familiar but the it. The sign painters were incredible. One of our friends in an incredibly talented sign painter but sadly has gone computerized. I get ink everywhere, smear the paint. Guess I need a maul!!
    I always wondered what those odd liners were for. Guess I know now! Wonder where dads are. I don’t have them which means they are at is house. Guess I will look for them when I go for Mother’s Day in a couple of weeks.

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