Finding Inspiration The Analog Way

Find Your Inspiration via Happy Hands Project

I’m sure a lot of you are big fans of Pinterest, and other social media. If you’re stuck in a rut, it’s so easy to look something up through good ol’ Google and voila — you’ve got your momentum back again. When designing, it’s obviously so much easier to ‘find inspiration’ online than detach yourself from your computer (or smartphone) to overcome the block.

I’ve been in this stage more than a few times. I see designs, lettering, calligraphy, in the same styles. I can tell when a certain font is overly popular, and I can tell when everyone’s trying to imitate a certain calligraphy or watercolour style. We can’t help it. We see the same style all the time!

Sometimes (and when we have the luxury of time), it’s pretty cool to get out there to get our creative juices flowing. One thing to remember is that we need to keep our eyes open because you’ll never know when inspiration will hit you in the face. Here are a few simple things I do (stressing on ‘simple’) to get inspired and be able to come up with new things for my art:

GO OUT FOR A WALK

Find Your Inspiration via Happy Hands Project
Found this wall while walking along Chinatown.

Singapore is a tiny city with lots of nice restored architecture. There are cafes with wall art worth looking at, little indie shops that have interesting nooks and crannies. There are a number of hidden gems where you can get your creative juices flowing.

VISIT YOUR LIBRARY

Find Your Inspiration via Happy Hands Project
Above: Calligraphy on display by Dr Ludwig Tan. Bottom: A scene from library@orchard.

If there is no library nearby, why not read some magazines at a local cafe? You can even browse magazines at some bookstores. The only good thing about the library and cafe is that you get to bring your notepad and be able to write down or sketch ideas instantly.

SPEND TIME WITH LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE
Spending a couple of hours with fellow artists is enough of an inspiration for me. A great conversation would leave you with good vibes to last you a while, and this helps. A couple of weeks ago I was at library@orchard, listening to a talk about Western Calligraphy (because there’s also Chinese Calligraphy here) by local calligrapher Ludwig Tan. Listening to an expert talk about the history of calligraphy was awesome and made me appreciate this art even more.

ATTEND A WORKSHOP

Eleanor Winters Singapore via Happy Hands ProjectI’ve been to one modern calligraphy class with Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls, and one on Copperplate by Eleanor Winters. These were important parts of my journey in calligraphy and wouldn’t trade it for anything else. If there’s a class in your area, go and participate! It’s perfectly alright to be self-taught, but having your heroes teach you and tell you that what you’re doing is right absolutely inspires to keep going.

Well, these aren’t so bad, weren’t they? Hope we’ll always be inspired to make beautiful things, and always find inspiration when we need it.

Calligraphy & Lettering Inspiration: Rustic and Dreamy

Rustic Calligraphy Inspiration via Happy Hands Project

Gosh, it’s Friday already? I hope you’ll all forgive me for the lack of posts the last couple of weeks. The thing is, I was on holiday with my family in Manila, Philippines (which is also my hometown) where I was invited to teach a beginners’ calligraphy workshop as well. It was a pretty big deal for me because it was the first time that I ever brought The Happy Hour Workshop outside of Singapore!

So now that I’m back at the Little Red Dot, I’m on Pinterest looking for some calligraphy inspiration. There’s this style that I’m recently falling in love with, and it’s this playful, no holds barred style of freehand. Each calligrapher has his or her own way of doing this, and I’ve selected four of my favourites from all over the web.

This style works so well on a rustic setting, surrounded by wild flowers and timber and early morning sunlight. For those of you looking for inspiration for your next calligraphy project, check out these truly amazing works. Too beautiful for words, really.

WildField Paper Co. (top row)
The first one on the left was written in watercolour by Annie Mertlich. For some reason, the lettering on wood that I stumbled upon was again done by Annie Mertlich. So I guess I can say I’m a fan! You can see the full blog post on Green Wedding Shoes here.

Shannon Kirsten (bottom left)
This white lettering on black is up on Etsy, and was written by Florida-based calligrapher Shannon Kirsten.

Sam Dubeau (bottom right)
Oh, this hand-lettered piece was an instant favourite of mine! By Toronto-based Sam Dubeau, this piece is a lovely example of hand-painted lettering.

Words To Live By + New Calligraphy Prints

Make Time for the Things You Love via Happy Hands Project

Hey you guys! I’m still on a high from weeks ago where I had the first ever Calligraphy In Colour Advanced Workshop. I kept thinking about how immensely talented each of the participants were, and when I saw them writing all I could say was, ‘Wow, you have been all practicing, weren’t you?’

And they were! Some were present in my beginners’ class from months ago, and they have been practicing diligently and have improved their calligraphy by doing so. I’ve probably said this before, but it took me 2 years to find my own style. Calligraphy is not easy, but it’s a continuous learning experience for me. I never stop learning, and I never stop practicing. That’s what’s great about this craft. There’s always room to grow.

Calligraphy Prints via Happy Hands Project

In calligraphy, practice is something that you cannot be without — that’s why I came up with this calligraphy quote. Making time for the things you love is important, because simply put, it makes you happy. If you like to read, set aside even a few minutes to have time for yourself. With calligraphy, it’s not easy to be able to practice daily specially with everything that’s going on around us. Why not set aside an hour every Saturday? It’s not much, but it’s better than nothing!

Oh, I currently have a bunch of downloadable calligraphy over at the shop, the ones above included… go get ’em! It’s been a while since I’ve put new items for sale and this is the start of a new batch of downloadable calligraphy. I hope one of these will adorn your walls someday.

Non-Script Font Combos For Your Wedding

I adore script fonts, which may probably be another reason why I took up the art of modern calligraphy. However, there are some couples who might want to go a different route with their wedding invitations – which means having non-script fonts. I’m a font addict myself, and I can attest to the fact that designing for your own wedding may be a gruelling task. Finding the right font may take hours – even days!

If you’re one of those couples who decide to have a non-script font for your wedding stationery, here are my current favourites. Do take note, though, that my current ‘favourites’ change rather regularly. I’m into serif and sans serif combinations right now, go take a look!

 

Non-Script Wedding Font Combos via Happy Hands Project

Direct font downloads:

Abraham Lincoln & Open Sans Light / Prata Regular & Source Sans Pro Extra Light / Abril Fatface & Bebas Neue Light

The Beauty of Vintage Handwriting

Pre-Civil War Handwriting via Happy Hands Project

I have an Aunt who’s very dear to me. She’s a teacher, and has the loveliest penmanship I’ve ever known. I admire all her letters and swirls on paper, and even on the blackboard. You wouldn’t believe that her handwriting remains consistent no matter what writing instrument she uses! Writing on the board using chalk was still lovely.

I have long-overdue penpal letters (I know! I’m writing soon!) and I was thinking of printing my own greeting cards. While scouring the web for vintage ephemera, I came across this page from a pre-civil war autograph book – and the handwriting is to die for! I’ve always wondered how people before manage to have such beautiful handwriting. I believe that each of us should try to improve our own penmanship, and make good use of it by writing letters to loved ones. Who wouldn’t love to receive a handwritten surprise through snail mail once in a while?

Initially I just wanted to share where I got these vintage goodies so that we can all admire the beauty of earlier handwriting (they’re from Graphics Fairy, by the way). But I remembered that I came across some great advice on how to improve one’s handwriting. One of my favourite calligraphers has put together some tips on how to write better. I really love this list because I fully agree with every tip – you can almost see me nodding in agreement right now. As I always say, Practice Makes Pretty! Check out Melissa’s tips here.

Lettering Without Thinking

Have you ever tried holding your brush or pen and just writing whichever way you want? With all the ‘rules’ we need to remember when writing with a pointed pen, not thinking about writing at all can be liberating. I always say that it’s better to ‘not think, just write’, and that you’ll get a good result nevertheless.

Lettering Without Thinking via Happy Hands Project-

But how about just scrawling large words onto paper and not caring what the outcome is? I’ve coined a term for it – ok, not really, but still – I call it Lettering Without Thinking. So it’s not that clever, but it makes you want to try it, right? Just whip out your brush, dip it in paint and write – no holds barred.

Lettering Without Thinking via Happy Hands Project-

Gather all your materials – copy paper, watercolour or acrylic paint, brush pens, Sharpies, paintbrushes, the sky’s the limit. Experiment with different brushes and pigments and see how your works turn out. It’s like Jackson Pollock writing letters. It’s messy, it’s invigorating, and who knows, you might actually come up with something frame-worthy.

Lettering Without Thinking via Happy Hands Project

It’s a breath of fresh air after doing Copperplate drills or trying to figure out a certain flex nib. And you know what? I somewhat feel that I will be doing this more often.

Practicing Calligraphy? Have These Tips In Mind

Calligraphy Practice Things to Remember via Happy Hands Project

I have three things to share today. Three simple little things that can make a difference while you practice calligraphy. Nope, not hard and fast rules, just some tips that can help you be more satisfied with the outcome of your writing.

Number 1: Free Your Mind

I’ve done this a lot of times – thinking about something else while writing. Hmm, what cookies should I make tomorrow? Should I read this book tonight? If you have all these things on your mind, you will definitely misspell a word. You may even skip one or two. It happened to me so many times! Don’t think about dinner. Don’t even think about the alignment of your words or if your swirls are perfect. Focus on the words you are writing and nothing else.

Number 2: Love Thy Own Handwriting

Each one of us have our own writing styles even with just using a regular ballpoint. Some write with messy strokes, some with floating baselines, some super neat and straight. No matter what your style is, embrace your own handwriting style and you’ll see how easier it will be. Yes, you can compare your calligraphy with others’ works – you’ll learn that way – but love your own style and don’t be too hard on yourself! Having your own style and loving it will make your writing more consistent because you play by your own rules and not somebody else’s.

Number 3: Practice Makes Pretty

Ah. Those drills. Those practice sheets that we fill with lines, curves and swishes. They’re monotonous, repetitive. I know we all just want to get down and write words, letters, paragraphs, even. I’m skipping the overused phrase here and get down to the third and most important tip I can think of – Practice Makes Pretty. Why? Lots of practice makes a whole lot of difference. Last December I wasn’t to get hold of my pens and did not write for a couple of weeks. I came back to Singapore from our family holiday and my writing was downright wobbly. Oh, and it took me more than 2 years of practicing till I got the style that I wanted, and it doesn’t end there. Practice is essential and learning is continuous. Remember that to be happy with your own calligraphy style, aim for pretty (which is subjective) and not perfect.

We’ll talk more about these 3 things on my workshop here in Singapore – the first one is just a few days away! If you’d like to know when the next one will be, sign up for the mailing list!

Bloglovin’ and Free Watercolor Photoshop Brushes

 

This is usually how my morning goes. I launch Firefox and go through my bookmarks – which mostly covers fun, lighthearted blogs from all over. I go through each of them so I end up with about eight tabs on my Firefox window. And it wasn’t even 9am yet! So anyway, I found out that my morning browsing will be considerably organized if I just signed up with Bloglovin’. After a few days of reading other users’ reviews, I took the plunge and signed up. Claimed my blog, even. I was surprised at how easy it is now to read all my favorite blogs (I know, I sound like a celebrity endorser but no, I didn’t get paid for this. And I’m no celebrity!). Click on the image below to go to my Bloglovin’ page so you can follow the Happy Hands Project.

Bloglovin Watercolor Follow Poster

As you can see, I even made an art work just to announce my new discovery. To think that I’m pretty late to the party on this one. I was experimenting with Photoshop brushes today and ended up making three watercolor circles that can be used, well, anywhere, actually! These are high resolution, good quality brushes! Here are just some of my ideas as to where I can end up using them:

  • A personalized notecard
  • A desktop wallpaper
  • Stickers in different colors
  • Gift tags

 

Free Watercolor Brushes from HappyHandsProject

 

My advise is this – go crazy with your brushes! Experiment with colors, play with different layer styles. Just make sure you use different layers in Photoshop for every click of that brush. Just layer it. You can thank me later. If you need help on where to save the file onto Photoshop, this is helpful. For more lovely (and free!) brushes, plus how-to videos, check out this post on Creature Comforts. These are probably just about everything you need to get started.

Now it’s time to download the Happy Hands Project watercolor brush pack here.

As always, for everything that’s on the house, these brushes are for personal use only and cannot be sold or re-distributed. I would appreciate linking back to my post if you would feature this on your blog, and not host them on your own server. Whew! I just had to get that out. Thanks for reading!