7 Hand-Lettering Books For learning and Inspiration

Handlettering Books via Happy Hands Project

I have this wish list of hand-lettering books that I’ve been meaning to share for some time now. I have quite a number of books on modern and copperplate calligraphy, but have not invested on as much lettering books as I can.

The good thing about books compared to seeking inspiration online, is that the motivation it gives is nothing fleeting. With numerous posts on lettering and art all over the internet, we tend to get lost in all this information overload that each ‘inspiration’ is trying to compete with another. Having a few select books on the shelf means you pick it up from time to time, read or browse, and get that feeling of enthusiasm every single time.

I already have a few of these by my tiny white desk, but I would like to tick every single book on my list. Hope these books inspire you to learn the art of hand-lettering!

1. Sharpie Art Workshop: Techniques and Ideas for Transforming Your World | Timothy Goodman

2. Little Book of Lettering | Emily Gregory

3. Sign Painters |  Faythe Levine & Sam Macon

4. The ABCs of Hand Lettering | Abbey Sy

5. In Progress: See Inside a Lettering Artist’s Sketchbook and Process, from Pencil to Vector | Jessica Hische

6. Drawing Type: An Introduction to Illustrating Letterforms | Alex Fowkes

7. Scripts: Elegant Lettering from Design’s Golden Age | Steven Heller  & Louise Fili

There you have it! Wish I have the financial capacity to purchase this lot in one go, but looks like I need to set priorities for now. Happy book shopping! Are there any awesome lettering books that I missed? Let me know in the comments below, and this hungry artist will appreciate it heaps.

A Travel-Themed Wedding in Phuket: Tom & Simone

Phuket Wedding Calligraphy via Happy Hands Project

It’s 2016 (woohoo!) and I’d like my first post of the year to be special. So here’s one special destination wedding I had the pleasure to work on last year – Tom and Simone’s big day in Phuket, Thailand.

Phuket Wedding Calligraphy via Happy Hands Project

It was a travel-themed wedding, so each table number featured the couple’s photos from different places. And not just that — either of them were holding a small chalkboard with a number on it! I thought it was a very cute idea.

Phuket Wedding Calligraphy via Happy Hands Project

I also did the calligraphy and lettering for the signs and stationery used at the venue. There were the menus for dinner, cocktails and cupcakes, photo booth sign, and wedding programme to name a few. My favourite has got to be the escort cards which weren’t cards at all, but little paper airplanes hanging in strings! The colour motif was grey and dusty blue, which were perfect for a classy beach wedding. I’m very happy for this sweet couple, and I’m pretty sure you’ll like the photos as much as I did. Scroll down to see more.

All photos used with consent from the couple.
Photography: Julian Abram Wainwright
Venue: Grand Villa Satis, Aleenta Phuket Resort

Phuket Wedding Calligraphy via Happy Hands Project

Phuket Wedding Calligraphy via Happy Hands Project

Phuket Wedding Calligraphy via Happy Hands Project

Phuket Wedding Calligraphy via Happy Hands Project

The Happy Hour Calligraphy Workshop at The Untitled Space

The last Beginners’ workshop of the year is worthy of its own blog post, because it marks the beginning of another year of learning and teaching this lovely craft. If I’m not mistaken, I started with the Happy Hour Workshops in March of 2014 with only 8 participants. At present, due to the demand, we have doubled that number and each class is still always fun and interesting, thanks to the diverse group that I get to teach every time.

Dec2015 Calligraphy-Workshop via Happy Hands Project

Last Saturday’s workshop was packed to the brim. We made good use of the ‘Make Your Own Happy Hour’ pads, and were treated to a lovely spread of pastries and artisan coffee. The Untitled Space studio was bathed in beautiful light at that time of the day, and I couldn’t be any happier! It makes for great photos, too.

Dec2015 Calligraphy-Workshop via Happy Hands Project

One thing I learned about teaching modern calligraphy is that each student has a certain difficulty to overcome, and it is through experience that I am able to address the issue. It feels great when after some drills and practice strokes, I could see the progress that each student makes.

Dec2015 Calligraphy-Workshop via Happy Hands Project

I will be back in January for a couple of Beginners’ classes, and Advanced classes will follow (crosses fingers). If you’re interested, leave your email address to subscribe to the newsletter. I cannot wait for a new round of workshops for the next year!

For artists and creatives looking for a venue for your workshops and exhibitions, I would highly recommend The Untitled Space. The photos speak for themselves, don’t you think?

All photos were taken by Jim Orca/The Untitled Space

Doing What You Love: Focusing on Goals Under Stress

Focus On Your Goals | Lettering via Happy Hands Project

For me this year, the peak season for wedding calligraphy started on the later part of the 3rd quarter. I was on my first trimester of pregnancy at the time, and I was feeling extra emotional and tired. After tucking my daughter to sleep, I couldn’t get myself to work some more. I thought, how will I get through the wedding season if I was tired all the time? I was worried, but sleep always got the better of me. I hit the sack a couple of hours earlier than usual.

Then I worry again the next day because of the work that has been piling up.

Calligraphy and lettering is something I do because I love doing it. I like writing, and drawing letters, ever since I was a little girl. So why is this whole thing, the thing I’m supposed to love, is stressing me out? Now that I’m well into my second trimester and down to my last calligraphy addressing project for the year, I’m feeling much better and excited for what the coming year has to bring. I was able to accomplish the invitation suites for December weddings (and even one for March!), delivered place cards right on time, and also had a few large-sized calligraphy done for some clients. Let me share with you some of the things that kept me motivated — and sane — during the time when the work load was almost too much to handle.

FOCUS ON YOUR GOALS
I was able to do this by listing my goals down on paper. Seeing it on my wall makes it more ‘real’, and I was able to focus on my priorities instead of procrastinating and doing less important things. Focus on your daily or weekly goals and stick to it.

TAKE BREAKS
So yes, it’s important to get work done, but you’re headed for burn out if you don’t take a breather once in a while. There was a 250-word poem that I had to rewrite 3 times because of some silly mistakes I’ve made and it was frustrating! There was one evening when everything seemed to go wrong. I knocked my ink over, the envelope drying rack tumbled, and my hand was shaky. Why not take a break? Making watercolour washes on my pad relaxes me, and scribbling with my brush pens calms me down. Trust me, it works. By the time I got back to writing, it was so much better.

CHECK YOUR WORK
I’m lucky to have a husband who designs as well, and was willing to give his creative input into my work. Having another pair of eyes look through your finished work is better because he/she may see things differently than you do. Having someone else proofread is also a good idea. However, some of us would prefer to do things on our own and if this is the case, carefully check your work before sending it out. It saves time because you don’t have to do things over again, and you’ll have happy clients all the way.

ACCEPT YOUR LIMITATIONS
I had to give up some calligraphy workshops during this period. As much as I love to teach this craft, and I get emails asking when my next class would be, I knew I couldn’t handle it. Take a step back and see how your work load is, and learn to say no if you simply cannot handle any more. Your clients will thank you because you’ll be able to churn out better work.

REMEMBER WHY YOU’RE DOING THIS IN THE FIRST PLACE
When work gets too much for you to handle, pause and ask yourself why you’re working so hard for this anyway. I pick up my pen and dip it in ink and get lost in pointed pen bliss because it makes me happy. I’m passionate about this craft, and I want to share the beauty of calligraphy. What makes you do what you do? Think about it, and it’ll put a smile on your lips. Now check your daily goals and focus on them because believe me, it feels pretty good to get some work done.

Good luck and enjoy the ride!

Art Deco-Inspired Wedding Invitations

Art Deco Wedding Invitations via Happy Hands Project

I became an instant fan of the classic 1920’s look because of this art deco themed invite suite I had the privilege of designing. It was a vintage theme, yes, but the beautiful thing is, it doesn’t look ‘old’ at all. It’s just pure class, and I truly enjoyed the whole design process.

Art Deco Wedding Invitations via Happy Hands Project

The suite is a mix of handwritten elements and digital design, and searching for the perfect art deco font proved to be a challenge. A self-proclaimed font snob, I found myself browsing through fonts that were too mediocre to use. I finally found one or two that would suit the design excellently. Paired with the classic art deco pattern and modern calligraphy, the printed suite came out so much prettier than what I saw on my laptop screen. The colours came out soft and pleasing to the eye — exactly how I wanted it to be.

Photos courtesy of Nelwyn Uy Photography
Wedding coordintation by the 3rd Party Wedding Planners

5 Premium Brush Fonts Worth Checking Out

 

5-Brush-Lettering-Fonts-via-Happy-Hands-Project

Am I the only one hooked on brush lettering fonts? Everytime I click on Creative Market, there is a vast number of brush fonts for sale. For those who find lettering with a brush a bit challenging, one can always invest in a font or two to make artworks.

After pointed pen calligraphy, I also love lettering with a brush and trying out different styles can be tricky. For the beginner, looking at the structure and letter forms of these fonts can help one understand how these are written. These fonts are so natural-looking and you can even see the strokes on the letters. Talk about organic!

Wish I could give away a font that I have designed myself. But while I figure out how that dream will come to fruition, let me share with you my favourite premium brush fonts so far:

Bonjour by Nicky Laatz
Botanica Script by My Creative Land
Heartwell Italic by Flavor Type
Manhattan Darling by Make Media Co.
Smitten by Make Media Co.

Enjoy!

The Happy Hour Modern Calligraphy Workshop — Revamped!

Calligraphy Workshop via Happy Hands Project

Hi everyone! I know it’s been a while since I wrote something about The Happy Hour workshops. The good news is, I’m writing about the revamped beginners’ workshops that I’ve started last 19th of  September.

The demand for the HHP workshops is still overwhelming, which made me think about the class size. The only way to bring in more participants is to find a bigger venue — and here in Singapore, that is not an easy task. Good thing was I attended the Googly Gooeys’ Watercolour Workshop, and there I found a perfect venue!

Calligraphy Workshop via Happy Hands Project

So the first part of the revamp is having the classes at The Untitled Space, a centrally-located, light-filled workshop space that doubles as a photography studio and occasional cafe. The class size is still small, but the space was able to accommodate slightly more participants. As always, the coffee is sooo good (and there’s Rooibos tea for non-caffeine drinkers!).

Calligraphy Workshop via Happy Hands Project

The second part, and the most important project I’ve ever worked on for the workshops, is the ‘Make Your Own Happy Hour’ workpad. It’s exclusive to participants, and has a new set of exemplar and practice strokes. The alphabet guide is based on Copperplate but still follows my own style of modern calligraphy. It has beautifully-lined pages for drills and freeplay which participants get to take home for more practice.

Calligraphy Workshop via Happy Hands Project

I’ve scheduled a couple more modern calligraphy for beginners workshops in October. You’ve been notified of the registration if you subscribed to the newsletter. Hope to see you in one of my classes soon!

All photos were taken by Jim Orca of The Untitled Space.

Ink Review: McCaffery’s Penman’s Ink in Black

McCaffery's Ink Review via Happy Hands Project

My first impression of this ink was, how come it’s so watery? I’ve always used sumi ink, which is a thicker, darker kind of black than this one. Sumi has the perfect viscosity in my opinion. So the first time I dipped my Nikko G into McCaffery’s, I was surprised that not much ink stayed in the reservoir.

I didn’t give up, of course. It wrote quite smoothly, but I found myself in another situation. The ink wasn’t black enough! How can this be penman’s black if it’s a weak grey? I waited for the ink to dry, and realised that the ink actually gets darker as it dries. Problem solved! It still has slight gradients just like walnut ink, specially on the downstrokes, but I liked the effect nonetheless.

McCaffery's Ink Review via Happy Hands Project

Another good thing about this ink is that it’s super smooth to write with. It behaves like Higgins Eternal, but with a ‘silky’ flow. It gives super fine hairlines that you won’t get with sumi ink. Though I wouldn’t recommend this for artwork that you will scan eventually (your scanner might not be able to catch the hairlines), it’s a lovely ink to write with. It gives your calligraphy some character, and it dries beautifully.

McCaffery's Ink Review via Happy Hands Project

The only downside is that you need to wash your nibs with water right after use — which was a bit difficult for me because I leave my nibs to dry for hours. McCaffery’s ink would eat your nibs, so make sure you wash it after use.

The verdict? Smooth, silky, deep grey ink, that gives my calligraphy some character. I would definitely recommend this ink.

Modern Calligraphy: Finding Your Own Style

Find Your Own Calligraphy Style via Happy Hands Project

There are so many reasons why many would opt for modern calligraphy over the traditional styles. First reason would most probably be because there are ‘no rules’ in the modern style. Another reason would be its popularity all over the web and social media platforms. Modern calligraphy is everywhere nowadays, and a lot of people are doing it as a hobby. Third reason, and this is the reason I believe the most, is because the modern style can reflect the writer’s personality. It would display one’s individuality, and you can have a style you can call your very own.

Before I go on, I’d like to dispel the myth that modern calligraphy simply has no rules. It’s a myth. It’s false. Modern pointed pen calligraphy is based on traditional Copperplate, so we will still follow the basic rules that come with it — consistent slant, legibility, and uniform thicks and thins. I would prefer to write something that is actually readable.

Now, for the fun part. With so many calligraphers and enthusiasts out there, how can you make your work stand out? It took me 2 years to come up with my own style — and I’m still learning, everyday. For beginners who want to display your individuality, I’ve come up with a few pointers.

1. Learn your basic letter forms.

Once you have memorized how each letter would look like, your calligraphy will look more consistent. Try to write the same letter in that style every time. Once you’ve mastered it, make slight variations to make it a little more exciting. Which leads me to my next point.

2. Write your own exemplar.

To help you memorize your basic letter forms, why don’t you write the full alphabet in the same style? You can always refer to it whenever you’re writing. You can write your variations there, too.

3. Study calligraphy fonts.

Modern calligraphy fonts are different from each other, and observe why this is so. Some have thick downstrokes, some are very upright, while some are playful and carefree. While doing this, you can also gauge what style reflects your personality more.

4. Keep on practicing.

Even the expert calligraphers out there still practice and do their drills. Believe me, it helps! It builds muscle memory, so you’ll be able to do your letter forms right. Practicing also keeps your mojo going, and very relaxing, too. I can write drills for hours. Just remember to have your own exemplar around while practicing so you can be consistent with your slant and style.

Find Your Own Calligraphy Style via Happy Hands Project

Finally having a style you can call your own will take months, or even years of practice. I must admit I tend to jump from every style I can think of when I was starting out. It’s not bad, and it actually helped me come up with the style that I would actually stick to eventually. Good luck in finding your own pointed pen style! Remember — Practice Makes Pretty!