How to start writing beautiful lettering: Typography Essentials

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I get a few emails every now and then to ask about tips on starting Typography as a hobby. I am no professional, but I've compiled a list of essential things that helped me in my journey of learning Typography. 

Practice
Practice is essentially key to good lettering. I know of letterers who practice drills and strokes which I have started to do. I found that that is absolutely the key to amazing brush strokes. No matter what tool or medium you are using, practicing before working on the final piece ensures that you have clear strong confident strokes. 

Experiment with your tools
I am not just talking about the pens, even though that is important…There is many tool set up before you begin your typography journey. The surface you write on is important. I use mostly a smooth 80 gsm printer paper that are recycled…because I am sometimes a greenie and there is just too much wasted paper out there. What better use of these paper that will be going to the bin and practice your skills on! Sometimes…because I’m feeling adventurous, I pay a visit to Reverse Garbage in Marrickville and buy different stock papers to practice on because they’re such a steal! But when i am feeling bit fancier, I use a 240gsm textured paper which makes a whole lot different. Different paper stock creates a different effect and sometimes can affect your strokes. As for set up…I have a water colour palette, a jar of clean water and a black ink pot on the top, clean surface and my pens on my right. Once you get used to a set up, its quite hard to practice otherwise! Its good habit to maintain a similar set up so that you don’t knock your ink pot over your work! (this has happened before…)

Relax
I find that I have to be in a relaxed state to be able to write confidently. After a long hard day at work, it was tricky to get into the right kind of mood to write. I usually write motivating quotes and really, its hard to convey that on paper when you’re feeling wound up, really. Have a cup of tea, stretch a little and have a bar of chocolate before you start. (After yoga class is the best)

Set the mood
Before I begin every project, I find myself putting aside 5 minutes to compile a playlist to set the mood. This puts me in the right mood and relax while writing. I also believe in the power of music in the sense where if I were to compile a happy and upbeat playlist, my work will convey the message visually as well.

Compose your work
Always compose your work. Its easy to scrawl a bunch of quotes on a piece of paper but it is really hard to compose to the nature of the lettering. I find this the toughest when it comes to my practice and Ive yet to perfect this. What i find really useful is have test runs on practice papers and have pencil markings to mark where you are going to start and end. This usually works for me. 

Practice Again
Lastly, it always comes back to more practice. 

Happy Practicing! 

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