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4 Lettering Myths and the Truth Behind Them

With so many people wanting to get in on this lettering business~ I thought it’d be right to do a Lettering for Beginners series so… This is Part 1!

Today, we’re talking myths — or lies — that you’ve heard about lettering that may be holding you back from jumping into this crazy amazing lettering world! As we go along, I’ll link the other parts of the series at the bottom of this post so… Let’s go!

Lettering Myths Debunked

Myth #1: You need to be super artistic/creative to do lettering

You probably think I’m at least somewhat artistic if you’re reading this. But did you know I only took art until Secondary 2 (that is, till I was 14) — and I barely scrapped a pass?

Yep, no art background over here! I have a degree in communication, for heaven’s sake! I always thought my creativity lay in writing — prose, non-fiction, etc. My bestie can letter as well, and she’s an accountant. I’m not making this up!

You absolutely don’t need to be conventionally artistic or creative to learn lettering, I promise.

Myth #2: You need nice handwriting to do lettering

I’m sure your next thought is something along the lines of but you’ve gotta have some innate talent! Like nice handwriting!

But ask any lettering artist and they will either stare at you or burst out laughing. Or both — won’t that be a sight to see! Most of us have very ordinary handwriting. I actually think my fast scribbles are pretty bad. I have no idea how I managed to pass my exams because boy, was that chicken scratch something terrible!

(Yes, that’s my handwriting down below!)

Lettering Myths Debunked

Myth #3: You need to know cursive to do lettering

But what if you’ve some trained gorgeous handwriting? Surely that will translate to gorgeous hand lettering.

This one is… slightly true. Script lettering is essentially cursive with the thicks and thins, so people who know cursive will already have an idea of how their words are supposed to look. It’s a bonus especially if you’re going for a more traditional script style.

But you don’t need to know cursive to learn lettering. In fact, cursive can be an obstacle instead of a learning aid!

Seasoned cursive writers tend to just join up all their letters. That can be done in lettering, but it’s challenging! Cursive was created for writing faster, which doesn’t help in lettering because there are so many things to pay attention to!

Transitioning from thick downstroke to thin upstroke is one thing, but you also have to adjust the spacing of each letter so that it doesn’t look cramped. That’s a lot of judgement calls to make in a split second!

That’s why the most common piece of lettering advice is to start with the basic strokes — which I’ll cover in more detail in part 3 of this series! Once you learn those, you can break your words and letters into them and focus on each stroke, connecting it all together to form the written word!

Eventually, you may choose to go faster and lift your pen less, but for starters… It often leads to frustration if you go at it with a cursive mindset — so if you aren’t a cursive writer, you may actually have a leg up!

Lettering Myths Debunked

Myth #4: You need to have money to buy loads of things to do lettering

I remember when someone told me, “I need to learn how to improve my lettering with minimal supplies.”

I was a bit stunned because I never thought of it. I fell down the lettering rabbit hole pretty bad, but I always thought I was pretty budget about my lettering — I didn’t buy that $10 Akashiya brush pen even though it was pretty!

But after some thought, I could understand it.

One artist alone can use a whole bunch of tools in just the first 12 photos of their Instagram feed. If you trawl through 3 or 5 or maybe even 20 of them… It quickly gets overwhelming.

I mean, there is lettering with a small brush pen, a big brush pen, paint brushes, water brushes, the different types of paints you can use… FOMO kicks in, and you want #allthethings so you don’t miss out just in case you really love it!

I’m guilty of that. It’s the reason behind my acrylic paints, wood slices and embossing tools.

But do you really need #allthethings to learn lettering and improve? No. You absolutely don’t.

Lettering Myths Debunked

If you’re on a budget (or you’re just budget-conscious), head over to Part 2 of this series: The Top 5 Budget-Friendly Things You Absolutely Need to Learn Brush Lettering. It covers all you need to get started, and once you’re better, maybe just advance to a slightly more flexible pen or to a paintbrush to fine-tune your skill further!

Are there any myths I missed or questions you have about lettering? Let me know in the comments below!