5 Handlettering Mistakes You Might Be Making

Are you making any of these handlettering mistakes?!

I believe that handlettering is an art form. It takes talent, but also technique, skill and tons of practice. I haven't yet met one person who was able to master brush lettering on the first try. Learning the proper techniques and then putting in the hours of practice are absolutely the best way to become an amazing calligrapher. 

But... 

(There's always a but.)

There are a few things that we can do wrong when learning to handletter and sometimes we might not even know that we are doing these things! So today I'm sharing 5 common handlettering mistakes that you might be making, without even realizing it! 

1. Writing too fast. 

Calligraphy is a slow process. The handlettering videos that you see on Instagram are typically sped up to be much faster than they are actually lettering. I usually speed up my videos by 6 or even 8 times (and I am actually pretty fast at lettering compared to the standard!).

It may feel like you are dragging, but going slow can give you the time to ease into your transition from thick to thin strokes and make your lettering look more natural. Just try it! 

2. Not lifting up your pen after every letter (or even stroke!)

This is one of the mistakes that I made frequently when I began lettering and I didn't even know that I was making it! I would write a word using one continuous stroke and although it was possible, it made calligraphy so much more difficult than it needed to be. It also caused certain parts of my words to be more squished while others were more spaced out because I wasn't able to pay as much attention to that part of my lettering.

Once I started lifting up my pen after nearly every stroke, I realized how much easier it became! It allows you to think ahead at where your next letter is going to go, which can be a tricky part about lettering! And with that means that you have to redo your projects a lot less! Bonus! 

3. Using the wrong products. 

Now listen, I'm all about using money saving products when they work. I'm a huge fan of lettering with plain old Crayola markers (here) and I've even tried my hand at Walmart brush pens. I'm not a believer that everything has to be name brand for the sake of being name brand. But, when you're spending money on nice brush pens, you need to care for them a bit more than your Crayola markers.

I once bought brand new Tombow Dual Tip Brush pens that frayed almost immediately because I was using the paper right out of my printer. This type of cheap paper is textured and bumpy and will eat away at your delicate brush pens. 

Some people will recommend Canson marker paper, which is amazing. However, I personally use HP Premium Choice Laser Jet Paper and love it. It's thicker than regular copy paper and much smoother. And while it's not specifically designed for brush lettering, it will help your pens to last a bit longer and will also help your lettering to look smoother and make your pens feel juicier. (There has to be a better descriptor than that?!) You can find the paper here. 

4. Thinking that expensive products will make you a lettering success overnight. 

This is the flip side of number 3. Some people spend a ton of money trying out all of the different products that they've seen calligraphers recommend and expect their lettering to look the same even without all of the practice. These products can be amazing! But just like those amazing TV systems with 14 different remotes, if you don't know how to use them, you're not even going to be able to get that amazing TV and surround sound turned on!

Lettering products are similar. You have to know the proper technique of holding your pen, creating thick and thin strokes, and forming your letters and you also have to practice them enough where they become second nature. Once you do this, your fancy pens will help you create the most beautiful lettering art!

And I get it. Lettering videos look so effortless. But I assure you, they did not come without effort or hours of practice from the artist. And better products do not equal better results if you have not put in the practice time. And I just hate to see people wasting money thinking that just maybe a better brush pen will do the trick when really it might just be practice that is needed. 

5. Comparing yourself to other handletterers/calligraphers. 

We've all seen the meme. 

"I will not compare myself to strangers on the internet."

This could not be more true! And comparison in handlettering will only leave you frustrated and feeling less than, which are never good things.

I just want you to remember that each and every person who is an amazing lettering artist has probably spent months or more practicing to perfect their lettering style. And we've all binge-watched a few Netflix series' during our practice time! So grab yourself a cup of coffee (decaf, if you get the jitters. Because that will definitely not help your lettering) and pick a favorite show/audiobook/podcast and get to lettering! You are doing amazing!