design work

What is Hand Lettering?


Hi. I’m Nicholas Miner. I’m a graphic designer at MESH, and one of my passions is creating hand lettered type.


Hand lettering has become increasingly popular, especially on social media. As you’re scrolling through your newsfeed and seeing beautiful hand drawn words, hand lettering may seem like a difficult skill to master, but all it really takes is a little practice.  If you’re thinking to yourself, “I have horrible handwriting, so I could never be good at hand lettering,” let me be the first to say YOU CAN DO IT. Hand lettering is much different than calligraphy; essentially it’s just drawing letters. Personally my own handwriting is really bad, but that doesn’t affect my lettering.


Hand drawn typography takes time and patience. If you’re wondering why you should spend hours drawing two words when you can use a pre-made font and type it in two seconds… The easy answer is that drawing custom letters gives you complete control of the look and shape of each letter and word. You can make letters fit perfectly together and add flourishes to your words. Basically, you can make it completely your own and bring it to life. You can’t always do that with a pre-made font.


In fact, I love fonts. In design, everything has a time and place. I don’t use custom type in all my projects. Sometimes, I find that fonts are a much better choice than custom letters. If you think about it, all fonts were originally custom-created by a type designer, so at one point, all type was custom!


If you want to join the hand lettering community, there are a few things I recommend investing in:            • A gridded sketchbook            • A nice mechanical pencil            • A ruler            • A few different weights on micron pens (03, 05, 08)

There are so many ways to start your lettering journey, but the best advice I can give you is to sketch, sketch, sketch and sketch some more. Your first lettering sketch will never be your best, so keep at it. Take a detailed look at other hand lettering and types for inspiration. Sometimes the best thing to do when you’re starting out is to mimic typefaces so you get a feel for letter spacing and how the weights in type vary.

I’d love to see your hand lettering, so tag me on Instagram @nicholasgminer. Keep in touch.

If you’re still nervous about starting, I highly recommended taking this skillshare class by Nicholas Fredrickson: