AIGA hand lettering workshop with Ken Barber

Photo via AIGA Pittsburgh

Back in September* I took this amazing hand lettering workshop through AIGA Pittsburgh with Ken Barber of House Industries (a type foundry). I was so excited I took both morning and the evening workshops (one for hand lettering, one for script). Barber was an extraordinary teacher, giving us a good introductory foundation for playing with lettering given the short amount of time he gave us.

Nema & I working on our hand lettering during the morning session. Photo via AIGA Pittsburgh. 

I have always wanted to do some hand lettering. Pined for it. But by the time I got to the third letter it just looked like my ugly cursive and I would be thrown into a pit of despair. The tricks he gave us helped me get through an entire word and, hey, it looked pretty good!

He taught us to start from existing letterforms and work off of them to make them your own. This help so much! Instead of staring from nothing, you were already off the ground. You could observe and expert solution to a problem.

Why should a designer practice lettering or drawing when computers can do it?

“If you improve your drawing skills, you will become a better designer. Period”
Doyald Young

Barber found this quote remarkable and wanted us to let it sink it. Young is a letter yet he was giving advice not on how to improve art, lettering, or calligraphy, but design.

Another truth bomb he laid on us:

“Learn how to draw. If you don’t, you are going to live your life getting around that.”
– Saul Bass

My work from the lettering workshop. You can see the marks were Barber swooped in a sketched something 100x better than what I was working on. Ugh.



My “final” resolution:


The script workshop was a lot harder for me because we were practicing traditional technique.



“We remember details, we don’t invent them”
– Graham Greene

*Don’t judge for the late post

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