There are bountiful reasons why 1000’s of companies worldwide are hiring more and more lettering artists like myself. Especially in the field of Advertising, Apparel and Branding where a design is key in engaging an audience.
Although hand lettering isn’t a worldwide known term yet, it’s popularity is growing.
Just check out this Google Trends report spanning over the past ten years. It’s obvious that hand lettering is on a steep climb to the top.
I want to help you gain clarity on how a hand lettering artist can create tremendous value for your brand and why it’s worth the investment for your next creative project.
Who this article is for
You’re most likely one of three different kinds of people who are interested in understanding the commercial power of lettering.
You’re a business owner or art director wanting to know why you should hire a lettering artist for your project.
You’re on board with hiring a hand lettering artist, but you don’t know how to convince your boss that it’s worth the investment.
You’re a hand lettering artist, and you need help explaining the value of your services to your friends and clients.
Did I hit it on the head? If you fall into one of the three categories, then you’re in for a fun read. If not, stick around anyways. You might learn something that could make a real difference for your business.
The difference between fonts and lettering
I truly believe in the power of hand lettering. Every character, line and serif can trigger an emotion that fonts just can’t seem to do on their own. If you’re looking for that hand drawn look, you could argue that a hand drawn font could do the trick with a few customizations. But it’s not going to be as visually interesting or unique if you had just made the letters yourself.
The difference between hand-lettered fonts and lettering is similar to the difference between buying a frozen pizza from the grocery store and going to an authentic Italian pizzeria for a slice of pepperoni. There’s a noticeable difference in quality and no matter how badly others try; you can’t fake authenticity.
Just look at the above example. I typed “hand-lettered poster” into Google Image and got two very different results. One uses fonts (left), and the other was hand made by me (right). I think the difference in personality speaks for itself.
The biggest difference between lettering and typography is their use of text in design. While typography focuses more on the technique of arranging existing typefaces, hand lettering rises above traditional typography because each of the letters are drawn from scratch to create a unique illustration.
To put it simply – typography is more a feature of Graphic Design whereas hand lettering is a concentration within Illustration.
When to hire a hand lettering artist over a graphic designer
Typically when clients are looking to commission a new design they search for an agency or freelance graphic designer to get the job done. But what many clients don’t always realize that there are various niches and concentrations within design that makes certain people more qualified for the job than others.
It all depends on your goals for the project that decides who you should hire.
So if you’re looking for the following, then I would highly recommend hiring a professional hand lettering artist:
You’re looking for something typography focused
You need an original design that stands out among your competitors
You want a design with a timeless appeal, not just a trendy image
Hand Lettering will never go out style
Although there has been a hand lettering revolution happening over the past few years, lettering has been around for quite some time ranging from the earliest pictographs and hieroglyphics to the work of 21st-century designers.
Back in the early 1900’s the only way a company could advertise their content was through custom hand painted lettering. Even today where those same signs are still alive and well, their beauty is timeless. For the few ghost signs left, they’re just as engaging as the first day the artist painted them.
Since hand lettering is custom made for each client, it’s better than using “trendy typefaces” that always seem to get overused fairly quickly.
Remember when Comic Sans was all the range? Now a designer wouldn’t be caught dead using Comic Sans, unless it were meant to be a joke.
Unfortunately, when using fonts, there’s no guarantee that your designs will remain in style even one year after they’re made. Not really worth the upfront cost if you plan on using that graphic for the next few years.
Completely custom artwork. Not just images pieced together.
The biggest difference when hiring a hand lettering artist vs. a graphic designer is the way they approach problem-solving. Usually, the process starts the same with a few rough sketches to get their ideas on paper while searching online for resources and inspiration. But after this initial “Brainstorming” phase their processes become very different.
At this point a graphic designer will:
Go to a font library online to view the most popular typefaces and scroll through fonts until one feels right.
Start to plug and play different formats into a grid to fine tune their layout using various digital tools.
Visit a royalty stock site to find an image that most closely represents their clients message.
But a hand lettering artist/illustrator will:
Review the tone of the message and start to draw different styles from a type library they’ve built in their head.
Draw a ton of illustrations using a mixture of their imagination and references for imagery.
Crafting the type, illustrations and supporting details together to create a unified graphic.
Now one of these methods isn’t necessarily better than the other. I’ve been a graphic designer in the industry for years, and I can tell you that they each have their purpose.
Ultimately choosing to go with a graphic designer or a hand lettering artist all depends on the client’s brand, project goals and core values.
So if you’re a company that values originality, handmade products, and authenticity, then going the hand drawn route just makes more sense.
So why would you want to use a font or stock graphic that thousands of other companies in your same industry are probably using?
Hiring someone in a niche that has just one focus
Although many designers in the industry are good at several things and if approached with a hand lettering project could most likely do a pretty good job if they had the experience. But most likely their work wouldn’t compare to that of a seasoned hand lettering artist. Why?
Let me put it this way:
If you had a cavity, who would you want to be your doctor? A dentist or a general practitioner? You probably picked the dentist because if something is important enough, you want a professional that really knows what they’re doing. The same goes for hand lettering.
There is no way a graphic designer that considers themselves a part time letterer could compete. Typically a hand lettering artist will work on their trade every single day and have done so for many years. I know I have. Hand lettering is my main and only focus, so I’m able to understand my vocation in a more meaningful way.
So if you’re looking at various portfolios for a lettering artist, pick someone who obviously has a concentration in lettering. Don’t just pick a designer with a few mediocre lettering projects sprinkled in with the rest of their interests.
You want a professional to represent your company, not a novice that can only guess on how to complete your project.
Stand out with the psychology of attraction
We’re surrounded by ads all day long. On our phones, while we’re in traffic, and now it’s almost impossible to read an article online without being bombarded with pop-up ads. So with all that advertising noise, how can your business stand out?
Simply put, creating graphics that look completely different is the best way to stand out. And what stands out more than an original design made by hand? No generic stock graphics or overused fonts necessary.
You see, our brains hold very powerful pattern recognition software that allows us to notice even the slightest changes in our environment. It’s this same superpower that helped you accidently memorize the lyrics to that song you hate that keeps coming on the radio.
It’s this part of our brains that make hand lettering a golden opportunity for advertisers because every commissioned piece that’s made is uniquely different.
We recognize these differences on a deep subconscious level that will actually attract us to design instead of ignoring it like we usually do.
I’m available for new lettering projects and commissions (shameless plug)
I have the expertise to transform your message into a powerful image that can sell, entertain and inspire. Stop scouring graphic design portfolios trying to find someone close to meeting your design needs, hire a professional hand lettering artist like me.
As of this week, I’m officially a full-time freelancer, and I’m now accepting new creative clients just like you. You can fill out my questionnaire here to receive a free quote.