Jenna Steely is a designer/maker in the Bay Area working toward a more progressive future.
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Sketchbook

A sketchbook is a lot of things. A place to take notes, to dump ideas, to iterate, to doodle. It's my place for words and pictures.  

In Pursuit of Hand-Drawn Type

 Look a made a GIF for this post!

Look a made a GIF for this post!

I am 2 weeks into the Modern Calligraphy Summit 2.0, a 3-week intensive calligraphy course. It's a summit that happens online, but requires you to keep up if you want to benefit fully from the social network and webinars that happens through it. 

I've been lusting for years over hand-drawn type. I follow many calligraphers, sign painters and type designers on Instagram. One of my favorite things about traveling is getting to see how other regions of the world communicate through their signage (especially in countries where the characters are foreign to me, such as India and Korea.) But I never took it upon myself to learn what I assumed was a difficult and tedious skill. Because... my handwriting is total shit. And if I learned anything in design school, it's that my technical drawing skills are shit too. 

But I've taught myself other cool crafts. Like how to weld. And blow glass. And sew to a surprisingly professional level. And build safe flame effects with propane. Why couldn't I learn how to draw letters well? 

So I used a healthy portion of my professional development fund* this year to pay the tuition and buy a ton of fun supplies for my journey. 

Week one was pretty much what I expected. I quickly fell behind the Mon-Wed-Fri class pace, with, well, normal life happening, and spent the weekend catching up. I burned through hours and hours of brush and copperplate practice to feel as if I'm still complete shit at calligraphy.

Brush script uses a fun brush tipped pen and isn't that hard to pick up. Cool!

Using a pointed pen to learn Copperplate is a much more difficult and finicky endeavor. 

But this week I turned a corner. I continue to practice in my spare time, and I'm finding moments of "ah-HA!" where I can write a word that actually looks... good! I'm figuring out the correct form to keep a consistent slant in my copperplate. I'm carrying brush pens around so my work doodles are now letterform practice (and bonus: my sketchbook looks waaay cooler now). I am seeing the cool hand-drawn stuff out in the world that used to mesmerize me and now I'm able to read into what strokes made up the form, and try to replicate it myself. I've even started playing with it in my professional work, by hooking up my wacom tablet and using Adobe Illustrator in new ways.

Practice, practice practice. 

Okay, maybe I'm getting somewhere? See a weird pointed pen on the right. 

As for the summit, the classes have now turned from fundamentals to more creative applications and I'm finding myself very inspired to practice and explore more styles and approaches. Tonight's class will teach me how to letter onto leaves and rocks! Leaves and rocks, guys. Coooool.

I'm excited to keep this momentum up through the rest of the summit and into my professional and personal pursuits! 

*At BSD, each employee gets $1,000/year to spend on their personal professional development. Being a designer, I tend to take this notion quite liberally and do fun creative shit with it. (See last year for an example)