The ABCs of Hand Lettering is a series of posts on hand lettering – a few tips and guides by yours truly to kickstart your art venture into drawing letters and creating your own lettering style.
Apart from being asked frequently about the materials I use, I always get requests to share my favorite art books. And it’s funny, because while I have my fair share of type and lettering books, majority of my shelf consists of self-help creative books, which deem to be more helpful for us creatives, in my opinion.
Today I give a rundown of my recommended reads – most of which are remnants of places I’ve been (to get these titles fresh from the bookstores) and art forms I’ve been working on for the past years. I also give a few points on which are my favorites and where you could get your stache of art books as well.
Type & Lettering Books
My collection of type & lettering books range from merely inspiration-centric to terminologies-based ones. I use them (more than Pinterest) for inspiration and idea generation. Most of the styles showcased by different creatives vary a lot in terms of aesthetic, and it’s really nice to explore these as I venture out into projects and see which types can complement my personal lettering style.
- Drawing Type by Alex Fowkes. A compilation of different lettering and typography artworks showcased by artists around the world, Drawing Type is a visual representation of the art of drawing letters.
- Reinventing Lettering by Emily Gregory. Similar to Drawing Type but in a handier format, Reinventing Lettering exhibits type work in various fields that portray creativity through letters and typefaces. (Trivia: this is the same as “The Little Book of Lettering” – it was just published in a different country I think)
- Draw Your Own Alphabets by Tony Seddon. Both a tutorial and activity book, this is a perfect tool for those interested to have hands-on drawing sheets while reading through instructional content.
- Thinking with Type by Ellen Lupton. This is a rather detailed and informative approach to typography (not lettering) – from technical terms to application of typefaces on digital formats. I personally haven’t read through it yet (because I have no time) but if I consider making my own font (#goals), this should be very much useful.
Self-Help Creative Books
I personally find self-help books on creativity & productivity a better option for those dabbling into creative fields or are aspiring to work in this industry. While most people assume that creativity is the only essential thing as an artist, you have to realize that the left part of your brain plays an equally important part in this process. This helps in streamlining the gap between just an artist and being able to make money out of it, as well as building a decent portfolio. Finding out your work habits is essential if you’re eventually going to work as a creative in the future, and these are just some of the books that constantly help me plot out my own journey as a freelance artist.
- The Creative License by Danny Gregory. A comprehensive guide on overcoming artists’ block and finding your inner artistic self, this was one of the first few books I purchased (like, last 2011 at Fully Booked), and is still a favorite read.
- Steal Like An Artist & Show Your Work by Austin Kleon. These 2 books are all about the trade secrets to becoming a great artist – wonderfully illustrated and written in an honest and non-intimidating approach.
- Hegarty on Creativity. Hegarty (an advertising legend) shares his experiences through tips and pointers you should remember as a creative. This is a slow read, only because I feel that the information in this book doesn’t deserve to be digested in just one sitting. But it’s a nice convenient little book to carry around with you if you’re feeling uninspired.
- Day-to-Day & Maximize Your Potential by 99u books. Another of my favorites, the 99u books are all about insights and advice from some of the best creatives and gamechangers in the industry. It’s a good guidebook for those who are looking for advice on building yourself as an artist and working towards becoming the best version of your creative (and productive) self.
Where To Buy
I don’t have a complete list of places to buy books – but here are the places I go to for my literary fix.
- Manila: Fully Booked & Powerbooks
- Singapore: Basheer Graphic Books & Kinokuniya
- Hong Kong: Page One
- Read up on reviews. Amazon has a lot of customer reviews that may help you in considering your options before buying.
- Think before you hoard. Again, as I always say – what you want isn’t necessarily what you need.
- Refrain from purchasing books with similar content. Books in general are expensive, so know the types of books that will cater to your preferences. Just because everyone’s buying it doesn’t mean you should also get a copy.
- Invest in selected titles. You don’t need to buy every book you see on the shelf about lettering or illustration or photography. One or two is enough – and it’s better if you find titles that really resonate with your interests and passions.
- Learn and do. Books are just tools for progress. Always remember that the only way to improve is to practice constantly and put effort into your work.
EDIT: My book, The ABCs of Hand Lettering (same title), is now available at major bookstores nationwide for P295. Read more about it here :)
And if you’d like to learn more about lettering, join my workshops!
What are favorite books you have at your stache right now? Care to share? :)