seanwes blog


Do You Need Talent to Do Hand Lettering or Is It Just Hard Work?

Sean McCabe | July 10, 2015

If you’re anything like me, you’ve got these beautiful pictures in your head. You can see what you want to create in your mind’s eye. It’s perfect, it’s wonderful, and you know just how you want it to look.

You have this vision of what you want to create and you want nothing more than to share it with the world. “If only there was a way to download this from my mind and just print it out,” you reflect.

Of course, there isn’t a way. You’ll have to create it yourself. You’ll have to translate it. Learning to translate and to transpose is about as awkward as doing it with multiple languages at first.

You decide to put pen to paper. You do your best to begin composing the masterpiece—only, what comes out doesn’t match. It’s not that picture in your mind.

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Letters With a Common Skeleton

Basic Guide to Choosing Harmonious Styles for Hand Lettering

Sean McCabe | July 9, 2015

A common issue I see with new letterers is the use of too many styles in one piece. Typically this is because they see styles they like in several different pieces and bring them all together thinking it will make one epic piece.

Of course, what you end up having is a mess. It’s very hard to read, the words aren’t very legible and there’s just too much going on.

There’s nothing wrong with using ornate styles, but this is something to be used in moderation with careful consideration.

You’re going to find that styles range wildly from person to person and with different tastes. I make a case for simplicity because I see lettering as a form of voice. It’s a way to communicate.

If your letters are so ornate and complicated that no one can read your message, then what’s the point?

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Has Your Hand Lettering Spark Fizzled Out? Here’s 5 Ways to Stay Motivated & Driven

Sean McCabe | July 8, 2015

Jake wrote me yesterday:

As someone who is absolutely in love with lettering as a hobby, my biggest struggle is “What’s next?” I have a good grasp on different styles and composition. I’ve shown off my work through various social media websites and have found freelance through those channels. It has been a fantastic experience.

But the spark of something new has somewhat fizzled out.

It has become harder to stay motivated and driven. How do I take it to the next level? How do I define my next goal? How do I maintain the excitement?

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Save Time in Photoshop With Custom Keyboard Shortcuts So You Have More Time for Hand Lettering

Sean McCabe | July 7, 2015

Look, it’s hard enough finding time to practice lettering, right? We talked about that yesterday. Sure, it comes down to sacrifices and saying no, but you’re probably wasting a lot of time you’re not even aware of!

I’m going to come out of left field and share some custom Photoshop shortcuts with you today. I know what you’re thinking—wait a minute, Sean… this isn’t lettering! I know. Please don’t get angry. This is really going to help you save time and streamline your process when it comes to digitizing your lettering which is something we’re going to talk more about in the future.

Not to mention, these tips will help you out in just about any field where you might use Photoshop (everything from user interface design to photography). The idea here is not necessarily that you use the same shortcuts I do (unless of course it helps), but more so that it gets you thinking about ways you can speed up your workflow!

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How Do You Find the Time to Practice Hand Lettering?

Sean McCabe | July 6, 2015

You want to get better. You know you need to practice. You know it’s going to require hard work.

But you just can’t seem to find the time.

It feels like getting to practice hand lettering would be a luxury. Your life is busy! You have lots of things going on. It seems like you’re doing things non-stop all day and there’s barely even a chance to read this post, let alone actually practice.

But think about that for a moment. You’re making time to read this post. What’s going on here?

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Quick Tip to Draw Straight Lines & Avoid Shaky Hand Lettering

Sean McCabe | July 5, 2015

A surprising number of people write to say they have trouble drawing smooth lines. How do you get nice, smooth, even lines?

Well first, what a lot of people don’t know is I spend quite a long time on a lettering piece. I take about 3–4 hours on average for a medium-sized piece.

It’s not that I couldn’t get it done faster, it’s that you really need to be meticulous and intentional about your lines. This is especially the case when you are inking.

Even once you are very practiced, there’s still a limit to how fast you can draw while maintaining smooth lines.

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The Selling Power of Hand Lettering

Sean McCabe | July 4, 2015

I was about to do work for the city of Las Vegas.

I have to forewarn you: This is a lengthy post and I’m going to be very transparent and go into incredible detail regarding pricing and licensing terms.

This is the kind of thing you get access to if you purchase the Learn Lettering Master Class. I’m going to show you how to actually make money with your hand lettering. This post will tell you how to avoid practically giving away tens of thousands of dollars of selling power without even realizing it.

This post is long, but if you’re serious about making money as an artist, do not skip it. If you’re in the mood for lighter reading you can go back and read the previous posts (I’ve been blogging daily for over a week now), but make sure you come back and read this one later.

So anyway, I was about to do work for the city of Las Vegas…

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Mind Blank? Here’s How I Get Ideas for Hand Lettering

Sean McCabe | July 3, 2015

You decided to show up. “I’m going to do this thing,” you say to yourself. “I’m going to dedicate time every day to practicing hand lettering.”

It’s morning. You sit down at your desk in front of a blank page. The sun is just now starting to come through the blinds in the window. It’s casting a beam of light onto your fresh, white paper.

But there’s a problem: your mind is absolutely blank. You have no idea what to write. You look around frantically for inspiration, but nothing interesting stands out.

What went wrong?

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“I don’t have an art or design background… can I do hand lettering?”

Sean McCabe | July 2, 2015

The good news is, you don’t need to have a design or lettering background to start hand lettering. Of course, any prior experience will always be helpful, but all you need is a willingness to learn and a commitment to showing up every day.

Lettering is really just drawing, and drawing is something anyone can learn with practice.

It’s going to take a lot of deliberate practice to learn different styles of lettering. You’re going to have to copy many typefaces, and individual letters by tracing, using references, creating without reference, comparing back to the original, and revising.

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How to Develop Your Own Unique Hand Lettering Style

Sean McCabe | July 1, 2015

You want to stand out from the crowd. You want to have your own unique voice. You want to build an audience.

You want someone to look at your hand lettering and immediately know that it’s you.

A style doesn’t develop over night. It’s not something you want to force overnight either or it’s just going to come across unnatural.

A style is something you settle into, not something you make happen.

Here’s the short answer: Keep creating. You will settle into a style with time.

But that’s not very satisfactory, is it?

Let’s break this down a bit more.

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Are There Too Many People Already Doing Hand Lettering?

Sean McCabe | June 30, 2015

How is it that something can simultaneously feel super-niche and over-saturated?

On the one hand, most people on the street probably have no idea what hand lettering is. On the other hand, it can feel like it’s hard to stand out in a new field that everyone seems to be flocking to.

Everywhere you turn, you see more hand lettering. Everyone and their brother is getting into it—at least it seems.

This is actually extremely good news when it comes to getting paying clients, but I want to focus more on the emotional struggle we feel when we are discouraged from trying something because so many other people seem to be doing it.

Hand lettering is no doubt experiencing a significant resurgence, but more likely what you’re experiencing is confirmation bias.

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Finding Clients While Maintaining Professionalism

How to Find Clients for Hand Lettering

Sean McCabe | June 29, 2015

In an upcoming post, I’ll be talking about the selling power of hand lettering. Of course, you need clients first in order to sell.

There’s two basic ways of getting clients:

1. Chasing them.
2. Attracting them.

First, I’m going to make a case for the latter and explain why chasing clients is the worst thing you can do for your business.

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Is It Really Possible to Make a Living With Hand Lettering?

Sean McCabe | June 28, 2015

A common response I get to Learn Lettering is “I don’t plan to make a living with hand lettering.” Neither did I!

Who in the world makes a living as a hand lettering artist? Most people haven’t even heard of hand lettering!

Well for one, I’ve been able to. And so are many others. But I’ll get to that more in a minute.

Let’s be honest: hand lettering may be experiencing a resurgence, but if you ask anyone on the street, they most likely haven’t heard of it. Hand lettering is still fairly niche.

The good news is you can still make a living at something super niche.

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Get Better At Hand Lettering the FAST Way by Changing How You Practice

Sean McCabe | June 27, 2015

Since last year, thousands have purchased the Learn Lettering class and now it gets even better. Learn Lettering 2.0 launches on July 27th, 2015 with fully reproduced videos and all-new modules!

That’s one month from today. To celebrate, I’ve prepared an epic, 30-day series leading up to the reopening of the class to help you get better at hand lettering.

Here’s a teaser of what you can look forward to in the coming days…

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Learn Lettering 2.0 – 30 Days of Lettering Posts Starts Now

Sean McCabe |

Since 2014, thousands have purchased the Learn Lettering class and now it gets even better. Learn Lettering 2.0 launches on July 27th, 2015 with fully reproduced videos and all-new modules!

I’ve gone through hundreds of emails from hand letterers like you sharing their biggest struggles, and as a result I’ve completely re-engineered the course. It’s tailored to the most important things you need to learn.

I’m producing an all-new Starter Class. I’m jam-packing it with modules on typographic terms, deliberate practice, in-depth lessons on drawing letters, the full digitization module, and a bonus module called Lettering Masters.

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How to Digitize Hand Lettering

Sean McCabe | February 20, 2015

I’m going to take you behind the scenes and show you how to digitize hand lettering using Image Trace. This video starts off in Photoshop for some initial prep work to clean up your lettering and then we take it to Illustrator for vectoring.

If you like this video, it’s a very small sampling of the 50 other lessons you’ll find in the Learn Lettering Master Class. Hope you enjoy!

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