Skip to Content

So you want to create something original. You’re looking for inspiration, but also you’re very conscious of avoiding ripping someone off.

This is good! I want to commend you for wanting to create something original. A lot of new hand letterers don’t realize that they shouldn’t copy others’ works and post them as their own.

This doesn’t mean you can’t copy for practice, but it’s important to note that you shouldn’t ever publish derivative works.

For instance, you can copy some hand lettering you found in a Google Image search or on Pinterest, but you should not post this on your Instagram. Even if you say it’s “inspired” it’s still infringing upon the original artist.

This makes things a bit tricky. After all, how can you get better if you don’t look at great works that have been made before you? Where can you find inspiration if you always run the risk of copying?

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?

You may have heard about this little conference in cozy Columbus, Georgia called Creative South.

It’s like a well-kept secret. You certainly aren’t ever going to stumble across it accidentally because—let’s be honest—it’s practically in the middle of nowhere. You’re never just going to “find” yourself in Columbus, Georgia like you would San Francisco or New York City.

But there’s a certain southern charm and hospitality that is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. You’ve never known friendliness until you meet the generous reception that is Creative South.

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?

Ever find yourself scrolling and scrolling and scrolling on Pinterest and suddenly three hours have passed? What about letting Netflix autoplay that next episode two or five times too many? Technology caters to our hunger to consume. On the one hand, it can seem kind of depressing, but to someone who is a creator, there  Continue Reading »

I’ve talked about the good and bad types of copying before. Though there are many overlapping points, this is a tangential topic to that of my previous article. I started writing much of this in a personal response to a question posed by a good friend. Part way through, I recognized that I was writing  Continue Reading »

Awe We often find ourselves admiring the incredible. Some things have an element of magic that makes them fascinating. Many will pause for a moment, in wonder or respect, and then continue on their way. But there are some of us who look a bit deeper. We notice the attention to detail and we recognize  Continue Reading »

Let’s Talk about the Good Copying Copying is not always bad. We all start by copying. It’s how we learn. It’s how we learned language and how to speak, it’s how we learned to draw, and it’s how we learn to make letters. There’s nothing wrong with copying to learn. Did you notice the important  Continue Reading »

When we ventured into into the industry of our passion, we very quickly became privy to the clear front runners. These people inspired us and made things that we admired. Their success and their drive served as a motivation to us. Likely, they still continue to inspire and motivate us to do even better. As  Continue Reading »