Hand It To The Letters: Hand lettering as a hobby
As the semester comes to a close, most of us have one thing on our mind: finally being able to sleep in and relax. There’s just one tiny obstacle standing between us and our beds: finals week.
I managed to make it through most of my high school career without stressing over finals, and in some cases, without having to face a final at all. So naturally, come my first official finals week here at Hofstra, I didn’t know what to do with myself. Up until last semester, I had never felt such intense stress or anxiety that I could no longer process my own thoughts, nor did I feel the need to dedicate so much time to studying.
When I began to study for finals, I made the same mistake most people do when they first start to take studying seriously. I studied nonstop from a study guide that contained all the notes from the start of the semester and overwhelmed myself with the content. I was so consumed by the pursuit to memorize my study guide that I forgot how important it was to take a break and relax. But I also had no idea how to de-stress.
Despite a passion for writing, I was never able to consistently update a journal, and when I did manage to write an entry, I found that instead of it clearing my mind, I was flooded by more thoughts. The TV approach didn’t help much either as I quickly realized bingeing Gilmore Girls on Netflix was more distracting than relaxing. I tried everything from “calming teas” to meditation, but none of those things helped me relax. Soon, though, I found myself mesmerized by the fluidity of hand lettering videos on YouTube. I’ve never been too artistic, but I am prone to doodling and trying to improve my cursive handwriting when I get bored, so I thought I’d give it a try.
The great thing about hand lettering is that you don’t need to have good handwriting to be able to hand letter. Unlike calligraphy, hand lettering isn’t one fluid motion unless you want it to be. In hand lettering, each word is its own piece of art, whether that be fully equipped with doodles and a variety of writing styles or simple and minimalistic. Hand lettering allows for your brain to be creative. Additionally, hand lettering requires a lot of attention and forces you to quit multi-tasking and focus on what is in front of you. Once I start a hand lettering project, I become so immersed that I lose sight of my surroundings. I usually opt for my favorite quotes or words, but you can really hand letter anything. The only thing more satisfying than hand lettering is looking at the end result. I’ll be honest, the first time I actually finished a piece, I was surprised that I had created it.
Hand lettering definitely takes some time, effort and motivation, but once you get into it, you’ll find yourself wanting to pick up a pen and paper in all of your free time. Don’t get discouraged if the end result isn’t what you had imagined at first; you can always add to it or change it. It’s actually harder than you think to mess up hand lettering. When I first began my hand lettering journey, I took to Pinterest to find step-by-step tutorials on how to form different fonts. It’s much easier to ease into hand lettering if you start with something you know, like cursive, and build from there. You also don’t need fancy pens or markers; a regular pen, or even pencil, will do.
I’m still experimenting and finding my ideal style of lettering, but the freedom to be creative and the endless possibilities are what make the activity so great at relieving stress. So this finals season, if you get stuck in a loop of studying, coffee and Netflix, I highly recommend giving hand lettering a try.