Take 5: Tips, Inspiration, and a Free Download!

I have a new guilty pleasure: binge watching Jennifer McGuire Ink YouTube videos! Seriously, I can't stop watching. Though I don't plan on taking up the art of stamping (only because I know how much I would love it > become addicted > abandon everything to stamp all day), I will watch her tutorials until the cows come home. The tone of her voice is soothing, her videos are well-made and absolutely hypnotic! I first stumbled upon her blog when doing some research about 'foiling' (for an upcoming store launch.... :-O) and that's all she wrote. I simply can't get enough! Even though our creative outlets are different in style and medium, she has inspired me to step outside the lines in my own lettering and art practice, and brought me the idea for this week's blog post: A Creative Take 5. 

I'm absolutely obsessed with the idea behind doing a "Take 5," and to explain what it is, I will show you what I'll be sharing this week and then we'll get right to it:

  • 5 Letterers to Follow on Instagram
  • 4 Lettering Tips
  • 3 Ways I Stay Inspired Through a "Creative Drought"
  • 2 Of my favorite apps for editing my art for social media 
  • 1 Printable Warm-Up Sheet

5 Lettering Artists to Follow on Instagram:

I follow a LOT of letterers and other artists on Instagram, and I could make a list of 50 to follow! For today, I'm sharing 5, and in the next Take 5 post, I will share a few more :) 

1. Elizah of @elizahcalligraphy
She is just SO CREATIVE! I love her lettering style, and her handlettered ABC's are TO DIE FOR. Her galaxy prints are fantastic (out of this world, if you will < all puns intended) and she just makes it all look so incredibly easy. I dig the feel of her Instagram feed, as a whole: bright, cheerful, positive, cozy.

2. Amber Garner of @ambrgarnr
Little fun fact about me: I'm scared of serif lettering! But Amber, unlike me, is great with precision and creating more traditional lettering pieces. She also digitizes much of her lettering, and has some very helpful tutorials in her blog for doing so. *Additional bonus: she's a potty-mouth (According to her most recent post) which is a refreshing and fun thing to see in hand-lettering, to say the least.

3. Lindsay of @lshannondesigns
Lindsay does a lot of water brush lettering videos, so if you're looking for some inspiration in that realm, please visit her page! She posts very frequently, and incorporates a good amount of variety into her posts. She explores a lot, and I appreciate that in a big way! AND, she's a fellow Tombow Brand Ambassador :-D

4. Grace of @gs_calligraphy
Grace is a wizard with a brush pen! My favorite thing about her Instagram is the real-time videos she films of her ABC's. Any beginning letterer should check those out to affirm that even veteran letterers must go slow and take their time to create beautiful work. She's keepin' it real amongst all the Hyperlapse videos (I am the #1 culprit) and I give her all the props.

5. Erica of @ep_lettering
I must commend her for using lettering tools available to the masses! The things she can do with a pencil or a Crayola marker are outstanding, and you must see for yourself! Also, her lettering style is just so dreamy. I <3 U, ERICA!

4 Lettering Tips

1. The black Tombow Dual Brush Pen I reserve for use in my over-watercolor lettering has frayed considerably. No problem, though! I use a .005 black Micron pen to clean up the edges with ease and exactness. 

2. I have yet to find a graph paper that is compatible with my delicate lettering pens. For practicing basic lettering, I printed out a sheet of graph paper on standard copy paper and put it beneath a sheet of this marker paper. It's so thin, it's almost like tracing paper. This tip also works for any free lettering printables. Don't render your pens useless and spend even more dollars on new tools by using paper that will damage them.

3. To avoid wasting paper (my biggest qualm with lettering is going through so much paper...help!) I use and re-use a single sheet until I can no longer. For instance, when I'm warming up on a fresh sheet of paper, I do my warm-up with a very light color. I usually take up half or most of a sheet, so the next day, I will do a warm-up on the same sheet, but in a darker color. Repeat this process until you can no longer layer any colors. It's not the prettiest thing ever, but it sure helps out Planet Earth.

4. Another paper-saving tip. When I film my Insta videos, it usually takes me 3-4 tries to get something right. To make it a little easier and less wasteful, I will utilize 5 quadrants of the same paper. First, making sure my phrase is sized small enough to fit in a corner or very center of the page, I will then have 4 tries (4 corners) at my finished product before I move to the center of the page for my fifth try. Usually I don't need that many, but it conserves  a lot!

3 Ways I Stay Inspired Through a "Creative Drought"

1. Watch TV. This sounds a little counter-productive, but I like to grab my lettering pad and a bright pink brush pen, and listen to a funny show like New Girl or The Mindy Project and write phrases or words I hear, without stopping to look up. I even managed to *listen to* a little football this past season with my male roommates, while completing this creative challenge.  

2. Change mediums. The past few weeks, I have been very drained of energy, creative or otherwise. That's why, in one of my recent Insta posts, I abandoned my usual tools for a fun coloring pencil. Within minutes of playing around with the pencil, I had come up with a creative Instagram post, an original quote, and a product I was proud to display. After an hour of frustration and failed filmings with my brush pens, all I needed was a change of scenery.

3. Sit down and teach someone how to letter a basic word. This is actually very fun and eye-opening (for everyone involved). Grab a friend or family member and say "Hey, do you have 5 minutes?" and give them a mini crash course! Most people will be like "Whaaaaaa??? This is crazy hard, how do you make this look so easy?" And for most, it is a very fun 5 minutes in which you will look like a total bad@$$ and it will reinforce that you are amazing, and creative, and GOOD AT WHAT YOU DO.

2 Apps I Use for Editing My Art for Social Media

1. Afterlight (I did a full review here)
I don't do much editing, but Afterlight is my favorite go-to iPhone app for putting the perfect artsy, moody filter over a lettering piece. Their filters are endless, and mostly free. I also use this app specifically to crop, center, rotate, and put large white borders around my Gold Sharpie instagram posts. 

2. Snapseed
Jennifer of @happily.letter.after (on a future list FA SHO) told me about this iPhone app and it is a game changer! Using the select tool, I like to make the white of my paper bright and cheerful. I also use this hack in my Gold Sharpie Instagram posts! (I will have to let you in on the transformation sometime...it's incredible)

1 (But Kind of 2) Free Download(s)

One of my Favorite things to do is create mobile and desktop wallpapers on Adobe Illustrator. Here is a mobile wallpaper I whipped up, using some of my favorite colors and a hand-lettered quote based off a classic bluegrass tune. This was designed to fit an iPhone6, so if you have an older version, pinch and zoom out to center your background. Make sure to turn your Reduce Motion on!

What did you think of this Take 5? What are some topics you would like to see me cover in my next blog post or Take 5?