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Lettering in Art Journals

Updated on March 24, 2015
Gayle Dowell profile image

Gayle Dowell is a jewelry and watercolor artist. She currently teaches art to a homeschool co-op highschool class.

What to Write and How to Write it in Art Journals

I love lettering. Simple lines expressing thoughts. That is why I add wording to my artwork, as I believe lettering can be as beautiful as the work itself. Now that I'm creating work daily in an art journal, I find that I want to improve my writing skills, both in communication and in the physical form of lettering. I want to be able to express my thoughts in a lettering style that punctuates what I have to say.

If you keep an art journal and want to improve your lettering skills, or you just want to learn some new techniques in lettering, read on...

All photos by Gayle Dowell

The What

First off let's discuss WHAT to write in art journals. The subject matter of journal pages is limitless. Some artists choose to be more fact based in their journaling by writing the events of the day. Others choose to express more feeling bringing out the emotional side of journaling. And still others choose to express opinions on certain subject matter. I personally do all of the above. I have a travel journal that is more fact based. I have one when my daughter was seriously ill where I expressed emotions during that time. I also have one about my belief in God expressing my faith.

There are some artists that journal daily adding art to highlight an event for every day of the year. Some who only journal when inspiration hits, and those who schedule weekly or monthly group journaling sessions. I'm more in the camp of journaling when inspiration hits, but would like to move toward a daily journaling time.

What to Write?

Check out Art Journal Prompts.

art journal hand lettering
art journal hand lettering

The How

When you've figured out WHAT to write, it is time to figure out HOW to write it. There are many techniques that can be used for writing in your art journal. I like to add my writing as part of the art itself as in the journal page of the butterfly antennae being made from my journal writing, or following the flow of my work. For example in the stormy seas journal page below, I've written my words to follow the waves of the sea. This gives more meaning to your words and helps to punctuate what it is that you are wanting to say.

In the example below, I added words that blended in with the artwork making the lettering part of the art. This works well if I have a few words that I want to add. Sometimes I don't have a lot to say, so this minimalist approach works well and I can still get my message across.

When I have more that I want to express, I'll add more lettering following the curve of my artwork. When standing back a distance, this lettering looks more like a shadow. Up close, the lettering adds to the message of the artwork. A nice surprise for the viewer who comes up for a closer look.

Lettering Tutorial Videos

Here are a few lettering video sources that are amazing to watch.

Calligraphy Pens

A good set of calligraphy pens will go a long way in producing some fantastic lettering. I have several different sets in all colors. I love the Sakura brand calligraphy pens over refillable technical pens. The Sakura are disposable, never clog and give a nice consistent line.

Make Your Mark Here

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    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      A really cool skill to develop.

      Great hub!

    • Gayle Dowell profile image

      Gayle Dowell 3 years ago from Kansas

      Thank you for the vote of confidence!

    • ForLoveofCupcakes profile image

      Jamie Jensen 3 years ago from Chicago

      I love these tips, and the letters in the video are BEAUTIFUL! :) Voted up!

    • milesamos profile image

      James Bailey 3 years ago


    • Johanna Eisler profile image

      Johanna Eisler 3 years ago

      How's this? :)

      What a beautiful lens! My daughter and I have been fascinated with calligraphy for a long time. She's far better at it than I am! I must share this lens with her! I especially enjoyed the video "How to Write Copperplate." Beautiful!

    • Heidi Vincent profile image

      Heidi Vincent 4 years ago from GRENADA

      KitandCaboodle, I especially loved the lettering in the tree and those curled around the waves, Very artistic and stylish. I wish you a happy and prosperous New Year!

    • Bercton1 profile image

      Bercton1 4 years ago

      Very creative lens!

    • Melissa Miotke profile image

      Melissa Miotke 4 years ago from Arizona

      This is such a pretty way to express oneself:)

    • profile image

      hmommers 4 years ago

      You cover a great deal of the subjects I love too. It's marvellous!!

    • jayavi profile image

      jayavi 4 years ago

      Writing Letters are amazing.

    • giacombs-ramirez profile image

      gia combs-ramirez 5 years ago from Montana

      Got me creative juices flowing!

    • squid-pinkchic18 profile image

      squid-pinkchic18 5 years ago

      This is so pretty! Nice lens here!

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I've always loved calligraphy, even since I was a little boy. Nowadays we don't hand-write much, so this is a good way to get kids involved and it's a creative outlet too. Blessings!

    • AcornOakForest profile image

      Monica Lobenstein 5 years ago from Western Wisconsin

      I've never made an art journal but I do love creative lettering. Great lens!