designer spotlight seb lester

#DesignerSpotlight Seb Lester: How To Master The Art Of Hand Lettering

You’ll keep falling in love with letter forms each time you see the bonny strokes and ornamental embellishments created by the typography maestro, Seb Lester. Known for his intricate penmanship and freehand recreation of famous brand logo designs, Lester has much to teach about the art and technique of this wonderful skill: hand lettering.

Story Of Sebastian Lester

In an interview with renowned design blogs, Lester shared his journey. In 1992, during a foundation course in the UK he stumbled upon a book titled The Graphic Language of Neville Brody, and was absorbed by the anatomy of typeface and construction of typography. The obsession led him to a graphic design degree in Central St Martins, London where he learnt how to digitize fonts.

He’s worked on custom fonts for Monotype Imaging Holdings, Inc that can be bought on various font download websites. In addition to this, he has created custom typefaces for publications and events of popular brands like Nike, Apple, British Airways, Barclays, H&M, The New York Times and Intel. Apart from client-based work, his new found passion for calligraphy keeps him occupied.

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Seb Lester In Spotlight

The UK based type designer, Lester took the world of design and inspiration by storm when he began posting his creative work on social media.

These videos have garnered him recognition in widely known publications such as Fast Company, Buzzfeed and Huffington Post etc. His speed-drawing videos became a viral sensation receiving millions of views, and I’ll credit myself for binge-watching them.

Hand Lettering Styles

Hand lettering is an ancient form of art and communication coming all the way from 16th century Greek courthand to this age of digitalization. By reading off and on about design history, I clearly see the transformation of letters from being ornate to becoming minimal.

Nevertheless, thanks to type designers like Lester who don’t let us dump beautiful craftsmanship. In his online portfolio, we see spellbinding designs of English language characters in an authentic vintage style.

Seb Lester
Source: Instagram/Seb Lester

Seb Lester
Source: Instagram/Seb Lester

This said, in his heterogeneous collection, you’ll notice a diverse range of lettering styles: monoline, two-line, cursive, block-letters, serif, gothic, italic, and experimentative.

Seb Lester
Source: Behance/Seb Lester

Seb Lester
Source: Pinterest/Seb Lester

It is mind-blowing to see the level of and multiplicity of artistry some people possess. It’s not just inspiring, but motivating enough to make you pick a fountain pen and begin creating.

Hand Lettering Tools And Tips

If you’re an aspiring typographer, someone who wants to master the art of hand lettering then I’ve listed down tools and techniques shared and inspired by Lester.

Hand Lettering Tools

You may have a wonderful imagination or idea in your head but in order to execute it, you need the correct tools. Those that you’ll have to discover yourself and those that assist you in creating brilliant pieces of typography.

Seb Lester recommends the following tools for hand lettering:

  • Pentel Color Brush
  • Fountain Brush Pen
  • Automatic Pen
  • Copic Wide Marker
  • Ruling Pen
  • Pilot Parallel Pen
  • Manuscript Italic Fountain Pen
  • Taped Ball Point Pens
  • Wide Dip Pen
  • Trio Markers

Although Lester has listed the equipment he uses, it is necessary for you to explore and filter because you’ll develop your own style eventually and it’s not necessary that the above-mentioned tools will work for you as well. This said, you must try everything first and then narrow your list.

Hand Lettering Tips

Okay so you have an idea and your tools, but how will you actually go about it? Here are handy tips inspired by Lester that’ll help you excel in the art of hand lettering.

1) Progress And Quality Go Hand In Hand

“Ideally I want to try to constantly evolve and progress, with quality being the only theme running through my work.” – Seb Lester

2) Timeless Work Wins Over Trends

“The best work transcends fashion. It’s timeless and based on the quality of the idea and its execution.” – Seb Lester

3) Calligraphy And Type Design Complement Each Other

“Doing calligraphy makes you a better type designer, and doing type design makes you a better calligrapher. It’s a really nice synergy there.” – Seb Lester

4) Know The Strengths And Weaknesses Of Your Tools

Seb Lester Quote

5) Learning About Letter Forms Is Fundamental

“I spend a lot of time drawing letterforms, studying letterforms, thinking about letterforms and reading about letterforms.” – Seb Lester

6) Specialize In One Area Of Your Choice

“I think developing a profound understanding of anything requires total commitment to that field.” – Seb Lester

7) Remember And Use Principles Of Design

“The best work may look different visually but it’s very often unified by a profound understanding of harmony, balance, contrast, proportion, rhythm, and movement.” – Seb Lester

8) Good Hand Lettering Requires Inspiring Words

Seb Lester Quote

9) Hand-Made Designs Are Alluring

“It’s satisfying to make something with your hands.” – Seb Lester

10) Balance Client And Personal Work

“Personal work is very important because I find it necessary to work outside of the constraints of client work sometimes.” – Seb Lester

11) Perform Your Best

“I’m trying to achieve the highest levels of beauty, originality and craftsmanship that I’m capable of.” – Seb Lester

12) Field Is Different Than Channels

Seb Lester Quote

13) Focus Leads To Success

“The key to producing beautiful calligraphy is perseverance. Progress comes through focused and sustained study and practice.” – Seb Lester

14) Create In The Time!

“My working process as a designer and artist has evolved into a hybrid style blending my knowledge of both traditional and digital tools.” – Seb Lester

15) Challenge Yourself

“I love creating serious challenges for myself.” – Seb Lester

Connect with him on Twitter | Instagram

If you’re a hand lettering designer, share your best tip with us.

A visual design blogger passionate about interactive, experiential and captivating techniques designers, marketers and brands use to accentuate messages, tell stories, and spread awareness. I’m a visual addict like Alice, who finds books (or anything) without pictures boring! My writings focus on graphic and web design, branding, and visual marketing. My hobbies are to write poems, draw zentangles, read mysteries, and watch YouTube videos.

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