Words become art

From phrases to invitations, any words can be given a hand-lettered flare. PHOTO/MARY SIRING

OU News Bureau

Humans have been creating for millions of years.

Handmade tools date back nearly 3.4 million years. Spain’s El Castilla Cave contains the oldest known cave paintings in Europe.

In a world of technology, the craft of hand lettering has brought a renaissance of this primal practice.

“I do not think that it’s a rising trend,” said Rebecca Sanders, a practicing art therapist. “I believe hand lettering is a form of art that’s been practiced for ages.”

Aleena Watford is a professional hand letterer, writing chalkboard signs for Lululemon clothing in Rochester, the Somerset Collection in Troy and Birmingham. She also creates wedding signs and home decor boards, does calligraphy for envelopes and teaches hand-lettering workshops.

Aleena Watford

“When the recession happened, there was a huge resurgence and this huge trend to repurpose things, to reuse things, to do things by hand,” Watford said. “I think that’s where the whole hipster movement comes out of.”

Screen time has increased. The average American spends nearly half a day staring at a screen.

“We’ve all been spending of much time looking at screens,” Watford said. “You look at TV and how much we all are on our phones, which has increased. We have so much perfection thrown at us, there is a yearning for people to see something made by hand.”

Hand lettering allows individuals to be more attentive to a practice that they have known for many years: writing.

“It allows us to write with purpose,” Sanders said. “Living in a tech world, there is nothing more personal now than to receive handwritten letters.”

Text in artwork is a rising trend in itself, spawning from the earlier interest in hand lettering.

“Even though Snapchat and Instagram are still highly visual, there is still a huge thing for words,” Watford said. “There is a huge thing about seeing words and not just seeing a picture.”

People seem to be drawn to the craft, as well, because it is something that anyone can do.

“It is something that someone not so skilled can master,” Watford said. “It’s something attainable to anybody. Even words can be art. For some it’s more attainable than looking at a Picasso painting and thinking, ‘I want to paint like
that.’ ”

Whether writing by hand on a piece of paper or using a computer or tablet, anyone is capable of hand lettering or achieving that same style and aesthetic.

Hand lettering is not only practiced on plain canvases, but on any surface that can be written on. PHOTO/MARY SIRING

Watford recalled when she began practicing her craft in third grade, wrapping her Peachy folders in paper bags and drawing her favorite bands’ album covers on them.

 “I used to sit albums out and copy them,” Watford said. “The very first one I did, Bananarama, I made probably 10 times. I had gotten to the point where the girl looked the right way, the words looked the right way and the colors looked the right way.”

The way that a third-grader could copy album covers onto folders is the same way that an adult can learn to hand letter.

 “When I look at the people I’m teaching, I don’t think that anybody realizes how proud and how amazing they feel at the very end,” Watford said.

The trend now is shifting to not just writing on paper of images, but to write on anything. On walls, on furniture — anything that can be written on and created into artwork.

Text and words have become artwork, giving them a new meaning besides language and communication.

“Generations are losing the idea that words are important, so choose them wisely,” Watford said. “Hopefully, with this idea of putting words on art, treating words as art, words will become more important.”



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Posted by on Dec 7 2017. Filed under Featured article, Michigan. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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