• Drew

James Lewis - Lettering workshop

Updated: May 19, 2019

At Chester University there is a collective known as The Onion Alternative that works towards getting creatives in to do talks or workshops with the students, so I thought I would throw the name 'James Lewis' into the hat and see what happened.


I'm glad to say that the Onion came through and booked James to give a workshop about hand lettering based on Carolingian script lettering which is one of the foundational forms of script writing from which many styles of calligraphy are made up.


On Tuesday I got to meet James and attend his workshop, which was informative, yet casual and relaxed. Many of the students who attended were commenting how relaxing it was to practice hand lettering and to follow the guides that were provided. The simple act of practicing an alphabet in this manner gave us all a new appreciation of the subtle qualities that make it up and give it its own character.


James was great and went around giving people encouragement, and talking about his journey from University to the job he does now. There were tips about working from a train, or a coffee shop, and advise on setting up a business only Instagram account where selfies and photos of cake are not allowed.


He gave us a sneak peak of a logo he had been working on while travelling up to Chester, and talked about the fact that he had recently attended a sign painting workshop with Dapper Signs focusing on script lettering. He advised that we should always continue to invest in ourselves, and he spoke in detail about an ongoing project he has called 'Our time has value' which is aimed at educating clients as well as creatives that the time, effort, and skills that a creative puts into a project has a value that should be recognised and not undervalued.


To round up the workshop we were able to take the skills that we had explored already and create some lettering. To show how Carolingian forms the foundation of a lot of other script lettering styles, we were given some examples of different serifs that would change things up, and were encouraged to make small alterations to the letter forms to make something unique and custom.


All in all in was a great workshop, but what made it great was the fact that James was sharing his stories and experiences in an informal way. Everyone took home a booklet, a pen and some hand lettering, but I'd like to think that those who needed it were able to take away more, even if it was just a new admiration for letterforms.


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