Lettering: Lessons in Intentionality

I rediscovered lettering last May through the Instagram community.  It was your standard mid-twenties crisis where you transition into “adulthood” and without the homework and student groups and internships and in the blank space you wonder, “What do I like to do with my time?”

So I happily went down the lettering rabbit hole and discovered all the pens, paper, and techniques that went along with it.  It came back to me pretty quickly – and then I hit this plateau.  It reminded me of weight loss – you improve quite a bit at first and then the real work begins.

My first lesson came in the form of this:

What lettering has taught me about intentionality // www.prettyprintsandpaper.com
What lettering has taught me about intentionality // http://www.prettyprintsandpaper.com

Last July I was writing some phrases and came up with the image on the left.  I was about to just shut my book and be pleased. But I realized I was doing the exact things I tell my students NOT to do.  In class I tell them, “think of the deeper purpose, don’t do it the quickest and easiest way just to complete the assignment, it should be an opportunity to be better, stronger, more intentional as a person and a leader.”  But as we know too well, none of us are ever done learning and growing, so I am caught in the same traps as they are as I went on autopilot, drawing these phrases in a quick way.

In many ways we are trained to look for quick results, instant gratification, minimum work for maximum return using our default reactions, thoughts, and approaches. It’s hard to slow down and do things deliberately.  But as we grow as leaders we work to change this approach, to acknowledge our default thoughts and control our second thought, second reaction, and try something different in order to show up stronger, better in the world.

So, I picked up my pens and began again, slowing down, taking time, with intention in every line for the phrases on the right.

Now, five months wiser I’ve learned (again!) the realities of improvement and growth.  It’s all about the work behind the scenes, the slowing down, the drills, the many drafts, the practice.  Lettering is one of the only things I’ve practiced almost every single day – and looking back at this image, it’s definitely helped me a ton!

What lettering taught me about intentionality // www.prettyprintsandpaper.com
What lettering has taught me about intentionality // http://www.prettyprintsandpaper.com

And I am reminded –

Intention will always transform.


What are you learning from your lettering practice?





8 thoughts on “Lettering: Lessons in Intentionality

  1. I kinda agree with you on this one. It does take some time and a lot of patience to actually improve in calligraphy other than just winging it every time. Nice work! I’ve only started for two months and I already feel the struggle. Thank you for sharing your experience 🙂 It’s inspirational.


  2. Love this post! My New Years resolution was to be more intentional and I agree that absolutely applies to our work. I will doodle something quickly because I need to post to social media or just put half effort into something just so I can say that it is done, but I never fall in love with those pieces. The pieces I fall in love with are the ones I take my time to do. The ones I focus on every up stroke and every down stroke. Those are the pieces that I stand back and look at and build pride off of. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Awesome post! I’m just starting to get into lettering and watercolor art. This is an excellent post to help us all get set on a solid foundation. I love how you break it down into not just going for instant gratification. I never thought of lettering as helping with growth in focus and patience. Thanks for the pis post!


  4. You’re right!I just started doing calligraphy and I realized also that you need to slow down and have patience! Thanks for the inspiration! 🙂


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