The One Secret That Will Make You Grow More as a Lettering Artist Than You Did in the Last Six Months

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The One Secret That Will Make You Grow More as a Lettering Artist Than You Did in the Last Six Months

There's nothing more frustrating when you're learning a craft than feeling like you're making no progress. You're seeing amazing things being done around you, but your own skills can't seem to kick off. It's like others have it easy, and you're left here, stagnating, and the more it goes the more impossible it feels to bridge that gap.

I know it because it's how I felt many times. And after a while, I realized it wasn't just me. Many people actually struggle with it as well. And after thinking about it for a while, I think I finally pinpointed exactly what the problem is for every artist out there.

I get a lot of email asking me for new tutorials, and I love it. I want to provide you with the most possible resources to equip you. I want to give you everything I learned so you can go faster, and you don't have to waste time finding out the mundane. But it's useless if you don't make stuff from it.

You're wasting your time if you're reading my articles and you don't do anything with it. You're wasting opportunities to grow if you watch my videos and you don't have a pencil in your hand while you're watching it.

Stop reading tutorials. Stop scrolling through Instagram. Stop building Pinterest boards.

Do. Effing. Lettering.

Stop sketching half a piece on your notebook and move on to the next one because you're frustrated with your lack of skills. You'll never be good if you just jump from one half finished sketch to another. You'll never be satisfied, because you won't ever finish something, and you won't build the muscle memory that allows you to progress. You'll just give yourself the illusion of work, and all it will do is serve you as a great excuse to tell yourself you've been practicing, and it didn't get you anywhere.

The problem is you quit way too early. You start drawing, and at some point you realize it's miles away from your expectations, so you move on. That's human. We all have a taste that's way beyond what we're capable of doing. But the problem is, that's also a vicious circle: because you don't push it, you won't ever build the necessary skill required to make what you create look great.

You want to know how every single artist on the planet got to the point they're at? They created more than they consumed. They made a crap load of work, most of which they never published, and kept on doing it even when they got frustrated with their skill level. You may be looking at the Dribble feed of your favorite lettering artist and you're thinking "they got better incredibly fast!"; well, they most likely worked their butt off, and you're also probably only seeing a tenth of the entire stuff they ever drew. The only differences between you and the people you admire is that they're willing to work more and they're not letting their current shortcomings bring them down. They see resistance as a mountain to climb, not as an impassable wall.

For the entire past week, I worked solely on a vectorization for a lettering piece with a technique I have zero experience in. Prior to that, I spent two months sketching and refining concepts. During that time I got pumped, then hated it, I wanted to give up, I wanted to call it done prematurely, and ultimately I constrained myself to work my face off and push it to the best possible concept I can. And you may be thinking "oh but that's easy for you", "you've been doing this long enough now", "you have confidence", "you have the stomach to undertake a big project out of my comfort zone"; that's bullcrap. I'm as much as terrified as you are. Skill level may differ, but the struggle is just as real. A seasoned artist like the ones I admire are just as scared as I am. They just have a whole other standard in their head of what great work looks like, that's even beyond the realm of my current imagination. The only thing that matters is how far you're ready to go with a project, even when you feel like tearing it apart because of how bad it currently looks.

Real skill builds when fighting resistance. You will learn more by taking over a pain in the ass lettering vectorization the entire Saturday afternoon than you will ever by reading blogs. Education is only a multiplier, it allows you to hack your way to quicker results by applying what you learn to what you do. It's people who have been doing it longer than you, who have made the mistakes you would make, and are pointing you in what they deem to be the right direction. But you don't become an martial arts master by watching Bruce Lee movies. Having seen Pulp Fiction fifty times doesn't make you the next Quentin Tarantino, and you can believe me on this one because I know this movie's dialogues better than my own social security number.

You learn by doing. No level of theory can beat grabbing a pencil and a notebook, and getting to work. I guarantee you, you can read the best tutorials, buy the best courses, consume it all three times, and you'll still be at the same stage. Yes, it will give you amazing tips and tricks you may have never figured out by yourself, but all of this is useless until you start drawing. What you need right now is to build muscle memory, not learn about perfect kerning. You need to get confident drawing a straight line without a ruler, not to overshoot an "O". You need to stop calling yourself a lettering artist, and actually be one.

What I challenge you to do is to open your notebook, today. Don't draw something new; find an old sketch you never finished and start refining it. Every day for a week, work at least an hour on it. I don't care that you need to cancel piano. Every time you hear a voice in your head that says "man, that looks awful", mentally give it the finger. Your goal is to spend seven days refining a single concept. Your assignment is to give this beautiful idea at least seven hours of your time, and give it a chance to shine. You got this.

Have fun and draw!

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