By Hand: The Art of Modern Lettering

lettering By Hand coverI love books and I’m busy growing my calligraphy library.

So when I was approached by Running Press to review By Hand: The Art of Modern Lettering, by Nicole Miyuki Santo, I couldn’t resist.

It was love at first sight when the book arrived, hot off the press from the US of A.

It is so beautifully put together, with a thick, textured cover and front and back end papers giving a luxurious feel to what is a very reasonably priced book.

Pretty but practical

The stitched binding was enough to make me not want to break the spine for a good few days!

lettering By Hand 3From a practical point of view, this also helps the book lie flat.

The pretty but practical feel continues throughout the book, which is more than just a hand lettering instruction manual.

In her introduction, Nicole says: “This isn’t about making something pretty or feeling like it needs to be perfect.

“It’s about connecting to what is in your heart and soul and bringing it into the light.”

More than just a lettering guide 

I really love the mindfulness element of the book and little touches like the ‘life lesson’ offering words of encouragement at the end of each section of the book.

By Hand: The Art of Modern Lettering is divided into three sections using brush pens, brushes and pens. Each section is then divided into lessons.

In the first section, Nicole guides you through the foundation strokes, then letters and numbers and the connections needed to form words, before playing around with angles and shapes.

The second section explores brush and ink, watercolour, finding your style, flourishing, bouncing and layout, while the third section looks at lettering with a range of pens.

Putting lessons into practice

Each lesson comes with a project and there are more than 30 projects in total, from turning your initial practice strokes into postcards to lettering on unusual surfaces, like fabric, ribbon, seaglass, leaves, cups and glasses and acrylic.

Helpful guidelines and templates take the fear away from creating invitations, gift tags, wrapping paper, signage and wall art.

The photography throughout the book is stunning, but at no point does it seem intimidating.

Running Press were kind enough to send me some materials to get me up and running, although I own most of the ‘Tools of the Trade’ favoured by Nicole.

I’ve added a few things to the shopping list though after browsing the resources section of the book, which has a very American slant, with Nicole being based in Los Angeles, California, but the products are just as readily available in the UK.

About Nicole Miyuki Santo

Nicole is a freelance artist and graphic designer who has been teaching hand-lettering workshops for the past three years to students of all ages and abilities.

Nicole Miyuki SantoShe takes part in the Modern Calligraphy Summit and teaches an online course at Brit + Co.

As well as By Hand: The Art of Modern Lettering, Nicole has created By Hand: A Modern Lettering Kit, which is great for lettering on-the-go.

The kit includes a miniature watercolour brush, two pots of watercolour paint, instructional cards, banner sheets and string and a 32-page miniature book.

She’s also working on The Kids Book of Hand Lettering, due for release in the autumn, which I’m sure my eight-year-old son would love!

Win a copy of the book!

I have a copy of By Hand: The Art of Modern Lettering to give away, courtesy of Running Press. To enter, simply click the Rafflecopter link below. The closing date is Monday, May 7, 2018. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. David Bridges on April 22, 2018 at 4:45 pm

    I thought the article very informative and inspired me to explore the subject in greater depth.

  2. Andrea Upton on April 22, 2018 at 8:43 pm

    I love this modern lettering, because it is really beautiful, in the days of emails for everything it is really nice to enjoy some lovely handwritten words.

  3. Jacki Gilmore on April 23, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    Modern lettering just looks so stylish.

  4. Lyn on May 1, 2018 at 1:12 pm

    Thanks for the opportunity to win this stylish book…

  5. Cindy on June 8, 2018 at 6:26 am

    I won this book and I must say it is brilliantly written! The personal tone of voice that Nicole has written makes it as though she is really there guiding you through the whole process. The instructions and makes are really easy to follow. It is really easy to pick up and read and I just love the binding! It’s the little touches that makes the lettering experience so much better.

    Also included was the miniature By Hand lettering kit, and the colours are gorgeous! Handy little tool for when you want to pick up and go when creativity strikes!

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