Expressive Hand Lettering: Weekly Project #6 with Laura Worthington

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It’s Not What You Say, But How You Say It

This week’s project comes from the fantastic type designer and lettering artist, Laura Worthington. Laura is the instructor of our brush lettering class, which you can watch for free on June 7th. Laura loves lettering because it’s expressive, flexible, and powerful. When we speak, we use our tone of voice to amplify (or sometimes conceal) our true meaning. With hand lettering, we can do this visually. This project will invite you to try doing this three different ways with the same word.

Expressive Hand Lettering: Weekly Project #5 with Laura Worthington


– Brush, Pen, Pencil, or any lettering tool you’re comfortable with.

– Paper

Time to Complete

15-30 Minutes


1. Pick a word. It can really be any word, but a verb may be easiest.

2. Think of 3 meanings, contexts, or tones for your word. For instance, if you choose the word “Listen,” your 3 meanings or contexts could include:

– Someone who’s frustrated, trying to get someone to pay attention to them

– Someone who hears something far off and wants their friends to hear it

– Someone who’s maybe a bit dishonest and is trying to be persuasive.

3. Hand-letter the word 3 times, each time trying to depict one of the meanings or contexts you picked in step 2.

Expressive Hand Lettering: Weekly Project #5 with Laura Worthington

Things to Think About

When you’re lettering the 3 different versions, consider the weight & character of your lines. Should your letters lean or stand up straight? Should your lines be rough and ragged or smooth and graceful?

This is all completely subjective – you’re trying to make these words communicate a specific meaning to you – not to anyone else. That being said, an excellent follow-up project would be to show your words to friends. Ask them to repeat the versions of your word back to you in the tone that the visual style communicates to them.

How does their interpretation compare to yours? Understanding the flexibility of interpretation is an essential design skill.

Expressive Hand Lettering: Weekly Project #5 with Laura Worthington

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Brooks Chambers is an excitable design advocate and writer at CreativeLive. He loves people and the stuff they make.