Word Art, Fonts, and Resources

Words + art = Word art. I love it!

CreateLifeWakeUp
Click to download a printable ATC version, at 300 dpi. (You can print it larger at 150 dpi.)

Next to my bed, I keep a three-ring binder for articles that inspire me, plus notes and ideas I jot on paper, and so on.

The cover of that notebook features word art, “Create the Life You Can’t Wait to Wake Up To.”

My illustration (above) features one of my early morning sunrise sketches – an oil painting – as the background.

Even after several years of seeing it every day, I still smile as I read those words. (In a Google Image Search, you can see many more examples of that phrase, accenting art & photos, or used as word art.)

I like the term “word art” because it describes art-with-words. That includes digital and printed art, calligraphy, mailart, art journaling, coloring books, and scrapbooking… plus many other creative projects.

And I love word art because – even if you can’t draw a stick figure – you can still create lovely (even magnificent) word art.

Three parts of successful word art

Successful word art includes letters (usually as words, phrases, or longer text), so the style of the letters – the font (or fonts) – matter. So do the proportions of the letters and the layout of the text.

Of course, the message is important, too.  It should be something with an emotional impact. I like words and phrases that are uplifting and inspiring, and sometimes funny as well.

And finally, the background – if you use one – can enhance the message.

It’s ideal for all three elements to work together. But, if you’re a perfectionist, avoid tweaking more than you need to. Know when to say “good enough.”

Where to begin

Every artist has their own system for creating word art.

  • It might start with an idea they want to express.
  • They might find a quote that makes their heart sing.
  • The spark may come from a sketch, a painting, or a photo. Or a photo of art.

This morning, I started with an idea, then found a quote I liked, selected a font, and then located a background photo.

I assembled the pieces in Photoshop, but Canva, Gimp, and other free tools can produce gorgeous results, too.

Here’s what I created in about 10 minutes.

GoodLifeHappyMoments

Tomorrow, I might start with some art and then build out, adding a quote I like.

In other words, no approach is “best” and – in art – I try to avoid by-the-numbers formulas, anyway.

Next, here are some tips so you can create and enjoy word art, too.

Quote resources

Most of my word art starts with an idea. Then I look for a quote that fits it.  In case I decide to use the finished art commercially, I try to locate quotes that are in the public domain. That prevents copyright disputes.

Here are a few sites I’ve bookmarked.

You’ll also find public domain quotes at Goodreads, on pages related to individual authors’ works from before 1923, and so on.

Also, you may want to review Quick & Easy: Public Domain Quotations (legal opinions)

Once I have a quote, I look for a font (or two or three) that suits it.

Fonts for commercial use

Like other artwork, fonts can be copyrighted… as software. (It’s complex. You may want to read this article at Lawyers.com.)

Keep that in mind if you’re planning to use a font in something like a coloring book, blank journal, poster, or print-on-demand product.

Free fonts

My favorite free resources include FontSquirrel and GoogleFonts. They specialize in open source fonts, and fonts you can use (free) in commercial products.

I also use sites like DaFont, but it’s essential to check each font’s terms of use. If it’s “personal use only,” there may be a fee to use the font commercially. DaFont (and others like it) usually provide links to contact the font designer about this.

Some huge sites – like FontSpace – offer great, free fonts for personal use. However, when I searched FontSpace today, looking for commercially licensed free fonts, none of their 71,000 fonts met that one search criterion.

Fonts to purchase

When shopping for fonts, you’ll find many affordable options. Some are better than others. Frankly, many of them confirm the adage, “you get what you pay for,” but some stand out with great products, great prices, or great customer service.. or all three.

Check sites like TheHungryJPEG CreativeMarket, and Artixty. They regularly offer packages of fonts at low prices.

Generally, if I find one or two attractive fonts in a package, I’ll buy the entire package. That’s usually less expensive than buying the ones I like, individually.

(Also, I’ve had great, fast response from TheHungryJPEG’s customer support as well as CreativeMarket’s.)

However, it’s smart to double-check by searching (at Google, Qwant, etc.) for the font you like, by name. If you can’t find it, search for the name of the artist or font foundry. Sometimes, their individual fonts are very affordable.

For years, I recommended FontBundles.net and their sister site, DesignBundles.  Now, after a shockingly bad experience with their customer support – as others have, too – I will never shop there again.

In a class of its own

My all-time favorite source of paid fonts is Design Cuts. (Obviously, they offer a lot more than fonts.) They offer bundles – often themed – for around $30. They’re dazzling, and the values – sometimes in thousands of dollars – are not exaggerated.

You can also purchase individual products; the more you buy, the bigger the discounts.

For fonts, Design Cuts earns my highest praise. Their fonts are stylish and high-quality.  You won’t find anything “plain vanilla” in their bundles or their individual products.

Their customer service has been flawless, as well.

A sneaky way to get the look you want, free

There are times when you want a great, stylish font, but you can’t afford it.

Here’s are two ways to work around that:

Sneaky tactic #1: Use a screenshot of several letters in the font you want. Then, use a free font-matching service like WhatTheFont!, WhatFontIs, or FontSquirrel’s Matcherator.

See if they recommend a free or really inexpensive font that’s “close enough” to what you wanted.

Sneaky tactic #2: Search at free font sites (like DaFont) using the name of the font you like. Then try slight misspellings. If the price-y font is popular, there may be a pretty good (and free) clone of it.

Note: Be sure it’s not an outright ripoff of any commercial font.

Of course, no free or inexpensive (and legal) font is going to match the style and elegance of the original, high-priced font. But, until you can afford to buy that font, the lookalike might be all you need.

Learn the fine art of combining fonts

No matter what look you aspire to, font combinations can make a huge difference. The way fonts interact often highlights the best features of each font. In a way, it elevates the lettering into the “fine art” realm.

Search for “font combining” and you’ll find lots of advice. Add the current year (right now, that’d be “2020 font combining”) for edgy and trending combinations.

Here are a few sites to start:

Note: My header graphic on this site combines Black Diamond font (from Design Cuts) and Lato (a free font from Google Fonts).

Background art & photos

If you paint or take photos or otherwise create images you’ll use in your word art, you probably don’t need additional resources.

For everyone else, my favorite free resource is Pexels.com. The garden walk photo (in my meme-ish image, above) came from them.

If you’re planning to post your word art or memes at social media, here are the best sizes for a variety of sites: 2020 Social Media Image Sizes Cheat Sheet.

Now, go play!

I hope this article has inspired you to try some word art of your own. Whether you use it to decorate your home or office, in an Etsy product, or you share it free in memes, word art is a way to convey a powerful message.

If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, leave a message in the comments section below. (I read and manually approve all comments at all of my sites, and I’d love to hear from you.)


Links in this article are (deliberately) not affiliate links. I earn nothing for recommending those resources.

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The Future is ART!

Over the past several months, people have had time to pause, reflect on what they’re doing (and not doing), and make different choices.

The future is ART!Many find the deepest self-expression in art, whether or not they consider themselves as “artists.”

Those expressions are emerging from our heart, our souls, and showing to ourselves – and perhaps the world – who we are.

Unique.

Valuable.

With something to say.

We’re saying that in our art journaling, scrapbooking, drawing and painting, decorating, and more.

We’re using pencils, paint, paper, canvas and cloth, digital resources, and “found art” items.

We’re coloring, reorganizing, and redecorating.

We’re simplifying. Focusing on what brings us joy.

We’re creating journals, wearables, objects d’art, and… well, lots of things we don’t have words for.

This is about US… who we are, inside. The things we want (or need) to say.

And this is tremendously healthy.

So, over the next few months, you’ll see changes at this site. I’m making it easier for you to find the most useful articles and how-to info. (After all, I’ve been writing and illustrating these articles since forever. Or so it seems.)

This is kind of exciting.

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Art Journaling with Resist Methods

In art journaling, “resist” is a way to keep paint – and some other products – from sticking to the page. Other terms for this include: mask, masking fluid, and frisket. (You’ll see many different products at Amazon.com.)

Some resist techniques are simple, like using a white crayon on a white page. Watercolors, acrylic paint, most (not all) rubber stamp inks, and so on… they usually won’t stick to any area where the crayon wax is.

This short video shows one way to use white crayon as a resist.

Here’s another short video with some good suggestions if you’re using a white crayon as a way to keep part of your page white:

Remember that once the wax crayon has been applied, that area on your artist’s journal page won’t accept water-based media, ever. Even if you try to wipe the crayon lines off… the paint (or rubber stamp ink, etc.) probably won’t stick.

White Glue Mask/Resist

In this video, you’ll see one of Traci Bautista’s products mentioned. It’s a decoupage product, Collage Pauge, that can be uses as a resist. However, as the video explains, you can use white glue for the same purpose.

Alcohol Resist

Other resists aren’t necessarily as waterproof as crayon. Alcohol is an example. Though it can be 100% resistant to water-based pigment, sometimes it isn’t. Also, it can be harder to control than white glue, white crayon, or products designed for use as resists, masks, and friskets.

Embossing Resist (with Heat)

If you have embossing supplies, this is an innovative way to use them in your art journal, as a resist.

Resist with Adhesive Letters or Decorations

This is a fun, kind of reverse-resist approach to art journaling. First, you paint a colorful layer. Then, you add the adhesive-backed letters or shapes. (I’d use inexpensive letters, and don’t push them down too firmly.) Then you paint over the whole thing with white (or a color), and then you peel off the letters/shapes you’d stuck onto the page.

I think these ideas are kind of wonderful. I already knew a few, but – watching these videos – I’m inspired to revisit them, and try the new resist techniques, too.

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Guerilla Art Kit and Other Journaling Ideas – Keri Smith

Many people know Keri Smith from her famous “Wreck This Journal” journal. In fact, if you’re not familiar with Keri’s art & philosophy, this video may be a good place to start. It’s about 3 minutes long.

https://youtu.be/EQpoDWSHby0

If you like her message, you’ll find more,related videos at YouTube.

Also, even if you don’t speak Spanish, this 3-minute video is fascinating. Multiple artists demonstrate how they “wrecked” a Wreck This Journal (Destroza Este Diario).

https://youtu.be/uQko6xa3whE

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Art Journaling with Felix Scheinberger

Would you like to sketch in your art journal or scrapbook, but need some ideas? This short (under two minutes) video is in German – with subtitles in English – and it may give you a fresh outlook.

Mr. Scheinberger talks about sketching art materials that may be at your elbow, but changing their size or proportions. In other words, make the everyday into something different.

https://youtu.be/Au9vpEaAjYc

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Easter Egg Coloring Pages

Every day is a good day for fun, free coloring pages!

Easter Egg 1 - 2019Today, I’m sharing five different coloring pages with Easter Egg themes. They’re 8.5″ x 11″ PDFs you can download and print.

All five are kind of hippie-style, as that’s what I enjoy drawing.

Here are the links at Google Drive: Easter Egg 1Easter Egg 2Easter Egg 3Easter Egg 4Easter Egg 5.

P.S. Want to share this link? Here’s an easy way to remember it: http://bit.ly/EasterEggs4u

 

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Cute, Sweet, Illustration-Style Art Journals

Jane Davenport has inspired many people to create elegant and charming illustrations in their journals. She’s made this easy with how-to books, as well as useful & innovative art supplies.

Here’s her story, in her own words.

I bought one of her books, Beautiful Faces, because I felt like I was getting into a rut with my usual illustration techniques. (Generally, no one is likely to call my journals “cute,” but sometimes I’m aiming for pretty… and needed some insights. Jane’s book definitely helped.)

It’s just one of Jane’s many books you’ll find at Amazon.

Next, in this demo, she shows how to use her die-cut embellishments. Wow! (I can see ways to use them in some Goth- and Steampunk-style artists’ journals, too. Purples, metallics, and so on…)

And here’s Tamara Laporte (Willowing Arts) demonstrating some of Jane’s art supplies. She starts with a blank page, then sketches in pencil, and then… well, you’ll see. (I’ve started the video at the 23-minute point. If you want to see the full unboxing, start from the beginning.)

If you like Tamara’s approach, take a look at the sample projects on her “Create Your Life” book page at Amazon. Those ideas may be all you need to start experimenting with new drawing, painting, and mixed-media techniques, right away.

But… no matter what your art journaling style, if you’re including your own illustrations, consider those materials and techniques.

Personally, I’m experimenting with magazine photos, pasting them (with gel medium) onto a painted page, sealing them with more gel medium, and then drawing & painting over them.

Lots of layers.

Not necessarily sweet or romantic, but these techniques & materials can work for more extreme artists’ journals, too.

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Art and Inner Critics: Danielle Krysa

If you’re fighting the snarky critic in your head (or maybe a few around you, in real life or online), Danielle Krysa’s TED Talk is powerful, and kind of painful at times. Watch it anyway.

And here she is, in her studio. I love the honesty in this.

She has an intriguing blog: The Jealous Curator/blog. Go see it.

Danielle also records podcasts with fellow artists & creatives. So far, she’s recorded over 150 of them, which you can access at “Art for Your Ears.”

Of course, if you’d like to see her books… well, she has lots of them for and about artists. Some are advice. Some are insights. Some are how-to. Here’s the Amazon link: Books by Danielle Krysa.

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