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.

Free “All You Need is Love” Mini-Posters

It’s a good day for a free art mini-poster. Or maybe two. Or even all three! After all, they’re FREE!

They’re PDFs. Each is designed to print on an 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper, with a small margin around them for matting. (The photos show what they’ll look like, framed.)

Click on any image to download it from Google Drive. And yes, they really are free. It’s okay to share these with friends, give them as gifts, etc… just don’t use them commercially, okay?

All You Need is Love - red heart, black backgroundClick to download red heart poster.
(Photo courtesy of Designecologist.)

Click to download poster with greenery heart.

Click to download poster with wood background
(Photo courtesy of Brigitte Tohm)

And, if you like these (and want more like them), I hope you’ll leave a comment. I can make more (they’re fun)!

Easter Egg Coloring Pages

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

Today, 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

 

Finding Creative Time & Space – Rice Freeman-Zachery

Lost your artistic mojo? Not sure if you’re a “real artist”?

It’s time to get back in touch with your creativity.

Pour yourself a cup of tea and curl up with this video.

Rice (said “REE-suhh”) Freeman-Zachery is a long-time friend and a continual inspiration. She’s found myriad ways to build her successful art career.

All you need is one good idea to spark your interest, or even your enthusiasm.

Listen to Rice’s Google talk about creativity. She says some very important things.

https://youtu.be/gmB3jwyk70M

Enthusiasm is Contagious – Free Poster to Color (or Not)

This has been a transformative week… in a year of “ah-HA!” transitions and cool discoveries.

I’m re-energized and planning very cool projects.

To celebrate, I’m sharing a door sign* that I created. It’s where my mind is, at the moment.

You have two options. Or you can choose both. (Why make decisions when both choices are fun…? )

  1. You can download & print the original, black-and-white copy, and color it yourself. (Btw, neither of the prints have the “Aisling.net” text on them.) Here’s the link to the printable, b&w PDF: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1_S1FyZLWtQek57OnbQiuiZAs7SJ3vbeh/view?usp=sharing
  2. OR… You can download & print a copy of the one I colored (with colored pencils). Here’s the link to that PDF: https://drive.google.com/open?id=18tXNToRKW0w1z7k9Sup-gSJ8YJscu1OK
  3. OR… download them both!

If you’d like to share this blog post with friends, use this URL: http://bit.ly/enthusiasm4u (On a PC, right-click on the link and choose “Copy link address.”)

Door hanger at Aisling's homeMore info…

*Starting at Earth Day 2018, I decided to spread some everyday happiness with my neighbors, the UPS guy, people dropping off Amazon stuff, etc. So, I began putting a daily, decorated motivational message on my front door.

To do that, I bought a clear plastic frame thingie at Amazon. I tied a ribbon through the two holes at the top, and made it long enough to use as a hanger.

(Changing the sign, daily, is super-easy. The frame is open on three sides, so swapping signs takes less than 30 seconds.)

Then I hung it from a 3M Command Outdoor Hook (which doesn’t damage the door). The illustration shows today’s door sign.

So, that’s one thing you can do with signs like this.

I also have them on my laundry room door, in my kitchen, in the bathroom, and in the bedroom. Because I can. And these bring smiles to everyone who sees them.

Free Writing Paper – Hippie-Style

This project started as my personal notepaper. Then… it sort of grew.

At first, I wrote my messages in the white rectangle in the middle. Then, I hand-colored the border design.

Last week, I realized I could print these for the children in my family, so they had an area to color, but also an area to draw in. (They’re at the age where they love coloring, but they also love to draw.)

And then, I decided to make these available to everyone, free, for your personal use. (Please don’t claim they’re your original art, or use them commercially.)

Click on each image below, and the related PDF will open for you to download.  (These are 8 1/2″ x 11″ pages, and each graphic is linked to a different PDF.)

And then… I realized my other neighbors might enjoy this writing paper, too. So, I got an easy-to-remember Bit.ly URL, Free2Color.

After that, I created the following sign, colored it (by hand, of course), and taped it to our front door.

Free coloring pages and writing paper.

This goes along with another recent, hippie-style project for my neighbors:

Every morning during the week of Earth Day, I put a new message in one of my front windows. I printed the signs large enough so passers-by could read them when they’re on their way to work, or walking their dogs.

Most of the messages came from late 1960s’ and early 70s’ songs… things from Woodstock and the hippie era, in general. Others reflected similar attitudes.

Here were a few of them, stacked on my floor.

Window signs with happy quotes.

If you like this window-sign idea, the font is Elsie Swash Caps Black font, and the size should be at least 120 pts to be read by people passing by your home. (For other signs, I’ve used Placard GF at about 150 pts, and a few similar fonts.)

Generally, I printed them on two sheets of 8.5″ x 11″ paper, horizontal, and then I taped them together to make the window sign.

But then, I decided to create actual door signs, and color them. (They’re smaller and more fun to create. Generally, I design, print, and color them in one-week batches, in front of the TV.) You can download some of my door signs – already colored, or b&w copies you can color, yourself – at my Enthusiasm is Contagious post.

These projects come from my “still a hippie” soul, with the idea that doing nice things for other people – and putting more happiness into the world – is the right thing to do.

 

Easy Kitchen Gardens – Green Onions & Mint Cuttings

This Christmas – like last year – we started kitchen gardens for friends & family.

They’ve been a great success. (My own green onions have been thriving for over a year now. I just keep cutting them back – to use in recipes – and the plants regrow bigger & more flavorful every time.)

Today, we delivered four green onion plants (already started) as Boxing Day gifts to the four managers of the apartments where we live.

If this sounds interesting to you, here are links to the instruction sheets (PDFs) I created. They explain how to start your own kitchen garden, using items from the produce department at your grocery store.

Planting a kitchen garden from cuttings: Green onions

Planting a kitchen garden from cuttings: Mint

Early Selfies 1839 – 1913

selfie-1913The search for the earliest “selfie” (self-portrait, as a photograph) seems to be at full tilt.

One of my favorites is (supposedly) dated around 1900.  It’s shown at the right.  The largest version I can find, online was posted by Sabine Niedola.  (The largest, clear image is usually the first – or one of the first – posted online, and I like to give credit to the person who first found it.)

Frankly, the subject’s features look a lot like my own portraits from the 1980s. I’m also pleased to see her hairstyle. I’ve tried that kind of style – even with ultra-thick hair – and it turned out the same as hers.

So, I wasn’t alone with the “pouf” issue. (I know about “rats” – long, sausage-shaped supports hidden under the hair – for better-looking versions of this style. I just wasn’t that committed to the style.)

Note: Since I posted this, my friend David Locicero pointed out authenticity issues. This may be a hoax or a cosplay photo.

Something looks a little like an outlet, on the lower right side of the photo.  I’m not certain it’s an outlet, but it might be.  I don’t know enough about household hardware from the early 20th century, to be sure.

My bigger question is about the matted photos on the shelves. The double-matted pictures are more consistent with modern-day presentations. In the past, someone who could afford that kind of matting would have framed the photos under glass.

There’s also the question of the light fixture (if that’s what it is) on the ceiling in the reflection.  And, the high quality of the mirror reflection.

But, whether it’s an authentic photo or not, it’s not the earliest “selfie.”

The Earliest Selfie?

Robert Cornelius, self portrait, ca. 1839. Courtesy Library of Congress.
Robert Cornelius, self portrait, ca. 1839. Courtesy Library of Congress.

One in the running is a self-portrait by photographer Robert Cornelius.  He’s the dashing young man in the photo on the left.

The fashions are, of course, post-Regency, but I still see a little Colin Firth / Pride and Prejudice in that photo.

Ah, if time travel were possible…! (If he came through a time portal, like in Kate and Leopold, I’m sure many women would swoon.)

For good reason, he’s been featured as Victorian Hottie of the Week.

According to some, that’s his own photo from around 1839. Others simply say it’s the first actual portrait photo… taken by an unknown photographer.

It’s difficult to tell.  Many websites give a nod to the Top 25 Most Ancient Historical Photographs as the source of Mr. Cornelius’ picture, and that site says it’s a self-portrait.

You can learn more about him at this FindMyPast.com.au article, Historical ‘selfies’: in search of the world’s first self-portrait photograph.

selfie-1914-Anastasia
Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia

Then there’s the Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia’s self-portrait, on the right, dating to 1913 or 1914.

The Daily Mail featured the picture in a really nice article.

I’d always hoped Anastasia had survived the attack on her family. Alas, DNA evidence suggests otherwise.

Nevertheless, I’m intrigued by the white blurry image in back of her.  Online, that’s sparked some discussion with no firm conclusions.  Very cool.

If you enjoy old self-portraits like these, visit Google or any search engine and look for “oldest selfies” and “earliest selfies.”  You’ll find plenty, right now.  (I’m not thrilled with the term “selfie,” or that it’s the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year for 2013, but if you’re looking for early self-portraits, the term makes online searching much easier.)

Just watch out for faux historical selfies, created with the aid of Photoshop.

 

Art and Feeling Good

art and feeling goodWhen I create anything artistic, I feel good.  I’ve also noticed that my life goes better… I attract more good things into my life.

So, when Bob Proctor sent me this quotation this morning, I knew I wanted to turn it into a mini-poster and put it on my wall.

The quotation is:

“It’s really important that you feel good.  Because this feeling good is what goes out as a signal into the universe and starts to attract more of itself to you.

“So the more you can feel good, the more you will attract the things that help you feel good and that will keep bringing you up higher and higher.”

Of course, that summarizes The Secret in three sentences.  However, whether or not you believe in The Secret, this is still a happy way to look at life and the world around you.  It’s empowering, on a deeply spiritual level… and isn’t that what creating and art are all about?

Click here to download your free copy

Photo credit: Justyna Furmanczyk, Poland

New Freebie Adventure

This is a freebie for anyone who’s interested.  No strings attached!

Update:

I’m having such fun sending out free, artsy/creative postcards to people, I’m creating new ones and sending them — at random — in batches of 20 – 100 per week.

Card updates:

  • The original (orange & purplish, “Your year to create!”) cards are gone now.
  • I’ve sent a small (20-or-so) batch of b&w cards about making art with what you have, no matter where you are.  Those are no longer available.
  • My next 100 cards were glossy, printed postcards, and they include a mountain scene and a quotation about beauty.  Not signed or numbered, they were a “test run” with a different postcard design.  All of them have been sent now, too.
  • I will create more, spontaneous b&w cards and send them on whim, as well.  They’re not signed or numbered… just fun!

Starting with the August 2010 postcards, the artwork is generally my own.

To receive free artsy/creative cards in the mail, scroll down and use the form below.  No charge, no strings attached, and I don’t share addresses with anyone else.

Really, this is just one of those fun things that I like to do.

Here’s what I said in the original post:

I’ve now sent postcards to all former (paid) subscribers to my zine and “creative somethings.”

If you were a subscriber and didn’t receive your postcard, please use the paid subscribers’ form to update your mailing address.

Anyway, I have about 30 postcards left from the batch I had printed. I want to send them out, too. (Update: Remember, those have all been mailed now.)

In fact, I want to do this with every zine or gift-y, artsy item that I publish:

In addition to mailing to my subscribers’ list, I’ll draw names at random from the freebies list.  When someone receives that month’s postcard, it’ll be like receiving a treat.  They’ll have a free, 30-day pass to something cool and exclusive.

Some of the postcards will be a signed & numbered artsy something, in itself.

And, the info on the postcard will lead the person to the hidden location of whatever-it-is. (It may be a riddle or a mystery to solve, to figure out the download location. I want this to be a game, sometimes, but not too difficult.)

If you’d like to be part of the freebie pool of names/addresses, send your name & snailmail/postal address to me, using the form below. (It’s okay if you’re not in the U.S. I’ll choose a few non-US addresses each time, too.)

The first 30 (or so) will receive my current postcard, which is simply the “confirm your mailing address” card I’ve been sending. (You will NOT need to confirm your address.)

After that, you’ll be in the regular drawing for access to… well, I’m not sure what, yet.

FAQs

  • If this works out, I may turn the subscription area into something that new people can subscribe to.  Let’s see how this first step goes.  This has to be fun!
  • Some people were confused about my earlier call for addresses from former, paid subscribers.  If you were NOT a paid subscriber  — someone who signed up for a year of paper zines, probably in the 1990s — and you sent me your name + address during my earlier call, you do need to resend it with this form.
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