Hand lettering goes digital

Hand lettering is a trend that has become firmly established among young and old alike. While some enthusiasts love to spread their various pens, brushes and paint box all over the table, others prefer to get comfortable with their tablet and pen and do some digital lettering instead. The fact that ever more customers are reaching for their tablets to pursue their creative hobbies poses, initially, a challenge for the brick-and-mortar retail trade. But how can retailers take advantage of this digital trend?

How does digital hand lettering work?

In order to transfer the analogue hand lettering experience to the digital world, all you need is a tablet, the right kind of pen and a suitable app. As soon as the app has been downloaded, the artistic drawing of letters can commence. The Procreate app is particularly popular among Apple fans, while Android aficionados like to use Adobe Illustrator or Autodesk® SketchBook®. As with analogue hand lettering, different writing styles call for different brushes or brush tips. Most programmes provide digital brushes free of charge, but only a limited number of them. Customers can buy additional brushes and then download them and import them into the app. To put the final polish on the small work of art, hand letterers often demand graphic elements such as flower garlands, trees or geometric figures. Such elements can either be painted by the customer or inserted with a mouse click by purchasing sticker packs in advance.  

So how can retailers generate sales with digital hand lettering?

Pens, brushes, paints and papers are easy to integrate and sell in your shop. If you also want to offer digital creative trends in your assortment, you‘ll have to get creative yourself and think one step ahead.

1. Expand the product range in your brick-and-mortar shop

A small table or shelf is all you need to shine a spotlight on the topic. Even if the specialised stationery sector is not a traditional place for tablets, it‘s worth considering including a few in your portfolio. Special graphics tablets – available in various price segments – are particularly suitable for this. The tablet pens that go with the device should be part of your assortment, too. Other products such as books and instructions on the topic of "digital hand lettering" can also bring the trend into your shop. It‘s vital that instructions for the various apps are available so that every customer can find what they are looking for.  

2. Digital brushes and stamp sets

A lot of influencers are doing it. They‘re using the apps to create their own sticker packs for Instagram Stories and selling them online to their community. This business model also lends itself to retailers, as there is a demand for additional brushes and stamp sets among digital hand lettering fanatics. They can easily be offered and sold online on your website. When creating the sets, hiring a graphic designer or hand lettering artist may be useful. To inform customers about what you are offering online, it‘s a good idea to hang up small posters in your shop and to draw the attention of potential customers to your range online, e.g. via social media channels.

3. Workshops

Workshops are always in demand among amateur artists, regardless of whether they take place in actual retail outlets or online on account of the coronavirus-related safety measures. During the workshops, customers have the chance to learn techniques and draw inspiration for new creative projects. That is why including a "Digital Lettering" workshop in your programme makes good sense. Here, too, hiring an expert to lead the workshop is advisable.

In my view, "hand lettering", this meditative writing trend, goes one step further when it is done digitally. Being digitally creative is not only great fun, it also offers an infinite number of possibilities to process your own work. A veritable enrichment – also from a business point of view. Lettering for customers, home pages, but also card designs are so much easier when done digitally, and ultimately that saves valuable time.

Ingrid Hesselbach, Handlettering Artist Landletterei

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