Cancelled: Gemma O’Brien on Lettering Workshop

Cancelled: Gemma O’Brien on Lettering Workshop

This class will give an overview of the differences between writing, lettering and typography before moving into a series of short exercises to demonstrate key principles of letter construction, rhythm, contrast, composition, balance and techniques of letter customization (swashes, flourishes, decoration).


Using calligraphic principles as a starting point participants will spend the second part of the day conceptualizing, drawing and refining a custom piece of hand-lettering under Gemma’s instruction.

Class numbers will be limited to 25 to allow enough time for one-on-one feedback and direction.

Course Outline


Introduction, context, theory and short exercises based on calligraphic principles that inform lettering.

  • Welcome, introduction, quick warm up exercises,
  • Explanation of differences and links between writing, lettering and typography. Overview of relevant terminology,
  • Contextualisation of lettering within the broad landscape of letterform-based skills and crafts (type design, sign painting, letter carving, calligraphy) today,
  • Overview of Roman letterforms created using a flat brush to explain principles of stroke contrast, variation and proportions. Double-pencil exercise over model alphabet,
  • Overview of letterforms created with a pointed brush to understand rhythm, and movement. Brush pen exercise. Model alphabets will be provided as reference,
  • Experimentation with cola-pens + balsa wood to explore non-conventional calligraphic approaches,
  • Group discussion and analysis of how to identify these calligraphic principles in examples of typography and lettering,
  • Overview of brief for afternoon, and selection of word for final project.


The afternoon will be dedicated to creating a unique piece of lettering informed by the calligraphic exercises in Session One.

  • Conceptualising your design: approaches to linking content, lettering style and meaning,
  • Composition, spacing, layout: how to achieve a balanced layout. Letter relationships: Analysis of letter combinations and positioning to look for opportunities for customisation,
  • Customisation: How to make your letterforms unique using swash letters, flourishes, quirky letterforms or decorative techniques (shadows, illustrated embellishments, inline strokes),
  • The final two hours will be spent drawing and refining individual projects with one-on-one consultation from Gemma,
  • Group critique and wrap up.

Workshop Schedule

  • 8:30—Doors open, Registration
  • 9:00—Introduction & Kick-off
  • 11:00—Coffee Break
  • 12:30—Lunch
  • 13:30—Afternoon Session
  • 15:00—Coffee Break
  • 17:00—The End, Networking


IED School of Design
C/ Biada, 11,
08012 Barcelona
Google Maps

Customer Reviews

No reviews yet Write a review

↑ Back to top