Hand lettering workshop with Australian Type Foundry

A few weeks ago I attended a ‘Type by Hand’ lettering workshop with designer Wayne Thompson of Australian Type Foundry (ATF). Wayne founded ATF in 2001 as a commercial outlet for his typeface designs. Today, ATF retails almost 100 original typefaces through online outlets around the world, and continues to design and market new type designs. Some of the clients they have produced custom designs and typeface modifications for include Holden, O’Brien Glass, Honda, Sensis, Gloria Jeans, Panasonic and Triple J.

According to the ATF website, Wayne has been fascinated by letters since he was a teenager. “He began with rub-down lettering and worked as a signwriter, photographer and journalist before settling into the design profession in the late 1980s. After 17 years as Art Director in several advertising agencies, Wayne now works full-time as a type designer, handlettering practitioner, typography teacher and educator, and has been running the popular Type by Hand series of handlettering workshops for several years.” His long term aims are “to always learn more about typography, and hopefully contribute an Aussie flavour to the world of type design”. Wayne has also worked with two of my favourite typographers/letterers – Gemma O’Brien and Jess Cruikshank.

I had thought for a while about attending one of the workshops in Sydney, and I missed one that he did last year at The Makers’ Hub. So naturally I jumped at the chance to get involved when I heard another workshop was happening in Canberra. I just wanted to throw in a big thank you to Saini Copp, designer at CRE8IVE who facilitated the workshop (and made me coffee)!


The workshop went for a full day on the weekend, held at CRE8IVE’s studio space in Civic (centre of Canberra city). There was about 15 people from a range of backgrounds and skill sets including design students, graduates and professionals from the public and private sectors. I think most of us had some experience already, but regardless of individual skill level everyone seemed to have a good time and we all had some pretty nice work to show off at the end of the day.

Wayne gave a good introduction into different styles of hand lettering, taking us through some of his Pinterest collections and explaining how each of these styles were defined and what techniques were used. We then got into the parts that I was looking forward to most – planning composition of letters and words, and practicing brush lettering techniques using a Tombow brush pen we got to take home.



Wayne also brought a bunch of samples of his hand-lettering work for us to look through.



And he demonstrated a few other materials and techniques such experimenting with alternative types of ‘ink’ (eg coffee) and tools like the soda can pen.




I actually went to an art store after the workshop and bought two black Tombow brush pens, and I’m glad I did because the one I got in the workshop has already gone a bit furry. To be honest, even though I enjoyed using the brush pen, I think I prefer using an actual paint brush. I guess you don’t get quite the same clarity and style but I feel more comfortable using a brush. I also experimented using an Ironlak marker I got in my showbag at Semi-Permanent last year in Sydney and it worked pretty well using the chisel tip. I also have some calligraphy nib pens I’m keen to experiment with now. All in all, can definitely recommend doing this workshop, a great introduction to hand lettering and I’m certainly feeling more confident about about my brush lettering skills (just need to practice now).



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