book review: whimsical lettering

Fun times! I have another book to give away to one of my lucky readers. I love it when that happens!12qm26_1

The Art of Whimsical Lettering
By Joanne Sharpe
Interweave/F+W; $24.99

First thoughts – why is a textile artist/quilter reviewing a book about lettering?
This is why.

lettering3 lettering2
lettering4 lettering1

I love putting words on and into my art so it was fun to see what Joanne had to say about the subject. I never hold myself to education in just one medium. I look at all kinds of art and am interested in all kinds of art. Lettering is lettering is lettering be it on paper or cloth or canvas. Oh, and the fact that I’m an English major who loves words probably has something to do with it too.

So – a little bit about the book: the first bit describes lots of different pens. Are they waterproof, colored, etc.? It’s an informative place for people like me who love trying out all sorts of marking tools.

IMG_0030The next part of the book is a series of prompts to warm up and explore your materials. She asks the reader to get a composition book and spend time playing. Play write repeat. It is well illustrated with page after page of Joanne’s writing composition book, a glorious mess of eye candy. Sweet with all of its bright colors.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book: Pg 37, Make time for creative “pen play” in your inspiration journal every day. Try different lettering styles with different pens, assorted papers, new colors, and collected materials. Experiment constantly and use the composition book as a “safe zone” for making lettering art with no rules and no judgment. This is the journal where anything goes!


Pg 42, Let go of your inhibitions and fear of failure. This isn’t formal calligraphy. This is whimsical lettering—creative expressions and exploration of letterforms—using the writing you have harbored and evolved since childhood.

Get into a “pen Zen” or “pen trance” and just write! Pick a favorite pen and write in a designated practice journal for 15 or 20 minutes, in cursive or print, as a warm-up exercise before you begin your lettering art. Write words continuously without picking the pen up off the page. Letter your thoughts without stopping.”

IMG_0032Doesn’t this sound a lot like my 15 minutes of bad art warm up? If you target your warm up play (bad art time) towards a skill that you will be using in that days artwork you will be well prepared to do your best work.

Interweave Press has lots of great mixed media materials to play with and peruse.
If you click on the link below to check them out I get a little kickback. 🙂
Mixed-Media Category

Leave a comment here on the blog
(if you get this via email you need to click over to the blog and leave a comment there please)

I’ll pick a winner on the 25th – which is a long time away – so let your friends know and send them over to check it out as well. US entries only please.


congratulations to Susan T who is the winner !!!

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  1. Slip them on your outside furnishings when they’re not in use and
    effortlessly get rid of the covers when you are prepared to get pleasure
    from your furnishings in the garden.

  2. Doreen Kinkade says:

    When I need some inspiration, I go to my books and magazines and peruse through them. I might find colors or a shape that spark my interest. I am also a potter and basketweaver and like to mix some parts of one with another. I would think it would be fun to try mixing in lettering.

  3. I’m am totally inspired by the geology and rock formations I see as we travel through the mountains, since I grew up with the flat corn fields of Illinois and live in the flat of Michigan. Learning lettering techniques could only add to control of whatever media you were using to create them…and it looks like so much fun!

  4. My lettering always looks the same so I would love the great ideas that this book would offer. Inspiration for me comes from my library of textile art books, Pinterest and the world around me.

  5. Leanne L. Hopkins says:

    Contrasting texture and color of leaves, conifer needles, flower parts, boulders, rusty metal structures…all provide great visual inspiration to get me creating. Sifting my fingers through my button collection, threads and fabrics also provide stimulus to do something, anything in my studio.

  6. This does look like a fun book. I love incorporating lettering into my daily sketch.

  7. Jill Hoddick says:

    This book looks like it is full of inspiration – shapes, colors, letters -how canone go wrong? I would love to own it.

  8. Jerie Clark says:

    This book looks like so much fun. I am sure it will be a source of inspiration. I also keep looking thru all my old quilting magazines. Some of the things from 15 yrs ago are coming into vogue again.

  9. I look at sketching blogs and other types of art blogs to get inspiration.

  10. 1. Being outdoors.
    2. Sketchbooks–particularly sketchers who focus on the natural world…Cathy Johnson, Liz Stendahl, and my latest fav, although he does a lot of urban scenes, the “Seattle Sketcher”, Gabriel Campanario.
    3. Art galleries. I’m always energized by the amazing creativity and skill of others. When I walk out of a gallery I feel like I’ve had six cups of coffee and just cleaned my glasses.

  11. I have had the privilege of taking a weekend workshop from Joanne Sharp. What a wonderful experience! She is an excellent communicator and is full of fun ideas. Her enthusiasm and talent is a great inspiration. Having so much of her information in one book for convenient home reference is truly a treasure not to be missed.

  12. Debbie McGrath says:

    I get inspiration from my own photos. I take tons of photos on vacation or just around the yard. I also get inspiration from embroidery of all kinds.

  13. I LOVE letters on any medium… and get my inspiration from outside my studio window… there is a constantly changing view. I would love to win this book

  14. TEXT can become a composition. Think of all the possibilities when using line, shape, color and value within the framework of the written word. From illuminated manuscrips to Stewart Davis and Jasper Johns – numbers in color.

  15. Sharon Eisen says:

    The first time that I saw writing on a quilt was in a shop in San Francisco. I was hooked!

  16. Bad Art Warm Up – now there is an idea I can get behind. I have tried zentangles, but they don’t keep my interest. Lettering, however… would definitely be my bad art warm up. Hope the book finds it way here!

  17. If I had to give quilting and photography and choose something else, it would be linocuts. One day, I’ll take a class, but until then I’ll stick to threads and apertures. Thanks and take care, Byrd

  18. Joan Chrisopherson says:

    I LOVE lettering but I also am inspired by Zentangle and I think the two are a bit related. A lot of my inspiration comes from photographs of places and things. Fun to find the design.

  19. I am inspired by the challenges of using non-traditional materials such as Tyvek, Lutradur, and Yupo. They are my new “fabrics” and can be painted, sewn, and manipulated for fiber art.

  20. Lyric Kinard says:

    Posted for Ginny Hoffman
    I really need this book so I can rid myself of trying to learn calligraphy for the 20 some years. I have learned NOTHING. but I want to learn to write with different scripts and pens. This would be a wonderful gift for me. Thank you.

  21. Marilyn Fromherz says:

    I get lots of inspiration from Scrapbooking digital art sites, which ties into playing around with my photographs. My travels too really inspire me for textures and composition – spend my entire summers in Oregon hiking, biking and boating with my camera. Always wanting to do better lettering that is fun! Thanks for the article.

  22. I’ve been known to jump around from quilting to watercolors (just learning) to crochet or embroidery with a little beading thrown in. I’ve also experimented with printing on fabric. This book looks like it would fit right in with my next jump into the unknown. What a great inspiration.

  23. Margaret Williams says:

    When I need a little inspiration, I usually look through photographs. I take LOTS of photos every day and sometimes I see things in them months later that I didn’t even notice originally. Plus it’s a little romp down memory lane. And then, of course, there’s always Van Gogh…

  24. stephanie says:

    acrylics and illustrations, flowers – while not a medium inspire me.

  25. I work a lot in fused glass, and love seeing the connections between media like quilting, glass, collage, and paint – the ways to take inspiration from one medium to the next are infinite. Incorporating more text into my work is a high priority, and I’d love to be able to add this book to my inspiration stash.

  26. I’ve been experimenting with nontraditional media – used tea bag papers and used coffee filters. I’m having fun incorporating these materials with paper and fabric. I’m interested in adding text to more of my work and this book would be a wonderful reference.

  27. The shorter answer might be what doesn’t inspire me. I’ve renewed my pursuit of calligraphy. I love the vibrancy of stained glass. Photography for the composition and story telling and of course ease of manipulation. Sam Abell (former Nat Geo photograher) said, “Compose the background and wait for something to happen.” This book seems like the natural companion for Lynn K’s Intentional Printing.

  28. Susann T says:

    I also enjoy playing with Gelli prints and I like reading blogs seeing what others are doing and using. I am very interested in this book and hope to push myself to play with lettering more.

  29. Lately I’ve been finding inspiration doing gelli prints on paper.


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