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Hand-Lettering with Gemma O’Brien

Lamington Drive / The Jacky Winter Group

Saturday, 27 September 2014 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm (AEST)

Hand-Lettering with Gemma O’Brien

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General Admission Sold Out Ended $250.00 $0.00
* Prices include GST

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Event Details

On the final day of her solo exhibition Graveyard Shift, Gemma will be hosting a workshop that will give participants insight into the hand-drawn processes she uses to create unique lettering pieces.  Hand-lettering is an invaluable tool for designers today that allows flexibility, freedom, customisation that often is inhibited by working solely with fonts in a digital space. 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 customisation (swashes, flourishes, decoration). Using calligraphic principles as a starting point participants will spend the second part of the day conceptualising, drawing and refining a custom piece of hand-lettering under Gemma’s instruction. 


This workshop is designed for participants who have an existing art, advertising or design background who are interested in refining their hand-lettering skills to use in their own professional or personal practice. This course is designed to give participants an understanding of the principles of letterform creation through demonstrations of techniques by Gemma O’Brien, hands-on participation in individual and group exercises,  one-on-one guidance, and critical discussion among peers. 

What’s provided? 

Each participant will receive a kit with everything required on the day and the tools to continue to practice the skills you learn on the day, at home. It will contain: 

 Workshop Tool-Kit

  • Workbook designed by Gemma O’Brien to outline key principles and exercises for the day, as well as a resource list for links for further study.
  • Pencil + Sharpener + Rubber + Ruler 
  • Fine black marker 
  • Tracing Paper 
  • Customised Grid Paper exercises
  • Broad Nib marker 
  • Brush Pens x 2 
  • Custom-Cut Balsa Wood for experimental calligraphy exercises  
  • Mini-Ink Pot

What to bring

If you have a preferred mechanical pencil or drawing tool that you feel most comfortable  drawing with please bring this along. A few options of a single word  that you can use as the basis for your lettering project in the afternoon session. Gemma will have options if you don’t have a preferred word to work with. 

Course Outline

SESSION ONE: 10AM - 1.00PM (with 15 minute coffee break)  

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

  • Welcome, introduction, quick warm up exercises.  
  • Discuss the links between typography, reading/writing, culture, memory, communication and the human experience. 
  • 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.  

LUNCH 1:00 - 1.30PM 

SESSION TWO: 1:30PM - 5.00PM  (with 15 minute coffee break)  

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.

Class spots are limited to 15 people.
Have questions about Hand-Lettering with Gemma O’Brien? Contact Lamington Drive / The Jacky Winter Group

When & Where

Lamington Drive
101A Sackville St
Collingwood, VIC 3066

Saturday, 27 September 2014 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm (AEST)

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Lamington Drive / The Jacky Winter Group

Lamington Drive is owned and operated by the friendly faces of creative services agency The Jacky Winter Group. It was established in August 2008 as a gallery space dedicated to showing the work of those represented by the agency and beyond in a physical space. The gallery exists to simultaneously explore the idea of showcasing commercial artists in a traditional gallery space, and as a venue in which illustrators, cartoonists, photographers and designers can explore this same art/commercial art tension in their practices.

The Jacky Winter Group have been blazing trails in the contemporary commercial art world since 2007. With over 100 genius image-makers and production powerhouses on the country’s largest roster, and a bunch of awards in the cabinet, we know that our work, our people and our networks are the best. No argument. We are the matchmaker, the agent, the producer and the coach. We provide exactly the right talent for every job, and we support the artists, in every way, to produce the best work possible for the broadest range of clients, locally and internationally. We’re proud of our work, we’re proud of our artists, and we’re proud of the things we’ve helped bring into the world. And we’re named after a native Australian robin, if you were wondering. A pretty adorable one.

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