The Complete Guide to Custom Lettering

Learn how to produce professional level custom lettering!


Summer session starts August 15, 2017

Registration is now open!

Mastering the Art of Lettering

Join me, alphastructaesthetitologist* Jon Contino, as I walk you through every step it takes to become a master lettering artist! From the history of written language all the way to customizing letters for logo design, this class will provide you with the tools it takes to make, break, and rebuild letterforms into strong, interesting, and unique works of art.

In this super-efficient crash course, I will share vital and core knowledge of typography history, the tools it takes to design letters, explain in detail how to master fundamental lettering, and of course, how to create your own style.

During the six weeks (plus a bonus week!), I will be available through a private Slack channel for comments, critiques, and advice as well as a live streaming video session where I will answer any and all questions you may have!

With 37 lecture and demonstration videos, a PDF workbook, and a detailed list of resources and where to get them, this class will benefit everyone from the first-time lettering artist to the seasoned pro!

* "Alphastructaesthetitologist" is a nonsense word I developed years ago to describe "one who builds and designs letters with passionate precision."


What You’ll Learn

  • The super important history of written language and its development into typography as we know it today. You need to learn the rules before you break them!
  • Every detail of the world's most important fonts and how to recreate them. Muscle memory is key to quick and efficient lettering!
  • How to properly construct and describe your work from a professional type and lettering standpoint. If you walk the walk, you gotta talk the talk!
  • An understanding of how to customize letters using the computer or by hand. You'd be surprised at how well the two can work together!
  • Tips and tricks to create unique and interesting lettering. Learn how to think and design simultaneously to keep your work fresh and tight!
  • The differences between script and calligraphy and how to use them to your benefit. Go with the flow!
  • The ability to use rhythm, spacing, and style to communicate a strong and memorable message. Learn the poetry of type and use it!
  • How to construct a logo using custom lettering. This is what you've been waiting for!
  • And also...The dos and don'ts of lettering. Avoid old mistakes and embrace the challenge of always creating great new work!

This course will give you the typographic knowledge necessary to customize letterforms with ease and help form your own style!


What’s Included?

  • 37 video lectures, including play-by-play screen captures of my thought process while working.
  • A workbook outlining the entire class with included worksheets for your reference and extra materials not covered in the videos.
  • A list of helpful resources including links to books, articles, and websites for further learning and discovery.
  • Links to all of my recommended tools and technologies to get you all set up!
  • WHOA Access to a private Slack channel for discussions, critiques, or just general advice among other students and myself. I will also be available during set times to personally speak with you!
  • GET OUT OF HERE Access to a private live streaming video at the end of the course for comments, on-the-spot critiques, and even questions regarding the business of design!
  • NOW YOU'RE JUST BEING CRAZY All students who complete the course will receive a custom designed lapel pin commemorating the newly mastered craft of custom lettering. This isn't some little league participation trophy, this is something you'll be proud to wear! I PROMISE!

Frequently Asked Questions

When does the course start?
The course officially starts August 15, 2017.
What's with the six weeks?
Here's the deal: In my experience, six weeks is the perfect amount of time to go from lettering novice to lettering pro. I've done this entire regiment with students, interns, and even coworkers. With dedication and practice, you'll witness significant improvements in your work. Every week, I'll join in on the private Slack channel to answer any questions you might have, critique your work, give you comments on how to improve, or just give some general advice. If you spend one week per section, then it will give you plenty of time to practice and make significant progress.
When can I speak with you personally?
During the week I'll be popping in and out of the Slack channel to catch up on conversations, but I will also announce "office hours" in which I will be available for direct, one-on-one chats to go over any detailed questions or comments you may have. We can talk letters, design, and even business. I am an open book and will share as much knowledge as I possibly can for whatever topic you might be curious about! There will be an additional week after the six week schedule ends to make sure we have everyone has had a chance to reach out!
And what about the live stream?
When the final week is complete and everyone is a pro, I'll be hosting a live stream via Google Hangouts/YouTube that all class members will have access to. You'll be able to share questions and comments for me to respond to in live video, and I'll also be offering live critiques for anyone willing to share with the rest of the group. This will be the last hurrah, so I'll be sure that we go out with a bang!
Is the class over after six weeks?
Not exactly! Once the class ends it will indeed close, however you will retain access to the class and all its videos, lectures, and resources indefinitely!

So what’s on the agenda?

  • A History of Typography — We'll discuss the history of written language and its development into typography as we know it today. I believe it's incredibly important to know your roots before you begin creating something of your own!
  • The Anatomy of a Letter — How does type work? What are all the moving parts and why are they important to custom lettering?
  • Letters in History — We'll discuss how decorative lettering became a thing and why it's so important to all aspects of branding and design.
  • Tools of the Trade — What do you need to kick off your hand lettering? We'll discuss it and I'll share links of where to buy it all!
  • Learning the Classics — This is one of the most important sections of the entire class. It will train your body to think in letterforms!
  • Altering Letters by Hand or Computer — How can we use our tools to begin making custom type? We'll also discuss everyone's favorite: LIGATURES!
  • Scripts and How to Use Them — Where does script style come from? How do you use it? How do you make it better? We'll cover it all!
  • Understanding Type Systems — Lettering allows for so many amazing styles, we'll learn how to use them together to enhance your work.
  • Rhythm, Spacing, and Context — The best part about lettering is how expressive it can be. We'll go over how to really make the most out of it!
  • Designing for Logos — How do logos affect everyday life? How do you get in on that?!
  • Custom Lettering for Branding — We'll learn the rules of going custom for branding. What's too far? What's not far enough?
  • The Pitfalls — Once you've become a lettering maniac, you'll encounter some common issues. We'll learn how to avoid those!
  • Defining your style — Experimentation is the name of the game!

There will be SEVEN assignments throughout the class. Each designed to specifically target key areas of mastering the art of lettering.

You are welcome to go through the course at your own pace to maximize your time!

Meet Jon Contino

New York native Jon Contino is at the forefront of today's most influential designers. His unique stylistic approach blends old-world whimsy with a modern, minimalistic sensibility that creates a distinct personality imitated time and time again. Jon's dedicated efforts continue to blur boundaries and affect modern trends in all facets of the creative industry. He has received numerous accolades for his fusion of old and new world aesthetics and continues to garner the attention of media outlets as well as large scale agencies and corporations such as Nike, MillerCoors, American Eagle, Coca-Cola, 20th Century Fox, AT&T, and Sports Illustrated to name just a few. Jon resides in New York with his wife Erin and daughter Fiona where he operates a full time studio and also works as creative director for The Hidden Sea, brand manager for Past Lives, and creative director of an apparel and accessories brand bearing his namesake.

Class Curriculum

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