I know I’ve already made an official announcement about the 2018 #52Letters Challenge, but I wanted I wanted to write a more in-depth post about it. Specifically, I want to touch on why I think it’s the best way for you to bring your understanding and execution of the alphabet to whole new levels. And of course, if you haven’t started it yet, I wanted to invite you one last time to join the movement for 2018. Obviously, you can begin this challenge at any point in time, but it’s always more fun when there’s other people involved!
Wait… What Are We Talking About?
Head on over to 52-letters.com to check out the official announcement. #52Letters is a year-long challenge in which you devote an entire week of focus on one letter:
- One letter a week for 52 weeks (the whole year)
- Weeks 1 through 26: lowercase a through z
- Weeks 27 through 52: uppercase A through Z
- Share your progress online with the hashtag #52letters
So week one is lowercase a, week two is lowercase b, and so on all the way up to week 27 where we start the alphabet over with the uppercase letters.
Those are the only guidelines. It doesn’t matter if you’re a calligraphy artist, a hand lettering artist, or just someone who wants to improve their penmanship. I’ll personally be focusing my efforts on blackletter calligraphy. If you practice many forms of calligraphy or lettering styles, feel free to explore as much as you’re comfortable with.
Why a Letter Per Week?
Gather around friends, it’s story time. Check out this image:
See this style of a? The kind that has the small bowl with the extended horizontal arm? The one you probably didn’t learn in school because you were taught the simpler version of lowercase a (like the prior image above)? Yeah… I HATE this a. I’ve always had so much trouble getting it to look right. And that’s not the only style of a letter I’ve had trouble with.
Whenever I encounter these difficult letterforms in my practice, I think to myself that I should just dedicate hours on end to practicing those tough letters over and over again until I master them. Then, and only then, I’ll never have to struggle with them again.
It was this situation I would constantly find myself in that prompted me to start #52Letters. I know I’m not alone. We all go through this. Maybe we don’t struggle with the same letters specifically, but there’s not denying that each of us are more comfortable with certain letters over others.
Let’s get comfortable with all of them at a casual pace.
When we each take a week to fine-tune our abilities with a certain letter, we also have ample time to explore other variations and nuances. This is another aspect I was looking forward to. Beyond the overarching style of this letter a that I struggled with personally, there are also a countless other combinations of strokes that I can put together to make it unique. The bowl can be rounded with one stroke, or it can be pointed with two. Same with the stem. I can use hairlines to connect the middle bowl to the stem there several different stroke variations I can use to render the horizontal arm. The opportunities are literally exponential and exploring them are a blast.
And let’s not forget the aspect of community and sharing you work. If you’re on Instagram, tag your work with #52Letters and be sure to follow the hashtag to see other artist’s work. This is a great way meet others and find inspiration!
So there you have it. One week per letter — ample time to practice and explore without rushing to keep up with other life obligations.
It’s not too late to start! I can’t wait to see your explorations.