Brush lettering is something I’ve always loved to look at, watch people make & wished I could do so myself. I took a calligraphy class in college & loved the look of black letter, but I’m seeing so many cool things done (a lot faster) with Crayola markers, like my former classmate Edwin Montero’s entire IG feed – so great!

So when I saw Isabel Urbina Peña – an incredibly talented designer & letter – was hosting a workshop in nearby, beloved Brooklyn, I had to attend. I really only need half a reason to travel to the Empire State, but check out this description: “This will be the perfect intro for those of you who’ve been wanting to learn lettering but feel intimidated or overwhelmed.” Any affordable(ish) workshop that features my two middle names in the description (Melissa Intimidated Overwhelmed Matos) simply could not be missed, snow be damned!

The workshop was held at Brooklyn Craft Company, an adorbs shop with all kinds of crafty goods that offers $10 off any class when you sign up for their newsletter (if you haven’t already, do that like NOW). It was a small, intimate class size & Isabel hooked us up with a full packet of worksheets to keep at it at home.

I – along with the majority of the class – quickly realized a few things:

  • Isabel apparently has the arm muscles of a Titan – it takes WAY more pressure than any of us imagined to get those lovely, thick downstrokes with a brush marker. Workout for the year – done.
  • Circles are the actual devil – avoid all words with o’s.
  • Practice really does make perfect, or atleast mediocre. The class seemed to fly by; there was a lot to remember as we practiced our “minimums”, but the more we kept at it the more comfortable and confident we felt wielding our Tombows.

Check out the images below. In the second image, you can see a really sweet before-and-after of how much Isabel’s tips really helped. The things they don’t tell you in those oddly satisfying lettering videos include things like connecting letters, managing the pressure of your strokes & how not to forget letters in your husband’s name (a classmate kept misspelling Scott & it was adorably hilarious). While everyone filled their final cards with holiday cues, I naturally filled mine with profanity & everyone fucking loved it.