Beautiful writing done by hand is a long-established craft, and the results of such calligraphy can be admired behind monastery walls. But the handlettering of today has its roots more in the lettering of comics or advertising graphics. The joy of beautiful writing, which graphic designer Moira Schweiger from Schwabach practises with great skill, has accompanied her since her youth. “I regularly went on holiday to the UK with my parents. I was always fascinated by the beautifully designed writing of pubs or craft businesses, which was usually simply applied to the façade of the building,” says the 38-year-old freelancer. In Germany, this type of advertising lettering has only come back into fashion in recent years, but Moira Schweiger has been zealously working on it since 2011. One of the many fascinating aspects of this art of writing is how modern and integrative this graphic work is in relation to other, related design elements – not to mention how the tools have changed, how modern and sustainable handlettering has developed and, last but not least, how much demand there is for this kind of work these days.
If you visit Moira Schweiger in her 13 m2 shop in Obere Wörthstrasse in Nuremberg, you will get to know a whole range of different uses for beautiful handwritten work: classy wedding or greeting cards, menus or food boards in restaurants, price lists for services in craft businesses, as a way to design a logo and an element of a corporate design. “When it comes to lettering, my big advantage is my thorough training in graphic design, so I can deal with handwritten material professionally,” she explains. Schweiger knows all about the intricacies of prepress and production, she can integrate her handlettering into designs, and is familiar with paper types and punching processes. Nevertheless, it’s becoming increasingly clear that her enthusiasm for beautiful writing is the driving force behind her professional activities, whether graphic design commissions or her seminars for professionals or ambitious amateur writers, which she organizes for her own sake or on behalf of companies. “HELLO HONEY – PAPER CRAFTS & DESIGN OBJECTS” is the name of her label. “Hello Honey” is also the name of the tiny store she will close in July. That’s because she “would rather spend more of the time I’m standing in the shop back in the studio”. Her followers on Instagram and Pinterest and the large number of subscribers to her newsletter means she still has contact with customers and fans, explains the mother of a six-month-old baby, who has to plan her time wisely.
Schweiger taught herself handlettering: “I knew all kinds of things about typography, different fonts, letter design. Many details, however, such as how big the ‘belly’ of a round letter should be, the proportions of letters in general, or the exact spacing between them, are all learnt through practice, practice, practice.” She spent years creating and practising alphabets, until today she can do a beautiful piece of handlettering as swiftly and perfectly as we can scribble down a rough note. Handling modern writing and design tools, brush-like felt-tip pens, fineliners, pencils and coloured pencils of various degrees of hardness – even pencil-like erasers or so-called alcohol markers that make flashy colours really eye-popping – also requires practice. The old ink pen from art class is almost obsolete. Even the finer points regarding the thickness and texture of the various kinds of paper, which should not only be written on but also punched, aren’t taught in any textbook.
You can follow the various applications of her handlettering on Instagram #hellohoney_nbg and also discover romantic and cheeky things. "This is my pandemic classic,” says Schweiger, smiling, and showing us the postcard “Can’t wait to hug you”. With the words “Springtime lethargy” written in bright and cheerful green and yellow, you can effortlessly banish it. “Fries before Guys” recommends French fries over boys. Some lettering for pubs in the Franconia region of Germany is reminiscent of the penmanship found in England: shop windows and chalkboards are also designed to match the menu. One wooden box in the shop contains stickers with “Glückskind” (“Darling of fortune”), “Zur Geburt” (“On the birth of your child”) or just “Für Dich” (“For you”) – all written by hand. Although part of the craft is that Schweiger has a variety of font funds in her repertoire, “people usually come in and want something in my typical handwriting”. “Hello Honey” has become a brand, so Moira Schweiger attracts customers with something that many people want from her: her own graphic identity, her very own style.
On 2 June 2022, Initiative Schreiben e.V. invites all writing enthusiasts to the 6th Long Night of Writing. For an overview of the handwriting, calligraphy and handlettering events on offer, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
About the author
Peter Budig studied Protestant theology, history and political science. He worked as a freelance journalist, headed up the editorial department of a large advertising paper in Nuremberg for ten years and was the editor of Nuremberg’s Abendzeitung newspaper. He has been freelancing again since 2014 as a journalist, book author and copywriter. Storytelling is absolutely his favourite form.