How I Ease The Aches of Hand Lettering

Ominous Disclaimer: I'm not a healthcare professional in any way...just a guy that makes letters, logos, and drawings. The following Type Builder post isn't medical advice. In fact, it's not advice at all. It's just me sharing something I do to help ease the aches and pains of vector lettering. Use at your own discretion.

In This Lesson...

  • The aches and pains of physical inactivity
  • Thoughtful consideration
  • A quick and easy movement circuit

Achy Breaky

Design is a profession, and it is a passion, and I love that I get to wake up each day and dive into projects that are both challenging and fulfilling. However, working on a computer every day, day after day, has a way of making my eyes, neck, back, shoulders, hands and hips super sore. When I get stiff and sore, I also get grumpy, and my creative and technical abilities suffer.

To combat the effects of peering into my monitor for hours at a time, I've created a series of easy-to-perform movement circuits that get my blood flowing, help me refocus, and renew my creative energy. Today, I'd like to share one of these circuits. It takes about 5 minutes to complete.

Pause & Consider

Before starting, there are a few things I always try to stop and think about:

  • Breath - When I do this circuit, I heed my inner Bryan Kest and focus on deep and steady nose breathing throughout. If I get winded, I back off and simply focus on my breath.
  • Stability - Depending on the movement, I sometimes use a chair, wall, or table to help me balance.
  • Pain - If a movement causes me pain, I stop doing it and move on to another. Or I focus on breathing.

Type Builder Movement Circuit

(Unfortunately, the TypeBuilder budget isn't hefty enough to hire a fitness model. Here's a bearded guy wearing stretch jeans and a Carhartt vest instead.)

1. Stand and stretch to sky (15 reps)

2. Single leg knee raise (10 reps on each leg)

3. Side-to-side stepping (20 reps)

4. Fist squeeze curls (15 reps)

5. Modified airplane (20 reps)

6. Single leg kick (10 reps on each leg)

7. Heel pointers (15 reps on each heel)

Vector tracing hand lettering in Adobe Illustrator requires deep mental focus but very little physical activity. I'm always surprised at how creaky my body gets from simply sitting and clicking a mouse, but I've found that routinely getting up from my desk to work through some basic movements is a great way to break up an intense trace session and reinvigorate both mind and body.

Next Time on Type Builder

Fancy tools don't develop skills (only practice does that), but having the right tools and knowing how to use them can greatly increase your confidence and efficiency. On the next Type Builder, I'll introduce a company whose tools helped take my Adobe Illustrator capabilities to another level. 

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Micah Bowers

My objective is simple: Make things better. I design for people. People are the heart and soul of a thriving business. When your message is clearer, more creative, and above all, authentic, people will notice. I unite Branding, Custom Type, & Large Format Graphics to help businesses thrive.