What’s the difference between sign painting, lettering and calligraphy ?

What’s the difference between signpainting, lettering and calligraphy ?


When I started learning about letters those terms were really confusing for me.

There is nothing to be confused about, in this post we are going to get inside the terms and understand exactly what are those differences.

 But What’s the difference between sign painting, lettering and calligraphy ? Let’s start with the terms 


Sign painting is the art of painting on buildings or signboards performed by sign painters or signwriters for the purpose of announcing or advertising products, services and events.

Painting letters looks easy to learn, but takes a lot of practice. Because the muscle must to learn too. Practitioners often acquired the craft through trade school, although many early sign painters were autodidact or self-taught.

Sign painting skills are varied and complex. Manipulation of a lettering brush is fundamental to sign painting and can take years to develop.

If you want to learn more about the materials you need for starting painting signs click here

What’s the difference between sign painting, lettering and calligraphy ?

Now let’s talk about the second term. what is lettering ?

Lettering is a term that covers the art of drawing letters, instead of simply writing them. Lettering is considered an art form, where each letter in a phrase or quote acts as an illustration. Each letter is created with attention to detail and has a unique role within a composition. Lettering is created as an image, with letters that are meant to be used in a unique configuration. Lettering words do not usually translate into alphabets that can later be used in font since they are created with a specific word in mind.

If you are looking for a easy practice book for getting to know hand lettering click here

now that we know what mean sign painting and lettering ?

Now is time to understand what calligraphy mean;

calligraphy is a visual art related to writing. It is the design and execution of lettering with a broad-tipped instrument, brush , or other writing instrument. A contemporary calligraphic practice can be defined as

“the art of giving form to signs in an expressive, harmonious, and skillful manner”

Modern calligraphy ranges from functional inscriptions and designs to fine-art pieces where the letters may or may not be readable. calligraphy differs from typography and non-classical hand-lettering, though a calligrapher may practice both.

Now knowing this let’s try to answer the question again

What’s the difference between sign painting, lettering and calligraphy ?

Lettering is the art of drawing letters where each letter acts as its own mini illustration. … Calligraphy is more likely than lettering to be used in longer written pieces.

And signpainting is the craft of painting and writing letters in the form of signs.


I hope that this post was helping you to learn a bit more about the terms

If you have any other question leave me a comment and I’m going to answer as fast as possible.

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