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It goes without saying that high schoolers are busy people. While our primary responsibility is to maintain fair academic standing, doing so is difficult when we must also stay on top of our extracurriculars, sports, and more. But although it’s hard to find time for much else, it’s definitely not impossible.

During my junior year of high school, I became consumed by the demands of rigorous classes and extracurriculars, giving myself little to no chance to engage in leisurely activities. It wasn’t until I was on the brink of a complete mental breakdown that I realized I needed to let myself breathe. I was never the kind of person whose parents paid for ballet classes or piano lessons when I was three years old. I’ve never played any sports, either, so that was out of the picture. That said, I had few options available when it came to choosing a hobby. Nonetheless, I was determined to pursue an interest that could help me balance my school life and outside-school life so that I wouldn’t have a mental breakdown. It’s one thing to spend time with friends in order to relieve stress, but I’ve found that spending time alone doing something you enjoy is just as rewarding.

One night, I pulled out an old sketchbook and a pen and began to draw. It was completely spontaneous, and it wasn’t until I was finished that I was able to peg a name to the artwork sitting before me: typography. The term might be unfamiliar to some, but like a classmate at school, you’ll know the name when you match it with a face. Typography, or handlettering, as I call it, is the arrangement of the written word. It can range from serif to sans serif, brush calligraphy to bold face, and everything in between. To me, it is an artform that uses words to convey a message.

This is a photo of one of my recent works.

This is a photo of one of my recent works.

When I started handlettering, I took quotes and song lyrics that caught my attention and turned them into pieces of art that I could turn to on occasion for guidance and comfort. While most of my work consists of goosebump-worthy song lyrics, a good number of it is a compilation of inspirational quotes that I pick up from films or in passing. The beauty in handlettering is that you can take these words and arrange them in a way that will draw attention to their meaning.

Even before typography became a hobby of mine, I had always been fond of nicely arranged inspirational quotes. They were what I needed to give me a little push on days when I wasn’t feeling quite so motivated. Since then, I’ve found that writing these quotes myself is far more therapeutic since it allows me to focus my attention on an activity far less stressful than schoolwork.

Beginning the process of handlettering is really what you make of it. I began on a whim and have developed my skills through practice, but mostly through the inspiration I pick up from other artists. The next time you feel like you’re drowning in school work, take a break and pick up a pen.

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