Brush letting is one of the oldest and most classical known lettering styles. Across a variety of cultures and countries, letter drawing by brush has been used at least since the invention of paper, with notable early examples found in Ancient Egypt, Ancient Rome, and Feudal China and Japan. However, brush lettering is by no means an antiquated or outmoded style. Brush lettering artists continue to use a variety of tools and techniques to create beautiful, elegant lettering designs on all manner of materials, including paper, card stock, wood, and many others.
Brush lettering is typically performed using paint or ink and a lettering brush. Lettering brushes are composed of long hairs, often originating from natural fibers. However, brushes comprised of synthetic fibers are also available, and can be significantly cheaper, making them a practical alternative for people new to brush lettering. The long, delicate hairs of lettering brushes gives them the ability to absorb a great deal of paint or ink, making it possible to craft thick, bold block letters or highly saturated color fills. Natural fibers such as squirrel or sable fur are ideal when lettering on surfaces such as glass, vinyl, plastic, or metal. When brush lettering wood, ceramic, rough paper, or canvas surfaces, a more bristly or synthetic lettering brush will prove more durable.
Brush lettering is beloved for its painterly, hand-crafted design. Many brush lettering techniques produce gorgeous, swooping letter shapes with clear variation in paint or ink thickness. Brush strokes can sometimes be seen, as well as irregularities in the amount of pressure or paint applied to the surface. This gives the work a unique and artisanal look. However, brush lettering can also be used to produce angular, serif letters, as well as bold and declarative styles. The wide array of brushes, styles, and paint colors available also contribute to the versatility of brush lettering as an art form. Brush lettering can be used in signage, house or professional décor, posters and illustrations, as part of a craft project, or on paper documents.