Free Sans Serif Lettering Lesson with Ian Barnard

If I had to sum up this interview with Ian Barnard into one quick takeaway, it’d be this…

Handlettering > Downton Abbey.

I mean… Ian didn’t say this word for word. But he may as well have. (This’ll make more sense in a minute, I swear).

Ian Barnard is a designer turned calligrapher, slash hand lettering artist, slash typeface designer, slash procreate brush creator, slash husband and father of two from the UK. The man is a big, bold, sans serif style TALENTED hand lettering artist. And luckily for us, he enjoys helping other people learn hand lettering through the videos he posts on 
Instagramhis YouTube channel, his podcast- and a bunch of other places… aka this interview!

Feel free to skip right to Ian’s lesson and Q&A here, or you can read on for a bit of my recap!

The links below may be affiliate links where appropriate. This means that your purchase through these links may result in a few cents in payment to me, to support creating further resources like this one! That being said, I will never suggest supplies that I do not personally use and fully recommend.

Ian started lettering about 5 years ago after the birth of his second child. When his wife decided to take up Downton Abbey (been there, amirite?), Ian decided to take up calligraphy. (So maybe in some weird butterfly effect way, we can all be thankful he wasn’t drawn in by the drama filled lives of the Crawleys and their staff, and instead chose to order “The Dummies Guide to Calligraphy”. Seriously. He did that.)

Like many of us, Ian was quickly obsessed with lettering. And as a way to track his incremental improvements, he posted his work on Instagram- successfully growing an audience now exceeding 247K followers!

But theres a humbleness in Ian that is refreshing. We all know that Instagram is saturated with hand lettering perfection…but Ian doesn’t shy away from posting his imperfect work; he knows that people can appreciate that someone like him doesn’t always have good days. This is one of my favourite aspects of Ian – though he is extremely talented and successful, he explains that it’s not just some gene that he was born with. We all struggle!

“The difference between you and someone you admire, is just a period of time and practice.”

– Ian Barnard

Another important thing that stood out to me was how much Ian wants his audience to realize that lettering can be done with the simplest tools. Not everyone has access to the fancy markers or specialty paper, so his ultimate go-to’s tools are easily accessible.

The OG: a good ol’ pencil and paper. 


ANY pencil and a piece paper.

But I can hear you so clearly right now… dear reader….

“K but WHICH pencil? WHICH paper? I cannot possibly choose my own. I need what Ian has”.

I know you well, don’t I?

Fine. I’ll give you some links. Here’s exactly what Ian uses:

So now you’ve got your tools, and you’re ready to hear Ian’s best tips for sans-serif lettering.

As always, I strongly recommend just watching the actual live demonstration, but if you’re short on time (I feel you), here’s a breakdown of Ian’s step-by-step process to learning a new sans-serif style.

*Pre-Step 1: Choose a good typeface as a foundation. Ian suggests something like Helvetica or League Gothic.
Step 1) Print it out and trace it. Seriously. Over and over and over. Get used to the letter individually. Don’t just put on a TV show and trace, though- you’ve got to really study it!
Step 2) Reference it. No more tracing! Set the type aside and learn to create the letters on your own, but use it as a visual aid.
Step 3) Freehand it without the reference. This is the equivalence to “no more training wheels”. You got this. 

BOOM – now that you have perfected this type as the foundation you can add your own style and personality!Give it some flair – give it some YOU.

Now listen. You really need to watch the video. Ian gives us a TON of other tips (seriously, I learned at least 3 new tidbits I would have never known) throughout his lesson.

But he also generously gave us the opportunity to download his sans-serif lettering freebie worksheet.

So if you’re feeling ready to give this a try, just enter your name/email below and I will send it over to you right away! ?

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I really hope you enjoyed this interview! Make sure you’re subscribed to The Happy Ever Crafter TV to catch the rest in the series! 
And one last HUGE thank you to Ian!

You can also join the Facebook group, where these Q&A’s are hosted LIVE, so you can submit your own questions for future guests!


  1. I signed up for the lettering worksheet and cannot seem to find where to get it. Please advise.
    Thanks, Connie

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