chalklettering
Image Source: Gemma O’Brien

Chalk Lettering

Chalk lettering is known for its playful, approachable appearance. Depending on the style, technique, and color utilized, a work of chalk lettering can evoke youthful memories of the playground or classroom, the languid pleasure of summer days, or even the exciting discovery of a piece of DIY street art. However, it is a misconception that all chalk lettering is frivolous or lacking in seriousness; when chalk lettering is highly saturated, pointed, or thickly drawn it can become quite businesslike and practical.

Chalk lettering is created using the application of chalk (calcium carbonate, also known as limestone) to a rough or highly textured surface such as stone, slate, a chalkboard, or a rough-surfaced paper. The use of chalk in drawing letters dates back to prehistoric times, when early humans used white rock to create  images and shape letters on the surfaces of rocks and cave walls. Painters, drafters, and lettering artists have continued to rely upon chalk for centuries, appreciating both its fine-grained texture and the unique, delicately dusted effect that it creates on numerous surfaces.

As a material, chalk provides lettering artists a variety of options and style choices that ink or paint would make difficult. The faint, dusty application of color provided by chalk makes layering and smudging effects easy, and chalk lettering can be removed from erasable surfaces and replaced without any difficulty. Chalk also comes in a variety of light or pastel colors, which makes it appropriate for a number of casual, fun purposes and settings. Higher-end varieties of drawing chalk contain small binding agents that increase the material’s adhesive quality, for longer-lasting and more saturated colors and shapes.

Because of its fun, expressive appearance and its easy customizability, chalk lettering can be used on temporary or adaptable signage, personal and professional décor, as an organizational tool, or in educational settings. Chalk lettering is also popular in casual dining establishments such as cafes or gastropubs because of its approachable, cute appearance and flexibility. Chalk lettering experienced a boom in popularity in 2014, and chalk illustration as well as a variety of chalk lettering styles have continued to be common in independent shops and restaurants, as well as in home and events décor.