Julie Wildman

Highland, Indiana

C518 Creating Lettering Art for 2-D and 3-D Wall Art and Signs

Five Day Class
Lettering, Design

This class will focus on creating lettering compositions for the production of 2-D and 3-D wall art and signage in media such as decals, wood, Plexiglas, metal, etc. We will begin the class in the traditional way: working through exercises with our calligraphic tools. However, we will always keep in mind the limitations (or should I say, “possibilities”) of our final product. The exercises will focus not only on the lettering but on layout, composition, how the letters are joined, and the negative space that is created. Principles of design will be discussed throughout, helping us solve problems for our final production.

In the first part of the class, we will all work together on various exercises. The second part of the class will be more individual instruction as each student begins to develop their specific piece. In the final part of the class, we will create small prototypes with foamcore—a substance which can be cut, sanded, and painted. Creating prototypes will help us work out design and production details for the end product.

Depending on each student’s design, the final layout can be turned into a production-ready file to send to a manufacturer of the student’s choice, to be cut in any of a broad range of materials. We will also discuss how to deal with various manufacturers and some of the production issues that may arise.


If students have access to the Adobe Creative Suite—specifically Illustrator—they may bring their laptops to create their final art files. If students don’t have the skillset to create their own production-ready file, for a $50 fee the instructor can create digital vector files of your design to be used by manufacturers.

Supply List
  • Calligraphy tools of choice (several different types: broad-edged nibs and brushes, pointed pens and brushes, and experimental tools like cola pens, broom bristle pens, etc.)
  • Small bottle sumi ink
  • Dr. Martin’s Bleedproof White (for corrections)*
  • Fineline applicators (preferred size: 20 gauge/.5 mm): available thru John Neal, Paper & Ink, Blick
  • 25 sheets of 12" x 18" practice paper that takes ink well (Pacon Sulphite Drawing Paper in medium weight is a good sheet. This is available on DickBlick.com and Amazon. Can also use Strathmore 400 Series drawing paper pad.)
  • Pencil
  • Sharpener
  • Eraser
  • Several sizes of Micron black pens (.005, .01, .02)
  • 12" or 18" metal ruler
  • T-square
  • 14" x 17" pad tracing paper
  • 14" x 17" pad Bienfang Graphics 360 translucent marker paper (Other brands: Canson Pro-Layout marker paper, Borden & Riley Boris layout paper for markers, or any type of marker paper that is smooth and doesn’t bleed)
  • 3 – 4 small yogurt or plastic containers for inks
  • Large cutting surface like a self-healing cutting mat: minimum size 18" x 24"
  • Scissors
  • Roll of paper towels
  • Water container
  • Quotes or words you want to use in your layout

Prototype materials
  • 18 mm 1-blade retractable utility knife (with extra snap-off blades); these are available at Home Depot and Lowe’s
  • X-Acto knife with several new #11 blades
  • 3 – 5 colors of acrylic paint in bottles or tubes (2 oz/ 59 ml)
  • A few brushes in various sizes (2", 1", .5", .25") to use with acrylic paint
  • Something to use as a palette for mixing acrylic paint. e.g., palette pad, Styrofoam plates, etc.
  • Water containers for cleaning brushes

  • If you have access to the Adobe Creative Suite—specifically Illustrator—you may bring your laptops to create your final art files.
  • If you don’t have the skillset to create your own production-ready file, for a $50 fee the instructor can create digital vector files of your design to be used by manufacturers.

* Bleedproof white will not be necessary if a student wants to make corrections to a digital file in Photoshop or some other photo editing software.
Materials Fee
$20: includes 2 sheets of 3/16" x 24" x 36" foam core, the Pacon Sulphite Drawing paper for practice paper, and a full set of color, spiral-bound handouts

Julie Wildman is a highly regarded professional in the fields of graphic design, commercial lettering, calligraphy, and workshops. She graduated with a BA in Graphic Design from Columbia College in Chicago and worked for many years with two Chicago design firms. She currently works as a freelance lettering artist and designer from her home studio near Chicago. Her calligraphic interest began in the late ‘80s after a friend gave her Timothy Botts’ book Doorposts, and she saw the written word illustrated in such a way as never before. About ten years later, she had the privilege of taking a year-long class with Reggie Ezell and was hooked. She joined the Chicago Calligraphy Collective soon after and embarked on a lifelong journey of studying letters. Since then, she has exhibited in juried shows throughout the midwest and the US, including the Newberry Library in Chicago. In 2007 and 2014, her pieces “Psalm 117” and “An Alphabet Book,” respectively, won the Newberry’s Purchase Prize Award and became a part of the Library’s permanent collection. She enthusiastically shares her love of “beautiful writing” with young and old by teaching calligraphy for staff development classes, on-site promotional events, community programs and personal growth workshops throughout the Chicago area, U.S., and Canada. And now, with online Zoom classes she has been teaching students from 20 different countries and counting.