Letters & Numbers & Symbols, Oh My! Fun with Decorative Type

By Dixie Ohlander

I struck gold at Barnes & Noble recently when I spotted a new coloring book, decorative_type_cover_novcoloron_480Decorative Type, part of the Creative Coloring series published by Michael O’Mara Books.

The book has a wonderful variety of typographic art from artists Sam Loman, Jake McDonald, Steve Turner (our own Squidoodle!), Suzanne Washington, Felicity French, and Simon Ålander. You’ll find letters, numbers, and symbols in an array of different scripts and fonts, decorated with sweeping swirls, loping loops, curving curls, a smorgasbord of shapes, and flourishes of flowers that intertwine to form a variety of typographic designs.

As I thumbed through the book, I was delighted to find a few of Sqidoodle’s alphabet doodles, which are incredibly creative. There was only one copy left of this awesome book and at the sale price of $5.00 U.S., there was no way I wasn’t going to take this book home.

Physical Attributes

The book includes over 50 pages, double-sided, with heavier weight paper. I used glitter gel pens on the letter blocks picture shown here. There was slight bleed through, but not enough to ruin the illustration on the other side of the page. I can easily cover that with a background using pastels or just using a white gel pen or correction pen to cover up the few lines that came though. The pages are not perforated, but it would be easy enough to use an exacto knife to take them out should you want to dismantle the book.

The Art of Typography

If you’re into different fonts and typeface, you’ll really enjoy this book. numbers_novcoloron_480Decorative embellishments aside, the fonts themselves are delightful. Some of them remind me of the movable type used on old printing presses from long ago. Some letters are ornate, such as you would find in beautiful, antique Bibles with gold paper edging. Others remind me of the company branded metal lettering found on old machines, such as Singer sewing machines and Remington typewriters.

In addition to cool letters, the artists used some interesting designs on their numbers illustrations. There is a page of  “digital” numbers that might be used on a scoreboard (I can see using neon or glitter gel pens for this design), numbers that are decorated with designs that remind me of bolts of fun fabric prints, a page of the numbers 0 – 10 that are of differing sizes and designs, and a page of numbers and mathematical symbols that look like they could be made of wood (bring on the browns!).

There are also a few pages of fun, everyday symbols such as the ampersand (&), the @ symbol, and a variety of ornamental punctuation marks. That’s one way to put a little excitement into studying the importance of punctuation in English grammar!

Getting Creative with Typographic Designs: Gifts and More

After I finished my first page in the book, I thought about some different ways ornate_letters_2_novcoloron_480the various designs can be used. It might be a fun project to complete several pages before the holidays and turn some of the finished designs into gifts. For example, the letter block coloring shown in this article will be used to decorate the front of some homemade Christmas cards. I have family members whose first or last names begin with one of these letters.  It’s a great way to personalize a colorful greeting card.

Here are a few other fun gift ideas for using the finished colorings from the book :

Cut out and frame individual colored letters that spell out a person’s name.

  • Color, duplicate, and laminate a page of decorative numbers for a math lover. These can be used as place-mats or under plants as table protectors.
  • Cut out finished letters, punch a hole for string or yarn, and use them a personalized gift tags.
  • Color letters/symbols in green, red, blue, silver, and gold. Glue or tape them to plain white tissue paper for unique or customized Christmas gift wrap.
  • Color one of Squidoodle’s letter doodle designs and frame it to hang in a child’s room.
  • Use some of the smaller sized letters to create personalized, laminated bookmarks with the recipient’s initials.
  • Have a writer on your gift list? Buy an inexpensive notebook with a plain cover and decorate it with letters designed in different fonts.

And here are a few more ideas for things you might consider creating for you own use. My guess is that you will likely want to keep some from the above list, too!

Select and color some of the smaller designs in the book and make a colorful collage to frame and hang in your craft room, office, or coloring nook.

  • Brighten up your vision board. Include some of the colored letters to spell out inspiring, encouraging words
  • Do you own a few binders full of finished colored pages? If they have a theme, decorate the front of the binders with letters that identify the contents.
  • Do you store a lot of things in plain boxes with no labels? Label them with colorful, decorative type letters. No more boring boxes with mysterious contents!

If you get a copy of this delightful book, I hope you will enjoy trying some of these ideas or experimenting with your own creativity. Who knows? Maybe I’ll discover some Facebook posts of colorings or craft ideas from this book; or maybe they are already out there. If you have completed work from this book, I’d love to see it!

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