Let's Talk Letters with Charli Prangley
Charli Prangley currently works in London, England as a marketing designer. As well as being an incredible designer, she also has an amazing YouTube channel, CharliMarieTV, where she shares her creative know-how and ideas with the world!
Can you tell me a bit about yourself and your YouTube Channel, Charli Marie TV?
I’m a designer from New Zealand currently living in London and working remote for an email marketing software company called ConvertKit. As well as designing websites and marketing collateral as part of my day job, I spend my time outside of work talking about design on my YouTube channel, CharliMarieTV. I aim to make videos that help out young creatives — the kind of content I would have loved to see while I was studying design!
How did your Youtube channel come about?
I started getting into watching YouTube videos, and tried searching for vlogs from someone like me: a twenty-something designer talking about their life and work. I couldn’t find any! So that’s when I decided that perhaps I could be the one to make those videos. It was so tough to start (because it’s scary putting yourself out there online) but around four years ago I forced myself to turn on the camera and start talking, and I’ve managed to continue every week since!
What inspired you to combine your hand lettering and typography with your videos?
As a designer, I couldn’t just be content with using a standard system typeface for my video titles. I’m not great at color correcting or visual effects or fancy editing, so titles are where I can get my design sensibilities across in my videos. For my weekly vlogs especially I love using my iPad to draw the titles for the video as I think it adds a really personal touch and I love being able to bring something more organic into such a digital medium.
Screenshot of Charli’s video about side hustle time management
And how did you get into hand lettering and typography?
As with most of my creative pursuits, it started from me looking at images I loved online of other people’s hand lettering or typographic layouts and thinking “I want to be able to do that too!” I had always been self-conscious of my drawing abilities having never been any good at drawing realistic things in high-school art classes, but I found drawing letters so much easier. I just started sketching letters one day and practicing, teaching myself lettering by watching lots of tutorial videos and copying artwork that I loved until I could confidently create my own pieces.
Do you think you have a hand lettering style? How would you describe it?
I would say that my lettering style is ‘rough around the edges’. I wish I could say that was a stylistic choice, but actually I’m just still not very good at drawing neatly! I’m okay with that though, I feel like the slightly messy, imperfect look suits my personality and I feel that the letters have more character than if they were drawn perfectly.
What do you like about using typography and hand lettering within video?
I love the personal touch it brings, and I think it instantly increases the overall quality of the video too. Viewers can tell that effort has been put into it, and it makes my videos standard out from vlogs that don’t have effort put into the titles.
What does the creative process look like for you when using hand lettering and/or typography in your videos?
I do all my lettering on my iPad these days. For my thumbnails I will Airdrop the still to the iPad and add elements and draw on top of it. And for titles within the video I just create a canvas that’s the same size as my video (1920x1080) and usually draw in white on a black background. I use the app Procreate to draw in, and it has a screen recording feature, so if I record the screen as I draw, I’m able to actually overlay that clip on my video for an instant motion graphic piece. Super simple, but super effective!
Are there some things that you do to make that process easier?
The iPad and Apple pencil have definitely made my process easier. Instead of needing to use tracing paper and draw over and over again to perfect a design, I can just create layers and/or erase pieces as needed digitally.
Do you think that adding these typographic elements to your videos and channel help you to stand out on YouTube? If so, how?
Yes, I think the attention I pay to typographic elements in my videos helps to build my authority as a designer on YouTube.
Do you have any favourite hand lettering artists or typographers that you look to for inspiration?
Jessica Hische has always been my favourite lettering artist, and probably always will be! I also love my friend Eric Friedensohn’s work (@efdot on instagram) His approach to drawing inspires me, as does his style and creativity. And Terence Tang (@TinLunStudio) is a master at brush lettering. I can only dream of being able to use a Tombow like he does!
What advice would you give to other YouTubers who are wanting to get a bit more creative with the typography in their videos?
I’d say that for the next video you make, take a few extra minutes to think about your titles. Don’t just pick a standard font and type the name of your video, get a little more creative with it. Choose a font that relates to the feeling of the video and think of it as creating a typographic layout rather than just a video title. That extra little bit of effort will go a long way!
And I’d love to know — do you have a favourite or go-to typeface?
Averta is my trustworthy fave! It’s a sans-serif with many weights and I think it’s absolutely beautiful. It’s what I reach for whenever I need a good solid sans-serif, and as I like to accompany hand lettering with a sans serif most of the time, it ends up making it’s way into most of my projects.