Layouts for Lettering: Hierarchy, Composition, and Type Systems Premium class

Jon Contino, Creative Director

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12 Videos (1h 23m)
    • Trailer

    • History: Illuminated Manuscripts, Art Nouveau, & Newspapers

    • History: The 20th Century

    • Hierarchy & Shapes: Thumbnailing

    • Hierarchy & Shapes: Thumbnailing (Continued) & Laying Out Shapes

    • Hierarchy & Shapes: Layout Exercise

    • Type Systems: Queston #1

    • Type Systems: Question #2

    • Type Systems: Question #3

    • Type Systems: Question #4

    • Type Systems: Question #4 Continued

    • Integrating Type with Image


About This Class

When creating lettering for a product or specific output, you must carefully consider images, illustrations, and negative space to communicate an idea in a defined area. This means that the layout is often more important than the letter work itself. Whether you are a freelance designer or simply hand letter as a hobby, taking your word forms and incorporating them into a practical layout is an incredibly valuable tool for your creative arsenal.

I have been fortunate to work on countless projects requiring a plethora of layouts, both with other brands and my own endeavors. From clothing to signs to sports equipment, each platform presents new challenges, but the underlying principles of hierarchy, composition, and communication remain the same. I am looking forward to sharing these lessons so your own lettering style can flourish on a multitude of platforms.

What You’ll Learn

We will go through ways to apply your lettering skills to a variety of outputs, using simple layouts to achieve beautiful results. Please note that we will NOT be going over how to hand letter. (There are plenty of other awesome Skillshare classes for that!) We’ll cover:

  • A History of Layouts. Important takeaways in poster, packaging, and advertising design from previous generations and today.
  • Hierarchy and Spatial Design. How to establish order and value when communicating written words, and how to use thumbnail sketches and shapes to create a map for your lettering placement.
  • Type Systems. Figuring out which typefaces work well together to support your lettering and communication goals.  
  • Integrating Type with Image. How to use hierarchy and spatial design to find a balance between photo, illustration, and type.

What You’ll Make

In this class you will hone your layout skills by creating compositional frameworks to support your lettering, including type and images. Each project step will help you think critically and systematically about all elements in your cohesive layout design. Have some fun with this!


194 of 201 students recommendSee All

Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience
A much needed lesson from some who's work I have admired for a very long time. A great lesson the foundations of design and a reminder to get back to the basics with a balanced layout and hierarchy.
Some good things in there but sometimes too much talk. Also the structure of the class is a bit unclear. First we're designing a book cover and then it disappears somewhere in the background and we concentrate on something else. Good to watch is you're already paying for Skillshare but I wouldn't sign up for this class.
Janne Keskitalo

Hand-Lettering, Helsinki, Finland





Jon Contino

Creative Director


As a New York native, I have been under the influence of corporate mass marketing and inspirational street art since my first breath. Not surprisingly, I have garnered considerable attention for my unique approach to design utilizing hand-drawn lettering and typographic illustration in conjunction with a modern yet minimalistic sensibility. 

I received numerous accolades for my fusion of old and new world aesthetics and continue to influence modern trends in graphic design and apparel design.

I reside in New York with my wife Erin and daughter Fiona where I work as a freelance illustrator, and also as Co-Founder and Creative Director of menswear brand CXXVI Clothing Company.

For a complete list of my features and accolades, check out the information page on my personal website.