Hand-Lettering with Dawn Nicole Warnaar – An O2O Author Interview

A couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, I headed to a home improvement store and a craft store and came home with everything I needed to create a chalkboard wall in my kitchen. Over the course of a week, I sanded, painted, and prepped my chalkboard wall while grand visions of hand-lettered quotes and flourishes filled my head. Which is why is I am so super excited about this book, Words to Live By: Creative hand-lettering, coloring, and inspirations by Dawn Nicole Warnaar! I pre-orderd Dawn’s book months ago and it arrived last week. I haven’t chalk-lettered anything yet, but I’ve been sketching and practicing with pencil and will be transferring designs to my chalkboard wall soon!

It is truly a thrill for me to be presenting this author interview; I’m a little giddy because I think Dawn is the bees knees when it comes to hand-lettering. I’m sure you’ll think so, too! ~Malia

Words to Live By book coverAbout Words to Live By

Words to Live By is a unique combination of inspirational quotes, hand-lettering tips and techniques, and fun coloring pages. With easy step-by-step lessons in the art of hand lettering and illustration, artists of any age can learn to create beautiful works of letter art. Also included are 24 inspirational perforated coloring pages that can be personalized and displayed, framed, or given as gifts.



Dawn Nicole WarnaarO2O: What was your inspiration for writing this book?

DW: My kids! While I wrote this book to be appropriate for ages 7-102, it’s technically aimed at kids close in age to my own. So many schools have stopped teaching penmanship and even art, so I’m so passionate about teaching kids about the joy of both!

O2O: How did you get into hand-lettering?

DW: In graphic design school, my instructors said I had a knack for choosing typography and mixing styles. While they didn’t teach hand-lettering, it sparked my interest. A big reason I pursued it was because when I letter my own work, I don’t have to mess with all the copyright and commercial use issues that go along with using someone else’s fonts! In 2012, I started teaching myself by ordering books and really just practicing a lot.

O2O: What surprised you most about the writing process?

DW: How fun it can be! The deadlines can be stressful for sure, but of all the many things I’ve done over the years, the book process has been my favorite by far.

O2O: Have you always wanted to write a book or was this something that came along later as a natural progression of your blog and design business?

DW: Both! It was always a dream, but I didn’t actively pursue it at any point…until I got an email from a publisher. I was an English major in undergrad and loved writing poetry and my earliest book writing dreams were more about writing “chick lit”. I’m really glad I ended up in the art genre now though. I love the book writing process and hope I get the chance to work on many more over the coming years.

O2O: What were your writing habits?

DW: My books are unique since I write and do all the illustration. When I’m working on a book, I try to do one book project a day during the work week. Anything I do on the weekends is bonus and only if we’re hanging around the house.

I love to listen to music when I write. My current playlist includes Adele, Hozier and Gavin DeGraw but I also love the 90s Alternative Channel on Pandora. It takes me back to my high school years!

I write in my home office, at the kitchen table (because it’s nice and sunny there!), or from the local coffee shop depending on what I need to get done that day.

O2O: Was there a quote or mantra that kept you inspired?

DW: “Practice Makes Progress” is my mantra! It applies to so many things in life.

O2O: What advice would you give to someone who wants to write a book?

DW: Start a blog! People often ask me how I got my book deals or the chance to work with companies like Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and Hobby Lobby. All I did was start a little blog in 2011 and keep putting my work out there. Treat your blog like a business and as you grow, you’ll be surprised by the opportunities that come your way! In today’s social media based world, companies are realizing the power of social media influencers. Every single one of my “pinch-me moments” came in the form of an email from the publisher or company.

O2O: Will you write another book?

DW: Yes! I’m working on a follow up to this book and it’s called “Adventures in Lettering”. I feel more confident this time around in the process, deciding what to put in the book, and even the artwork.

Where to Pre-order/Buy Words to Live By (Comes out March 1st!)


Grab your pencils & markers, Dawn has offered a copy of Words To Live By to giveaway to a One2One Network member*! To enter the giveaway, leave a comment telling us your favorite thing to doodle (your name, smiley faces, hearts, stars, flowers, etc.) One entry per person. Giveaway closes Sunday, March 6, 2016. Winner will be drawn and notified via email on Monday, March 7.

More about Dawn

Dawn Nicole Warnaar is the Hand-Lettering Artist, Author, and Graphic Designer behind the blog and creative community of Dawn Nicole Designs. She is an Air Force wife and mother of three who believes that kindness changes everything. While Dawn loves all things creative, she has a passion for drawing and hand-lettered typography. She loves the nuances, imperfections, and organic feeling that doing art by hand creates. You can usually find her with a marker in one hand and a dark roast coffee in the other.

*No Purchase Necessary. Void Where Prohibited By Law. Entry period will run from Thursday, February 18, 2016 through midnight (PT), Sunday, February 28, 2016. Entries must be received in those time frames to be valid. Contest is open to One2One Network members, 18 years of age or older, and a resident of the United States of America. Winner will be chosen via random draw and notified via email. Please see Official Rules for Giveaways.


  1. Heather Collins says:

    Letters – I am just starting this adventure 🙂

  2. Lisa Canada says:

    I doodle smiley faces. Since I have no drawing talent I’ve bought myself one of those page a day coloring calendars. Great stress reliever!

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