On the last Tuesday of every month, I feature a fellow type lover from the Richmond, VA area.
I had to do it one day, right? Every month for one whole year now, a local letter lover from RVA has let me pick their brains about their work and creative process. Now it's my turn. From my early days as a budding graphic designer on AIM to my current endeavor of learning calligraphy over 100 days, here is my lettering story.
How did I get into lettering?
Ever since the good old days of AIM (that's AOL Instant Messenger for anyone not familiar), I was on the path to becoming a graphic designer. I always had fun choosing different fonts and colors and my away messages looked fabulous, if I do say so myself. I took computer arts classes in middle and high school, eventually graduating from Radford University with a BFA in art, concentrating in Graphic Design.
As I started to navigate the working world in 2012, I quickly realized what I didn't like doing (such as in-house design and branding). I thought back to what I had most enjoyed studying most over the years: a typography course my sophomore year. I'd been obsessed with Jessica Hische since that class...and down the rabbit hole I went.
What does my creative process look like from idea to final product?
It varies depending on the project, but I generally start with some sort of research on the subject matter or style I'm trying to achieve. That is my favorite step in the process. I'm kind of a nerd and I leave no stone unturned. From there, I compile my favorite inspiration, maybe try to mimic a few things I've found, and then I take a break for at least one day. This is the most important step. Letting your thoughts mix together in your subconscious results in a smaller chance of plagiarism and a bigger chance of forming a great idea.
Next I usually do some thumbnail sketches. I enlarge them on the computer, print them out at a bigger size and trace them using tracing paper. Then it can go any direction. Sometimes I'll scan it into a computer, sometimes I'll transfer it directly onto an object...it all depends!
Such a hard question!! I prefer pixel because I like the safety net of being able to "undo" anything I don't like. I'm a perfectionist, what can I say? However, I sit behind a computer from 9am-5pm so I often try to do lettering that doesn't involve a screen when I get home.
What has been my favorite project and why? Hardest project?
So far, my favorite project has been the holiday wrapping paper I made last year. This doesn't have heavy lettering, but I did a ton of research on how different countries celebrate the holidays, so the process was a lot of fun. I'm also proud of how the little illustrations came out.
The hardest project has been the Drink and Be Merry coasters. It was SO HARD to paint those intricate details with acrylic paint.
If I had any ‘best-kept secrets’ (websites, books, coaches) I'd recommend for lettering, I would include...
Skillshare. There are loads of classes on there to help you with whatever you want to learn, including some great courses taught by lettering legends like Martina Flor and Jessica Hische.
Letterology. It's not the most up-to-date website, but it's one of my favorite places to search for inspiration.
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What do I love most about being a creative in Richmond, Virginia?
I'll just echo what all of my other Q+As have said: the community. It's such a collaborative, creative family here. Everyone supports each other!
Who are some fellow Richmonders that inspire me? Non-Richmonders?
Of course everyone I've interviewed so far! Seriously though, one of my favorite Richmonders is Clara Cline of The Wild Wander Co. I've always enjoyed her lettering work and I am especially inspired by how she has morphed her company into what it is now. I also love Adriaan Gomez of Beego Handmade. She has the brightest, most happy products (and personality!) and is continuing to grow her business by leaps and bounds...something I can only hope to emulate!
Non-Richmonders: Yuko Miki of Honeyberry Studios also has a super fun and colorful style. I am so inspired by her commitment — she's almost halfway through doing 30-minute painting every day for a year. Maybe I'll work up to that point? And last but not least, there's my lettering crush Jessica Hische. She is, quite simply, the best.
What can you look forward to seeing from me in the next few months?
I will be taking a break from blogging over the next month since I'll be moving...with my fiancé...into our very own house! But you can still keep up with me on Instagram as I continue with #The100DayProject to learn calligraphy for our wedding. 'Cause you know I don't intend to let someone else have the fun of designing our invitation suite.
I also plan to get some items up for sale in my shop. I know, I've been saying that since December. But I mean it this time!
Thank you all so much for your support! It means the world to me.