boom… and pause
So, a short while ago, I started hosting hand & brush lettering workshops in my home town. This was a huge step for me, even though my personal lettering journey has been much longer. I started lettering my first pieces during my two-year typography studies, almost four years ago now. So why the wait?
I watched the hand-lettering boom get bigger and bigger, saw lettering pieces begin to show up all over—in restaurants, hipster bars, hotels—and, well, to be honest, I sort of lost interest. I have never been one to do what everyone else is doing, or to move with the crowd; honestly, I’m not a huge fan of crowds, let alone do I wish to travel in one.
But then, amidst all the lettering out there, I came to realize that I actually have an eye for detail and what you might call a talent for drawing letterforms. And so I figured, if I want to make the world a more beautiful place—which is what I do as a freelance editor, translator, and language teacher—then I might as well do it with something I truly enjoy and can easily spend hours doing. So I got back into it, began practicing more and going to workshops myself.
share your work
Fast-forward a few months; suddenly, I find myself in the lucky position of being able to accompany others on their personal creative journeys and their quests for beautifully arranged hand-drawn letters. I absolutely love workshops, whether I’m hosting them or participating in them. With the exposure in the workshops came the automatic need for a platform on which future students can see my previous work, reach me, and find out more about what I offer. Of course I had thought about a website (which is currently in the making and will be online soon!), but seeing as that takes time and putting things on a website feels very professional, I decided to take what seemed like the short-cut, and got myself an Instagram account.
Instagram? Big deal, right? Right!
Now, this might not sound like a big deal to those of you who use Instagram like I use facebook—to just read up on what other people are thinking and doing. But if you’re a #designerd like I am, and you use Instagram as a source of beauty, inspiration, and as a place to share beautiful or at least somewhat expressive images, then having your own active account is a big deal. And the even bigger deal about it: showing your work. This is something that I wasn’t able to get over for a very very long time and only recently have begun to conquer—in part, thanks to my online presence.
I honestly have to say: I think the fact that I created an Instagram account and announced myself to the world took care of the first hurdle. After that, posting became (and continues to be) somewhat of a hobby I look forward to. Why? Not because I’m on the hunt for the double-tap, although I must admit it feels good to be recognized even—or maybe especially—by complete strangers. But because the design community I found on Instagram is amazingly supportive. They are nothing but positive. Let me say that again, so it can sink in: people I have never met are supportive and positive. ONLINE. This stands in stark contrast to all the negativity you encounter in other social media nowadays. Posting my work has not been at all difficult; on the contrary. It has opened up a conversation with artists I look up to. Which is pretty great.
just a process
Apart from that, I have begun to challenge myself by taking part in creative challenges some designers and artists host, such as GoodType’s #GoodTypeTuesday or Lauren Hom’s #HOMwork. So not only do I get feedback on my art from people who really know their stuff, I also get pushed to try new things, and most importantly, TO JUST GET THE ART OUT THERE.
I cannot begin to describe what this has done for my practice ethic or my personal progress. Finally, after four years, I can begin to imagine what being a professional lettering artist might entail. And it is no longer something that seems like a mountain, or even a hurdle—it’s just a process.
everyone is on their own journey
And so, I guess what I’m trying to say is this: everyone is on their own personal journey. And even if you sometimes think that the stuff you see on the unfiltered web (or maybe slightly filtered by algorithms) is no good, or you could do it better, or you might even be jealous of artists for making money with “that”—be grateful that those people share their work, making this a better, more beautiful world and pushing you further in the process. Of course you can take it or leave it (no one is forcing you to join the Instagram game, after all), but you can also profit from others.
Every lettered piece I see is either a source of inspiration, a reference point to where I might have already been on my own lettering journey, a style I want to pick up, or even a style I personally might not like that much. No matter which, I can draw something from it (ha, do you see what I did there?). So show some love for your fellow artists and most importantly: show your work!
If I’ve captured your interest, check out my top ten favorite and most inspiring Instagram lettering artists: @inkandlise, @mdemilan, @homsweethom, @argoos.letters, @stefankunz, @mrseaves101, @seblester, @minortismay, @nickmisani, @neilsecretario.
If you feel inspired by my journey and my work, find my lettering journey on my new website (www.letterissima.com) that will be online shortly, and of course on Instagram (@letterissima_ibk)!