Calling all letter lovers who want to come learn from the best in the business this summer! I’m giving away a ticket + travel expenses to come to the Letter West Conference in June. It’s a conference that assembles hand-letterers of all skill levels to meet, learn together, and celebrate the art of lettering. Scholarship details below!
It’s easy, if you’re just now coming across my work, for it to look like I have my shit together. I’ve done lettering work for big clients like Google and Target, my Instagram following has grown past 150K, and I teach hundreds of people how to sharpen their lettering & creative marketing skills through online workshops each year. But what you can’t see is that this business took five years to build. And it definitely wasn’t always this peachy.
Let’s take it back to June 2013: I had just graduated top of my class from SVA with a degree in Advertising, and my partner and I had just landed our dream jobs as junior art directors at a big NYC agency. It ticked all my boxes: great salary, reputable agency for my resumé, and snacks all over the place. This was the job that was going to make all those late nights working my ass off in school worth it. I could feel it.
By October that year, I was drunk crying to my best friend in the back of a cab. Sobbing, I admitted to her that I felt drained and uninspired at the agency but also felt guilty for feeling this way because it was supposed to be my dream job. That was my conundrum: finally acknowledging I was unhappy with the long hours & mundane work but feeling obligated to stick it out. I found myself making lots of little excuses for why I couldn’t quit at that point.
“How do I find the confidence to…share my work on Instagram consistently? Try new mediums? Pursue art professionally?” The list goes on. Creative confidence is a topic that I get asked about all the time. In order to create a career that you love, you must first start with loving yourself.
Earlier this year, I made a post on Instagram about celebrating yourself and your accomplishments. I asked my audience to be brave and publicly share a "win" or something they were proud of with me in the comments section...and the results were amazing! People shared incredible accomplishments, both big and small, and others even joined in to cheer each other on.
Lettering friends of the internet!
Over the past two and a half years, I’ve had the pleasure of teaching beginner and intermediate lettering workshops to hundreds of students in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, Buenos Aires, Berlin, and more.
Since not everyone can physically be in the cities that I teach in (and unfortunately I can’t be on the road allllll the time because my bed needs me), I decided it was time to BRING THIS BABY ONLINE! I spent the last two months putting this together...and I am SO excited to finally introduce my brand new online class, The Art of Lovely and Legible Lettering!
Want to win a trip to Letter West and level up your lettering skills with workshops and lectures from industry heavy-weights like Jessica Hische, Nick Misani, and Ricardo Gonzales? And hang out with like-minded creatives who also geek out about letters as much as you do? And eat a bunch of delicious food?
If you've landed on this blog post, I'm 99.9% sure I know your answer to all of those questions: F*#K YES I DO! TELL ME MORE!
Last year, I was a teacher and speaker at Letter West, a lettering retreat put together by my lovely friend & fellow lettering artist Becca Clason. This year, I'm excited to announce that I'll be attending as a student. When I signed up, I decided to buy two tickets; one for myself, and one to gift to someone else.
So you have an idea for a passion project? Amazing! But an idea is just an idea unless you put in the work to bring it to life. You've heard me talk about the benefits of having a creative passion project. I've gushed over the impact that they've have had on my career. Having the idea for the project is the first step, but actually making the project is the most important part of the process.
Once you have your big idea for a passion project, I know it may seem like a daunting task to bring it to life...which can cause you to put off the project completely (been there, done that). But not anymore! I've partnered with Wix to show you the exact things to add to make your passion project website more effective (and how simple it is to make one with Wix's templates + website builder).
You’ve heard of all the awesome benefits of having a creative outlet on the side, plus you’ve got SO many good ideas jotted down in notebooks, sticky notes, and random scraps of paper around the house. You talk about turning those ideas into wonderful things, but all that talking hasn’t translated to much, well, making.
You tell yourself that *tomorrow* will finally be the day you’ll start working on that project...but that was yesterday, and now it’s 8pm and you’re halfway into a bottle of red and an episode of Game of Thrones, so tomorrow will *really* be the day you start. This cycle repeats for a minimum of 34 consecutive days before you end up on this blog post.
Whatever the reason, you still haven’t started working on a passion project.
Whether you feel like it’s a lack of time, money, or motivation that’s getting in your way, I know how awful it feels to have tons of ideas but nothing to show for them. However, I want you to know that passion and ambition are powerful enough to overcome any roadblock.
This is a design talk disguised as Beyoncé song lyrics. Or Beyoncé song lyrics disguised as a design talk. YOU ARE SMART. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. YOU DESERVE HAPPINESS. WHO RUN THE WORLD? YOU.
I spent the last 18 months traveling around the world, and tomorrow marks the last day of my journey. After a whirlwind year and a half of adventuring, I’ll fly home to Los Angeles with endless stories to share, but no travel photos to accompany those stories. No snaps of colorful sunsets, bustling street markets or exotic meals. Not even a single selfie. Why? Because before I left for my trip, I decided to challenge myself with a project called No Photos Please. In a world of smart phones, selfie sticks and sharing anything and everything that we do, I assigned myself this creative (and personal) challenge: I would forgo taking travel photos for one entire year, instead choosing to document my journey through my sketchbook.
People often ask how I found success in the creative industry at such a young age, and while there are many factors, my number one answer is: side projects!
When I graduated from art school in 2013, I was no more talented or hungry than the next wide-eyed, recent college grad. But I was more resourceful and proactive. My first side project, Daily Dishonesty, started as a joke in college and turned into a 5-figure book deal. Another side project, Will Letter for Lunch, took me from zero chalkboard lettering experience to designing chalk murals for brands like LinkedIn and Microsoft in less than a year. These passion projects not only gave me fun, creative outlets, they kickstarted my career in ways I never thought possible.
Last week, Last week, FabFitFun asked a bunch of female illustrators to work for "exposure”. For a multi-million dollar company whose marketing angle is female empowerment, this move was especially offensive to me as a female entrepreneur. You can read more about it here.
They just hosted an Instagram contest to “empower women” by posting a photo of a woman who inspires you with the hashtag #FollowHerLead. Well, ladies, I’m asking you to follow MY lead: Let’s speak up for creative women everywhere by taking over their hashtag.
To work for free or not to work for free? That is the question, though it shouldn't even be a question in my opinion.
Some have argued that when you’re in the beginning stages of your career, it’s advantageous to work for free for big companies to build connections, good karma, and so on. Since I’m speaking on behalf of a consistently undervalued profession, I’m going to beg to differ. While connections and good karma will absolutely help you in your career, starting your hourly rate at $0 will put you at a significant disadvantage. I know what it’s like to start out as a creative: wide-eyed, hungry, and ready to pounce on any & all opportunities that come your way. However, working for free isn't the only way to gain exposure and build your portfolio.
Here are 5 other ways to get your work out there that don’t involve giving free artwork to a for-profit company.
Last week, I received an email from FabFitFun looking for up and coming illustrators to collaborate on a coloring book in exchange for an incredible amount of exposure. Seeing as how those are my top three email red flag phrases, I sent it to the trash. A few days later, I received another email saying they had a change of heart and were now offering $50 per illustration. Feeling compelled to reply, I explained that to conceptualize, sketch, ink, scan, and digitize one of my illustrations would take a minimum of 6 hours, and that I would realistically price the project at $450 per illustration. To which they replied, “We totally understand that you have your own way of working, but there are many, many illustrators who can do wonderful things in a matter of minutes! So maybe this project is suited best for them.”