Risography, Oh Yeah!

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending a risography workshop at Riso Hell, a cool little riso operation here in St. Louis. I’ve seen riso prints around and really liked the aesthetic–the print quality can be kind of grainy and uneven, but in a good way. It makes for some cool effects; really deep, lush color or super duper soft tones. I also noticed that most riso prints are usually 2- or 3-color, and I personally really like working in limited color palettes. Like letterpress and blockprinting, I like it when my printing processes have some limitations. It makes for a more challenging and fun process by seeing how far I can push myself to the boundaries of those limits. Anyways, I wanted to learn more about riso printing and saw that Riso Hell had workshops, so I signed up!

I learned that Risograph is actually the brand of the machine that makes these prints. It was originally marketed as a cheap copier for schools and businesses to produce a high volume of prints. The way it works is kind of similar to screenprinting but is based on the technology behind an older print machine called a mimeograph. A “plate” gets made by burning tiny holes in a master sheet which then gets wrapped around a drum and ink is forces through the voids to make the print. Because of this, you can only print one color at a time, but the ink and drums are interchangeable so you can print multiple colors for one job.

Image taken from Wikipedia.

Image taken from Wikipedia.

Risography gained popularity with artists and designers pretty recently, within the last decade or so. It can actually thank the internet and Instagram for its popularity boom, as that is pretty much the place where artists started sharing his they were using them for zines and prints, and how it spread so quickly as a creative medium. It’s intended for low-cost, high-volume print runs. I think it’s embraced by artists for partly the same reason, hahaha. Who doesn’t like saving money and making a bunch of prints? I think people are also drawn to the unpredictability of the print, the “happy accidents” that occur and make really unique prints.

One of Riso Hell’s risographs.

One of Riso Hell’s risographs.

It was really cool to see the machine in action and even get a print made! I think the coolest thing I learned about riso is that it is a much “greener” printing process than others. The inks are soy or rice based, so they are biodegradable. Additionally, since it is a cool printing process (unlike conventional copiers and printers that use heat to burn the toner into the page), it uses a lot less energy than typical printers. Probably the most frustrating thing about riso is that most risographs you can affordably get your hands on these days are from around the early 2000s, so you are reliant on early 2000s technology, which by today’s standards, is suuuuper slow.

Regardless, I really love the quality of this printing process. I am excited for the possibilities of this medium. As a designer in the year 2019, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by ALL the possibilities; there’s literally a million ways you can make an image, it’s just a matter of finding the one you like. As a designer with a lot of printmaking under my belt, I find myself designing for print processes whether or not I intend to get the thing printed, and, like I mentioned earlier, I always find myself taking limitations into consideration for the challenge and fun of it all. It’s just the way my head works. But going through the whole process of woodblock printing or screen printing is super time consuming, tedious, messy, and a lot of work. Riso printing has some of those same limitations, but it’s way faster, greener, and a new aesthetic to play around with. I’m excited about this new realm of print I’m just now dipping my toe into and will be doing more of it soon.

Check out my print below!

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Sewing Sustainability

I wanted to share a quick post about a little project that I recently got to work on! My awesome friend Jocelyn is, among other things ( amazingly sweet, biology genius, vegan queen, namely), a crafty sewer and recently opened her own Etsy shop selling gear to help you live a more sustainable life. She makes things like totes to carry your water bottle, a utensil carrier so you can easily store your own utensils instead of relying on single use plasticware, reusable snack bags, and more. She wanted a logo to reflect her commitment to the Earth and creative spirit behind her business. I was happy to comply! I had a lot of fun making the logo and the pattern of sewing stuff for her banner. Check out her shop to browse her products, they are super neat!

Happy Saturday!

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Talking to Myself

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how to bring a little more relatability into the almost daily letterings that I share on social media. Instagram a is such a fast and well, instant way to connect to people, but obviously so much of it can feel impersonal, inauthentic, and just fake. I want to get a little more vulnerable and relatable in my feed, so I’m starting a little series: Talking to Myself.

Talking to Myself is a series of letterings of my inner dialogue; everything from those “OMG am I crazy right now?!” thoughts to realistic (and totally NOT realistic) goal lists, to minor freak outs, to major freak outs, and everything in between. I’m an introvert (I mean like everything else, I think “vertedness” is a spectrum but if I had to say one or the other I would definitely be an introvert) and I’ve heard that makes for a “rich inner life” (ew, “inner.” Gross.). Anyways, I thought if I could get some of those “OMG does everyone feel this way?!” moments out on paper–er, or in my case, on screen, I guess–I could bring a little more connectivity to my feed. 

They’re kind of therapeutic inner spiralings and dialogue, meant to be cathartic and relatable and funny and not serious (but also probably very serious). Thanks for following along! Here goes nothin’. 😘

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January 2019 Playlist

 
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Droppin’ my inaugural 2019 playlist! I’ll be sharing a playlist every month with my list of current faves. I have EXCELLENT taste in music, so you’ll always be delighted. ;)

For real though, I love discovering new artists and I’ve had a playlist on Spotify for years of my current mix that I constantly update and edit. Sharing these monthly playlists is just a fun way to challenge myself to keep listening to and discovering new tunes. I’ll make an illustration to go with the playlist each month, too!

This mix is pretty random, as my mix kind of always is. It’s actually a bit of throwback because I chose some artists and songs that were from my “Top 100 of 2018” list. A strong current of power-lady pop and rock throughout, I also have some oldies, some funky new stuff, and indie bands I love. Enjoy!

It's 2019, Baby!

It’s that time again! A new year means it’s once again time for me to renew my commitments to promises long dashed, dust off forgotten projects, and make even more vows (that will probably get abandoned). I am a resolutions girl–I just can’t help it! I love the idea of committing to practices and having goals even though I am not always great at the follow-through. This year I am going to say some of these intentions out loud–er, or at least here on my blog! People say you’re more likely to keep your promises that way. So here goes! 2019, I’m putting these out there!

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COMMITMENT #1: MAKE A PASSION PROJECT.

Last year I set out to do 365 days of lettering. I made it pretty far (210 days!) but then I abandoned the commitment. I don’t really have any real reason for stopping. It was for sure partly out of laziness, but I also lost steam because I didn’t have a great plan to begin with other than to make it the 365 days. My letterings were mostly random thoughts and phrases I had floating around my head. I want to make something with a clearer message that’s cohesive and purposeful. I’ve been taking notes on the tips and tricks of some of my favorite creatives’ ideas about passion projects (Lisa Congdon, Lauren Hom, and Andy Miller, just to name a few!), and I want to use some of what I’ve learned when I launch my next project. Stay tuned! I’m excited.

COMMITMENT #2: WRITE A BLOG POST AT LEAST ONCE A WEEK.

You can obviously tell by scrolling down that I haven’t exactly been consistent about blogging! But I want to re-commit to posting here regularly. Writing about my work is so helpful; it helps me be more articulate about what I’m making, pinpoint my purpose and drive, and figure out exactly my thoughts and feelings about what I’m doing. I landed on once a week as a good amount–enough to keep me accountable but not too much to be overwhelming. I’ll blog about my current projects and process, but also my inspirations: what I’m currently reading, looking at, listening to, etc. Spoiler alert: I have a fun plan for monthly playlists of my current Spotify mix. Super stoked to share!

COMMITMENT #3: USE LESS PLASTIC.

I’ve committed to a green resolution for the past few years (I’ve tried going a whole calendar year without buying any new clothes, and last year, I went completely waste-free with my menstrual products!) and I want to continue to do so this year. Don’t get me wrong, I am definitely no saint when it comes to these commitments. I cheated on the “no-new-clothes” year and splurged on a couple pieces I just fell in love with. And I still use the occasional tampon or pad when I haven’t had time to sanitize my Diva Cup or clean my Thinx (sorry not sorry for the gross TMI). But these endeavors made me think about my consumption and they definitely helped we change my habits. I never buy “fast fashion” items any more, like when I used to compulsively buy that cute top at Target that I just couldn’t pass up. Instead, I keep an eye out for (somewhat) affordable, sustainable clothing companies (I like this list. My favorite purchases have been from Everlane, Pact Apparel, and Nisolo.) and have also started buying used items from Ebay and Poshmark. As for the menstrual products, I love my menstrual cup, it’s so dope. I’d encourage anyone who’s curious to try it!


Anyways, I decided to commit to using less plastic after watching this video (did you know that up to 50% of what we recycle doesn’t ACTUALLY get recycled? Ugh annoying!) and realizing that even though I recycle, I haven’t done much at all to REDUCE my plastic use. I’m planning on trying stuff like using bar shampoo and conditioner, buying more fresh foods not wrapped or bagged in plastic from farmer’s markets, and actually using all those tote bags I have stored in my pantry (I’m the WORST at remembering to grab them before heading to the store!). I also know that as consumers, becoming aware of how we can lessen our carbon footprints is certainly valuable, but it’s also just one aspect of a giant problem in our country and society. From the small amount of reading I’ve done on the subject, most of the emissions being put out into the environment are coming from a small handful of corporations in just a few industries. The biggest impact we as a society and a country can make on global warming is by passing legislation that holds those companies accountable. So, as I cut plastic use out of my life, I also want to educate myself on the best ways to get politically active around these issues.

So those are my three biggest commitments of the year! I am putting them out there to hold myself accountable. Cheers to 2019! Can’t wait to get started.

Also, apparently I use memes in 2019.

Also, apparently I use memes in 2019.

Freebies!

I just hit 100 days of my 365 Days of Lettering Project on Instagram! To celebrate, I decided to offer some free desktop and phone wallpapers and even some printable postcards of some of my favorite letterings from the year so far. Click on the link below each image to download the wallpapers of each, or click on the link at the bottom to download the printable postcards! Enjoy!* 

*For personal use only. All designs by Theresa Williams belong to the artist. Distribution of content for commercial purposes is prohibited without explicit permission from the artist. Content should not be changed in any way without explicit permission from the artist. Thank you!

Printmaking Process Shots

Hi there! I haven't written in here for a while; it's been a busy month! I thought, in lieu of one of my normal written blog posts, I would share some process pictures of some of latest printing sessions at Central Print, the open studio where I make my woodcut and linocut prints. I've been busy preparing for an upcoming craft fair this weekend–A Happy Little Craft Show at Webster University on Saturday from 10am-5pm!–so I've been printing a bunch. Check out the pics below!

The Vandercook press I print on. Sigh. Isn't she lovely?

The Vandercook press I print on. Sigh. Isn't she lovely?

First happy pul!

First happy pul!

The results of one printing sesh. 

The results of one printing sesh. 

I love how sunshine-y the press area is.

I love how sunshine-y the press area is.

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Love filling up the print rack!

Love filling up the print rack!

Progress Report: 365 Day Lettering Project

At the end of last year, I decided to start a 365-day lettering project for 2018. I wanted to practice and improve my lettering skills, especially in the digital realm, but I also just wanted to practice self-discipline, an area that's never been a strong point for me. I can't count how many design projects I've started and did not finish! I decided to really commit to this one and follow through.

Below are a few of my favorite daily letterings from the year thus far.

Right now, I am 42 days in. It's been tough so far, but also a lot of fun! I thought that I would get burnt out on the actual task of doing it each and every day, but I actually really look forward to it. I also thought I would get frustrated with my lettering skills and stop doing it because my work wasn't to the caliber that I wanted it to be. But I've fended off this problem by keeping the letterings pretty simple; it's a daily project, and therefore shouldn't take up a ton of time each day. I am happy with the progress I've made!

Actually, the biggest hurdle has been figuring out what it is that I want to say! It sounds silly, but as a designer, I'm pretty much always making stuff for other people, products, brands, and businesses. I've gotten really good at adhering to a company's brand standards, mimicking their creative voice, and creating content that works for them, but I realized I haven't spent a lot of time developing my own creative voice. I touched on this subject a little in an earlier blog post where I wrote about lettering other people's quotes. I decided that lettering famous quotes is fine and good and will continue to be a part of my arsenal, but I'd also work on making my own unique content. As I've focused more on this, I realized it's harder than I thought it'd be! Lettering is fun but you're lettering WORDS, and they oughta say something better than just cliché phrases like "live laugh love" (Ugh. Gross). 

I think realizing one's creative voice is something that comes really naturally to some artists and illustrators, but it's actually a bit more work for me. I mean, maybe that's a problem as a creative. Shouldn't my work just ooze out of me and scream "I WAS MADE BY THERESA!" ? Mmmm, Maybe. But I'm also a believer that an artist's style, design, voice, and creativity, just like anything else, are muscles that need to be developed. Natural talent and ability is great and all, but hard work and time and devotion are usually what makes a person successful in the end. There's no reason why developing my voice can't be a skill that I work on as much as other more "concrete" skills.

So I'm going to do just that: I'm going to work on my voice and message. I've been doing a lot of soul-searching lately so you can probably expect more posts along the "who am I? where am I going?" narrative, haha. Of course, my voice will change and evolve, but for now, I am happy with the progress!

Valentine's and Galentine's Day Cards

 
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These cards were a really fun project. I have dabbled in combining my lettering and printmaking in the past–check it out here and here–and I really loved it. I have done some typesetting and although I enjoy it, block carving it much more up my alley. From a technical perspective, locking in one big block on the press is wayyyy easier than worry about a bunch of type. Plus, I love carving! It's my favorite part of the process, and I like the added challenge of carving characters. I also like that lettered words automatically have a little more "oomph" and uniqueness to them than a typeface because they were made by hand. I like that it adds a crafty touch to pieces that I would not be able to achieve with a font alone. 

Anyways, I wanted to make a series of lettered pieces to further develop my hand at combining lettering and block printing. I signed up for a Galentine's Pop Up (this Saturday, check it out!) and figured Valentine's Day cards would be the perfect opportunity to do so. I got to say, I loved it. The "You're My Person" card is probably the most complicated print I've ever made (sounds silly, I know it's pretty simple). I am used to making simple reduction prints that aren't too complicated to visualize, but thinking about carving out where the white, the red, and the pink will all fit in was a different process. Overall, I am so happy with how they turned out! 

You can find them in my Etsy shop, and don't worry, they aren't going away after the holiday. I will keep them there year-round! Never hurts to send a little love. <3 <3 <3

Dreamin' and Schemin'

 
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The other day I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Creative Pep Talk, which is hosted by illustrator Andy J. Miller (or Andy J. PIZZA as he likes to call himself, hahaha!). The podcast "is designed to help you make a good living, making great art." Andy is all about getting creative professionals pumped UP about their work and he also shares great tips and tricks for how to have a successful (ie. financially viable) creative career. I love that this animated, fun, hilarious guy who makes really imaginative, creative work is also really into like, you know, making a living! There's a dumb assumption around being a creative that if you choose a career in the arts, you've chosen a life of scraping by, just making it, being a "starving artist" and any fortune you make would be a result of dumb luck. That's just not true. In this era of the internet and countless platforms and outlets for your work to live, there really are endless opportunities for a creative to make a living. There's no reason why a creative cannot approach their career in a thoughtful, pragmatic, and goal-oriented way just as anyone else would approach any other career. 

Anyways, I was listening along to one of his latest episodes where he interviewed one of my other art heroes, Lisa Congdon. They were discussing how, if you as an artist or creative are feeling stuck in your career, you should think about what it is that you make that just oozes out of you. "The stuff that you can’t help but make is the stuff that you need to be investing in."

Of course, this got me thinking about myself and my own work. Frankly, I had a bit of an epiphany.

So let me backtrack here. Last summer, I realized that I didn't have any real set career goals. My job as an in-store graphic artist for Whole Foods Market is just fine, but it's also comfortable, not super challenging any more, and is never going to pay an amazing wage. So, I decided to start looking for a new design job. I worked on this here portfolio website, polished up some projects, and sent my résumé to job posting after job posting. After months and months of doing this, I've had a couple of opportunities and interviews, but overall, I haven't had much luck.  

I've really been beating myself about it. I mean, I've been in the design field for over 5 years! l have the required skills of the "Graphic Designer" job postings that I've come across (sans maybe some web design/coding experience, but that's what web developers are for, amiright?)! Why can't I seem to land a new job? It's really emotionally draining, not to mention  super time-consuming! Portfolio websites don't build themselves, applications don't fill themselves out, and cover letters don't write themselves either. There's a lot of work that goes into finding work! I started to wondering if this investment of valuable time, emotional energy, and creative juice was even worth it. 

That's how I was feeling when I was listening to Andy and Lisa's discussion. They weighed in on how to find success. Andy said something that really struck me: creatives need to invest in making the stuff they can't help but make. He said he's talked to so many young designers who are doing the things that they think they need to be doing, instead of doing the things they want to be doing. He said he wants to tell them, "You’re trying to go the wrong way!" I realized that maybe that's exactly my problem: I'm going the wrong way!

I decided to stop investing so much time and energy in job searching and instead focus on what I am passionate about and what I want to do. But what is that? Well, I know I want to make for a living. I love lettering and printmaking. I am also interesting in pursuing more work with people who are passionate about values that align with my own: things like conservation of our natural world, intersectional feminism, making it through the next 3 years of that cheeto in the office with minimal damage as possible! How bout making Saint Louis an even better and thriving community! And don't forget good, delicious, sustainably grown food and drink, and FUN. There's got to be a way to make all these things part of my practice and career and twist them all up together to build something fruitful and authentic. 

There are a few ways that I'm already pursuing and developing these. First, through my daily lettering project that I share on Instagram to keep my lettering skillz hot and loose. Second is Black Wood Prints, the side hustle for my printmaking work. Finally, I'm pursuing freelance design opportunities to get a wider range of experience under my belt and hopefully make connections with people whose values align with my own (have a project you think I'd be good for? Hit me up!)

But those are only a few small steps. I still have questions. I'm wondering how else can I pursue this new mish mash idea of a career. What steps do I need to take? Goal-setting and follow through has never been a strong point for me! I picked up Lisa Congdon's book on the subject Art, Inc., and I'm already getting a ton of ideas from it. I'll use this blog to document and reflect. I'm not sure where I'm going but I am excited to make strides. Stay tuned!

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Lettering Famous Quotes + Developing my Own Voice

Something I've been thinking a lot about lately is the question of originality, legality, and authenticity around lettering famous quotes and words written by other people. If you're a fan of lettering and you've been around the Internet, like, at all, you know that hand-lettering quotes is very, very popular and common. I myself have already lettered others' quotes for my 365-day challenge, and it's only January! However, I'm doing this year-long personal project to not only build my lettering skills, but also develop my own voice and style as a designer. It's an important part of my goal of being an independent creative: making my own unique, authentic, and original content, and that includes copywriting. So, I felt a push and pull around the subject: to letter other people's words or not to?

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A couple of quotes I've lettered for my  365-day project .&nbsp;

A couple of quotes I've lettered for my 365-day project

I used to be adamantly against lettering quotes from others. Maybe it's something engrained in me from art school–that's stealing, plagiarism, using someone else's work, and it's wrong. I remember reading the words of designer Stefan Sagmeister in his book Things I Have Learned in My Life So Far about how boring and unoriginal it is. He is known for his wonderfully original design and art installations that are unconventional and unlike anything else out there. I took his words to heart and vowed to stay clear of using other’s words. 

But you know what? Copywriting content is hard. Copywriting unique, original, make-yourself-stand-out-on-the-internet content? That's damn hard. I'm a designer! Not a copywriter. So, I found myself lettering famous quotes and other's words, because, heck, everyone else is doing it! Quotes are inspirational and, let’s face it, super shareable and popular. 

I started to feel icky about it. I wanted clarity on what is "technically" okay to do and what isn't, and also what other designers had to say on the matter. I found this super helpful article written by Emily McDowell way back in 2013. On the technicality of what you can legally use in your work, she says "if you're not selling your work, you can almost always go ahead and use any quote […] you want, under what's known as the Fair Use Rule. " She also points out that a lot, A LOT of people go ahead and sell stuff with other people's words on them all the time anyways. That's why you see stuff all over Etsy with Oprah quotes, movie quotes, and song lyrics. How do people get away with this, you ask? Well let's face it: Oprah and other rich, famous people have better things to do than scour the internet for others who use their words for profit. However, as Emily puts it: "It is really not cool to profit from someone else's intellectual property without their permission, even if you can technically get away with it. If you're an artist, you'd be pretty pissed if another artist put your hand-lettering on their work and sold it without your permission–and with good reason! It's just a really unethical thing to do." 

Word, Emily. That's the ick factor I was talking about!

Another quote by Queen Oprah I lettered for my  365-day project. &nbsp;

Another quote by Queen Oprah I lettered for my 365-day project. 

But.... I'm still lettering other's words and quotes for my 365-day project. Why? Well, I'm not selling these for profit, so I’m not breaking any law (even one I would most likely get away with!). If I ever do decide to sell my work, I will not be using my letterings of others' quotes for my products. As Emily puts it: it's just super uncool, dudes! On the other hand, there are 365 days in a year, which means I'm making 365 letterings. That's a lot of content, folks! And quotes are an excellent source of inspiration. Finally, I have a full-time job and life outside of my creative endeavors. I need to give myself a break every once in a while and maybe, like, not try to do it all.  I'm not gonna beat myself up for lettering a quote of someone else that I find inspirational. For these reasons, I will still be occasionally lettering the quotes of others (always citing them and crediting the author appropriately of course!).

And I'll be blogging and writing more as well. I have a good foundation of writing skills, but I am definitely a bit rusty. I think, like every other creative endeavor, it just takes a lot of patience and time to get good at it. So, I'll work on it, in addition to my lettering. I can do it all, but maybe not all at once....Wait, is that how that quote goes? Uhh, let me look this up...*does a quick Google* Ah, found it! "You can have it all. Just not all at once." - Oprah Winfrey. Thanks, Oprah.

Blogger's note: Upon further internet diving on the subject, I found yet another super duper helpful article from Emily McDowell on her blog here. It really goes to show just how sticky plagiarism and using the words or even similar ideas as others can be! It is up to us as artists to fairly recognize and honor when we're using others' work, even when it's unintentional. 

The New Year!

Whoa, where did 2017 go?! When I went to go take a look at my blog, I knew it had been a while–maybe a couple of months. Then I saw that my last post was from SEPTEMBER. September?! Geez, how this fall and holiday season flew by! I was very busy participating in pop-up holiday shows for my side biz, Black Wood Prints, and didn't realize how all that busy-ness was making time fly!

After all those events, I was ready to relax during the hoidays, and also re-charge for the new year. So 2018, I'm ready! But this year, I am changing up my "resolution game" a bit. I am one of those people that gets really ambitious, makes several really concrete resolutions (eat 8 veggies a day, go the gym 5 times a week for one hour sessions, no more donuts, you get the picture!). I ended up beating myself up when I couldn't keep up with all of them (like, one year I vowed to read one hour a day, go to the gym one hour a day, and cook dinner at home every day. I found myself staying up way later than I usually do just so I could get all my resolutions done! Sorry, self, it ain't happenin'.) So this year, I am going to approach it a little differently and just say: in 2018, I am going to focus on my career. I have my list of concrete goals and tasks, and I plan on working on that list and checking those tasks off, but keeping my resolution overarching and broad feels less daunting and more trackable, and thus achieve-able.

One way I plan on staying sharp and on my game is to tackle a "365 day challenge"! I've seen a lot of these around the web, but my biggest inspiration for it is probably from one of my favorite art people of all time, Lisa Congdon, and her 365 days of hand lettering project from a few years ago. Lisa is so inspiring to me for a number of reasons. One, she is super prolific; the amount of work she has put out into the world is truly a wonder! Second, being an artist was not her first career. She decided to pursue art much later in life than most, and still she has found success at it. It's inspiring to see someone shift gears like that. Last, she is not just a letterer, or just a painter, or just an illustrator, or just a designer. She's an artist who works in a million mediums and creates all sorts of work–books and prints and paintings and products and so on and so forth. For the longest time, I felt like I would have to "give up" one aspect of my creative practice to be successful; either stop making handmade art and commit to a design career full time, or dive headfirst into trying to be an artist. Lisa showed that you don't have to be defined and pigeon-holed into one of these narrow definitions. As a creative person, part of what you do is explore different ways of working. Lisa showed me that you can be successful and true to your creative process at the same time!

Anyways, my 365 day challenge will also focus on hand lettering.

Lately I've been digging taking my hand-lettering into illustrator and coloring it that way, so that is what my daily posts will probably look like for a while, but I am excited to explore different lettering techniques, both digital and analog. Follow along on my Instagram to check out my daily letterings. 

Thanks for reading, and happy new year!

 

Back in the Studio

I spent some time back in the studio last night! Which studio, you ask? I am an open studio member of Central Print, a non-profit letterpress studio and outreach. I wanted to get back into printmaking when I moved to St. Louis two years ago, and I had heard about Central Print. I signed up for a woodblock class, loved it, and joined as an open studio member shortly after!

It's been awesome to have access to presses and a space to make prints. Printmaking is awesome, but if you're an artist on a budget (read: if you're an artist), it can be hard to find the resources you need to make your art. Central Print has provided me an affordable space to work on a press, and it's a big reason why I've been able to open and operate my Etsy shop, Black Wood Prints. I am so grateful for it's existence! 

Okay, I'm done gushing. Here's a few pics of my print session last night. I am making some thank you cards for a couple of friends who are getting married this week (YAY!)! I made their invitations, and this is the last item of their "suite" that I am printing. I only took a few shots of my process last night and somehow did not take any pictures of the prints (what was I thinking?! bad at social media=me). I will take some shots of the final product and share soon!

Enjoy!

The linoblock locked up in the press bed.&nbsp;

The linoblock locked up in the press bed. 

Getting ready to print!

Getting ready to print!

I space where I work. Love the windows so so so much!

I space where I work. Love the windows so so so much!

The Rejection Letter Wall and Failing Faster

I recently watched The Incredible Jessica James, which was written, produced, and stars the incredible Jessica Williams (if you're unfamiliar, she's half of the titular duo who host the podcast 2 Dope Queens, she was a senior correspondent on The Daily Show, and she's delightful). 

In the movie, Jessica is a young playwright who is trying to "make it" in NYC's theater scene. She has submitted countless plays to theater companies, hoping to get one on stage. She tacks up her rejection letters on a wall, and it soon covers the whole thing. It's a visual representation of her failures, and a reminded to keep going for her dream. I'm not gonna give the ending away but, it's a feel-good, funny film that I definitely recommend.

I got this image by Googling it. It does not belong to me!

I got this image by Googling it. It does not belong to me!

When it comes to job searching, I've also had my fair share of rejection letters (or, worse yet, no word at all from a company to which I've applied–just silence!). I'm realizing that finding a new avenue for my career is not going to necessarily come quickly and definitely not easily. I need to remember to just continue to persist, improve my portfolio, gain new skills, make new connections, and keep at it. It can be super frustrating, but right now, it's the work I'm focused on: building my rejection letter wall.

What's that theory about success? "Fail faster"? I think the idea is that failing is a part of life, it's a part of growing, and it's a part of eventually gaining success. Failing faster is about learning from your mistakes, agilely moving from one failure to the next, and just keep going forward. Right now, that is my goal: to Fail Faster. 

T-Shirt Design

Recently, I submitted a t-shirt design to Cotton Bureau, a really cool t-shirt site that provides artists and designers with a way to get their products out there. The way it works is you submit a t-shirt design, and, if accepted (it's pretty well curated! They say they only accept about 5% of what is submitted.), they put the t-shirt up on the site for sale for 14 days. If after those 14 days you've sold 12 or more shirts, it goes to print! If you sell 25 or more, you make a profit (usually about $5 a shirt, but you have the ability to change it)! I think it's awesome that this company has provided an easy (and FREE!) way for designers get there stuff out there. Cotton Bureau does all the hard stuff: selling, printing, shipping, and customer service.

Below is my first submission.

It got accepted and is live now! Check it out here. I want to throw in a disclaimer: I was surprised this design got picked, and I kind of wish I submitted something else first! I think the design rules and I'm really digging this lettering style of mine, but I realize not everyone wants to walk around with the F-bomb plastered across their chest (tbh, myself included!). I came up with the phrase "Fuck the Muck" out of frustration with our current administration. There's a lot of crap oozing out of the White House these days, and I wanted to make something to vent my frustration but make the message not straight up anti-Trump, because frankly, it's all a mess. But like I said, I totally get not wanting to wear that sentiment on your chest. However, I'm glad I am now familiar with how Cotton Bureau works, and I'm excited to continue to submit designs! They make it a really easy process, and I'll be submitting more designs (perhaps a little more PC) soon!

Inspiration: Lauren Hom

A while back, during one of the internet rabbit hole adventures I sometimes find myself on when researching hand lettering inspiration, I ran across Lauren Hom's lettering project Daily Dishonesty. This "just-for-fun" passion project was a daily-ish hand lettering of a "daily dishonesty"–one of those little lies you tell yourself during the day that you know just aren't true. You can even submit your own Daily Dishonesty (I submitted mine and you can see it here!)

I loved Lauren's lettering style and started looking more into her work. I found out that Daily Dishonesty helped launch her career; she got a book deal out of this "just-for-fun" side project! On top of that, it was just one of her passion projects, and she's actually done a lot of these side hustles! She made Wiggy Banks, which are cute hand-lettered jars for what you're *really* saving up for. She also made a shop for her Ex Boyfriend's Tears. My personal favorite was Will Letter for Lunch. Lauren loves lettering and saw a lot of chalkboards at eating establishments she often visited. She wanted to learn more about chalkboard lettering, so as a way to get some experience doing it, she offered to do chalkboards at eateries in her neighborhood for a barter of the food they serve! It was a smart way to build a portfolio, build connections, and get a few free meals out of it.

Overall, It's quite impressive what she's done as such a young designer! She's so resourceful, innovative, and smart. She's also clearly very generous and encouraging of her peers; she offers workshops on lettering and classes to encourage designers to start their own passion projects! Her Daily Dishonesty project is what inspired me to start my daily(ish) lettering project, The Lettered News (you can follow me on Instagram--@theletterednews!). I can't wait to see what she does next! 

Below is a little hand-lettered graphic I made using a tutorial Lauren had posted. I thought it turned out pretty well! 

THINGS I LOVE: Creative Pep Talk Podcast by Andy Miller

Design can be hard work sometimes, and it's nice to have get a pep talk every once in a while! I've been listening to the podcast Creative Pep Talk by Andy Miller and it's been super motivating! Andy is like a ball of energy and a personal cheerleader for creatives. I love listening to him talk! He has a lot of tangible, solid ideas about what you can do to get out of a creative rut, think about your next career move, or gain more momentum. If he's not giving super sound advice, then he's sharing his own stories of success and --more importantly-- of failure. At the end of listening to an episode, I always feel motivated, and usually have a really solid idea to mull over for a good while!

I just finished listening to the first episode of his "Creative Destiny Series," which is a chunk of episodes dedicated to helping designers, artists, and creatives find their path: a "creative career hero’s journey to reach your full potential." I really got into the episode, and one of my biggest takeaways was a quote he shared from Pablo Picasso: "The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away." As a designer who's always worked hard at being versatile and flexible (both because it comes naturally to me and because it is required of the job I have), I've been struggling lately to find a "voice," a style that's mine, and honing in on what kind of work I want to make. Design and commercial art is obviously about doing the job it's meant to do--usually sell a product or idea to a consumer--but the best way to do that is to make people FEEL something, and the best way to make work that makes people feel things is to express yourself through it. So I felt like Andy was talking directly to me. I'm excited to listen to the rest of the series and keep being "pepped up." 

Below is a hand lettered graphic I made of the Picasso quote.!

 

Lettering Process is Hunky Dory

I wanted to share some of my process for the lettering images that I've been sharing lately on my Instagram feed. I've created this signature thick, cursive style of lettering that I am really digging (obviously. I use it everywhere, even all over my portfolio site!). 

First I lay it out quickly with pencil, then I go back and thicken it out and fill it in with ink (Sharpies 4Ever). After that, I take a quick, clear picture on my iPhone. I don't have a scanner and sometimes I am out and about while working, so the iPhone works perfectly, as long as the photo is lighted well and in focus. See below for the example!

Then I bring it into Photoshop and changes the levels so it is pretty much just black and white. From there, I usually bring it to Illustrator, use the "Expand" option in Image Trace, and it gives me a nice vector version of my hand drawn type. I rearranged the type or cleaned it up a bit and from there, I either bring it back to Photoshop for some shading and coloring, or I color it in Illustrator. Vector illustration is what I am naturally inclined to, but I bring it to Photoshop for the challenge sometimes.

For this one, I left it in Illustrator and colored it there. I like to offset the type a little so it gives it a little more of a handmade, screenprint look. I'm digging the colors and outcome. I plan on practicing more textures and shading in the future, but for now, I'm digging the style!

First Post!

Hello! I'm starting this blog as a space to share my current art and design projects. Stay tuned for new posts soon!