A year ago, I considered myself a calligrapher. My main tool was a brush pen and a majority of my clients were newlyweds. After two years of practicing calligraphy and brush lettering, I was ready for a new challenge.
2017 was the year for change.
My 2017 Goals
In the beginning of the year I told myself I wanted to:
Focus on lettering
Add products to my Etsy shop
Surround myself with more designers
I made sure that my goals were attainable and committed to completing them within a year. These are some of the steps I took to point myself in the right direction:
1. Out with the old, in with the new
In February I participated in @handletteredABCs lettering challenge by posting a doodle of a hand lettered alphabet each day with different lettering styles. Back in 2016, I did the same thing with pointed pen calligraphy.
I discovered new typefaces through Pinterest and type foundry sites and bookmarked them for easy reference. I focused on drawing letters instead of writing them, and familiarized myself with typography principles. Being able to hand letter my designs opened up so many opportunities for me and I began receiving inquiries for chalkboards, murals, logos, and apparel design.
On top of that... During the second half of 2017, I began experimenting with digital design by picking up vector lettering. In August I challenged myself to create a digital lettering design of a newly released track on Spotify every week. Learning digital design while discovering new music has been so much fun.
2. Own a product, from start to finish
What started as a brainstorming session for new Etsy products turned into a whole new endeavor, Piece of Mind Puzzles. The idea was to create a series of hand lettered puzzles to help everyday people get through their daily struggles and find their peace of mind. It was inspired by the challenges I faced from my own quarter life crisis and I successfully launched my passion project in November, just a few days after my 25th birthday.
With Piece of Mind, I wasn’t just a lettering designer. Within a few months I became a Creative Director, Product Manager, Photographer, Videographer, Copywriter, Advertising Manager, Packaging Designer, Web Designer, Marketing Manager… the list goes on. The days leading up to the launch were the most stressful days I’ve ever experienced but looking back, the journey was so rewarding.
On top of that... With my freelance projects kicking off and my passion project requiring a lot of upfront investment, I decided to register Sparkletters as an official business in August. Sparkletters is now a sole proprietorship!
3. More proactive, less reactive
They say you're the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Well last year, I couldn’t even count on one hand the number of lettering designers that I could call friends. I spent two years following hundreds of artists on Instagram, only hoping that one day I would run into them in the city and magically become friends. This year I decided to be proactive and seek these designers myself. I attended panel talks, workshops, conferences, craft fairs, meet-ups... Basically any opportunity to put a face and personality to these talented creatives. Among these creatives were well-established designers like Erik Marinovich, Lauren Hom, Jessica Hische... all inspirational designers that helped me become a better artist.
Meeting Lauren was definitely one of the most impactful moments of 2017. I remember driving an hour from San Jose to San Francisco to attend a Goodtype meet-up and mustering up the courage to talk to her after quickly downing a whiskey sour to loosen up. Her outgoing, genuine personality made me feel comfortable instantly and we even found out later that we grew up in the same city. Who would’ve thought! Two months later, I registered for her Passion to Paid online course which consisted of lesson plans, resources, live Q&A sessions, and access to a supportive creative community which eventually helped me launch my own passion project.
On top of that... Starting a business inspired me to surround myself with not just designers but entrepreneurs and business owners alike. Throughout the year I’ve been fortunate to befriend owners of successful restaurants, coffee shops, salons, tutoring centers, and startups and I feel so lucky to be surrounded by dreamers who took the leap to turn their passion into a reality.
2017 will be a tough year to beat. Twenty-four year old me never would’ve thought my lettering career would progress this far in a matter of twelve months. Though a lot of it wouldn’t have been possible without those sleepless nights and coffee refills, I really want to thank you for all the support you've given me as I continue to grow Sparkletters.
I'm grateful for where I'm at and I’m excited for where I’m headed.