At the beginning of 2018, I decided to set myself “quarter” goals rather than new year’s resolutions. By breaking up my year into three month increments, I wanted to avoid feeling “stuck” with a huge to-do list, work towards hitting larger milestones, and give myself the flexibility to make adjustments as the year went by.
Here are the goals I set myself at the beginning of each quarter:
January-March: Install my first painted mural ✅
April-June: Teach my first lettering workshop ✅
July-September: Invest in new experiences - go to Letter West ✅
October-December: Invest in new tools - go digital with the iPad Pro ✅
Q1. Go paint or go home
In 2017 I installed a ton of chalk murals for restaurants and office spaces. But when my good friend Cecilia gave me the opportunity to take over an entire wall to paint a mural for her new business, PEL Tutoring, I was ecstatic.
Painting a wall is a much trickier than drawing with chalk for a few reasons: 1) paint dries so you need to work efficiently, 2) paint isn’t erasable so you need to be extra careful, 3) paint colors vary and the more colors you have the more layers you need to work with.
Despite these challenges, I’m extremely happy with my final piece and I feel lucky to have my artwork seen by so many young students, eager to learn at an incredible tutoring center my best friend built.
Q2. In teaching others, we teach ourselves
Presenting final designs for a client or a large audience is exciting but walking a beginner through the tools, concepts, and process of completing a lettering piece is a whole different ball game. This year I challenged myself to step out of my comfort zone and share my lettering skills and passion for design to a live audience.
After re-learning all the lettering concepts from my favorite lettering books and online tutorials, I finalized my curriculum and hand-drew all of my worksheets to make them unique to my class and style. After several rounds of drafts and precious feedback from friends and family, I finally had a complete class to share with the world!
Since my first workshop in May, I’m happy to report that I’ve taught eleven workshops -- in San Francisco, San Jose, Menlo Park, and Los Angeles. What a year!
Q3. Surround yourself with people you can learn from
After my plans to attend Creative South fell through, my friend Caren (@everydayhooray) sent me a link to Becca Classon’s Letter West event in August. When I bought my tickets I didn’t know what to expect, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I’d ever made.
Letter West gave me a wealth of knowledge applicable for all creatives and freelancers. If sitting in on two 5-hour workshops from Jessica Hische and Nick Misani weren’t enough, I had the pleasure of meeting so many talented artists and getting to know their personality, their work, and finding out which one’s are juggling day jobs while hustling lettering gigs on the side. With only forty attendees, the retreat created a much more intimate setting, allowing each of us to make meaningful connections.
Here are three lessons I learned from our keynote guests:
Jessica Hische: Make it memorable - How often can you remember a time a piece was memorable? Lettering can be style-driven, but it doesn’t help you stand out unless it’s memorable.
Ricardo Gonzalez (a.k.a. @itsaliving): Keep in pure - People are always looking for new stuff. They like it pure, so stay patient and true to what you enjoy doing.
Nick Misani: Find your voice - Design is not effortless, it can take over 24 hours to create a piece. But if it’s spent with effort in finding a voice, that’s okay.
Q4. Invest in new tools
I love working with traditional pen and paper, but my stubborn self kept me from exploring newer, more efficient, and powerful tools. Lately I've been doing more exploratory designs using patterns and fine lines, so I figured it was time to invest in myself and step up my lettering game.
For my 26th birthday, I bought myself the all new iPad Pro with the Apple Pencil and Procreate app. At first using a new set of digital tools was intimidating. But since then, I’ve been able to play with so many brush settings and color palettes with a simple tap and I’m so stoked to see what new projects I can start working on.
In other news…
In addition to my lettering strides, a whole lot of stuff happened with my personal life:
I quit my full time job at NetApp and began working at Facebook as a Design Program Manager. After 10 months of working there, my team encouraged me to write an article on our new Medium channel to talk about my experiences. Check it out here.
I moved from the suburbs in San Jose into the busy city life on San Francisco. Not only that, but I also moved in with my boyfriend and two of my best friends from high school and college.
I completed two olympic-distance triathlons. But after facing several months of little exercise, I changed my habits to begin working out in the mornings. Nowadays I’m up at 6AM and manage to get a nice long workout with a healthy breakfast before starting my day at work.
2018 was a year of growth. The challenges I overcame with lettering, work, and relationships gave me a chance to better understand myself -- how I communicate, how to prioritize, and how to keep myself feeling fulfilled.
This is just the beginning. I have high hopes for 2019.