2019 In Review

2019 In Review


During the past two years, I’ve been setting quarterly goals to keep myself accountable while improving my lettering skills and growing my freelance business.

It’s worked well for me, but as I began writing this review I decided that documenting them as quarterly milestones seemed more appropriate. These milestones are accomplishments that I achieved each quarter, while pursuing my overall goal to find my unique voice as an artist.

Here are the milestones I hit:

January-March: Participated in my first artist showcase ✅

April-June: Changed name from Sparkletters to Chie Tamada ✅

July-September: Completed a brand refresh ✅

October-December: Spoke for the first time at a conference ✅

Q1. Artist Showcase

I was invited by Kansha Creamery from Gardena, CA to participate in their monthly artist showcase in March. This was my first time preparing artwork for a showcase.

I had to think beyond the scope of what my audience would typically see through a mobile screen and be thoughtful about the layout, dimensions, wall color, and story that would be told through my showcase. I was heavily inspired by traditional Japanese art for this series, and enjoyed studying historical work and aesthetic principles from my heritage.


Q2. Sparkletters No More

After four long years of using the name Sparkletters as my IG account and business name, I decided in May that it was time to make a change. There were many reasons that led to this decision. For one, I felt like I had outgrown Sparkletters. The name originated from when I first began practicing lettering while combining it with sprinkles of glitter. And while my main focus is still lettering, I’ve moved onto murals, digital illustrations, and a whole bunch of projects not involving messy glitter.

Second, I wanted to save myself from feeling disconnected between my branding and my lettering work. I felt like I was hiding behind a mask by using the alias Sparkletters, and that my followers wouldn’t truly see the person behind the artwork without my name being associated with it. It’s been 7 months since I made the change and I haven’t regretted it a single bit.


Q3. Brand Refresh

Following my name change, I also spent a couple months working on rebranding my business. I wanted to solidify the message I could share with my audience, bring clarity to the type of clients I wanted to attract, and be consistent with the work I produced. listened to a ton of podcasts on branding, read many books on successful brands, and even applied my learnings from my CCA Intro to Graphic Design class to bring my new brand to life. 

In the end, I developed a mission statement that goes like this:


Q4. Have Something To Say

Earlier this year, I was invited by the team behind You Are Collective to speak as a panelist for their conference in October. The segment I spoke for covered the topic of mental wellness through creativity and was very fitting following the evolution I had just completed with my rebrand.

I was nervous to speak in front of such a large crowd but thankfully our moderator, Lindsey Liu, was incredible at keeping us prepared and calm throughout the segment. I shared my experiences on how I learned to bring my whole self while developing my brand, and how I integrated all parts of myself in my creative process to benefit my personal wellness.


I also managed to check off a few more things off my to-do list:

  • Traveled to London (x2) for work

  • Visited my relatives in Japan after being away for more than 10 years

  • Completed an illustration project for The Washington Post

  • Painted a mural with my dad

  • Ran my first half marathon

  • Read 6 books, starting a self-driven 1-book-a-month challenge in July

  • Transitioned DPM roles at Facebook from supporting the Ads team to the Stories team at FB

  • Took a long and healthy break from IG and freelancing between November and December

2019 was full of unexpected challenges. But after setting aside some well-deserved time to reflect and relax, I’m feeling more energized than ever to crank out new projects in 2020. Here’s to a new decade!


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