You know its been one hell of a week when it’s suddenly Friday night, your friends are inviting you to a bar…and you’re all, “I can’t. I have to write my blog post.” Ok, that’s not entirely true. I did get invited to a bar…and umm…I went. (Have we met?) But then I had one drink and said, "Sorry gotta go…I have to write my blog post." Whatever, that’s not true either. I wouldn’t dare use the words “blog post” in a bar. I just said I had to work. But the truth is...the week has flown by so quickly that I felt like I needed to write it all down, and relive it at a more manageable pace. And well, frankly, I’ve always been much more of a Saturday Night kind of gal.
[Is it too early for a musical interlude?]
Those cheekbones, the eyebrows...they're everything.
So. About two years ago...I was sitting in an old Williamsburg loft, on a hot summer's Friday night...and again, working. I had made a "Don't Worry, Be Yonce" print for my sister-in-law, and about five of her friends ordered custom prints of their own. Mostly, Beyonce lyrics. That was the beginning of The Letterist. I had no business name or website, no big fancy computer or software, no paper or envelopes, nothing. I had a small stack of 5x7" Canson Aquarelle cards, a box full of watercolors, and a bunch of fancy paintbrushes. I'm not even sure I knew what they were all for...but they were pretty. All I had to do was paint a watercolour background, sketch a quote out in pencil and go over it in pen. And then stick all the cards into an envelope, and mail them to the one city where ALL my clients lived. Raleigh, North Carolina.
Two years later...the client list, the projects, and the places they're going to...look a little different. This week alone...I've worked on some hand-lettered tote bags for a new athleisure brand in California...I've had a ton of fun creating some custom kids prints that will end up on walls in Minnesota, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Zambia...I've penned words for an online interior design store in the Netherlands, I've created some watercolor escort cards for a wedding in Greece, I made a supersize, supercool graffiti print for a thirtieth birthday gift in Berlin, I've worked on invites for a wedding in Cape Town...and I had a meeting this morning about designing business cards for a small tech startup in Johannesburg. I also got an enquiry from Taiwan for a logo design, and another one from I don't know where...but the grammar and spelling led me to believe it was somewhere exotic and far away. Hi, your handwritting I is very like, much. Logo design create for me, is possible? Thx and to send price.
[Someone, remind me, please, to write a blog post about all the crazy emails I receive. They're a volume on their own].
Not to mention...I'm working on a very special somethin'-somethin' for Zambia's darling...the cute, bubbly, funny and totally awesome Lulu Haangala. She'd kill me if I shared any of it now...but rest assured...I'll write ALL about that, later. And rest assured, its amazing. And as if that weren't enough, I also had my very first TV interview. I never thought of myself as an on-camera person, but now that the first time is out of the way...I'm like...when can we do that again! Interview me about something else...! I can show you my ummm, paintbrushes? I have a lot of them...surely that's a good 15-minute segment? No? Too soon. Ok.
So yeah, its been one hell of a week. And I wont lie...even at the best of times, this work is a logistical nightmare. Figuring out how to get your handwriting, in print, on a new medium, in a new size and colour, to a new corner of the world, in a quantity of either 1 or 1,000, on a weekly basis...is an absolute circus. A circus where you jump off the trapeze, land on the white horse whilst doing a costume change, and gallop straight into the tiger's cage...where there also happens to be a clown. A sad clown. That you have to cheer up. Ok, I'll stop with this metaphor because I'm not sure its working out how I imagined...you get the idea, yes?
But when I say its been one hell of a week...I actually mean that in the best possible way. I love this work. I love the people I do it for...the ideas we come up with together...the words...my handwriting!...that ends up on walls, bags, websites and whatever else...all over the world, and the joy it brings to the people who commission it. I always get thankful emails from clients...brides who can't believe how many people have called to compliment their invitations, parents who love their new baby's print, friends, blown away by the uniqueness of their incredibly thoughtful gift. People tell me all the time, that I'm talented, that I have a gift, that the work I create is awesome...or the horse-tiger-clown situation I pull off to deliver it, is impressive. And I feel grateful and blessed for that.
But from where I sit...I see it a little differently. It's not a gift I have. It's a gift that's offered to me...an invitation, if you will...to be a part of people's greatest moments and most memorable occasions...in such a unique and personal way. A big destination wedding, the welcoming of a baby boy, the start of a crazy new business venture, a thirtieth birthday, or a sixtieth one, a grand anniversary...or even, just, a little one. And from where I sit...that, is what is awesome.
Two years ago when I was hand painting Beyonce lyrics...I'm not sure if I had any idea what I was doing or where it was headed. And to be completely honest, there is still the occasional day when I don't. I think my parents are secretly hoping that I'll give up soon enough and get a real job...or, at the very least, come up with some sort of business plan or financial model that's built on a foundation other than posting things on Instagram and hoping people see them. (Although frankly, that's working out ok so far, thanks). And my career history would suggest that its only a matter of time before I decide to open up a restaurant or start an Ostrich farm. But when I have a week like this one...something tells me les autruches will have to wait. [Yes of course, they'd all have French names, my little ostriches...Jean-Luc...Pierre...Hugo...Beaufort...].
In two years I've gone from creating 5x7" pieces to large format A1 prints...which if my made-up mathematics serve me correctly, means I'll be painting the side of one of those old Williamsburg factory buildings in approximately six and a half years. And then...I'll be on The Ellen Show. And I'll be telling her my cute, witty story about the first time I was on TV. Ok just kidding. It was getting a little sentimental up there, I needed to lighten things up.
I was originally planning on sharing some of this week's work on here...but now that I think about it, so much of it is meant to be a surprise...or yet to be launched...so I'll have to save it for another time. Instead I'll just make this blog post one big thank you to my clients...old and new, near and far. Keep the ideas and revisions coming...keep dotting the i's and crossing the t's, keep telling me you cannot make out what it says, at all. I know what it says. It says we're onto something. We're onto one hell of a something.