Last week The Letterist turned three. And sure, three may not be a worthy or large enough number to call for celebration...but this is now officially the longest I've ever held any job, not to mention, sustained reasonable interest in pretty much anything...so, I celebrated. Or "celebrated." I'm busier than I've ever been, so there wasn't really time to plan the big champagne soirée I quite often envision - let's save that for ten? no, no, too far away, five! - so I scaled that way, way down...to a week of Instagram posts instead. A mini-retrospective of sorts. The very first thing I did when I came up with the idea and name for this little venture was set up an Instagram account, so this seemed fitting: a week of posts featuring some memorable, some successful, and some downright scribbly work from the last three years. After all, the work is the joy and the joy is the work...so I thought I'd let it speak for itself. [If you don't already follow The Letterist on Instagram, get it together].
I also thought I'd write a long blog post...featuring some of the weird and wonderful emails I've received, bizarre client meetings I've had, lessons I've learned and never stop learning along the way. But I was about 4 pages into that when I realized it was getting a little creepy, over-indulgent and emotional so I decided to save you from that. In design, words, make-up and just about everything else, less is always, always more.
So I scaled that way, way down too...and landed on this other idea. What if I just went all the way back to the beginning and told the story of how this crazy little venture started. In the words of Joan Didion, "It is much easier to see the beginnings of things than the ends..." and as you're about to learn...the beginnings were vague, uncertain...and let's just say questionable. Of course in hindsight...they were also funny af. Enjoy.
It was 2014. I was spending sweltering New York summer nights in a beautiful loft in Williamsburg surrounded by stacks of aquarelle paper and hundreds of pens, pencils, markers, nibs and paintbrushes. It was a phase marked by wild exploration and severe [artistic] insecurity in equal measure. I was so unsure of myself as a creative and what I was doing, that I would literally hop on the L train or East River Ferry every other day and trek to an art store in search of some new paper, ink or writing implement, in the hope that it would catapult me to amazingness. I even recall stealing a crappy permanent chisel marker from the US Post Office after labelling a box. This is it! This is the tool that will make me! I laugh at this now because my favourite tools three years later consist of a pen, a stylus, and a single calligraphy holder with two go-to nibs. [Nikko and Tachikawa if you're curious. Calligraphy, like whiskey I believe, is always smoothest from Japan]. I still explore new toys once in a while - but for the most part, I tend to [as do we all, I think] defer to my steady squeeze.
Anyway, I digress already. The first piece I made at the time, for someone other than my portfolio or the dustbin, was a gift for my sister-in-law: a tiny 5x5" hand-lettered and framed print with gold leaf that read "DON'T WORRY, BE YONCE." [Don't say I didn't warn you...the beginnings are a little umm, shaky].