You may or may not know that the name “Artella” comes from the words “art” and “telling.” Combining words and art in a single creative work is my favorite kind of expression. Because I love words, I have always really admired lettering artists, who turn words into art. However, lettering arts – or even legible handwriting – has never been one of my creative skills. It’s always been something I’ve loved from the sidelines, fully convinced I could never do it.
Earlier this year, Angie Vangalis – one of my creative business clients in the Mapping and Mentoring program – was the organizer of an international lettering arts convention, and invited me to present some workshops on business-building and marketing. Letter Artists were there from all over the world, and it was amazing. I enjoyed teaching the workshops, but truthfully, what I really wanted to do was look at the portfolios of the students! I was completely inspired, and thoroughly intimidated.
This time, inspiration beat intimidation, and I took a deep breath and said, “Why not?” I came home from the amazing conference, got a few lettering books, and started playing. I used the books to get ideas – the most helpful ones to me were The Art of Whimsical Lettering by Joanne Sharpe and Zenspirations by Joanne Fink and – but mostly I’ve stepped away from books or instructions and just let myself play and have fun.
The most delightful thing about playing with a new art form is that everything feels different. I love that this kind of art truly is portable, and is something creative I can do when I’ve got 5 or 10 spare minutes. It also lends itself nicely to meaningful multi-tasking; it’s relaxing to color in letters to break up a mundane task, or while on a phone call.
I completed the holiday piece, above, in my hotel room at my recent trip to Portland – a little bit each night. And this one has been on my desk, getting little bits of attention each day. I love it, smears and all:
For so long, I carried an “I can’t do it” attitude about making beautiful letters. It was one of those things that other people could do, and not me. This belief really held me back. Gosh, I even remember my attempts to make handmade greeting cards: I’d paint watercolors and then try to add handwriting to them. But when it came to the lettering, I’d get so frustrated that I ended up tearing up and throwing away dozens of perfectly good watercolor designs!
Well this time, I trashed something else: that old “I can’t do this” belief.
Crumpled up, thrown in the trash can. For good.