One of our favorite things about calligraphy & paper design is its ability to transform personal style into tangible art. What begins as a thought suddenly through the skill of a hand becomes a tangible piece of art expressing your thoughts and feelings. This is true for most art. It touches the deepest parts of us because it comes from the deepest part of another. Amy from Letter Love Studio opens up to share how she creates beautiful art, how she discovered her passion and the challenges she overcomes each day.
Heirloom: How do you begin your day? Do you have any morning rituals that help you start the day off on the right foot?
Amy: You mean besides hitting the snooze button four times?? I can't say that I have any specific morning rituals, but I’ve found that when I allow myself at least 15-30 minutes to check my personal email, social media, and mentally prepare for the day before physically jumping out of bed, I feel more relaxed and ready to take on the world. Oh - and coffee helps. I really should work on that snooze button thing, but old habits die hard!
Heirloom: Tell us your story. How did you get into calligraphy and design?
Amy: I've been designing and lettering ever since before I even knew what that meant. As a kid, I used to do custom drawings for all my friends. I would draw their names in bubble letters (I was the master at those like any good 80's/90's kid!) and I would have them choose from a contact sheet I made of design elements - hearts, stars, flowers, etc. Whatever their favorite elements were, I'd incorporate them into the picture and at the end they'd have a custom drawing that reflected their personal style. Turns out I was taking custom orders already! The satisfaction I would get back then from creating something custom that my friends loved is the same joy I feel today when my clients express their happiness with my work.
As for calligraphy, it’s a relatively new skill of mine. I’ve been a graphic designer for almost 10 years and with my daily work on the computer, I was feeling a bit of yearning to go back to my analog roots. A few years ago I realized I really missed all the time I used to spend drawing and I took an interest in hand lettering, which led to an interest in calligraphy. That interest led me to take a local calligraphy class and I was instantly hooked! I haven’t looked back since, and I’m still learning so much and experimenting with my styles. I feel fortunate to be able to mix my design and digital knowledge with calligraphy. There’s so much more you can do with calligraphy than address envelopes!
Heirloom: As you sit down to work on a new design, where do you go to find inspiration?
Amy: Inspiration is a tricky thing…I really believe inspiration serves a designer best when it impacts you organically, changes shape internally over time, and is re-interpreted back into the world by your subconscious. That might sound a little hokey, but essentially all that I mean is that by the time I sit down to work on a design, I try to refrain from purposely seeking out “inspiration” (especially online) because you run the risk of letting that inspiration influence your design too directly. I want the solution to the design problem to come authentically from me, and not a direct result of a Google search or a Pinterest browsing session. That’s not to say I don’t use “inspiration boards” or collections of images to inspire my designs, because I do! But I think their purpose is best suited to defining a desired emotion and aesthetic you want the design to have rather than a direct inspiration to the work itself.
I find inspiration in everything around me and seek it out on a daily basis rather than making it a focused effort. Travel, music, nature - there’s so much inspiration outside of the pixels on your computer screen!
Heirloom: What is your favorite part of owning your own business?
Amy: My favorite part about owning my own business has been simply doing something that I never thought I could do. The satisfaction you get from going outside of your comfort zone and accomplishing something you never thought you could is so rewarding. It's the most challenging and most rewarding thing I've ever done!
Heirloom: Tell us a story of facing your most difficult challenge. What has been the most difficult challenge you have faced?
Amy: Gosh, there are MANY, but overcoming fear tops the list for me. Fear of starting. Fear of putting myself and my work out there. Fear of failure, of rejection. I’m quite content putting on some music or a podcast, picking up a dip pen, and getting my fingers inky for hours on end in my studio, but I’ve had to learn the hard way that if you don’t put yourself out there, you’ll go through this small business ownership thing all alone. Fighting my inner introvert, reaching out to people, seeking out a support network - these are all things I’m still working on.
It’s amazing how long you can be paralyzed by fear, but if it’s standing in between you and your dreams then you have to overcome it somehow and just start - or you never will. Just take one small step and then another. Everything won’t be perfect, and you won’t be 100% happy with every aspect of your business from the beginning, but I’ve learned that it’s ok (and important!) to iterate in public. Learn as you go. Once you do, you realize everyone else is just doing the same thing! No one has this all figured out, as much as it looks like they do from the outside!