President's Choice + Sid Lee

Recent lettering work for PC Financial and Sid Lee (Toronto).

She Matters

I'm honoured to be a guest artist next Sunday at She Matters, a fundraising brunch in support of the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic, which offers legal representation, professional counselling and multilingual interpretation to women who have experienced violence. I will be offer hand-lettered notes and greeting cards, with all proceeds going towards the clinic. Incredibly, this event is sold out, but you can still support the clinic here:

5 questions

1. How did you learn to do lettering? 

I have always been enamoured with letters, alphabets, and writing - both printed and cursive. I was very fond of my grandmother’s cursive handwriting – beautiful & rhythmic – scribed on notes, recipes and greeting cards. As a child, I can remember sitting at her kitchen table, writing the alphabet, my name, and names of the family over and over again on lined paper. I liked that anyone could write the same 26 forms on paper, but they would be slightly different.This interest carried on through school and university, where I got a broader understanding of fonts, lettering, and typography. The lettering I do now – which most would call “brush lettering” – is self-taught, starting around 2009 when I first picked up a Tombow dual pen. I began by tracing and mimicking my favourite letterers, and then started to develop my own personal style. I started working with brush and ink in 2016 because I loved the roughness and irregularity. I am currently dedicating my time to fostering my showcard & sign painting skills.

2. Where do you find inspiration?

There is inspiration everywhere if you look close enough. For myself in Toronto, there are incredible type and lettering specimens hidden in plain sight on old shop fronts. One of my absolute favourite hobbies is scouring old bookstores, vintage stores and antique markets for curious ads, maps, education guides, lettering charts, packaging, signs & ephemera. I’m particularly drawn to anything from 1940-1960, during the golden age of commercial graphic arts. I especially love antique hunting in other cities – and countries. It is always a unique glimpse into the past.

3. What is your routine like as a freelance lettering artist? Do you do lettering all day, every day?

I have always been an early riser. On an average weekday, I am usually up before 7am so I can get emails out of the way and head to the studio. My best, most creative time is between 9am and 11am, so I like to reserve that time for lettering work, either personal projects, client work or commissions. I have a light lunch and then run to the gym for about an hour – it’s a perfect way to break up the day and get a boost of energy. In the afternoons, I either focus on computer work (digitizing, layouts, etc.), or allot time for meetings, errands, or deliveries of my prints (I like to hand-deliver all purchases within Toronto). In the evenings, I like to cook dinner and unwind, but often do a few bits on my computer before bed. If my work life was a pie chart, it would break down roughly as follows: ¼ graphic design ¼ client lettering & commissions ¼ personal lettering & online shop ¼ Ligatures events, workshops & admin

4. What do you think of this trend towards hand-lettering and analog techniques?

Traditional craftsmanship, especially in terms of hand-lettering, is experiencing a distinct resurgence right now. But we also can’t ignore the prevalence - and appeal - of digital techniques. In terms of my own art practice, I like to keep one eye on my work and one eye on the future. There are qualities of the medium (ie. the bristles of a brush, and the toothiness of a piece of paper) that cannot be simulated on the screen. We must acknowledge the change that new media is having on our craft, embrace the best parts of technology, but always retain a human touch.

5. You always look so busy! How do produce so much content? 

First and foremost, what you see on social media is a highly edited portrait of my studio life. Some weeks are exceptionally busy, others are not. My social media strategy (if there is such a thing) is to provide a glimpse into my work and process, while inspiring folks with my curious discoveries. Time is valuable (both mine and yours), so I promise to keep the posts fun and engaging. I am beyond grateful for every project I’ve worked on, every person I’ve met, and every word I’ve got to hand-letter. I’m feel blessed that I found a career where I can use my skills to help and delight people. This medium is my voice – everything you see on the page and in this feed is 100% me. Thank you for joining me for the ride.