Just because you love lettering, doesn't mean you love your lettering.
It took me 2 years to finally love my lettering, so I'm here to tell you how I managed to do that and what mistakes I made, so maybe you can avoid them too.
First mistake: Thinking I didn't need practice
At the beginning, when I first fell in love with the world of lettering, I didn't take the time to do drills, practice each letter, each stoke and different styles. I just jumped right in and thought I was AWESOME.
I didn't realize that like anything else, I was supposed to start at the beginning, and work my way up. I thought that since I already had 4 years of art school and 3 years of design work behind me, that I was good to go. I mean, how hard can it be? Right?
It took me a little while to realize that I wasn't that good at all. I was actually pretty bad, and that's when self doubt started kicking in. I still did lettering, but I lost the "love at first sight" spark for it.
Second mistake: Spending money on expensive tools
I also splurged a lot when I started lettering. I got the water brushes and Tombow brush pens and a bunch of other fancy “lettering” markers I found online.
But guess what? I still hated everything I made!
I just wasn’t good. And instead of dealing with that, practicing more and saving my money, I spent the money and ruined the good tools on crappy lettering which got thrown away two seconds later. I hated everything I was putting out there. I might have put a proud smile on, but deep down I hated my lettering.
I hated the Tombow markers that I saw EVERYONE using, because I didn't know HOW to properly use them. I hated pointed nip calligraphy, because I had ZERO experience with it. And don't even get me started on styles, I had no personal style at all.
Third mistake: I was admiring the wrong people
Nothing against their lettering, but their lettering styles just weren't my styles. So looking up to them, and then comparing my lettering to theirs was a total mistake. But at the time, I didn't realize what my lettering style would be. So I guess it was a mistake in disguise, one I had to make to learn what I don't want my style to be.
I was overwhelmed, I didn't love it anymore, and so I gave up lettering for a few months to pursue painting.
I decided that I would become an illustrator/painter, I always loved illustration and painting abstract art, so that's what I decided I was going to do with my life. I had already told my boss I was quitting my job and now I had to desperately find something to call "work" and make money. But, as you can guess, that didn't work out that well either. I may love illustration and I'm pretty good at drawing, I just don't have the patience to sit and create one painting for days.
I was in a bad spot, also, that's when I found out I was pregnant with baby #2. So any plans I had kind of went out the window. At least for the first few months while I was dealing with morning sickness.
But there is good news.
The spark came back!
There will come a day, when the spark comes back.
I can clearly remember when it finally clicked for me. It was the day before Easter of 2016, after months of not lettering at all, I randomly picked up a simple Crayola that my daughter was using to decorate eggs and started lettering. I loved it!
For some reason the spark just came back, I was just having fun instead of forcing myself to create something “Instagram worthy”.
The cheap Crayola marker was just there, waiting for me to love it, use it and create with it.
From that day on I felt more inspired, more creative and ready to let the learning take over me.
It still took time, but now I had a new found passion for learning lettering.
I let myself explore, I tried different styles, tools, layouts and just whatever popped in my head that day.
I didn’t have a plan, other than have fun lettering.
I also mostly used watercolor and a black sharpie for the whole challenge. I tried the other tools too but I seemed to gravitate toward these, although at the time I probably didn’t see the pattern.
When your brain is in overload, it needs a restart. Let it rest.
If you feel like you suck, or you just aren't making progress, or it's all just too much, Take a break.
Let your mind rest, do something else you like, read some books, paint, start running, binge watch a new show (I recommend Lost or Walking Dead) or what ever you like to do. Try that for at least a week or two, heck even a month hiatus will do you good. And then just wait for that day when your spark comes back.
"The important lesson here is not to force yourself to be creative!"
Comment below with your creative spark or creative struggles. Let's work on them together.