It’s been four years now that I’ve been doing lettering for a living and a lot of people have asked how it all happened.
Most people who knew me thought I’d stay in the corporate world for a long time because I have the skills and patience to succeed – or so they thought.
I actually hated my corporate job – not the people or the company, but the fact that I had to wake up every morning and go work for someone else.
I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs. We own a bakery and everyone contributes to our family business, so at an early age I had already learned customer service and how to work independently. I was used to waking up early because if we didn’t, we would starve.
But as a child, I had no idea these experiences would have such an impact on the life path that I would take. All I understood was that I had to wake up and do my job at the bakery.
Fast forward to 2007- I discovered digital scrapbooking and eventually managed to teach myself Photoshop. I was able to design my very own products which I sold in online stores for over seven years.
In December 2012, I gave birth to my third child. My son, Alphonse, was born with Down Syndrome. Our life changed drastically,and I could no longer design my products because I didn’t have time to sit in front of the computer. My son needed 200% of my attention, and more.
Two years later, he was taking naps for 2-4 hours a day, but he still didn’t want me to leave his side. So I would stay with him while he slept and watch TV. I could have used that time to sleep, but naps give me headaches.
To be honest, I felt like I was wasting my life. There I was- sitting, watching tv, doing nothing. I was so depressed and I knew if I didn’t make a change, that feeling would get stronger.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my boy. But at the time, I was struggling with so many emotions and I was always on the verge of losing it.
I tried to do something to make myself happy, and to feel productive. It was as simple as that. Something to veer away from the negative emotions that were slowly eating me up inside.
So I picked up a pencil and paper after 15 years! I had started lettering when I was 10, but I had to stop in college to pursue my Engineering degree. It felt nostalgic. Somehow, it felt like home.
I lettered my first letter in years and I posted it on Instagram. Slowly, people started commenting and liking it. I was enjoying it so much that I asked my audience what words or names they wanted me to write. We were all having fun and everyone was looking forward to what word or name I’d post for the day.
It was so simple back then.
Six months after, I received a DM from the owner of Mini-Lou Kids, Carina Gardner. She asked if I could create an alphabet coloring books for children!
I’d never felt so alive!
Who could have guessed that while I was having fun with my lettering, someone had been watching my progress and even offered me a job!
I worked on my very first paid lettering job for four months. I worked within the 2-4 hour time-frame of Alphonse’s nap time, because that was the only time I could! I somehow finished all the sketches and inked everything. Digitizing was another story, because I needed to work on the computer and my boy wouldn’t allow me. I needed to work on weekends when my husband was home so he could look after him.
After that clients kept coming in, one after the other. But I could only accept one client per month due to my limited time. This was actually an advantage for me, because I could choose who I wanted to work with. I learned early on that my time is valuable and if the client doesn’t want to pay me for what my work was worth, then I can say NO. And I did say no to a lot of them.
When I wasn’t doing client work, I used my very little free time to keep practicing and honing my craft. I believed that if I want to attract more clients, I need to get better and better. Practice did pay off! Now, I own a creative business, authored a book – Mastering Hand-Lettering and I teach people how to do the same- so they can live their lives the way they want it while doing what they love.
Truly inspiring! I am left speechless and awestruck by your talent and strength of spirit.
Thank you so much Pepper 🙂
Thank you for letting us know how you began. It’s always inspiring to hear that other people didn’t just wake up and suddenly they were lettering!! Your story has inspired me to write my own story, although it won’t be out there for a long time but at least I can say, I’ll have one, eventually.
I’m reading this blog post at a bit after 2AM here in the states and had to write 🙂 Your story is very inspiring and really hit home to me.
I’ve been following you on IG for a while and love your work but was watching your interview with Becca as I couldn’t sleep and it led me here.
I have an older brother who is mentally disabled and I’ve always cared for him since we were kids. We had a single mom who worked a day and night job and so art and learning to care for my brother and his needs kept me focused growing up.
Our mom passed not too long ago and shortly after I dove back into art and drawing and I realIzed soon after it was my formnof therapy to help with the loss. But after like you, over 15 years of not actively drawing, I just seemed to have this new found love for illustration, handlettering and logo design and started creating works and posting on IG.
I’ve been studying and nurturing my skills reading, watching vids, and just working every day and night since my moms passing and truly love it 😊 it’s led to me beginning to start my own business and I’m just really excited about learning more, becoming a better human, and helping others through my art, skills and talents and becoming a success like yourself through my work.
Your story touched me and I wanted thank you for sharing your life and your art🙏 All the best to you and your family!
Love your work and touching story.
I love to write (mostly print) and I’m often asked by my mom to write cards and envelopes for her. As a child I would play a song over and over on my cassette player to write the lyrics, this was way before the internet. I also wrote thank you cards for Birthday and Christmas gifts. But I want would love to learn different styles and fancy cursive writing.
You openness, your sincerity and talent are both moving and inspiring! Thank you for these precious gifts!