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How I Started with Hand-Lettering

Filed in: Business

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.

 

mye de leon lettering story

 

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.

lettering beginner

My early lettering work in 2014

 

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.

lettering book mastering hand lettering

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.

comments +

  1. Pepper

    November 13th, 2018 at 9:18 am

    Truly inspiring! I am left speechless and awestruck by your talent and strength of spirit.

  2. Mye De Leon

    November 14th, 2018 at 12:41 pm

    Thank you so much Pepper 🙂

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