Wind Blown is an up-and-coming handmade jewelry band based in Raleigh, NC. Native State worked with Wind Blown to craft a brand identity that would help tell the story of the business’s origins, be useful in retail applications both in print and digitally, and grow with the business for years. The mark is based on the ancient alchemical symbol for wind, the nautical spirit that inspired the name of the business, and the minimal geometric forms that permeate Wind Blown’s jewelry designs. Ancient alchemy is the practice of trying to turn lead into gold, which seemed like an appropriate nod for a handmade jeweler.
1. SEO & website traffic
If you are consistently creating quality content on a blog through your website, your site will go up in the Google rankings over other sites that aren’t regularly updated. It really is worth spending time on an attractive and professional blog because it’s free marketing and getting higher Google rankings will win you new business.
2. Attracting clients
An interesting, quality blog is a great place to show off what you do best and to capture an audience who is more likely to purchase your services. The more people you can get to your blog, the more people who will also check out the rest of your website and potentially hire you.
3. Educating prospective clients, your industry about yourself and what you do.
Where you can only keep a prospective client’s attention on an about page for a few sentences, a blog is an huge opportunity to continue educating website visitors about yourself, your industry, your services, and your personality. It can help you weed out inquiries for services you don’t offer and can help clients know what to expect from working with you. My friend Sam of LULA hair + makeup does a great job using her blog to educate about the hair + makeup industry, to share her favorite products, and to show off the gorgeous photo-shoots she’s been a part of. I’m not even a potential bride, yet I spend time reading her posts because the content is well-written, informative, and is pretty to look at. She’s done such a good job that she’s the number one Google ranking for “raleigh bridal hair and makeup”.
I’ll continue sharing tips for how to write compelling blog posts, ideas for content, and the basics of preparing images for your blog. Is there anything you want to see covered about blogging for your business? Let me know in the comments!
1. Pentel brush pen
Easy to pull out and use quickly, clean, mobile, inexpensive. I always use black because I usually re-color my lettering on the computer. Get the exact one I use here. Or stop into your local art supply shop and ask if they have some.
2. Designer-quality gouache
I use Windsor & Newton brand and prefer it to other brand’s I’ve used. The color is rich and vibrant and one tube goes a long way. You can usually find these in your local art store, or you can buy them here.
3. Strathmore Sketchbook + Canson Marker paper
Strathmore – The pages aren’t technically for wet use, but it’s thick enough that a light application of watercolor doesn’t cause the paper to buckle. I also like how smooth the paper is because I’m able to get cleaner lines with my brush. It also doesn’t bleed. You can grab the exact one I use here.
Canson Marker Paper – I use this for tracing and calligraphy. The paper is super smooth and easy to work on. It’s also bright white—favorable for scanning. Here’s the one I have.
You may be surprised that I don’t have watercolor paper listed here. I almost never letter on watercolor paper. Number one it’s expensive to blow through on lettering practice. Number two the texture causes my brush to drag in a way I find frustrating. Number three I save the nice paper for paintings where I’ll be really loading the water on. With lettering there ends up being so little moisture compared to the amount watercolor paper is made for that it really isn’t necessary to spring for the 140 lb cold pressed paper. Also, I letter almost exclusively for digital purposes so my Strathmore sketchbook works just fine.
4. Large Watercolor Brush
I like working larger with brush lettering. This size brush is easy to handle and loads up really well with paint. I like having something a bit more substantial to grasp while I paint. Grab an inexpensive set at your local art store and play around with them to find out which one feels comfortable to you. A set like this would be a great place to start.
5. Plastic paint palette
I love this thing because it’s cheap and makes me nostalgic about those elementary school art classes where we loaded these things up with primary colored tempera paint. It’s a classic tool for a reason! If it ain’t broke…keep using it? You can grab one here or at any local art store.
So, do you have any preferred tools I didn’t mention? Questions about anything? Ask away!
Have you always been interested in hand-lettering but aren’t sure where to start? Three years ago I was in the same spot. Here’s how I navigated the murky waters of questionable blog tutorials and gear recommendations. Let me preface all of this with a qualifier: first you need to understand your own learning style. What was helpful for my learning might not be as helpful for you, and that’s okay. Know yourself, and know how you learn to make the most out of the following advice. Personally, I am a “learn as you go” type. I learn better by just doing it and figuring out what works and doesn’t as I go. For a long time, I was held back from attempting lettering because I believed I wasn’t good enough to try, that I had no real aptitude for it, that I would be terrible, etc. But when I got over myself and decided to just go for it, I realized that like anything else, lettering is a learned skill. If you are motivated and interested in it, you can learn how to do it too! So here’s a run down of what helped me learn.
1. Feel the freedom to make mistakes.
First of all, nobody is magically able to free-hand amazing lettering with no practice. When I first got interested in lettering, I used to watch videos of calligraphers lettering envelopes free hand like it was no big deal. I thought that mastering that level of skill was when you had “made it” as a letterer and that everyone else who couldn’t do that was just an amateur. Then one day I was scrolling through instagram and noticed stray pencil marks on a post from one of my favorite watercolor-letterers. Then I realized that all the people I most respected all start by sketching. How liberating! You don’t have to be able to perfectly execute it the first try with your micron or brush pen. You can take your time sketching it lightly in pencil first and make as many mistakes as you want. It takes time and effort to letter something really great. And sure, in ten years you may be able to freehand an amazing lock-up, but don’t put that pressure on yourself at the outset. Feel totally free to make mistakes. Keep your early attempts so you can go back and look at how far you’ve grown. It takes time and practice, but don’t get discouraged when your early stuff isn’t Sean Wes level. You’ll get there in time!
2. Watch videos or take classes from respected letterers.
Skip wading through sketchy random, unhelpful youtube videos four hours on end and find out if your favorite artists offer workshops or online classes. Sean Wes has a really helpful video class you can take at your own pace. Locally in Raleigh you can grab lettering classes through Skillpop. Find out where you can do that in your area and go! Watch how someone you respect does it and you can learn so much. Take the time to learn the basics of typography as well. It may seem boring, but it will improve your lettering exponentially if you know how the ascenders, descenders and baseline should balance. These are the principles that you can fall back on when you’ve sketched something out and it just “doesn’t look right.”
3. Practice, practice, and practice some more.
This might seem obvious, but you will never be great at lettering if you don’t practice. For focused practice, choose a classic typeface or find a free calligraphy practice sheet, print out a whole sheet of one letter and trace it over and over until it’s like second nature. Then try to draw it just by looking at the letter. Next try to draw it from memory. Learning letterforms like this will give you the building blocks and muscle memory you need to create your own style. Focused practice is great when you have the time, but you can also squeeze in every-day practice in lots of other places—like writing your grocery list or in a note to your roommate or spouse. Get creative and take the chance to practice letterforms every time you are holding a pen. Keep all your practice pages in a chronological stack and rifle through the early attempts whenever you are feeling discouraged. You may be surprised to find that they are better than you thought they were, and you’ll be encouraged to have a tangible way to measure your growth.
I’ll be continuing this series on lettering with posts about my favorite tools, my own lettering process, and some photoshop/illustrator tutorials for lettering.
Have any questions or good resources that I missed in the post? Things you want me to cover in future posts? Leave me a note in the comments!
These documentaries have one common thread—all tell the story of individuals who were driven to pursue greatness in their respective vocations. As a creative entrepreneur I found all of these stories remarkable and deeply inspiring for my own work and dreams.
1. Bill Cunningham New York (2010)
Bill Cunningham was the most humble, unassuming icon imaginable. He was singularly obsessed with his mission—documenting and reporting New York Street Fashion and that drive made him the best at what he does. I have so much respect for this quiet man after viewing this insightful look at what drives him. I was so saddened to hear of his passing this year, and I’ll always rank him among the most inspiring of folks.
2. Frank Lloyd Wright (1998)
While he’s the last role model I would ever look to for lessons in humility or basic morality, Frank Lloyd Wright was an undeniable, albeit rakish, genius. He lied and extorted his way through a stop-and-start, late blooming career, but his bad qualities are softened in light of the original, creative, category defying style of architecture he developed. He also overcame multiple failures and a personal life fraught with tragedy and unhealthy relationships on his path to becoming the first true celebrity architect to develop a uniquely American style.
3. The September Issue (2009)
I grew up voraciously devouring every issue of Vogue and Teen Vogue I could get my hands on. I remember this particular September issue coming out and how I cut out my favorite ads and features to paste up on the walls of my teenage bedroom. This inside look at how that issue came to be is fascinating and at times, to my surprise, tear-jerking.
And for a bonus…check out the Chef’s Table series (2015-) on Netflix for profiles of celebrity chefs candidly sharing their failures on the way to success. Not to mention every shot is breathtakingly beautiful and beyond inspiring.
Peering into other creative disciplines and paths to success is a great pick-me-up on this days when you don’t feel like the entrepreneur life is going your way. Do you have any favorite documentaries or shows? Any figures you really look up to? Share in the comments!