Wind blown Brand

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.

Wind blown Brand

My Top Five Hand Lettering Tools

My Top Five Lettering Tools | Native State Design Co.

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!

My Top Five Hand Lettering Tools

How I Taught Myself Hand Lettering

How I Taught Myself Hand Lettering | Native State Design Co.


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.”

Here are some helpful, high quality places to learn: This Sean Wes course is amazing, is a classic source, and Skill Share is another great resource.


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!

How I Taught Myself Hand Lettering

My Day as a Freelance Designer

My Day as a Freelance Designer | Native State Design Co.

I’m fascinated by the daily routines of other people. I’ve been drawn in to countless buzzfeed, click-baited articles promising to enlighten me on the morning routines of successful people. I realized that many people, including my own friends and family, probably don’t know what I (or other entrepreneurs) do in a normal day, or how I manage to balance work with kids. So here’s a diary of my typical workday.


6:30 am

I wake up, dress and hopefully have coffee going before my kids wake up.

7:00 am

I dress, feed, and pack up the kids for a morning at childcare.

9:00 am

I drop the last kid and settle in for three glorious, uninterrupted hours of focused work at a coffee shop near the pre-school. This is when I do the heavy lifting on my to-do list. I try to stay off the internet as along as possible and stay far away from my phone, Facebook, and Pinterest during this time. It’s amazing how much you can get done when you eliminate distractions.

12 noon

I pick up the kids, head home and eat lunch with them. I love this break in my work day which forces me to take a mental break from my daily tasks and focus on eating a good lunch and hearing all about what happened at school that morning.

1:00 pm

The kids (usually) are napping or resting quietly in their rooms. I use these to hours to wrap up anything from the morning I didn’t finish, respond to emails, etc.

3:00 pm

This is usually when Daniel gets home if he was working outside the house and when the kids wake up. We spend these few hours before dinner chatting about our days, cleaning up the house, and starting dinner prep. If I’m on a tight deadline, Daniel will take over the kids and I’ll hide out and work until dinner.

5:30 pm

Family dinner! And yes! 5:30! We try to make a point to do dinner together with no electronic devices every night. With an almost 2-year-old in the house, that means eating early. It’s a special time that I have come to cherish.

6:30 pm

The baby goes to bed and the big kid hangs out and helps us clean the kitchen (he absolutely loves washing dishes). More time to chat about our days while our hands are busy.

7:30 pm

The big kid goes to bed and then Daniel and I spend time together, or if one of us has an activity that night we head out. I do a lot of my illustrations and lettering during these hours while I watch the telly and have a glass of wine. It’s a nice way to wind down the day while checking off to-do list items.

And that’s a typical day! If we are working on a huge project with a tight deadline, I will work late into the night sometimes, but for the most part I am able to knock out the big stuff during my focused morning work. Some days I put in a lot of hours, and it never stops at 5pm sharp, but having set breaks in my day keeps life balanced as a business owner. This schedule is about to change completely as my five-year-old begins Kindergarten this fall, so I’ll be coming up with a new schedule and routine to keep myself productive. Wish me luck!

How does a typical day look for you? Are you a business owners? Do you have a side-hustle? How do you maintain balance in your life? Moms, how have you found ways to effectively juggle work and time with your kids?


My Day as a Freelance Designer

Raleigh Color Story Series, pt. IV

Raleigh Color Story Series | Native State Design Co. Raleigh Color Story Series | Native State Design Co.

We’ve come to the final installment of this color palette series, and I saved my favorite building for last. I’ve always had a thing for ghost signs, and this one is no exception. Not to mention the artful combination of pale peach with a faded minty blue and the pop of warm burnt-orange on the trim and brick showing through the chipped paint. This is a color palette that shows the harmony of reserved neutrals with one pop of color. Emotionally, it evokes feelings of security and stability because the majority of the system is based on “safe” shades. The burnt-orange would work well to draw the eye to important call-outs or details in a design without being overbearing or taking away from the stability of the blue-greens and peach-y beige.

What did you all learn from this series? Have any more color palette questions that I didn’t cover in this post?


Raleigh Color Story Series, pt. IV