I haven’t posted anything on my blog in a while because I hadn’t felt like I had anything interesting to say.
So does the fact that I’m posting something now mean that I’ve had an epiphany and am about to share something ground-breaking with you? Not at all haha. In fact everything feels pretty same ol’, same ‘ol. I guess that, because our every day lives move so incrementally and we because adapt so quickly to our new normal, everything we do becomes old news sooner rather than later.
Having said that, incremental progress is still progress! The tortoise won the race in the end. In the time between my last post and this post, I launched my beginner’s brush pen lettering kits, which I’d been working on for months. Let me tell you about how painstaking my production process was.
When I first started writing my workbook, ‘So you want to learn the fundamentals of brush pen lettering’, I didn’t have (let alone know how to use, the Adobe suite). I thought that using Microsoft Word would be fine. I also thought that I could write words with a brush pen, scan them, and copy those images into my Word doc. It was a fiddly process but it looked fine on the screen.. and then I printed them out and to my horror, the scanned images were all pixelated. Looking back, it was pretty depressing. I felt like all my hard work had been wasted and I didn’t feel excited to work on it anymore. (FYI it turns out that Microsoft Word didn’t preserve the original resolution of the image).
It wasn’t until a little while later, when I decided I wanted to make my own practice lines (with the diagonal guidelines) that I discovered Adobe Illustrator. After a lot of googling, trial & error, frustration and experimenting with the Transform tool, I’d created something that I was happy with. I imported those practice lines into my iPad Pro, and using my stylus, found a workable solution to the problems I’d faced when using a brush pen & scanner to create alphabet practice sheets.
At that point, I’d written the rest of my content and felt ready to get some feedback. I asked a couple of friends who had expressed interest in learning brush pen lettering whether they’d like to be product testers. They said yes and they helped me fill out a feedback sheet where I asked them for brutally honest feedback on what they liked, didn’t like, etc. Back then, the kit wasn’t anything like it is now. It wasn’t professionally printed, hadn't been created in Adobe Indesign, didn’t have diagrams, no DIY project, there weren’t many practice opportunities throughout the book (I had grouped them all at the back, in an Appendix), there were very few arrows showing the order of strokes, as well as some other details here and there. It took me another two months from when I received their feedback, to launching the kits. (In that time I launched my website, stocking calligraphy quote prints). I am so proud of how the brush lettering kits turned out, and my product testers had a lot to contribute to that! I can’t stress enough how important it is to get feedback and critique on your work!
Oh yes, finding the right paper was also a struggle. I had to request samples from multiple printers and paper suppliers to find one that didn’t result in ink feathering, bleeding through the page and that I instantly loved when I wrote on it with a brush pen. If you’ve got a copy of one of my workbooks, I’m sure your writing experience will be super smooth because of the amazing paper that it’s been printed on.
So yea, that’s a recap of the main challenges I faced when writing and producing my first workbook. It honestly feels like a blur and the struggles seem so distant. When you complete something, you just feel so proud because at the start of that journey, you could only ever dream of it becoming a reality. Now that it is a reality, it’s onto the next thing. That’s life isn’t it? A never-ending journey of dreams, struggles, learning and growth.