Hello! I'm Krysten Jensen. By day my official role is Creative Services Specialist at UrbanLink Group. It's a mix of responsibilities that includes managing print pieces, coordinating with vendors, and generating branding and visuals for our clients.
Away from work, I still like to be creative and put my skills to good use. My personal passion is hand lettering, also known as calligraphy. Ever since elementary school I enjoyed writing in cursive. The joy followed me throughout college, where I took typography classes and at one point even had to make a typeface (a font) from start to finish. I can still remember how long that took and the hours and days I spent in the lab trying to perfect it.
Not too long after that, I started using my passion to benefit others. It began when one of my cousins decided to get married, so I offered to paint a sign for her wedding. I did some research on Pinterest and found great ideas she liked and got to work. From there, word spread and my passion continues to blossom by doing custom work for various family members.
Aligning Needs and Wants
It starts with conversation. First, I have to examine what the sign should say. What's the ideal look and the messaging? But before I dive too deep into any side project, I do a little bit of research. With any project it's always good to research ideas and sketch out some initial thoughts before fully committing.
That's exactly the approach I take when it comes to lettering. Whenever I need inspiration I look to social media and one of my favorite accounts I follow. It's always nice to be inspired for the right board shape, size, and durability. After idea gathering and board selection, I then prep the board by sanding and staining it. After it dries, I sketch out an idea using a chalk pencil.
Bringing Ideas to Life
After the initial research and outlining, the real work begins. For me, that means being precise and painting alongside the chalk pencil marks. Through the entire process, I have to be careful about lines and making sure I don't make a mistake that's not fixable. Before the sign is complete, I'll go over the lettering to ensure it's the right thickness.
Of course, now comes the waiting process. Making sure there is no paint bleed and letting it dry is exactly like … well like waiting for paint dry. Although I have to say that the end result is always rewarding, especially seeing it displayed and put to good use.
Linking it Together
Naturally, my side passion is also something that I bring to work with me. Just like hand lettering and idea generation, I start off any project by sketching. Design starts with paper, so sketching out the look and vision is part of the process. As a designer, I'll always look at a project differently than a client and that's how I make it come to reality. Sometimes the original sketches look rough and could just be boxes, but I operate better knowing there's a vision.
One of the most recent projects I've worked on include branding. I can tell you directly that the skills I've developed 'on the side' translate directly into branding. Especially when it comes to logo creation. There is a special art to lettering and a lot of logos have originated through that process. It always depends on the brand and their vision, but hand lettering can make a logo very unique.
On the professional side, designing digitally brings a different quality. The even lines and crisp borders matter for consistency. Both ways follow a similar process. If done well, the hand lettered logos, can look just as good as digitally designed ones. What's certain is that logos should be timeless and should stand out.
Follow you Passion
If you've been putting off a side project or a passion, my advice is just to try it. I still watch videos to continue learning and even go back to old designs to try and replicate and update them. Sometimes starting from scratch can produce the best ideas. My biggest piece of advice is to just follow your passion. Whether it's from inspiration or from scratch, go with your gut!
I would also recommend following your favorite brands and influencers on Instagram (or other social media). It's encouraging to see others doing such great work. When I'm stressed out, I find it relaxing to grab my sketch book and put ideas down on paper.
Speaking of following, every creative professional at UrbanLink has a side projects and a passion alongside their regular duties. I think you'll find value in their perspectives also! Check out some of their stories by clicking here.