Happy Feature Friday!
It’s officially wedding season, so there’s no better time for today’s feature with Doris Wai of Love Lettering. She creates the most beautiful hand lettered signs not only for weddings, but loves to create pieces for any special moment in someone’s life! Her work can be seen in just about any type of event — from brightening up a birthday party, to adding a personalized touch to an invitation, menu, or name card! We love how innovative she is, going outside the traditional pen and paper and instead taking her lettering to all kinds of formats such as mirrors, signs, photo props and even furniture! She also takes this innovation into creating new products and utilizing new techniques, and we can’t wait to see the fun, hand lettered items she’ll come up with next! Keep on scrolling to see more of what Doris creates and to learn all about what it’s like to run Love Lettering.
: Tell us a little bit about yourself!
: Hi! My name is Doris Wai and I am a happily married hand letterer and a mom to a wonderful little girl named Melody. I graduated in illustration design from the OCAD University in Toronto but what I realized was that I loved drawing most was letters and type. This passion of mine led me to starting my own business catering to clients in the wedding and event industry, catalogues and print, logo design and currently writing a book about what and how I create my pieces.
: How did you discover your love for lettering and that you wanted to pursue it and create Love Lettering?
: My interest in lettering began when I discovered bubble letters in grade school through a lettering book, if you draw any word in this style, it instantly becomes more adorable! And that is the magic that I see when I look at fonts and typefaces, each one has a different character, gives off a different mood and I find it so fascinating!
: You often create items for people’s most important day of their life! What is it like to have your creations become a part of someone’s wedding or other momentous event?
: It is absolutely wonderful working with brides & grooms for signage for their big day! I work with people in love and it makes me so happy to be able to create gorgeous and functional signage for their special day. The best moment is when they send me photos of my work from the wedding, when the signage is on my easel, although it may look beautiful, it usually is 3x more lovely when I see where and how they intended the signage to look, sometimes they are draped with florals, sometimes surrounded by candles and it amazes me every time.
: Many creators struggle to define their own style or get to a skill level where they feel they can pursue their craft professionally. We love how well done and intricate your work is! How did your brand grow and get to where it is today?
: To be honest with you, everything I do today, I feel like I was always able to do, however the only difference now is that I TELL people that I can do this. I feel like sometimes artists are shy about what they can create, scared to share their ideas for fear of being ridiculed, frightened to take the plunge into entrepreneurship as it feels so risky. BUT if you continue to practice your craft, do good work, keep your word and network, meaning TELL people what you are capable of, people will notice and find ways to use you. With lettering it was easier as the overhead was almost non existent, you only need the pens and your hand. So starting part-time is easy, but for me I jumped in fully because I wanted to dedicate and be available to my clients with a focused mind and an open schedule. Social media has been such an integral part of my business! My work is so visual so Instagram has really helped my business and in the beginning I vowed to post once a day like it was my job…because it was! So its just keeping the business in mind all the time and not wasting time is very important. Being a mom and working from a home studio means there are really no spare moments, so I utilize every free moment to be present and productive.
: You create a lot of different items from signs and photo props to cards and notepads! What’s your favorite surface to hand letter on? Or any really memorable custom project you’ve worked on?
: Along with lettering for commission, I always think about how I can use my lettering to design products because I realize one day, I will be old, perhaps I won’t be able to letter anymore, so I better create and design products that I love that I can continue to make and sell when that time comes! I don’t HAVE a favorite surface, honestly what I love most is finding NEW things to letter on. I think that is kind of my strong suit, to not be afraid to try new things or figure out how to letter on unique surfaces, and trying new tools. Most recently I worked on a project to create a logo and brand for Roxy Earle for her brand Luxurious Roxy. Roxy is one of the housewives of the Real Housewives of Toronto, this was super exciting me personally because I LOVED this franchise for so long, and I watch all the franchises, New York, Beverly Hills, OC, Atlanta…it was my guilty pleasure, lettering and listening to these women and their shenanigans, so to be able to work with one of them! I can’t even say it was a dream come true, because I would have never even thought that was possible.
: Where does your creativity come from? How do you stay inspired and motivated to create?
: There was a point in my life that I never thought I would be working in a creative career, I worked heavily in customer service industry and was an office manager before I started Love Lettering. However, in my heart, deep down, I knew that it was what I was meant to do. So when my daughter was born, I wanted to create a business and opportunity where I could stay with her and make a living, so she was the driving force and catalyst that made me take my creativity and do something with it. Because I stifled my creativity for so long, it’s like the flood gates opened and the ideas and creativity just pours out. I work and meet a lot of other creatives too and we all feed off of each other as well.
: What is the most rewarding part about what you do or the best feedback you’ve received?
: I am such a people pleaser and such a keener, I am that annoying employee that wants to overachieve at every task, and annoys other colleagues by being too enthusiastic about things. This may be annoying while working for a company but its great when working for yourself, my clients are my “boss” essentially and seeing their eyes light up and their excitement about my sketches absolutely make my day every time.
: You’re currently in the process of coming out with a book! Congrats!!! Tell us a little about what we can expect to find in the book and what it has been like to take this next step and share some lettering tips with the world.
: Thank you so much! It’s such an exciting project for me because I was inspired by a lettering book so to be able to write a book that could potentially inspire others is a HUGE deal for me! The book essentially teaches people the tips, tools and tricks that I use to create the lettering, signage and artwork that made Love Lettering into what it is today. The book is written from my casual point of view about what is possible with lettering and how I live my lettering lifestyle. Along with showing people all the different surfaces its also revealing potential things and surfaces too and also HOW and WHY to letter on things. I hope the book will be almost like a light switch for creative beginners and expert letterers, its essentially about lettering beyond paper to create gorgeous transformations of everyday things.
: What are some of your future goals for Love Lettering?
: Oh my! I cannot really answer that question! Every day and year amazing things are presented to us and in a lot of cases I didn’t even see it coming! I can tell you that I will probably never retire, I love what I do so much that I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have the business to keep me busy! Posecards photo prop greeting cards really deserve some more of my attention as I want to show people that these designer props can actually replace greeting cards! Since people have camera phones now, we don’t need a photo booth to use photo props! So you essentially POSE with your CARD! These are designed for special occasions in mind and are intended for selfies! I want to take this product to a mainstream market for stationery and gift shops. What is always going to be a constant is I want to use my lettering in the most unconventional ways, can my lettering become an installation? Can my lettering be a part of a Disney production? Can it be an interactive spelling game? These are all things I want to be a part of, some will happen some won’t but my life will always revolve around my passion for lettering and its beauty!
: Any advice for those looking to pursue a creative endeavor full time? Or general advice!?
: I must say that you have to have an undying passion for what you do, and it cannot be about the money. If you would do it for free, that is what you should pursue. Because when you have to spend 18 hours working at your business you would be doing it out of love, and there will be 18 hour days, trust me! The best thing about owning your own business is setting your own rules for everything, terms, hours, prices etc. and the downfall is that you can never switch it off, I think about the business ALL the time. I think I have forgotten how to relax, but I try really hard! Another nugget of golden advice is don’t be afraid to reach out to people! Networking is so key! One person can make a huge impact on your business, if not giving you advice, or introducing you to potential clients, or teaching you to be more efficient! Remember TELL people about what you can do and what you have to offer, the world is waiting! XOXO, Doris