This week's feature is Milly McCulloch, a full-time creative professional and part-time letterer. Though an ocean away, I met Milly through The Lettering League, a very supportive community on Facebook of both newbie and experienced letterers and have been impressed by her style. She's quite active on Instagram, and I'll admit to being mesmerized by some of her videos and watching them over and over—there's just something about watching how people form their letters that hypnotizes me.
Be sure to check out the interview below, and then head over to Milly's new Etsy shop that she just launched. Congratulations Milly - we're so excited for you!
Let’s start of with some basic, fun facts:
Where are you from: Originally from Berkshire, UK but now live in the sunny seaside town of Bournemouth
What do you do: Artworker at an advertising agency
What’s one thing you can’t live without: Cheese! I love cheese so much, I would cry if I could never have it again.
What’s your favorite hashtag: #letterarchive such a brilliant community and great if you are beginning lettering
What’s your favorite pen/brush/lettering tool: I love the Pentel Fude Touch Sign Pen, such an easy pen to use! I've also started using dry letter transfers to add something a bit different to my hand lettering.
Why and how did you get started lettering?
I have always had an interest in lettering/type, and design in general. I studied Graphic Design at Arts University Bournemouth, which I absolutely loved. After graduating I worked at a magazine publishing company for almost two years and now work at an advertising agency. My work predominantly involves working on the computer using Adobe software, which I enjoy but really wanted to get back to hands on creative projects. At the beginning of this year I discovered the lettering community on Instagram. I fell in love the with hand made approach and it went from there!
What does your typical process look like?
A lot of my inspiration for what to letter comes from lettering challenges on Instagram, so I'm always having a look on there to see what I would like to letter each day. Most of my lettering pieces you can see on Instagram take a few practice goes and experimenting to find the look I'm aiming for. I tend to go straight in with pen or brush if it's a single word or letter, but if it's a sentence/quote I like to sketch it out in pencil first to create the best composition. Pretty much all of my work I photograph myself which ends up me crouching by a window with the best natural light! I have started to digitise my work, particularly for projects for my shop, I use Photoshop and Illustrator for this. I'm pretty confident in both already as I use them everyday in my job.
What’s one thing that you’ve learned that you wish you knew when you first started?
Watercolours are so much fun! I was just using brush pens at first and I wish I had bought watercolours sooner. They are great for adding a colourful background to your lettering. And really easy to mix when lettering.
What is the biggest struggle in being a part-time creative professional?
Well I'm actually a full time creative professional and lettering in any spare time I can find! It can be pretty full on, but I love it. I wanted to be in a career I enjoy and I'm doing exactly that!
What’s been the highlight of your creative career so far?
In my career it was probably landing myself a job at an advertising agency that has some quite big automotive clients. Within lettering I have been featured on various Instagram accounts a few times, this has meant some of my videos have had thousands of views! It makes me so happy to see other people enjoying my work!
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out?
I kept comparing my work to other people's and felt what I was creating wasn't good at all. However the people I was comparing myself to have been doing it for years! So I would say inspiration is great, but don't compare yourself and have confidence in what you are creating!
Dream big - in a perfect world, where would you see like to see yourself and your lettering in 5 years?
I would love to be working in a beautiful home office, with my dog (always wanted one!) sat at my feet keeping me company. Spending everyday lettering, creating my own letter community, blogging and teaching local workshops. That would be the absolute dream!
Now let’s think smaller - do you have any goals for the next year? (Are you starting a shop to sell your work, a social media challenge, etc.?)
I have just opened up an Etsy shop, HOORAY! This has been a big first step for me. I'm starting with digital downloads, to test the water to see what people like and don't like. I plan to release a few more digital downloads over the next few weeks. Then I want to move onto physical products like cushions, mugs, prints and greetings cards! Very excited for the next few months :) Updates for new products will be announced on all of my social media accounts.
Each Friday—hopefully—I'll be sharing with you a quick glimpse into the life of someone living the creative life. Not just focusing on calligraphers, I'll be chatting with people from all different creative spaces about what inspires them, how they got their start, and more. If you're interested in being featured, shoot me an email to email@example.com.