FRIDAY FAVORITE / WEDNESDAY SWELL DESIGN

The Friday Favorite series features makers, projects, films, books, and other sources of inspiration I have fallen in love with. I hope by sharing them I will be able to bring something new and inspiring into your life!

Favorite 366 Day Challenge & Artist / Wednesday Swell Design by Kim Haskell

Wednesday Swell Design - Pencil - @wednesdayswelldesign
Art & photo courtesy of @wednesdayswelldesign

The one word that always comes to mind when I see Kim Haskell of @wednesdayswelldesign‘s work is thoughtful. From the detail in her artwork to the captions sharing a story to her comments on other people’s work–I can tell a lot of thought and care goes into everything that she does. On top of that, all her pieces are extremely creative, beautiful, and inspiring!

Kim has been sharing her work through her Instagram account, @wednesdayswelldesign, where she has embarked on a 366 days of hand lettering in 2016 challenge! Born with a pencil in her hand, as her mom says, Kim has always been drawing or writing. Although she kept up with creative hobbies throughout her life, she somehow lost touch with the pen-to-paper connection. In her journey post, Kim explains how about a year ago, a trifecta of hand lettering influences came into her life: Lindsey of @thepostmansknock, seeing pointed pen calligraphy everywhere, and having a Copperplate instructor come teach a workshop in her city. After taking that workshop, her love of pen on paper was reignited and on January 1st of this year, @wednesdayswelldesign was born!

Wednesday Swell Design - Journey - @wednesdayswelldesign

Art & photo courtesy of @wednesdayswelldesign

I always look forward to seeing what Kim creates everyday and wanted to learn more about her, her process, and this amazing challenge she has taken on! I am very excited to share with you her wonderful story, advice on the creative process, and more below!

Please tell me a little bit more about the name Wednesday Swell Design–what is the story behind it?

The task of choosing a name to represent yourself can certainly be a daunting one. When I was contemplating what to name my creative venture, I started to reminisce about my early childhood experiences with creativity. From the moment my hands could hold a pencil, I was a child who derived pure joy from writing and drawing. Because these activities came so naturally to me, my mom often commented about me that I was “born with a pencil in my hand” and I always found that sentiment endearing. I was born on a Wednesday. Over the last few years I simply wasn’t making time to put pen to paper and I felt as though I was in a creative slump. I needed a project to get me over the hump and reignite my creative spark so the day known as “hump day” seemed perfectly appropriate. Wednesday therefore has a twofold significance in that it represents where I started in life as well as where I started in my hand lettering journey. The term swell is a tip of the hat to my ocean-loving roots. I have lived near the ocean my entire life and some of my happiest memories are set against the soundtrack of rolling waves. Since I am so fond of ocean swells, I was delighted to find out that downstrokes in pointed pen calligraphy can also be referred to as swells. Swell, then, binds together the idea of a lifelong love of the ocean with a newfound love of calligraphy while also implying a sense of rhythm that I strive to achieve in my lettering.

It’s always so fun to see your posts because each one is very unique and you have shown us such a wide variety of techniques! Where do you find inspiration / what gives you the idea for each post? Do you have any favorite tools and / or resources?

As of right now, my lettering journey can be described as learning through experimentation. I have dedicated my lettering time for the entire year to simply learning the craft of lettering at my own pace. As a result, I’ve given myself the freedom to try every style and every material that I possibly can, which explains the variation throughout my feed. As a learner, this makes the most sense to me because it allows me to find the tools and styles that I like the best, while also highlighting what I may need to work on for improvement. When it comes to inspiration, the number one resource for me is to simply look through the amazing work of others on Instagram. The lettering community there is incredibly generous with sharing tips and techniques and I absolutely love to participate in the lettering challenges that are hosted there. I follow up to a dozen challenges each month and when I’m trying to decide what to letter, I will usually read the given prompt of the day from each challenge and there is almost always one that resonates with me. By having a pool of options to choose from, I rarely get stuck for ideas. Outside of challenges, as a huge music junkie I will often turn to song lyrics for inspiration and you should never underestimate the power of a good motivational quote as lettering material. As for tools, I do find myself most often reaching for an oblique pen fitted with a Hunt 101 nib as I am working on my copperplate script technique. I most often write with sumi ink and am especially fond of vermillion sumi for its pop of colour. My other favourite tool currently is watercolour. I have been finding that the organic and flowy nature of watercolour provides a fun contrast to the exacting standards of traditional copperplate style script. For anyone interested in either pointed pen or watercolour techniques, The Postman’s Knock is a phenomenal site. Maintained by Lindsey Bugbee, it is an absolute goldmine of information and tutorials and in addition to the large amount of free materials available, she offers lettering worksheets and courses for very reasonable prices.

Wednesday Swell Design - Sigmund Freud - @wednesdayswelldesign
Art & photo courtesy of @wednesdayswelldesign

I am so impressed by your dedication to this project and your consistent posting. How do you find time to make sure you create and post everyday? Do you have any advice for someone who is taking on a year long challenge of their own and struggling to keep up?

I have to admit that keeping up with a 365 (or in my case 366 project since 2016 is a leap year) project can certainly pose its challenges. I work a 40 hour week at my day job so lettering is an evening activity for me. If I know I have a particularly busy evening and think that my lettering time might be short, I do my best to prepare throughout the day. I select the piece I’m going to write while on my lunch break and maybe even make a quick sketch of my idea and make a mental note of the tools I plan to use. Preparation is definitely very helpful. Sometimes at the end of a month as I’m looking for challenge prompts for the next month, I’ll make a note of the prompts that really stand out to me so that I can have a rough schedule in place and don’t have to spend time deciding on an idea day by day. Also, on days that I’m busiest I also try to use tools that I am comfortable with that won’t require a lot of trial and error. For example, I find that Tombow fudenosuke pens are great on busy days because they are portable enough to toss in a bag when I can’t letter at home and they pose a much lower risk of smearing than tools like a dip pen and ink. Ruining a piece and having to redo it when the day is already stressful is a risk I certainly try to minimize. The most important factor in successfully completing a 365 project, though, really comes down to your own gumption. In the Joyous Health Cookbook by Joy McCarthy, I recall reading a quote that was attributed to Marie Forleo that says discipline is remembering what you want. I think that’s such a poignant phrase. For me personally, I want to become a better letterer, and a better artist. I want to explore my creativity and I want to connect with others who are interested in the same things. I’d someday like to be able to use the skills that I am learning to help support my family while being able to spend less time working away from home. These are the things that I know I can achieve if I put in the time every day to work toward them. Remembering these things is what provides me with the discipline to make sure I’m creating and sharing every day. I love lettering and creating so 95% of the time, it’s not at all a chore to spend time working on it, but it’s that 5% of time when it is most important to remember.

There are so many pieces I love from your challenge–which one is your favorite and why?

With over 200 lettering projects created this year, it is always a challenge to highlight a single piece. One that does come to mind, however, is the watercolour galaxy banner that I’d done on the last day of June. I had never before seen a galaxy painted in the shape of a banner so I was excited to try an idea that was a new concept to me. The piece incorporated a lot of different aspects that I really enjoyed from drawing the banner to painting the watercolour galaxy to spattering on stars and then adding the lettering. I was pleased with the result, but the response it received made it even more special. While I always appreciate any supportive comments from people who have taken the time to visit my feed and offer kind words, the real distinction with this piece was that there were people asking for information on how they could recreate it. I have learned so very much from other letterers that to suddenly have people look to me as a source of inspiration and tutelage was an incredible honour. I went on to create a video of the process for that piece and several letterers who tried the technique shared their work with me. I was so thrilled to feel that I was giving back to the lettering community that I had learned so much from. This piece marked a strengthening in my resolve to keep trying new things and it allowed me to connect to so many more artists and letterers in our community.

Wednesday Swell Design - Galaxy Banner - @wednesdayswelldesign
Art & photo courtesy of @wednesdayswelldesign

What do you hope your audience takes away from your posts and this challenge?

To be honest, my challenge started as an entirely selfish mission. I wanted to improve my skills and learn lettering. In order to be accountable to doing a piece daily, I felt I should post it publicly to Instagram. I was a brand new letterer with no formal training in art so I had no expectations other than that I would have 366 completed pieces at the end of the year. As the weeks passed, this quickly changed and I began to realize just how large the community of people that have a passion for hand lettering is. I had no idea that there would be so many artists and letterers from all over the world that would see my work and I was even more astonished that anyone would like it and downright flabbergasted that they would want to follow me. It’s not that I have a negative view of the work I was putting out in the early days, it’s just that I had a perception that the internet at large was not a place that you necessarily see the best in people. I didn’t expect to get the support of strangers so I was joyously surprised when I learned that letterers are some of the most wonderful people you will ever encounter. I have received nothing but kindness and am so happy to say that my project has connected me with so many new friends. For anyone who has graciously decided to follow along with my experiments in lettering, I hope the resounding message in all of my posts is the idea that you can do this too. For people who assert “I can’t draw” or “my handwriting is awful” I want them to realize that drawing and painting and lettering are all skills that can be learned if you’re willing to put some practice into them. Sure, some people might have natural aptitude for artistic endeavours but for everyone else, the power of practice is enormous. I have learned by doing, and you can too. I always list the materials I use and I post video demos of more involved processes because I want others to be able to try the things that I enjoy so much. It’s always scary to start something new but I’m a great example of how you don’t have to be a professional to put yourself out there and find yourself among a great community of like minded people who are all rooting for one other.

Wednesday Swell Design - Rr - @wednesdayswelldesign
Art & photo courtesy of @wednesdayswelldesign

What are your plans for this challenge once you have completed the 366th days?

I hope that 2017 will bring the opportunity for plenty of new lettering projects. I will most certainly still be lettering but don’t intend to do a 365 again next year. This means that I will likely be investing my time in some larger or more detailed multi-day pieces that will continue to expand on what I’ve already learned. Next year I also have a goal of learning about the business of hand lettering so that I might begin providing some of my work for sale. I have had some inquiries about whether I run an etsy shop, so that may be an option I will explore further. I’d also look forward to expanding into teaching. I certainly know I still have plenty to learn, but I get so much joy from passing along the tips and tricks I know to new letterers and getting more people involved in being creative. To that end, I would love to put together some learning materials, whether it be through a platform like Skillshare or launching a blog or YouTube channel.

I’d love to learn a little bit more about you! Here are a few fill in the blank questions:

When I am not creating for the 365 day challenge, you can find me:

Playing with my French Bulldogs Libby and Theo or walking the beach with my fiancé Jeff.

I am passionate about:

Travelling, naps and proper grammar.

A project, tv show, podcast, IG/Twitter account, etc. I think you should check out is:

More Love Letters. This is a fantastic project where letterers can use their skills while providing a little love to someone who can use a lift, all while engaging in the age old art of snail mail.

Besides @wednesdayswelldesign is there anywhere else we can find you?

For the remainder of 2016, I plan to keep all of my creative endeavours exclusively on Instagram via @wednesdayswelldesign. After that I’ll definitely be looking forward to exploring other platforms.

Thank you so much Kim for your thoughtful answers, great tips and advice, and time! Please go check out and follow @wednesdayswelldesign on Instagram to see Kim’s lovely work and get inspired!

Wednesday Swell Design - Dog Mom - @wednesdayswelldesign

Art & photo courtesy of @wednesdayswelldesign–how cute is this one?! :)

Wednesday Swell Design - Print - @wednesdayswelldesign

Art & photo courtesy of @wednesdayswelldesign

FRIDAY FAVORITE / TO WATCH : CHEF’S TABLE

The Friday Favorite series features makers, projects, films, books, and other sources of inspiration I have fallen in love with. I hope by sharing them I will be able to bring something new and inspiring into your life!

Favorite Documentary Series/ Chef’s Table

I have been absolutely mesmorized this past week by the incredible Netflix documentary series, Chef’s Table. Each episode of Chef’s Table tells the story of a world renowned chef–it’s amazing to be able to dive into the minds and lives of these extremely talented individuals.

Chef's Table Season 2 Poster

I actually watched parts of season 1 awhile back and recently rediscovered it because of this post by Sophia Bush (I’m such a huge fan of Chicago PD and the whole Chicago series but that’s a whole other conversation) about Chef Niki Nakayama. She mentions her Chef’s Table episode and I decided to check it out. I normally can’t help looking at my phone and going on Pinterest while I watch TV but I did not think about it–not even once–while Chef’s Table was on. I don’t think it’s possible to watch one these episodes without giving it your full undivided attention–the stories are inspiring, the cinematography is breath taking, and the food is incredible!

I truly think that anyone who creates can connect, be inspired, and appreciate each of these chefs and what they are doing with food. It’s so much more than cooking! It’s innovating, it’s experimenting, it’s exploring, it’s learning, it’s sharing.

There are 2 seasons currently available with 6 episodes each. I recommend all of them but my favorites are:

  • Season 1, Episode 4 – Niki Nakayama (N/Naka Restaurant in Los Angeles, USA)
  • Season 2, Episode 1 – Grant Achatz (Alinea, Next, and The Aviary in Chicago, USA)
  • Season 2, Episode 3 – Dominique Crenn (Atelier Crenn in San Francisco, USA)
  • Season 2, Episode 5 – Ana Ros (Hiša Franko in Kobarid, Slovenia)
  • Season 2, Episode 6 – Gaggan Anand (Gaggan in Bangkok, Thailand) *I watched this one twice

Chef's Table

All images are courtesy of Netflix Chef’s Table 

Season 3 is coming out in late 2016 and Season 4 in 2017–I cannot wait!

If you have already been watching Chef’s Table, I’d love to hear your thoughts and which episodes were you favorite! If you are going to check it out, I hope you find this docu-series as magical as I have!

You can find Chef’s Table over on Netflix and on Instagram.

HELLO FROM SOUTH AFRICA // JUNE 2016

Byron, my contact for The Ebongalethu Educare Center Preschool & Nursery, sent me photos from last month’s porridge delivery! I hope you enjoy the photos and thank you for helping to provide these little ones with a nutritious meal!

Update from The EEC - June 2016

The kiddos checking out the packages of porridge!

Update from The EEC - June 2016

Meal time!

Update from The EEC - June 2016

This is Gladys, the amazing founder of The Ebongalethu Educare Center! She is now in her 60s and runs the entire place with the help of three wonderful ladies.

DSC_1174 (Medium)
Update from The EEC - June 2016

This lovely little girl is 3 year old Anelisa. I have been told that she is the sweetest and has the most amazing nature about her! She was born with some conditions and needs special care. Gladys and the ladies that work with her are doing the best they can with the resources they have. So far, Byron has learned from Gladys that Anelisa needs to have an operation on her palate because when she eats some of the food comes out of her nose. The entrance way to her ears are almost completely closed so she can barely hear anything. She would need to learn sign language to be able to communicate properly. Byron has been trying to get through to her doctor to see what exactly she needs to live a comfortable and healthy life. Anelisa is currently receiving therapy elsewhere and Byron is trying to find out what that entails as well to see what they can do to help. I am sending lots of positive thoughts to this wonderful child and the wonderful people who are helping her–I know she is in good hands with Gladys and Byron at The EEC.

Update from The EEC - June 2016
Live, laugh, love–great advice on this cutie’s shirt!

FRIDAY FAVORITE / TED TALKS : CELESTE HEADLEE – 10 WAYS TO HAVE A BETTER CONVERSATION

The Friday Favorite series features makers, projects, films, books, and other sources of inspiration I have fallen in love with. I hope by sharing them I will be able to bring something new and inspiring into your life!

Favorite Ted Talk /10 Ways To Have A Better Conversation by Celeste Headlee

I wrote this post earlier in the week but in light of recent events, I feel like this Ted Talk is more relevant than ever. Without communication, understanding is replaced by fear, intolerance, and ignorance. There’s a part in this talk that stands out to me–Celeste says that she has had great conversations with people whose values and beliefs differ greatly from her own. It sounds like that is something we need to do now. Regardless of where we stand on politics, gun control, the police, or racism, it seems like it would be a good idea to listen to one another to come up with a solution so that we don’t need to continue waking up to news of another violent shooting or another senseless death. I think we can all agree we don’t want to live in a world where this is a daily occurrence. While there are major changes that need to happen, I think if we have better conversations in our daily lives and within our communities, we will be taking a step in the right direction.

I have found that when I feel stuck, uninspired, or blah, a great way to get out of that funk is to listen to an episode of Ted Talks on YouTube. I recently came across Celeste Headlee’s Ted Talk “10 Ways To Have A Better Conversation”. It caught my eye because who wouldn’t want to have a better conversation? I want to feel this way with people I interact with and I also want people to walk away from a conversation with me feeling connected and having enjoyed speaking with me.

Celeste Headlee has a lot of experience with communicating with people–she is a radio journalist, reporter, host, correspondent, writer, and professional opera singer.  She is currently the host of “On Second Thought”, a radio talk show on Georgia Public Broadcasting. Celeste has co-hosted the national morning news show “The Takeaway”, was the Midwest Correspondent for NPR’s “Day to Day”, and was the host of a weekly show on Detroit Public Radio. She also holds multiple degrees in music and is a classically trained soprano who performs quite often.

As she says in the beginning of her talk, this is not the usual “look into the other person’s eyes” or “nod to show you are engaged” pieces of advice we have probably already heard a billion times. And while you may hear some of the points and think they are pretty common sense, it seems many of us have forgotten these things in our busy day to day lives.

I ended up listening to this twice–after I finished it the first time I realized I wanted to write these 10 things down on paper so I wouldn’t forget them! I know I am guilty of many of the things on the list and I am looking forward to changing these bad habits immediately and adopt the new ones I have just learned. I truly enjoyed this talk and think Celeste is sharing such great knowledge and advice from her experiences.

Here is the Ted Talk and below are my notes on each point Celeste covers.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend and here’s to better conversations!

10 Ways To Have A Better Conversation – Celeste Headlee – Ted Talks

  1. Don’t multi-task. Be present in that moment. Be 100% there.
  2. Don’t pontificate. The definition of pontificate is, “express one’s opinions in a way considered annoyingly pompous and dogmatic.” Set aside personal opinions. Assume you have something to learn.
  3. Use open ended questions. Ask who/what/when/where/why/how.  Instead of asking, “Were you afraid?” let them tell you how they felt by asking, “How did you feel?” or “What was that like?”
  4. Go with the flow. Let thoughts go in and out of your mind. Don’t hold onto a thought or story which takes you out of the moment and makes you stop listening (you end up thinking, “I got to remember to tell this story!” instead of listening to the other person).
  5. If you don’t know, say you don’t know. Don’t pretend like you know something if you don’t.
  6. Don’t equate your experiences with theirs. All experiences are individual. It’s not about you. It’s not a promotional opportunity.
  7. Try not to repeat yourself.
  8. Leave out the details. Nobody cares about the exact date or time or place. They care about you, how the two of you connect.
  9.  LISTEN! Pay attention. Listen with the intent of understanding, not the intent of responding.
  10. Be brief.
  11. Go into a conversation interested in the other person and be prepared to be amazed by them!

#RANDOMLOVELETTER 2016 RECAP

June flew right by and I can’t believe the #randomloveletter challenge has already come to a close! It was a lot of fun to be a part of this again for the second year in a row and thank you Sarah and Olivia for allowing me to co-host with you! A very special thank you to @HandletteredABCs for co-hosting the first full week of RLL with us.

I have loved scrolling through the feed to see what everyone was posting–here are some of my favorites from Instagram:

Random Love Letter Recap 1

Top row, left to right: @sarahdshotts, @sharewithmy, @lo_in_sojo, @thefive15, @nguyening.at.life
Bottom row, left to right: @lauralovesletters, @letteringbynicola, @m2bstudio, @3x3nonsense, @jensweeney4

Random Love Letter 2016 Recap Row 2

Top row, left to right: @fleuronic, @soochieink, @calumfung whose note was found by @oliviabynature, @thetinymc, @amyamybobamy
Bottom row, left to right: @anintran, @sarahdshotts, @3x3nonsense, @michelechoban, @kellyleungtadesigns

Random Love Letter Recap 2016 Row 3

Top row, left to right: @wordfindersclub, @wonkiefinger, @th_purpl_lady, @itsjustyellow, @randomolive
Bottom row, left to right: @snoopypoopyy, @oakleysuzyt, @tseitskat_