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