So I've always had a fascination with hand lettering. I would find myself scrolling through @homsweethom's IG account FOR HOURS, obsessing over each post, and how alive each dip of an "n" or upstroke of a "u" could make me feel. If you're not familiar with Lauren Hom, and her work, she has formed a tight-knit community of hand letterers through her workshops and inspirational and engaging posts. I often find myself searching her #passiontopaid and have discovered some of my favorite hand-lettering Artists this way.
Enter Vienna-based freelance designer Lucy Giller who specializes in magazine design, hand lettering, and branding for passionate brands & small businesses. What drew me to Lucy of @littlegemstudio was her bold use of color and positive messages of female empowerment + her aesthetic is INSANE. Carry on to learn the tips & tricks that took this Artist and Designer from #PASSIONTOPAID!!
Who is Lucy Giller? Where are you from? How did you become the woman you are today?
I'm a 36-year-old lettering artist based in Vienna. I was born in the UK, grew up in Central Massachusetts and then moved to Frankfurt, Germany when I was 15. I went to Uni in Glasgow, Scotland and then bounced back and forth between Frankfurt and Berlin with a brief stint in Seattle before settling in Vienna 12 years ago. Moving around so much definitely made me an adaptable and independent person and gave me the courage to quit a good job in PR to go to art school when I was 27.
What is the message you're sending into the universe with your work? Why do you feel so strongly about said message?
I think my message is one of realistic positivity. I swing between wild optimism and pessimistic realism and I'm starting to work that contradiction into my work. I think there's often an unspoken pressure to present the best, happiest version of yourself online, so I'm trying to figure out how to pair that with my sometimes cynical tendencies.
How long does it take you to complete a piece? Talk to us about deadlines and procrastination.
If I'm working on something just for me it usually takes around 3-5 hours to finish a piece. With client work, I tend to be someone that needs the pressure of a tight deadline to finish things. So whether I have one week or two to deliver a piece, I always end up finalizing it the day before it's due. It's a terrible habit, but I've learned over the years that no matter what I do, I will always be a procrastinator at heart.
What do you want the younger female artists coming up behind you to know about you, your journey, and the art industry in general?
That it is a long road and learning to enjoy the journey is so important. Especially with social media it can be so easy to be disheartened comparing yourself to other artists. Saving my old pieces and looking back on where I was last year, two years or three years ago has been so helpful to show me how far I've come. I also think that there are so many great resources out there nowadays. There are local networking events for women and online groups, and reaching out to other local ladies has been invaluable to helping my career.
What do you know for sure?
That I don't know anything...
What are some of the biggest challenges you've faced as a female artist to date? What are some of the biggest mistakes you've made and how did you overcome them?
I think imposter syndrome is something that can hold lots of women back. I know that I have missed opportunities because I thought, "I'm not good enough yet, I'm not ready". Learning to quiet those voices is something that I'm still working on but I'm getting so much better at saying "you go this!". Conquering self-doubt can be so tricky, but learning to talk to yourself like you would talk to your friend is so helpful.
How do you stay motivated? What does your daily routine look like?
I work full-time as an Art Director at a magazine so most of my days are fairly standard 9-5, and then home to hang out with my daughter. I have Fridays off and on those days I'm usually up at 6 (I finally learned to accept that I'm a morning person) and drink at least 3 cups of coffee while catching up on my emails. After bringing my daughter to kindergarten I head out to go swimming at a local pool. It leaves me feeling so energized for the day and being in the pool is a great chance for me to meditate on things that have happened during the week. Then, depending on my schedule I head to a meeting or back home to draw or do client work.
Give us three of your favorite/ most inspiring things right now. Could be a book, a food, a destination, a song, a person, etc.
I just got back from Budapest and they had some great local typography. Travel is my number one inspiration and I love seeing how type and signage shapes the character of a place.
I love digging through old records for inspiration. There was so much amazing type andcolorr combinations in album covers from the 70s that has had a huge influence on me.
I'm reading Circe by Madeline MiIler at the moment, so that's got me in a deep dive researching Greek mythology and Greek vase painting
What are your future plans for your work? Where do you see yourself going 1,3,5 years from now and how do you plan to get there?
I still feel like such a beginner most of the time, and I still see such massive improvements in my work, that I'm hoping to continue to develop along this path I've created for myself. As far as my work is concerned, I'd love to dive into more editorial illustrations, and hopeful make the leap to full-time freelance in the coming year.
What's item do you never leave home without?
My phone. I am an avid podcast listener and I walk everywhere, so I like to take my time and listen to podcasts on the way. I am also definitely the kind of person that has lip balm in the pocket of every jacket that I own and I panic and buy new lip balm if I realise I don't have any on me when I'm out.
What's your biggest money making tip for up & coming artists?
Don't undervalue yourself!! It took me such a long time to learn this, but it totally changed the kind of clients that I attracted and the projects I was involved in. Learning to negotiate is probably the most important skill that a young artist can learn.
How often do you create? Is this your full-time career or side hustle?
This is my side hustle. By day, I'm an art director at a magazine. So still involved in design and creating, but the magazine world can be so rigid and you are so dependent on input from other people, that lettering was a way to create something just for me, without deadlines and editors looming over my shoulder. I just reduced my hours so I have one free day a week now that I can devote to my freelance work.
Its karaoke night and your up. What song do you sing?
I jump onto group renditions of any ABBA song. I don't have a great voice, but in my dreams, I'd belt out Wuthering Heights and fully realise my Kate Bush fantasy
How do you decide what to price your work at?
Pricing can be such a tricky thing, especially when you're starting out! I understand the feeling that you're asking too much, but your time has value! Money is still such an awkward topic of conversation, but I think it's so important to be able to be honest and open about pricing. Don't be afraid to charge $100/hour! So many brands rely on design to promote their products and fill their Instagram feeds by reposting artwork but don't want to pay for it. This culture needs to change, and I think that we, as designers need to be the ones to stand up and let companies and clients know that our time and our work is valuable. (Can you tell that this is a sore spot for me? I've had so many people that want to use my designs to sell a T-shirt, but only want to pay $50 for it....)