Chris Wright from Hand Lettering Co. - tells us about combining good design with the words of the Bible, opening up the studio doors to their local followers to create and build a community - which helps remind them why they do what they do. This lead him to quitting his day job and taking the leap to making it into a full time thing!
When did you fall in love with design and how did you get started?
As a kid, I drew dinosaurs; in school, I doodled in class; in college, I covered my whole surfboard with paint pens; so art and design have always been a fun hobby for me. But, it wasn’t until I was married that I even thought about doing it as a career. For a number of unforeseen circumstances, I didn’t ﬁnish college, so about a year into my marriage when we didn’t have much income, I started drawing letters daily. It was really just a personal project to design a verse from the Bible every week, but through that daily practice, my hand lettering skills took shape and grew. Others started showing a lot of interest in my designs, so things kind of took off from there!
Give us the elevator pitch on what you do.
Hand Lettering Co. is a design studio and online shop whose primary focus is to combine good design with the words of the Bible. Each of our designs starts the old fashioned way with pencil and pad and is drawn entirely by hand. From the designs we create art prints and, with the help of our laser engraving machine (which we were able to purchase last year after a successful Kickstarter campaign!), we also create etched journals, laser engraved wood pieces, and some other fun products that can be customized with any of our designs. The laser engraver has also opened up the opportunity for another side company, HLCO Laser Studio, which is still in the works, but will feature lots of custom home and wedding goods.
Are you involved in any mentoring/teaching/workshops and if and how it shapes your practice?
We just recently started opening up our studio to those of our followers who are local so that we can build some community, encourage each other, draw together, and I can hopefully help and answer questions that would arise about stuff I’ve learned along the way. This has already proven to be not only something that others are interested in, but of great value to myself as well. Getting to encourage others is a great blessing for me, but also receiving their feedback, insight, and encouragement has been huge! It’s so easy to get into the grind of the daily work and forget what the whole point is. But when we’ve been able to talk to our followers, customers, and others on a personal level, it is such a tangible reminder of why we started this in the ﬁrst place - to encourage others with the truths of the Bible in a creative and unique way.
Who’s on the team, what are their roles and why do you love them?
Well, this question’s easy. The team is made up of myself, my wife, Carly, and our two daughters, Eden (3.5) and Alia (1.5). I do all of the drawing and the majority of product production. Carly is the perfect complement to me, not only as my wife, but even as a business partner because she has a very artistic eye and helps me when it comes time to ﬁnalize my designs. She will tell me what she likes or would change and she is often exactly right. She was also an ofﬁce administrator for six years through high school and college so she helps me so much with the administrative side of the business, keeping up with emails, customer service, etc. And what do Eden and Alia do, you might ask? They keep us entertained and they keep us humble. They also love to help with random repetitive tasks that come up in the studio such as packaging orders or putting shipping labels on packages, and that’s pretty awesome. I love my team - not everybody gets to hang out with their favorite people in the world at work every day and I am grateful!
What career advice would you give your 16yr old self?
Use your time as a single young man or woman more purposefully! It’s easy to live life looking ahead to the next season and not make the most of the current one. It wasn’t until I was married and then had kids that I realized the incredibly amount of free time I had as a single guy. Had I realized that at the time, I would have spent way more time, learning, creating and designing, instead of playing video games.
2016 for you in a sentence.
2016 was the year of stepping out into doing our own business full time! (that was my sentence but I will take the liberty to expound on it a bit!) Since its inception in 2013, Hand Lettering Co. had always been done alongside another full time job I had as the Creative Director for another company. But in January of this year, I had to make the choice whether to give it up or make the leap into doing it full time. We decided to make the leap! There is plenty of risk involved, but it’s been worth it as we’ve had so much more time to invest in the company than ever before and the ﬂexibility and time with my family has been an invaluable blessing!
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