Mye De Leon is a lettering artist and illustrator based in Singapore and is the author of Mastering Hand-Lettering. She opened her first scrapbook design shop in 2009 and spent more than seven years designing products for memory keepers. She has released multiple colouring book sets and delivers in-person workshops to lettering enthusiasts across Singapore.
We sat down with Mye to find out how she gets so much done.
Describe yourself in few words.
I have a bubbly personality. I like being happy, making people happy and I talk. Like, a lot!
How did you start out as a letterer or typographer?
When I was in gradeschool, I would join poster making competitions at school and then decorate the classroom with lettering. I didn’t know what it was called back then but I liked decorating letters just as others want to decorate and accessorize their bags.
After graduating college, I had to pursue a career and I totally forgot about lettering. At the time, I never thought I could turn it into a career so I felt I had to pursue something that is far more secure in terms of financial stability. I worked as a corporate employee for 12 years, hopping from one job to another. I wasn’t really the corporate type. Being raised in our family bakery, I was trained to handle business and not be an employee. So, I quit my day job in 2010 after some serious discussion with my husband and pursued a design career online which I had been doing on the side for a few years already.
I made digital scrapbook products for memory keepers. Two years later, my youngest was born. His condition was a big turning point in our lives and it affected the way I handle my design business because I can’t stay on the computer designing products most of the time. I have to give him more attention than a typical kid would require. He has a good habit though, he naps for 3-4 hours daily after lunch and instead of napping with him, I took that time to do something that will make me happy and productive! I started lettering again and I drew one letter at a time and shared it on Instagram. I never really had formal education in lettering or design or typography but a few months after, I was contacted by Mini-Lou Kids for an alphabet coloring book and everything just snowballed from there.
How do you hone and refine your skills?
Drawing letters everyday! Learning from everybody and taking in every bit of inspiration I can find whether in books, magazines, people, places we go to, etc. Practice is key to everything and when I look back at my older pieces now, I giggle a bit because I can see where I have come from and it makes me very happy.
Master of One or Jack of all Trades?
Definitely Master of One.
What advice or tips would you give to people who want to improve their lettering skills?
Being good at what you do doesn’t happen overnight. It takes hours and hours of practice to get better so don’t get disappointed if you are not as skilled as those you admire. Your time will come but you have to work for it. Nothing worth having comes easy.
Tell us about your lettering habits. Do you have any daily rituals?
Oh yes, I do! Rituals are my saving grace! I have to be on work mode before entering my studio. I can’t be there in my jammies as I just won’t function effectively. So every morning, it’s shower, breakfast, coffee while Instagramming, email and then work. And I can’t go hungry! I snack a couple of times daily. When I’m working on a layout, I love watching a series that I have already watched so my mind doesn’t overthink on the piece and I can get more ideas flowing and just get them all out on paper. When it’s inking time, it’s podcast time. That’s the most therapeutic part because I’m just tracing over everything in preparation for digitizing the artwork.
How do you avoid creative burnout?
I take time off. Away from everything work related. Usually, it happens the week following the end of a huge project. I will not take on work after that time, not even workshops. I believe that taking care of myself is essential so I can function properly. You cannot give what you don’t have. And if I exhaust myself, my family will suffer, I will suffer and so will my business.
What are your time and energy management strategies?
I don’t really have a strategy. In fact, I think I’m bad at time management because I tend to work 12–14 hours a day now. However, I do maintain a TO DO list whether it is about business, personal, kids stuff, school stuff, therapies and doctor’s appointments. Then I break down all the weekly tasks into daily, smaller items so I can finish them on time.
Do you have any favourite apps or tools to run your business?
For projects, schedules, weekly and daily to dos, I use my Get to Work book. I’m old school. I like writing things down. Even if I plot everything on Google calendar, I would never really look at it. But with GTWB, that’s where everything is. Favorite Apps: I use Planoly to schedule my Instagram posts, A Color Story to edit my photos and of course, Dropbox so I can share all the files I need with my clients and easily upload and download photos from my PC to my phone (or vice versa) whenever I need to.
Do you have help in your business or do you do everything yourself?
I used to do everything by myself with both my home and my business. But now, I have a live-in carer who looks after the children and maintains the house so I can deal with business, which I run solo.
How do you get new clients?
How did your book Mastering Hand Lettering come about?
I was asked to co-author a book and I told the publisher I didn’t want to do it because I had plans to release my own book someday. But they liked my work and convinced me to do the job anyway and said they’d give me my own book afterwards. I was reluctant at first. I mean, who gets to reject a job and get another job offer instead? I thought it was a scam! But it turned out to be true. So I did the job and when it was done, we started working on my book immediately.
What are your plans for the future?
I have some pretty ambitious plans. I want to do a workshop tour and be able to teach lettering around the world. I also want to do talks and speaking engagements and tell the world about my story. I want to share everything I have learned from my own creative and personal journey to everyone who needs it. Finally, I want to start my online classes next year. I have always neglected it because of work but I think it deserves my attention now. There will probably be more in the coming months or years but for now, that’s about it.