Gold Coast lettering artist Libbi Reed is currently a PhD candidate at Griffith University. She is obsessed with improving her hand lettering and calligraphy skills, but also likes to play with new technologies, including the Tilt Brush, iPad Pro and laser cutting.
We sat down with Libbi to find out how she gets it all done.
Describe yourself in few words
With a pen in my hand, I want to do it all! All over the place, but committed in every direction, a juggler of sorts. Slightly obsessed with sitting at my desk.
How did you start out as a letterer or typographer?
When I was younger, everyone in my family received hand-illustrated cards for birthdays and Christmas. I am one of ten so that’s quite a few cards. Then I found out through my PhD supervisor Dominique Falla that there was this thing where you were allowed to be a lettering nerd. It was a full-on love affair with anything handwritten from then on.
How do you hone and refine your skills?
Practice! With regular practice, lines become loose and confident. Enjoy what you are doing and it will come through in your work. Find time to experiment and investigate to keep things interesting. I can’t stay with any one process for too long I have to keep exploring new processes that expand my skill set.
Master of One or Jack of all Trades?
How about Jack of some and more to come. One day I will stop and focus on one thing and perfect it but for now, I want to taste every chocolate in the box.
What advice or tips would you give to people who want to improve their lettering skills?
Don’t be afraid to relearn the letterforms. Look to the masters for inspiration and study their work. Then make it your own by practising a lot! But good practice, not practice where you just fill in a book by repeating mistake after mistake. Going back over your work the following day and correcting it is helpful. Taking a photo of it helps me. It puts it in a new context and the mistakes jump out.
Tell us about your lettering habits. Do you have any daily rituals?
I’ve started drinking coffee, that’s definitely starting to be a ritual and I feel a positive one unless I have two and then my letters become shaky. Other than that I work best early in the morning, I tend to get a lot done at that time before interruptions start. I love to have music playing. I have been told I have it on repeat sometimes but I don’t realise this as I’m often in the zone. Wow, that could really be annoying!!
How do you avoid creative burnout?
I think if something is not working step away from it and get fresh eyes or a fresh perspective. For me I need a happy medium if I am too stressed creativity doesn’t flow but if I don’t have deadlines I wander off in all directions. I find the best stuff comes when it’s not forced and a lot of the time that comes when experimenting. I also have my faithful canine friend Louie at my side that keeps things stress free.
What are your time and energy management strategies?
I would like to be helpful here but if I’m honest, for me, it’s a little like a diet. I know what I should be doing but in reality at the end of the day … I juggle and prioritise. My phone is full of apps that I end up not using. I seem to resort back to the good old faithful list. I have daily lists and bigger picture lists. I find the space of writing things down helps me to sort my mind rather than folders hiding behind other folders. I would definitely suggest having some sort of time management system in place. It’s sort of do what I say not what I do advice on this question. Oh and iCal is good!
Do you have any favourite apps or tools to run your business?
For my studio work, I use mostly Instagram and Facebook. For my research, I use Mendeley for academic referencing. MicroSoft Word to document information, a mix of Google Keep and Endnote for visual bookmarking and to record and bookmark information.
See Libbi speak at Typism in September