Ever met an entrepreneur with such fiery passion towards their craft that you just had to hear more? In my line of work I’m fortunate to frequently encounter insanely talented creatives living out their passion. This new Girl On Fire series is dedicated to them. First up is someone who embodies this description 100%.
Amanda Arneill of Say it Pretty is a hand lettering master. I’m always drooling over people’s gorgeous lettering (My obsession with handwriting dates back to Kindergarten), when I stumbled upon Amanda’s Etsy shop I knew I had to work with her. Amanda lettered the new PDCD logo and I’m obsessed. She’s insanely talented. Amanda sometimes posts live action videos on her instagram feed that are a real treat to watch, and the lettered quotes she writes often have me giggling at my desk. As she and I emailed back and forth, I discovered her personality and passion towards her craft proved just as amazing as her lettering skills. Without further adieu, Meet Amanda Arneill Hand Lettering Extraordinaire
Please tell us a little bit about you and your business. How did you get started, what do you do, why do you do it?
My name is Amanda Arneill and I have my own little company called Say It Pretty Designs based out of Vancouver, BC, Canada. In the time that I’m not on mom duty, I do hand lettering and calligraphy for prints, cards, logos, tattoos and custom pieces. I also teach online and in person workshops to help bring even more people into the wonderful world of brush lettering!
What does your daily routine look like?
My daily routine changes day to day based on whether or not I’m working in my “real job” as a high school librarian or if it is one of my lettering days. Every morning when I wake up, I check my emails and pop onto Instagram to see the amazing pieces that people have created and to post my latest video or lettering creation. I have a to do list that is a million miles long and I spend all day making steps towards completing my many projects when I’m not taking care of my kids. My custom orders take the longest because I create so many sketches and then hand to touch base with the client for the designs before lettering the final piece. In the evenings, after I put my kids down to bed, I pull out my notebook and doodle some more lettering sketches. I like to use my afternoons for final work but my evenings I allow myself to just be creative. Between my lettering and taking care of my kids, I don’t ever stop!
When you hit a mental roadblock, how do you push past it?
If I hit a mental roadblock, I usually dump the piece I’m working on. I give myself a day before I come back to the words that I’m trying to letter and I start again without looking at what I was doing the day before so that I’m working with a fresh slate. Often, I find that stepping away from what I was struggling with allows me to get a new perspective or way to approach the piece.
What is the toughest decision you have had to make since beginning your business?
A month before I went back to work at my part time job as a teacher, I had to sit down and decide if I wanted to keep going with my lettering business or if I wanted to give it up. I didn’t know if I would be able to do it all and do it well but the idea of quitting lettering made me so sad. Instead of giving up, I created some set goals which will allow me to focus my product line and my time to be able to work efficiently with the time that I do have.
The last time you looked up and realized you had been sitting at your computer for hours, what were you doing?
If I spend a lot of time on my computer, I’m either responding to client emails or I’m working to create vectors of my hand lettering pieces. My favourite days are days where the only time I touch a computer is to move it out of the way to make more room for my paper and pens.
I have so many books that I love and most of them are Young Adult books! I use the excuse of being a high school librarian to justify my obsession with these books. I would have to say that my favourite book is probably The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak because it was so powerful being told with Death as the narrator during WWII.
Music is a huge part of my life, and is often on while I’m working. Who is your favorite artist, and why?
Eeek. I don’t actually enjoy listening to music! I know that’s super weird but with two small kids, most of the music that you hear in our house or car is Disney related. When I’m working, usually I can be found listening to the latest Young Adult audiobook on my phone. I love getting lost in a story while I’m working.
Who in your field inspires you to be better?
There are so many amazing lettering artists out there! I have a few like @featheredheartprints and @helenboggess who I correspond with and we keep each other encouraged and moving forwards. I love work by @lettersandlaurels, @laurenishdesign, @suzcunningham and @elisabethavenue. And then of course there are the big guns like @valeriemckeehan, @riflepaperco, @emilymcdowell_ and @lindsay_letters. For small business information, @spruceroad just can’t be beat!
What goal do you need to reach in order to feel like you’ve “made it”?
I really want to get my lettering work into a store on scrapbooking or decor products.
What would you do with your business if you had unlimited resources at your disposal?
Feel totally overwhelmed! I like that, while I’m making a bit of pocket change with lettering, I’m not doing it to have a business. I love lettering and pushing myself to get better and that’s why I do what I do. I never set out on this journey to have a business. I started Say It Pretty Designs because people wanted lettering that I had done and it has grown organically as demand has grown.
What do you like most about having an online presence?
I like being real online. A few years back, when my daughter was really sick and in hospital and I was suffering from depression, I started a blog and was completely honest with what was going on and how I was feeling. I was shocked to see how liberating honest transparency was! So my Instagram, even though it has grown, is still an accurate reflection of my life. I wear sweatpants too often, my kids are crazy and I’m not afraid to be honest about my faith, my thoughts and my struggles. I want to make other people laugh and feel good about themselves just the way that they are!
How do you bring authenticity to your field?
I think that one of the most important things is to create my own work without copying anyone else’s style, words or composition. In any field there are people who copy others’ work and claim it as their own and I don’t do that. When I letter, I never look at anyone else’s work because I want my work to be completely my own. It’s just me, my pen and the crazy words in my brain!
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I’m honestly not sure! 10 years is such a long time and so much can happen. I just hope that I love whatever I’m doing 10 years from now.