It's no exaggeration to say that Missy Briggs is considered an expert in the world of lettering. For years, Missy has shared her knowledge of and passion for journals, stationery, and all things related to hand-lettering with her followers on Instagram.
She's authored a book, Easy Creative Lettering, and created a bestselling workbook, to help those getting started with hand-lettering. Her Etsy is jam-packed with detailed worksheets and guides, all carefully designed to teach lettering skills to the end user.
Missy's craft has evolved over time. She has loved lettering since at least middle school, but now also experiments with digital tools -- especially her trusty iPad and Apple Pencil -- to add new designs to her work, and to share her skills with an even wider audience through the use of digital products and guides.
We knew that Missy would have a lot to share about her work -- and we wanted to learn as much as possible. So, we interviewed her! Here's our conversation:
Can you tell us about your love for journals, lettering, and stationery? Has this been a life-long passion of yours, and how did you discover these interests?
Oh, I love that you asked this! Art journaling has been a forever passion of mine. I have always doodled and kept journals. The lettering is a throwback to middle school days. I felt like getting back into lettering and calligraphy in the last six years has been a great way to share my work, get others interested in being creative, and to share works in progress. Getting your thoughts and doodles out in any way or even arranging stickers and stamps or your normal handwriting into a journal is a great meditation, helps your productivity and boosts your mood. Encouraging others to get into any one of these practices is huge for me.
As someone who is very familiar with stationery and art supplies, what would you say are your go-to products for creating a journal spread? Are there particular items that you would recommend to beginners?
I always say begin with what you have. If you're skilled then you can create beautiful artwork no matter what materials you're using. If you have notebook paper and a pencil, you're ready to go. Of course, I have my favorites. I think starting with pens in your favorite color, and some stickers or washi can help you quickly create a log for your travels, or your school or work life that can be meaningful and colorful.
Whether its artwork, journaling, or lettering, it's clear that all of your work is very creative. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind your work? Where do you find inspiration? On that note, is there any particular routine or ritual that you follow to remain inspired (such as listening to music, working in a particular space, etc.)?
Oooh, great questions. Thank you for the compliment. Creativity is the result of both paring down and opening up. I find that limiting yourself by supplies, themes or colors is the quickest way to finding creative results. My daily/weekly/monthly log journal for this year is entirely themed around tropical botanical plants. When I sit down to create a new page, I can use any material but I've eliminated the decision of what to draw. Now, I realize the options of types of plants can be endless, but if I don't have a specific flower in mind when I turn the page, I know I'll be drawing palm fronds or banana leaves. And that limitation opens up the possibilities to an endless stream of variations.
Following on from the previous question about your sources of inspiration, do you ever find it difficult to become inspired? If you ever experience "creativity blocks", how do you overcome these?
Creative blocks are real. I went through a period of about ten years where I didn't create anything. Just doodles in the margins of my notebook at work. This was a mental space I was in where it didn't seem important to share, I didn't have an audience or customer base and the doodles were satisfying the need to draw. One day I decided to get back into studying lettering and calligraphy. I started to share that journey on Instagram and on my blog and the audience and customers followed! I didn't intend to be focused on lettering, but so many people reached out that I continue to focus on it solely in my Instagram feed even though I've moved onto many other pursuits.
You're especially well-known for your lettering. What is the most common question that you receive about lettering for beginners, and what is your favorite piece of advice to give those who are starting out?
The most common question I receive is around lefties getting started or materials that one should use. These are both great questions and I answer them in my getting started guide that's free on my website, missybriggs.com. My favorite piece of advice is to be curious. And don't be afraid to copy someone else's work. Obviously don't trace something and share it online or try to sell it as your own. But with lettering, one of the keys to finding your own style is to trace and learn the basics and then adapt it to fit your style and what you can naturally create without tracing.
You've also written a book and created a workbook and worksheets about lettering -- that's amazing! Was it challenging to transfer your own personal skills into a guide that could teach others?
Thank you so much! I really loved writing the book, Easy Creative Lettering. I had the opportunity to share both how to create lettering and then just a few of the millions of ways you can apply lettering to your journal or DIY crafts. Creating those step-by-step instructions for projects was really easy for me because I always follow instructions. I love to get the detail and identify where someone might have a problem going to the next step. So much of that is lost in videos and social media posts. I can't share every little issue that you might encounter in a 15 second video!
On the topic of lettering, I've seen that you occasionally incorporate an Apple Pencil and iPad into your work. What do you think about the difference between digital journals and lettering, and paper journals and traditional hand-lettering? The two methods clearly complement each other in your work, but do you have a personal preference between traditional journals/lettering, and digital creations?
I don't use a digital journal. I use my phone calendar app for changes to schedules when I'm on the go. I know that digital journaling is really popular. There is something special with the relationship of pen to paper. There is something about that ultimate control and experience of making a mark. I use the iPad and Apple Pencil a lot to reproduce things that I've previously sketched out on paper. I don't always show that step of the process, but now that you're asking me... I will likely share that step more often in my process. I'm not great with vector based programs like adobe illustrator, so I generally take a photo of my sketch, trace it with the apple pencil and then export it back to illustrator and use the trace feature. Or Inkscape. I've got a section in my book dedicated to the easiest ways to digitize your lettering and artwork (even using free software).
In between all of this work, how do you stay organized? Do you use your journal to maintain balance between all of these activities?
I use my bullet journal to stay organized and on top of my goals and priorities. It holds my master lists of tasks and also has pages for habit tracking, and gratitude list entries. My separate sketch journals are more of an escape. I don't share these as often because they tend to stray further away from the lettering. I use a pre-printed calendar type journal for appointments, meetings and my kids schedule. It's a mess of crossed-out entries and schedule changes that mirror my iCal. That journal is really real and mirrors the hectic roles as mom, wife, artist, content creator and author.
You can find Missy on Instagram @missybriggs