In this week’s 10 Minute Coffee Break, we spoke with the lovely Laura on how arts and crafts helped her to recover from trauma, rediscover her love for creating and redirect her life towards her dream job.
Excited? So are we. Grab your favourite mug and hot drink, lets get into the interview.
1. Tell us your blurb. What is your journey towards becoming @LauralettersLife?
I am an artist specialising in hand lettering, calligraphy, design and illustration. But I started out at the Royal Albert Hall building a career as a Promoter and an Event Producer. During that time, I became a mother of two little boys, Maxwell and Isaac. When I returned to work full-time, after having Isaac, I experienced some mental health issues. This was triggered by several terrorist attacks and then followed by the Grenfell Tower fire, which was not far from where we live. All of this took place within a short time frame. This trauma, coupled with the long hours and late evenings took its toll and I knew I was not myself. My GP signed me off from work with stress and I looked for ways to deal with the overwhelming anxiety. Along with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), through the NHS, a friend suggested that I re-discover my creative side and pointed me towards a calligraphy course. After a few hours, I was hooked and spent my evenings practicing and creating. I recovered and returned to work. But I also decided to put myself out there. I liked writing poetry and decided to create an Instagram profile called @ThePoetryMum”.
2. How did lettering become your “thing”?
I was very aware of the stigma of mental health and became interested in improving workplace wellbeing. At work, I established an internal Wellbeing Committee which set about opening up conversations, looking at programmes and various initiatives to support employees. Outside of work, @ThePoetryMum” became more of an outlet for my own mental health through lettering and I found people enjoyed watching the process videos. I soon started some continuous line drawings which I used to love doing, years ago, when I studied Art. I set myself little projects, like printing t-shirts with a line drawing designs , which I was able to sell and give some of the profits away to the charity, Mind. I started getting requests for wedding lettering, bespoke commissions and enquiries around larger scale projects and workshops.
As I felt my 13-year career in events coming to an end, I was conscious that I wanted to spend more time with my children whilst they were young, and to take a leap into freelance working, giving more time to my art. At the start of 2020, I rebranded as @Lauraletterslife and have now moved into self-employment, full time.
3. Why do you think lettering has been become so popular in recent years, along with other activities such a journaling, calligraphy, knitting, etc.? Do you think there used to be an associated stigma with such activities? If yes, why do you think things have started to change?
I think there has been an increase in interest around arts and crafts. Whilst some are created digitally, these activities can be a very tactile and hands on. I also think there was a stigma around learning new skills. This stigma is definitely moving away, with the onset of improving engagement, productivity and wellbeing. Corporate companies and leaders are a lot more interested in “growth mindsets” and more neurodiverse workforces. For me (and studies show), a very strong link between wellbeing and creative activities. They are a great way of processing, coping with challenges, or expressing feelings – good or bad. Mindful activities can reduce stress levels, blood pressure, and increase productivity and engagement. Additionally, these creative styles can be relatively accessible. There is a huge, growing community of people out there learning and supporting each other. With activities like lettering, you get to see progress fairly quickly, which brings an instant sense of enjoyment and gratification. Journaling is another great activity and builds on a personal focus. Journaling can help you to organise or track anything you want and it looks and feels great to create. Another layer is feeling inspired, this is a great motivator and essential for connection. People are starting to realise that they can create their own techniques and style through arts and crafts, which in turn, can inspire others.
4. What impact has lettering had on your own life?
Lettering for me, has not only been the key to my own recovery several years ago, but it has gone on to become an essential outlet and a passion to grow and develop. It’s an outlet that I can easily pick up and put down. This is essential when you have kids and live in a small flat! I love the feeling that something that I have learnt and developed is bringing joy to others, whether through commissions, special occasions or simply watching the process videos on Instagram.
It has opened my eyes to a world of opportunity and adventure. It has led me to not only take control of my own wellbeing but also take control of my choices, i.e. career and working format to suit the lifestyle I want. This has in turn, increased my confidence, courage, purpose and productivity.
5. If you could define the link that you’ve personally made between lettering and mindfulness/wellbeing, what would it be?
I think having been on a bit of a journey creatively, it has spurred my passion for wellbeing and simultaneously sparked my interest in mindfulness. Through creative expression, I have discovered the benefits of meditating, mindful actions/practices and have been able to integrate it into my work and home life.
6. What made you want to turn @Lauraletterslife into a business?
I could feel the demand for the lettering and projects that I was doing. This was a big pull away from the music industry career. I was being given the opportunity
to freelance for companies and assist in their wellbeing initiatives, it felt like an opportunity to give this Laura Letters Life a real go. I have some great ideas for growing the business. I get the opportunity to be my own boss and to manage my own time around home life and family.
However, this idea was just a dream in a pipe line, that felt years away. It was my husband that really embraced the idea with me and gave me the support and motivation to progress this dream from years away to today.
7. What advice would you give to younger you, knowing what you know now about life?
I would tell myself that there are opportunities everywhere, you are constantly being given feedback in everything you do, so listen and take what is useful on board. When you get stuck, stop and explore, and above all else, be kind to yourself. I do believe that everything has led me to where I am today. If I didn’t experience the mental health issues, I may not have discovered wellbeing, lettering or Laura Letters Life. Also, I’d tell myself “Laura, you’ll be fine, I promise!”
8. What advice would you give to older you, now that you are pursuing your own thing and something that you have built from the ground up?
Keep on learning, keep on growing and know that when the tough times come, they will pass. Learn from mistakes – failures have an important function. Run your own race and just put it out there.
9. What advice would you give to someone who wants to purse something new such as lettering/calligraphy?
Do it! Even if you think you can’t or it won’t go anywhere…it may well prove you wrong. It opens doors to all sorts of things. Go and get inspired, practise and have fun with it. There are loads of resources and workbooks out there, but I’d highly recommend trying a workshop – or suggesting to your work place to try hosting a workshop!
10. Where can we find you (socials/website etc.) and what have you got on for the future (workshops/events, etc.) that we can look forward to?
You can find me @lauraletterslife on Instagram or at http://www.lauraletterslife.com. Drop me a message, or just say hello. Alongside the commissions and wedding lettering, I am planning to create some product ranges and larger projects, including wall murals for office and school walls. I have also launched various mindful lettering workshops and activities for workplaces and private groups. Do get in touch if you’re interested!
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