The Art of Design & Lettering with Lauren Cotter

You just never know what will spark you on your creative journey. That’s what we are learning as we chat with different artists and hear how they got started with their work. Often times, that spark came as a result of one decision, a risky act, or a step of faith. Sometimes it meant just doing something in a different way or testing the waters in a new direction. This was the case for Lauren Cotter of Laurenish Design. Her story inspired us to think about what it means to put one’s work out there even when you don’t know what your audience is going to think or say. It’s scary and risky and it sure takes some guts! But sometimes, that type of courage is leads to new opportunities. Here’s a look at Lauren and her journey with hand lettering!

Creating things has always been a part of who Lauren is. She grew up with a love of drawing! She remembers being devastated as a five year old when she broke her arm and couldn’t draw for weeks. In high school, she was involved in student leadership and found her love of lettering as she created hand lettered posters for school events. It was then that she learned to develop her own fonts and styles, not knowing this is what would become her career. She eventually decided to study art in college with a focus on design and photography.

While taking an upper level college design class, Lauren found herself printing out large design posters every week as part of her assignments. “It was getting expensive. Maybe $75 for each one. And I knew I didn’t make enough to keep paying for it. So one week I decided, ‘I’m just going to draw it out by hand’,” Lauren recalls. She turned in her hand drawn design expecting an unfavorable response from her professor. “I was waiting for him to rip it up in front of me and for me to get yelled at. He was the type of professor that would do that, “ she shares, laughing at how afraid she was when she turned it in. “But instead, he actually loved the lettering. He encouraged me to focus on the letters and to incorporate more lettering in my design. That’s what really got me into lettering.”

For the last three years, Lauren has focused on growing her business in hand lettering. At the beginning, she juggled four jobs while doing wedding invitations and other lettering projects. Now, she travels from event to event, working on a variety of lettering projects. She continues to do custom wedding and graduation invitations and has also opened up an online store. She has been teaching workshops for over a year and half. She teaches all over Southern California and is headed to Texas this summer for more workshops.

What do you love about hand lettering?

“It’s accessible.You can do hand lettering on any material. The techniques you learn in my workshop you can use on any medium - chalk, pencil, marker, calligraphy pen.”

Why did you decide to teach workshops?

“I’m self-taught. So at first, it was hard to think how I could teach this to somebody else. But I have been really nerdy about lettering all along. Since high school I would practice my writing and come up with my own exercises to get better and those are the exercises that I now get to share in my workshops.”

What do you love about teaching workshops?

“There’s always a time when it clicks for someone and they learn something new. Sometimes there are beginners who struggle and then they are able to bring their work to the next level, whether it’s understanding a design concept or writing a letter in a certain way. I guess you could say I enjoy spreading my nerdiness when it comes to hand lettering.”

What do you hope for the students taking your workshop?

“I want my students to leave the workshop with the confidence to complete a full project. I want them to leave with more knowledge about design and how it relates to lettering. My workshop is design-based. You see lettering everywhere and there’s so much type in media. I want them to realize that it’s not just a message being screamed at you but that someone designed that and made it look that way for a reason.”

What are your favorite lettering projects to work on?

“I love doing envelopes, especially when the names are really different. Each project is like a puzzle. I have to figure out what to prioritize and put together to complete the project.”

Visit her website at: Laurenish Design

Lauren is a native of Southern California and currently resides in the Inland Empire with her husband and their foster-son who they hope to adopt later this year. She is a full-time hand letterer, designer, and workshop instructor.