We’re huge fans of beautifully handcrafted paper goods, so it’s not a wonder that we’re also huge fans of draw&explore—a Melbourne-based design studio specialising in the art of hand lettering.
We caught up with the amazingly talented (and incredibly lovely) Lyn Tran of draw&explore to tell us a little bit about her work.
1. Tell us a little about yourself
I am a Vietnamese Australian, living in Melbourne. By day, I’m designer for M&CSAATCHI
and by night I’m a hand-lettering artist. My partner Art (yep, that’s really his name), I have a gorgeous husky named Cooper (you’ll see him across my branding for draw&explore) and I love watermelons and strawberry glazed doughnuts.
2. How did you get into calligraphy?
After many months of sleepless nights and contemplating of quitting my previous role as a junior designer, I decided to drop everything and make the move to Japan. I fell head over heels for Japan and quickly became infatuated with their incredible craftsmanship and passion for beautiful handmade items. In a tiny mansion in the heart of Osaka, I studied paper making, ancient block printing and calligraphy, dreaming of the day where I could do this for a living. After returning from Japan, I studied Copperplate with Veronica Grow of Oldschoolnewschool. Since then, my hand gets a daily workout with lettering and calligraphy.
3. Describe your aesthetic
I’m very blessed to have come across many amazing teachers who have taught me all different disciplines of lettering, so I combine them all to produce lettering that is brighter and bursting with happiness. I have a background in sign-painting, so you will see many vintage aesthetics come through my designs. You could say I like to mix with old and new, because they are totes BBFs!
4. What does a typical day look like?
During the week, I work full time at M&CSAATCHI and I manage draw&explore outside of work hours. My nights are spent rolling out concepts, mock ups and plenty of calligraphy drills. My weekends are spent setting up finished artwork for my hand painted signs/calligraphy/digital projects. This involves prepping the materials, roughly outlining the sketches on the material(s) and signpainting/calligraphing/lettering the final output. I tend to get caught up in lettering land and try stop everything by the early AMs (it’s so hard to stop when you’re having too much fun!).
5. What is your most memorable project?
Growing up, my parents found it difficult to accept that design could ever be a successful career path. My parents are refugees from the Vietnam War and suffered through many hardships to come to Australia. They had aspirations for me to become a doctor or a lawyer. At my graduation, I designed a journal detailing my parent’s escape from the Vietnam War and gave it to them. It was then that my parents understood the impact of design. I really love Sagmiester’s philosophy ‘Can design touch someone’s heart?’ I definitely believe it can.
6. What is your favourite aspect of your job?
I love letters and I cannot lie. The face when I work, says it all! I’m very lucky to have a job where I can continue to grow as a designer and share my love of lettering. Playing favourites with my job aspect is almost like choosing who is my favourite child. Aside from being able to letterpress with my mentor and friend Amy Constable of Saint Gertrude, playing with inks/brushes and selecting paper (I really could do this all day), the most rewarding aspect of my job is being able to bring happiness to my clients through lettering. Whether it’s a simple calligraphic card to say thanks or helping bring a brand to life, nothing can beat the tactile experience as well as hand made.
7. What calligraphy trends should we know about?
At the moment, I’m loving modern calligraphy as it breaks all the rules of traditional calligraphy. And to top it off, the ‘ombre effect’ of the ink by combing different colours in the one word.
8. I am happiest when…
Did you say doughnuts?
Photography credit: Felis Sarcepuedes, Sophie Timothy, James Barkley and Alli Oughtred.