Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Creative Chat: Mina Habibi

Time for another Creative Chat! It seems like it's been forever--unfortunately, the one I had lined up for last month fell through at the last minute, but this month's will seriously make up for it. I have wanted to learn hand-lettering ever since I learned that hand-lettering was a thing, and if you're in the same boat, you'll want to keep reading. I'm talking to Mina Habibi about her beautiful creations, how she got started, her must-have tools, and where she finds inspiration. 

1// Would you please introduce yourself?
Well hello! I'm Mina Habibi. I currently live in Tulsa, OK with my hunky husband, John, and our fur child, Tucker. By day I work for an advertising company and by later day I make pretty things for the handmade business that I co-own, Milk & Honey Creative!

2// How long have you been hand lettering, and what initially sparked your interest in the medium?
Hmm, I've been hand lettering, at least taking it seriously, for a couple of years now. I've always enjoyed "writing pretty" but for a long time, thought that it would never amount to anything more than doodles in the margins of my notebooks. 

3// What was your learning process like?
Like I said, I've always been a doodler and enjoyed practicing lettering and calligraphy. A couple of years ago when we moved to CA and I found that I had A LOT of time on my hands (yay unemployment!) and I began to take it more seriously. I would practice for hours a day, watch videos of other letters and tutorials and my love for the craft grew quickly! It was a great way for me to channel some of the feelings I was having being far away from my friends and family. Finding a creative outlet in a season like that is so important I think. 

4// What do you love most about hand lettering that you haven't found in other forms of creativity?
Man, this is a hard one! Words can be so inspiring and lettering is such a great way to represent that sentiment even more. I think lettering, and even penmanship in general is an old craft that kind of went away for a while, but we are starting to see a resurgence and appreciation for it again.

5// What advice would you give to someone who was just beginning to explore hand lettering as a means of creative expression?
Don't give up!! Practice practice practice! There are a lot of great letterers out there that are passionate about teaching this fun skill to anyone and everyone. You don't have to have naturally pretty hand writing to be a hand letterer - anyone can learn! Alex Estes of Prairie Letter Shop is an incredible artist and has a lot of fun resources for anyone wanting to dip their toes in the world of lettering. 

Another thing I would suggest is taking pictures of your work from the beginning. Even when you think, "NO WAY is this picture worthy!" DO IT! It is so beneficial and motivating to see how quickly you can improve with consistent practice!

6// If you could put together a beginner's toolkit for hand lettering, what would it contain? What are your own personal must-haves?
One of the greatest things about lettering is that you really don't need much! Of course you can add to your toolkit and there are TONS of great products, but to get started a piece of computer paper and a Sharpie will take you a long way. I do have a few favorite tools though! The majority of these products can be found at Michaels or Hobby Lobby, but Amazon is always a great place to look. is also a really great, affordable online art supply store. 

Tombow Brush Pens - These are most letters "must have" brushes. They come in a variety of different sizes and colors and can be used with water! 

Sharpie marker & pens - Sharpies are probably my favorite go-to tool. That's right. SHARPIES! They are cheap, have great color and really work well. 

Crayola Markers - These are the hidden gems of lettering tools in my opinion. They are so cheap but are SO great!

Copic Markers & PrismaMarkers- Two more popular marker brands. These are a little more expensive but come in a great variety of colors and brush sizes! 

Pental Aquash Brush Pen - This is THE tool you need if you want to work with watercolor lettering. It has a barrel that can hold water and can be help like a regular brush pen so its very natural to use for lettering. 

Pencils & Led Holders - personally, I prefer a good ole' fashion #2 pencil when I'm sketching. Lead holders are tools I like using if Im needing something with a lot of detail.

7// You co-own an Etsy shop where you sell some of your gorgeous work. What inspired you to turn your talent into a source of income?
Aw, thank you! :) My best friend, Courtney, and I both dreamed of turning our creative passions into some sort of job. Two years ago, we decided to finally "do the thing" and open up our "bestie business", Milk & Honey Creative. It has been one of the best decisions I have ever made! I believe that we are all blessed with talents and gifts and they are meant to be shared!

8// A lot of the creatives I've talked with have expressed hesitation or fear of putting their art "out there" in the world for people to see. Have you experienced that? And if so, what helped you overcome it?
Oh absolutely! Art is so intimate and personal. Sharing something you have created, is such an act of vulnerability. When you put something out there for the world to see, you are opening yourself up to a world full of opinions. And comparisons, WOWZER. In the age of social media, it can be so scary to put yourself out there when you think there are already so many other people who do what you do - and you think they do it better. But friend, they cannot do what YOU do. Only you specifically can create the things that come from your hand and that brings me comfort. At the end of the day, if your art brings you joy, thats the most important thing. And chances are, its going to bring someone else joy too. And I think that is so very cool. 

9// Do you deal with creative blocks with hand-lettering? How do you shake them off?
Totally. When you turn your hobby into a "job" I feel like this is a pretty natural thing to fall into from time to time. Take breaks, its ok. But always make sure you get back to it. Remember why you started in the first place and get back to that mindset. Make things that make you happy.

10// Where has been the most unexpected place you've found inspiration for your work?
Haha, maybe to some people it would be natural, but Pop-Culture! Every Christmas, Courtney and I do a line of pop-culture inspired Christmas ornaments and its been so fun! The idea for the product line happened spur of the moment but it has turned out to be one of my favorite things to make each year. 

11// What are you most proud of in your creative journey?

Honestly, that I took a leap of faith and we opened Milk & Honey Creative. It was scary and so exciting and the reward has been incredible. I have met a community of makers that have become such dear friends to me. Putting yourself out there can be hard, but its so worth it! 

Thanks so much for being a part of this series, Mina! I owe you a coffee if you're ever in KC!

You can see more of Mina and her gorgeous work here: 

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