Leaving on a Jet Plane: Hallo Deutschland!

See you later America...

In case you all hadn't heard me mention this news, on Friday I'm embarking on a pretty exciting adventure. I'm flying to Germany to live/travel there for almost 3 whole months! Woohoo!

Do I speak German? Nope! I know a few phrases, but I'm going to have to adjust quickly to get by. I'm staying with my boyfriend who is working over there temporarily and he is almost fluent in German after living there for a year and a half. So he will be giving me a crash course in some key German phrases when I arrive! While he is at work all day I will have to venture out on my own so I want to be able to do things like order food in German!

Photos from last year's trip to visit Grant in Germany!

Photos from last year's trip to visit Grant in Germany!

So I wanted to let you know my plans because I am going to be blogging a lot about life over there and our travel adventures. Get ready for lots of pretty pictures!

Our first travel adventure will be to Spain. Soon after I get there we are heading to a couple of amazing Spanish cities: Barcelona, Madrid, Granada, Nerja, Gibraltar, Tangier (Morocco!) by way of Tarifa, and Sevilla. I can't wait, because unlike my German language skills, I actually remember a lot of Spanish that I learned in school. So I'm excited to put it to use! Tapas and sangria, here I come!

Also, I'm hoping to connect with some other creatives on my travels, so if I'm coming to a European city near you, please let me know so we can meetup!

Bis spater America! (see you later!)
— Elaine

Create Your Own Hand Lettering Course

Hand Lettering Resources

Today I wanted to share one of my favorite online resources for learning new skills and create a 'course guideline' for anyone wanting to learn hand lettering and calligraphy.

Hand lettering is really hot right now and while there are lots of in person workshops that are great to attend, they can often be expensive or not at a location near to you. Thus lots of people are turning to online sources to learn their lettering. Navigating these options can be tough too as there are SO many. These online courses are usually broken down into easier to digest skills, but that sometimes leaves you wondering what you should learn next. I've also seen a few bigger courses that offer a range of topics all rolled into one program. These are excellent classes taught by some of the top teachers, but they can be expensive. 

I thought about doing one of these big programs until I realized I probably already had that information right at my fingertips with Skillshare and paying way less. Skillshare is an online platform where anyone can teach projects, but they also have a lot of big names in the art and design industry. I've put together a list of classes from Skillshare that I would recommend if you're looking for a well-rounded education and skills for hand lettering but don't know where to start with all the options. I haven't taken all of these classes myself, but I believe from the reviews and videos that they are quality classes.

Class Schedule:

  1. Fundamentals of Drawing Letters with Andrea Campos
  2. The First Steps of Hand-Lettering: Concept to Sketch (Lettering I) with Mary Kate McDevitt
  3. Brush Lettering Made Simple with Andrea Campos
  4. Bounce Letters: Adding Character to Your Hand Lettering with Teela Cunningham
  5. Calligraphy I: Writing in Classic Modern Script with Bryn Chernoff
  6. Calligraphy II: Finding Your Personal Script Style with Bryn Chernoff
  7. Waterbrush Lettering Essentials with Teela Cunningham
  8. Chalkboard Lettering: Add Charm to Your Home with Lauren Hom
  9. Calligraphy III: Experimenting with Layouts, Surfaces and Digitization with Bryn Chernoff
  10. Paper to Digital: Create Your Own Hand Drawn Font with Jenn Coyle

Thanks, I hope you enjoy and learn a lot!


*Some links on this page are affiliate links...if you sign up via my link I get a month free.

Debbie Millman on Why We Brand, Why We Buy

Branding Talk at Museum of Design Atlanta

Last week I attended an amazing talk at MODA in Atlanta by very influential designer Debbie Millman. She gave an interesting talk on Why We Brand and Why We Buy. She believes there are scientific and sociological reasons as to why we brand and buy things.

What I didn't expect to learn though, is how much power brands have over our overall happiness.

Humans have always been either making things or marking, no matter what culture you look at. Branding was a way that we marked things, although that early branding was in the form of marking a rancher's seal onto the cattle they owned.

Over the years branding has evolved and appeared in 5 different 'waves' with different characteristics defining each period.

WAVE 1: 1875–1920: Brands start to guarantee quality and consistency. People started buying food and goods that were packaged and had labels. They were perceived as being safer and buyers would pay a premium for extra safety and convenience.

Brands start to guarantee quality and consistency.

WAVE 2: 1920–1965: Brands become anthropomorphized. Brands created characters to go on their packaging, which people could related to. Examples are: the Morten salt girl, Aunt Jemima, and Betty Crocker. By looking into the eyes or face of a person, consumers make more of a connection. One eerie example Millman points out is that on all cereal packaging that have characters, the eyes of the cartoons are all looking down. She guesses that this is because they can look eye to eye with small children on the cereal aisle...since kids are their primary targets.

WAVE 3: 1965–1985: Brands become self-expressive statements. Brands start to mean something about who you are. By wearing a certain brand of clothing that is perceived as 'being cool' you are projecting an image of who you want to be by what brands you buy.

For the first time a brand could provide status.

WAVE 4: 1986–2005: Brands become about an experience. It's no longer just about the product. Examples are Apple and Starbucks. Starbucks as a brand experience is not just about the product, but the customer service and pleasing environment that you interact with.

WAVE 5: 2005–present: Leading up to the fifth wave, Millman highlights certain characteristics about humans that explains how the way we live our lives today is in direct opposition to our true nature. Humans organize in groups, all belong to some kind of family, have a need to be close to others, and we are happiest when we have secure feelings of attachment to others. But an interesting thing has been happening in society...more and more people are living alone.

1 in 3 people live alone now compared to 1950, when it was 1 in 10.

More and more people are on their own and withdraw into their private spaces spending hours online. The invention of the iPod in 2001 also encouraged people to become more isolated, even in public spaces when they were listening to music, shutting out others around them.

As a result of the direction we're heading in during the fifth wave, brands have started becoming connectors. They have given us different ways to connect and share everything, trying to fix our feelings of isolation and lack of human connection. The problem is that brands FAIL in our expectations...they spew false promises that we'll feel better if we buy this or that. Humans also process our purchases really fast...the high you get from buying something new wears off faster than it ever has. We're always left wanting more and never satisfied.

Additionally, as a result of social media and technology, we are now tracking everything we do. From the number of friends we have online, to how many steps we took in a day, we are constantly measuring ourselves against others with stats that we have given too much importance. It's easy to forget that what you see on social media isn't always real...people only post the positive moments in their lives, not the negative ones.

Millman theorizes that this is having a detrimental effect on our youth today. The children of Generation Z have a nickname...Generation D: D for depressed. This was really sad to hear. More and more teenagers are depressed and have mental health issues than ever before, and they are the first generation to grow up in social media where everything is a competition. They don't feel good about themselves and they aren't lucky like older generations to realize that your own worth cannot be measured by online stats.

This is a pretty scary revelation.

So the question is: how do we fix this? What can brands do to encourage authentic connection and actually improve our lives?

Millman says the best brands of today should be:

  • helping people feel connected
  • inspiring people to feel okay as they are right now
  • aiming to make a difference in the lives of consumers

She also believes that designers are the people best equipped to created these experiences to elevate the world. So if you are a brand or a business owner, I encourage you to think about these suggestions and incorporate them into your company's values. If you really want to make a difference in the world and add value to your brand, focus on how you can make the lives of your customers, just a little bit better.

To hear more wisdom from Debbie Millman, check out her podcast Design Matters.


Thanks, hope you enjoyed the long recap...I found it really fascinating!