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“Appreciate the genuine, real conversation – seriously chocked full of value. Looking forward to the next episode!”

Episode 88: Interview with Lettering Artist James Lewis

This week we’re joined by the incredibly inspiring young designer and letterer James Lewis. I’ll make a bold statement here and say this was one of my favourite all time episodes ever. James was real, candid and incredibly generous with how much he shared with all of us. I’m excited to share James’ amazing story and I hope you find it as motivating as we all did.

Watch more of the Honest Designers episodes here: Honest Designers Podcast Playlist   And remember to subscribe to our YouTube channel for regular updates direct to your inbox.

Show Notes for This Episode:

[1:00] We’re very excited today as we’re joined by the very talented James Lewis
[1:30] Tom lists James’ many talents
[2:00] James listens to the Honest Designers in the office at work
[2:30] James is a lettering artist based in Cardiff, UK
[3:00] He became well-known for his 3D lettering and travels around the world teaching his technique
[4:00] The benefits of creating in a co-working space and getting feedback on your work
[4:45] The hosts talk about everyone’s individual work spaces
[5:45] Tom lists all the games from the Design Cuts office
[6:30] James also paints at home but enjoys working in the office
[7:00] He sells half of his work
[8:00] James share how his technique changed when he created 3D designs of premade logos
[8:30] He talks about his ”Change your Mindset. Changed your Reality” piece he did
[9:20] Tom asks if James considers doing lettering work around trending topics
[9:50] He admits he prefers not to get involved in any political matters
[10:10] He started his own campaign called “Our Time Has Value”
[10:40] He wants to raise awareness of large companies taking advantage of young designers
[11:20] Designers have taken part by lettering the name of the cause and taking a stand in saying they won’t be taken advantage of
[12:00] He shares his plan of raising awareness of this campaign, including a mural, a public live event etc.
[12:45] Tom is impressed as how much James has achieved as he is only 23 years old
[13:15] James shares his incredible life story of how he lost his parents at a young age and became homeless
[13:50] At 16 years old, James was renting a room with the help of the government
[14:30] This made James realise that no matter how bad your situation, there will be someone there to pull you out
[15:00] Some of James first work was creating YouTube background graphics
[16:30] He recorded his process of creating the graphics and shared this as YouTube content
[18:00] James’s mum suffered from motor neurone disease
[18:40] His mum was most proud and happy of bringing James and his brother into the world
[19:30] The hosts are moved by James’ incredible story
[20:00] He started developing his skill but never thought of the business side
[21:30] He loved creating so much that he decided to go to university and get a design education
[22:20] The natural transition from YouTube name covers to logo design
[23:20] During his 4 years of graphic design at uni he still pursued logo design in his spare time
[23:50] He had natural flow from logo design, to lettering, to calligraphy and art
[25:00] Dustin praises James for how much he achieved in his 20s as he had other priorities
[25:50] James mentions he still had a good time partying with his friends before university
[26:50] He settled down at a very early age
[27:40] Dustin wanted to be a rock star in his 20s
[28:30] Design helped James cope with his problems and it was always in the back of its mind
[29:30] Having it all figured out at an early age
[30:00] The journey of trying different things and figuring out what you like and don’t like
[30:30] Presenting your work in a different way and doing things others don’t
[31:30] Building your own brand identity
[32:15] Fear of cementing yourself with just one style
[33:30] The different styles and stages of design
[34:20] Having a key style and doing other things around it
[36:00] James gives @pokraslampas example and talks about his progression over time
[37:00] The inflections moments in James’ design career
[38:00] The two types of content you should have on your feed
[39:00] James takes us through his weekly work schedule
[40:20] He likes to have weekends to himself
[41:20] Tom asks James how he manages to get some much done in a 9-5 work schedule
[42:00] Doodle anything and your inspiration will come
[43:00] James enjoys a relaxing evening with his house mates
[44:00] Being very successful and having a life at the same time
[44:45] The benefits of putting the hard work early on
[45:30] Making the most of your time
[46:30] Tom asks James how he manages his Instagram engagement
[47:20] The people that put the time and effort in providing feedback
[48:20] The ‘write my name’ requests most hand letterers get via Instagram
[49:50] A lot of people are messaging James to ask for advice
[50:30] Tom suggests creating a course to answer all these questions
[51:40] James uses mostly acrylic paints
[52:00] The misconception most people have that you need good supplies to improve your work
[53:00] James advice: “Work hard and have fun!”
[54:00] If the work is good, your following will naturally increase
[54:30] The amount of work that goes into a 30 seconds video
[56:00] Behind the scenes of social media success
[56:40] Evolving your content with the evolution of Social Media
[57:40] James Talks about Simon Sinek’s book: ‘Start with Why”
[58:40] Taking the time to invest in networking online and in real life
[59:50] James has connections all over the world
[1:00:50] Dustin admits he’s bad at multitasking
[1:01:50] Establishing relationships with people willing to share your content
[1:02:40] Good type and art sharing pages
[1:03:40] The snow ball effect from one big page sharing your content
[1:04:30] People want to see the artist going through the process from start to finish
[1:05:30] Sharing the process in the post description
[1:06:20] Posting final pieces when you are at the top of your game
[1:06:40] Ian ask how James got the inspiration to create his font Quaint
[1:08:00] James also created a 3D font Versa
[1:08:30] Ian’s RISK board piece was created using James’ Versa font
[1:09:50] James will work on something until he is happy and satisfied with it
[1:10:50] He now feels more comfortable sharing his story
[1:12:30] Everyone starts from somewhere and initially they were not that good at it
[1:13:00] Lisa asks James if he has a career plan going forward
[1:13:40] His aspirations are to improve on what he’s currently doing and have his own business
[1:14:00] Ian asks what James’ income sources are
[1:15:20] James has really good attending at his workshops and courses
[1:16:50] You can find James over on Instagram over at @jamesllewis
[1:17:00] Or over on his website at jamesllewis.com
[1:17:40] He will be in America in October and in Singapore in November
[1:18:00] James final advice is to learn as much as you can from podcasts, books etc.
[1:18:30] It’s been a huge pleasure having James on the show

“A must for every creative freelancer (or those aspiring to freelance). Thank you for being so… honest! Such a wealth of information from people I admire who have ‘been there and done that’. Listening to the podcast every week feels like I’m among friends. Can’t wait for more episodes!”AG_GD