We’re celebrating the White House’s National Week of Making this week, and all week long, we’re talking to makers about what inspires them to start creating! Every day, we’re running stories with the “This is the week that I…“ theme, sharing smart and easy advice to get you started on the road to creativity. Next up is our amazing chalk lettering instructor Valerie McKeehan, who leads our Intro to Chalk Lettering Online Class. Scroll on to learn more about how Valerie got started creating, how she took it to the next level and how she stays motivated!
When did you first fall in love with chalk lettering?
I first fell in love with chalk lettering in 2012 when I created a chalkboard sign for my kitchen. I just got married and was looking for a fun DIY project to make our new home cozy. This sign was so fun to make and prompted me to start my company, Lily & Val. I’ve been drawing on chalkboards ever since!
Tell us about your first week dabbling in chalk lettering. How did you stay motivated? How did it inspire you?
My first week dabbling in chalk lettering was exhilarating to me! I was motivated by the idea of having a new hobby away from my stressful job at the time. I was also motivated to sell my chalkboard pieces and figure out a way to take something considered temporary (chalk) and make it into something permanent. This led me to develop my signature process for offering chalk art without the dust. I was very inspired by the idea of using my hands and translating that into unique artwork that I would love to have for my own home. If I loved it, I thought others would too!
What was the hardest part about starting your chalk lettering adventures?
The hardest part about starting my chalk lettering adventures was balancing the growth. Lily & Val started growing rapidly and I needed to devote more time to it and less time to my career in advertising. I ultimately decided to leave advertising behind, and I’m grateful every day that Lily & Val has become my career.
What is one unusual thing (something you read, listen to, watch, eat or do) to feel creative and inspired?
I’ve found it very helpful to give myself a “creative routine” or a sequence of actions that tell my brain it’s time to create. I make myself a cup of tea, light a candle, put on a podcast, stand at my desk and I’m ready to go. As simple as that sounds, it puts me in the right mind space to feel inspired!
What’s one creativity tip you would give to aspiring full-time makers?
Remove the pressure! As creatives, we sometimes put an incredible amount of pressure on ourselves to be creative. The problem is, creativity rarely comes out of pressure. We create best when we are relaxed and having fun! Make sure that you are doing your craft out of a sense of joy and not out of perfection-seeking or pressure.
(Photos via Lily & Val)