Nine months after the release of her typeface, Gratitude Script, Lettering Guy asks Kathy Milici to talk about its development.
What inspired you to create your typeface, Gratitude Script?
I was contacted by Alejandro Paul, a well-known font designer, through a mutual Facebook friend. He had seen and loved my writing/calligraphy style and asked if I would consider creating a font with him. I was very surprised! I had never done anything like this before, but it felt right. Scary, but right! He was gracious and patient enough to walk me through the entire process. Ale is an amazing, dedicated professional and prolific talent. I feel lucky and honored to work with him!
Would you walk us through the process of creating the characters?
It all began with writing letters. Lots and lots and lots of letters.
I started by writing every version of each letter I could think of…pen straight to paper. The good, the bad, and the ugly. The quality didn’t matter at first; the important thing was to begin by empty-ing my brain onto paper! First the lower case characters and their morphed versions. The upper case letters came next…as many as I could think of and invent. Trying to find a common thread or theme for a new alphabet can be very challenging, but I kept trying. I then wrote several pages of ligatures, punctuation and symbols (including symbols and accents in other languages), numbers and word combinations. Then a large repertoire of flourishes followed.
During the process, I would write for a few hours at the beginning of each day, the end of the day, or during a break from client work or teaching. All in all, I wrote over 100 pages of letters in two months. Dedicated daily writing can really add up over time. Some letters were rewritten for scale or style. I wanted Ale to decide what characters were viable, so I did very little editing.
The sheets were scanned and sent to Ale for the digital work. He worked 16 hours a day, 7 days a week, for almost 4 months, until we were ready to launch. In the end, there were 1500 glyphs!
The naming of Gratitude Script was a long process. Over the weeks, I had accumulated lists of words that I liked for a font name, but an internet search showed that they were all “taken.” I kept trying. I was getting nervous, because time was passing, and Ale was almost done with the digitizing. The font needed a name! I remember staring at the written pages, and saying out loud, “What do you want your name to be?”
One morning, I woke up to a little voice in my head that said, “Gratitude Script.” I jumped out of bed and raced to the computer and the font naming site! After typing “Gratitude Script” into the search box, the result came back: AVAILABLE! I breathed a sigh of relief, and a wave of emotion came over me. It felt like Divine Intervention.
We launched Gratitude Script on May 1, 2015. By the end of the month, Gratitude Script had reached #1 on myfonts.com. It was so exciting to watch it rise from the bottom of the list of hundreds of fonts to the top! By June, we had made it to the Rising Stars Newsletter, which I understand is the pinnacle (or one of them) of font success! Wow!
Gratitude Script was purchased by hundreds of people (thank you!) for both personal and professional use. I’m so grateful! It’s so much fun to see my work on wedding invitations, stationery and products. At the end of the year, Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular chose Gratitude Script for their seasonal ad campaign! It then appeared in print ads, on bus wraps, street posters, and even the program cover! What a way to end the year!
What was the impact on your calligraphy business and you personally?
As a small business owner, it’s important to create multiple streams of income in an uncertain economy…or in any economy! As I get older, I seem to think about this more. I believe that it’s vital to use our creative skills in various ways, providing we do our research to make sure that what we’re creating and/or selling is not only a good business idea, but is something that’s needed and wanted in the industry. The business of calligraphy is as wide as it is deep! I’m always working on new projects to help lead our art form forward, create and maintain awareness, and keep calligraphy and hand-lettering in the forefront.
From a personal standpoint, I’ve never wanted to be one who looked back and wondered (or regretted) what would have happened if only I had taken an opportunity. There are wonderful rewards and lessons that come from taking a risk. I was way out of my comfort zone when I accepted the invitation to work with Ale Paul, but how could anyone say no to an offer like that? It’s amazing what we are capable of doing, if we only say yes. We seem to spend a lot of time doubting and underestimating ourselves as artists, instead of believing that we can do just about anything, if we have the confidence to try. In the end, outlook creates outcome.
Thanks for sharing the process, Kathy! Gratitude is a beautiful typeface.
Connect with Kathy Milici
24 Karat Designs Calligraphy Studio, 24karatdesigns.com
Gratitude Script, my original font: myfonts.com/fonts/sudtipos/gratitude-script/
Designer, Sterling Promise Couture Pendant: sterlingpromise.com
Member, IAMPETH, International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers & Teachers of Handwriting, iampeth.com
Follow Kathy on Facebook and become a fan! facebook.com/24karatdesigns