Josephine Ung, A Career Transmuted Through Alchemy

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1. What’s your name and title/business name? Where are you located, city, state, country location?

Hi! I’m Jo, short for Josephine. I currently do lettering art and graphic design under @letterpiece on IG or letterpiece.com.

You’ll be able to find me doodling in coffee shops in San Francisco and Oakland, CA.

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2. What’s your educational and professional background, i.e., college, professional school, high school, apprenticeship, etc.?

Very convoluted story here! As a kid, I knew I was into graphic design (Neopets, Xanga, MySpace layouts, you name it.) I would be playing around with Photoshop, doodling in all my notebooks, or playing with cameras, but it never crossed my mind to go after an artistic career. I ended up going to school at UC Berkeley for chemistry and it was fun, but it wasn’t my passion. Throughout college, I found myself designing logos, marketing materials, flyers, apparel, etc. for all the clubs and organizations I was in. I also did a lot of photography for campus groups and such, and I’d always have my friends model for me wherever we went.

Fast forward to the summer before my senior year, I studied abroad in England for 10 weeks. I brought my GRE books with me to study for grad school exams! To no one’s surprise, I barely opened them. It was during this time when I realized I wanted a career that would involve my personal hobbies and allow me to travel freely.

After graduating (with a degree in chemistry), I started a job in advertising while doing freelance photography on the side. While I still do photography from time to time, I’ve decided to focus solely on lettering (digital, chalkboard, murals).

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3. Preferred tool(s) and medium?

I’m in love with Procreate on iPad. It has made my life a lot easier because you can constantly adjust your art to your vision as you go. (Unfortunately, now I find myself double tapping paper to undo sometimes). It’s also easy to pack and carry around, especially when traveling.

There’s still something comforting about putting pencil to paper though. Side story: Montrio in Monterey, CA is one of my favorite restaurants not only because their food is amazing, but also because their table covers are paper and each table comes with crayons. (I’m a kid at heart, ok?)

I would also love to be more involved in mural painting. It’s one of those hobbies that take my mind off everything and it’s so calming to watch your paint brush form lines and all!

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4. Where or how do you “recharge your creative battery,” i.e., books, blogs, music, art, exercise, meditation, prayer, hobbies, interests, etc.?

When I hit creative blocks, I like to go on Pinterest or get away from my work for a bit. I’m lucky enough to live in the Bay Area, where street art is big and design is just around the corner. I love having the option to take day trips to one of the many museums around here, visit alleyways of murals, participate in open studio walks, and much more.

I also travel a lot. As cheesy as it sounds, it’s inspiring taking in the vibes of different cities and countries. This is where more of my photography work comes in.

In the mornings when I’m getting ready for the day, I like to listen to creative podcasts – Perspective-Collective, Meet the Creatives, and Drunk on Lettering are my top favorites.

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5. Tell us something about you that might surprise or delight us.

I feel like I wrote most of my surprising facts when talking about my background!

Well, besides being a science geek, occasional photographer, and lettering artist, I like to bake a lot in my free time! I can never finish batches before they go bad, so I like to give baked goods away, especially because this usually makes people’s day (this is how I make friends…kidding)!

Website | Instagram

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