Hi Julia, nice to be able to interview you here via Zoom. Just start and tell us a little about yourself. Who are you and what do you do?
Yes hi, I'm Julia Lenartz. I am a graphic designer and have been working in the profession for 13 years now. I spent 10 of those years in Cologne and moved to the Eifel in 2019. That's where I come from too. So “back to home” so to speak. Here I also became self-employed with my own studio and have been working on my own ever since. I develop designs for my customers. This goes from the logo, to business equipment, packaging and everything else that comes up when it comes to advertising and generating fresh ideas. I think, like many Skullpaper customers, I'm just a creative person :-)
I've been interested in lettering for five or six years now. Even in elementary school, for example, I liked to paint letters extra beautifully. And since 2017 I have been consciously and intensively concerned with the topic and signed up for Instagram because I needed inspiration. For me, lettering is not just a hobby, but it is also very useful in my job. For the work I develop a lot of lettering myself to give the whole thing a special signature (in the truest sense of the word). Here in my office I have a retail space where I sell products that I designed myself. I also offer my workshops here.
What kind of workshops do you give there? Are these workshops specifically about lettering?
Yes, exactly. I give hand lettering workshops. Initially through the adult education center to see whether there is a need for something like that. There was a huge influx and since then I have been offering the workshops here directly in my own rooms. It's really fun to get others excited about the topic, to show materials and try them out together. So I found a great opportunity for myself to continue working on the topic of lettering.
“Just practice, practice, practice.”
Does that mean the need for your lettering workshops was confirmed quite quickly?
Yes definitely. There is a lot of demand, so much so that I even have a waiting list. People always say that I should let you know immediately when I teach a course again. We are about an hour away from all major cities. So Trier on one side and Cologne or Koblenz on the other. Many people have seen the topic on the Internet and are thrilled when someone offers it here too.
Everyone in my workshops gets a small goodie bag and a 40-page guide that I wrote. I want people to feel really “pampered” with me and that they are really getting something on offer.
And do people find you via Instagram or how do they get to know you?
Mainly through “hear-say” or through the Facebook posts I share. This works great and I always keep you informed about new appointments. This is always shared diligently and word gets around quickly.
So your main job is graphic design and lettering is a side job, do I understand that correctly? Where would you like to go with this topic in the future?
Yes, so at the moment things are going a bit sideways. I actually wanted to concentrate more on that and, for example, in 2019, when I became self-employed, I also worked for Snapchat in the summer. They contacted me via Instagram asking if I could make stickers. But somehow it faded into the background a bit because it works so well with graphic design. That's why I've recently been focusing more on classic graphic design. And yet both are intertwined and belong together for me and my work.
You said earlier that you had been doing lettering more or less unconsciously for a long time before that. What fascinates you about this topic and this activity?
When it comes to graphic design, I think it's great to find creative solutions - i.e. the best possible way - to represent something. For example, as a child in kindergarten, I thought it was super stupid when the kindergarten teacher said “Yes, sit down and draw something.” If she had said a butterfly, then I thought that was good. Then I painted 10 of them. But I’ve never been able to do anything with this “something”.
And I think that's still the case today. The customer says I want to achieve “this and that” with the design or he has a product that he needs something for. I just really enjoy thinking about how I can creatively implement these wishes and ideas. And when it comes to lettering, I just think it's great when things look beautiful. Things you can then enjoy. Wrap a gift beautifully or label a card beautifully. I think that brings so much joy into life. I think it's great to inspire people more than they expected.
You can be found on Instagram under 2 different accounts. Once your graphic design account jut.design and once thatslooksjut . That's for lettering, right?
Exactly. I'm a little less active at thatlooksjut at the moment because I have a lot to do at the moment. My main concern there is to inspire others. When I follow other accounts on the subject of lettering, it's ultimately about inspiration for me. See how others do it, new techniques and styles. It is particularly helpful for beginners to think outside the box. For a while I only focused on iPad lettering here. But that was too restrictive for me and now I'm trying to show a more varied mix. Instead of just digital, do something with colored pencils or brush pens. So that you get an overview of what you can do.
You just said your goal is to inspire others with your Insta account. Where do you get your inspiration? Are there any Insta accounts that you like to follow and that you can recommend?
Yes definitely. My Instagram feed consists of 85% lettering accounts. For example, PoejPoej is Tanja from Bremen. She does a lot of different things and is super inspiring. From calligraphy pens to pencils and digital, everything is included. I also copied a lot from American accounts like Chrystal Elisabeth's , especially the videos. Particularly great for beginners because it's really all about the technique.
OrMartina Flor . She does a lot of book covers and does a lot of typography. Every now and then she shows a lettering and then analyzes what can be improved. For example, a letter tilting the wrong way and things like that. This is super exciting and particularly interesting for beginners in the topic.
Besides following other accounts for inspiration, what else would you say to a beginner who is interested in lettering or would like to learn?
Basically it's practice. I always say that in the workshops. You quickly have a learning curve and quickly notice improvement. But you just have to stick with it and just practice, practice, practice. I literally wrote a few words every morning for 10 to 15 minutes for the first year I did it. Even if it was just a shopping list.
As already said, it is important to look at what others are doing. By that I don’t just mean “repaint”, but rather think about “Why does this work well?” “How is this structured?” “How did they put that together?” “Do the different fonts combine?” etc. Try to find out for yourself what you like about it and reflect on yourself. And picking apart other people's things for yourself to see why something works and why it doesn't. I think that’s exactly what’s super important.
You told me in advance that you were working on a book? Tell us about it, what does it involve?
I've only just started implementing it... But I already have everything in my head that I want to have in it. Here in the Eifel we have a national publishing house (Regionalia Verlag) that sells its books throughout Germany. This publisher already has a book about calligraphy and asked me if I would like to write one about hand lettering to go with it. The book is scheduled to be published in March.
My aim is to give something to beginners (but also old hands). Showcasing different styles, so there is something for everyone. Not just practice pages, but also inspiration, various templates and a bit of typographic know-how. So that the reader has enough background know-how to develop their own designs.
Cool, that sounds good. Please keep us and our readers up to date with your book. How did you first become aware of Skullpaper?
That was at the lettering camp at the beginning of 2019. I think we got one of your pens there. The brush pen, if I remember correctly. And then there were a lot of things to try out and I thought they were really cool, so I bought the BrushPen Set straight away. Especially the Blackliners, they really are a blast. People in my workshops regularly freak out, as thin and delicate as they are. The reactions I get are really funny and people are really excited about it.
Yes, and since then I have been working with Skullpaper materials myself. They're just part of it now.
If our readers would like to find out more about you and your work, or are perhaps even interested in one of your workshops, where can they best find and reach you?
There is also a lettering guide from me on Etsy with basic knowledge of type and lettering, tips and tricks as well as exercises.
Great, thank you very much for your time and your tips. And good luck with finishing your book.
We are excited.
MORE ABOUT JULIA:
Images: ©Julia Lenartz