Samantha Aker from Sam Letters radiates talent. Not only is that girl able to whip up lettering goodness like a master, she is so willing to share and teach. It’s common amongst creatives to hold our “knowledge” close to our chest out of fear that our ideas and inspiration will be stolen. Sam is the opposite of that and it’s so refreshing to be her friend. After only our first coffee date, she invited me over to her studio for a private lesson on watercolour! If that’s not willing to share – I don’t know what is!
I knew she had so much to share on the topic of starting a creative business so I invited her to my home to photograph her in her element (drawing letters) and ask her a few questions about her journey.
Be sure to check out Sam’s work here: www.samletters.com. She just recently updated her portfolio with a couple new beautiful invitation suites. She’ll also be teaching a Watercolour Lettering workshop in San Diego soon so be sure to check that out.
Was there an initial moment or event that inspired you to pursue graphic design?
I never really set out to pursue graphic design specifically. I didn’t even know what Adobe was until three weeks after I enrolled in art school. I do remember knowing that I needed to give my creativity a shot. I was actually looking into videography, and landed on majoring in graphic design by chance. All I knew was that my current job in the dental field made me hate my life. I would cry before going to work in the morning, and count down the minutes till 6pm. I just thought, “This can’t be what adult life is about.” I knew that being creative brought me happiness and I knew that I was good at it even though I could not draw, design or letter. I had tons of creative ideas trapped in my head and I remember thinking that graphic design might be the way to get them out.
I admire how you were able to recognize the source of your unhappiness and have the courage to make a change. Do you have any creative mentors? How have they helped shape you and your business?
I have SO many creative mentors! I’ve made it my lot in life to surround myself with positive, inspiring people. But the person who completely changed my life was my fiancé, Ryan. He would drive from San Diego to Huntington Beach to help me with my Photoshop homework. He’s always believed in me, and supported me chasing my creative passion. Teela from Every-Tuesday was the first person online who was nice to me, gave me advice, and shared her knowledge. I know she’s only ever an email away if I get caught up in some design problem that I don’t know how to solve. Roxy and the San Diego Letters club have been so much fun getting to know. I called Roxy after my first lettering job didn’t go as planned. She was so sweet and supportive. And my designer, and photographer friends. the in real life ones and the Instagram friends I’ve met have been such positive influences. Like I said, I’ve really made it my mission to be surrounded by knowledgeable passionate creatives.
What an amazing mentality – surrounding yourself with knowledgeable passionate creatives! It’s really the people who we daily surround ourselves with that shape who we become. Speaking of daily routines, what does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day for me starts at 7am. I set a goal or intention for the day the night prior by setting three alarms that are labeled with the goal. A couple days ago my goal was to get the new business cards I designed to the printer. So I set an alarm for 7, 8, & 9am that just said “business cards.”
I’m very productive in the morning, and I get easily distracted. I’ll wake up, check my emails, and Instagram account and want to paint something for a post. But my alarm goes off reminding me to get shit done. I am destined to drink cold tea. I usually end up reheating it two or three times between spouts of productivity.
After I’ve posted on social and replied to emails I usually get cooking on whatever work I have for the day whether it be a clients brand identity, or Sam Letters business stuff. Right now I’m pushing for my website to be functional and I’m planning a watercolor lettering workshop. I’m also doing a lot of trades with some awesome creative friends who have badass ideas, and I’m excited about that work!
Oh cold tea – we’ve all been there. You seem like a productivity boss! How do you tackle a creative block?
I haven’t quite had a serious creative block. I always have ideas that are dying to get out. If I feel uninspired, I just hop on Instagram. My favorite tags for inspiration are #abmlifeiscolorful and#craftsposure
Instagram can be such a great source of inspiration. One final question: If you would give your past self one piece of advice, what would it be?
I would tell my past self to stop being such a baby! I spent too much time being scared of things I love. Sounds so silly to be scared to pick up a paint brush or nib holder, but I was! I admired for too long, when I should have just tried. Because if I did, then I would have found out sooner how much I love it!