Love Letters 2.17 Wrap-Up: Mistakes and Lessons Learned

In February 2017, I posted one lettering piece every day, and that amount of work that went into it was just insane. I joke that I tried to do the opposite of dying out of boredom on winter break by giving myself a lot of work, and well, I achieved just that. *mentally shudders at my horrible cycle of work, work, work over the winter breaks* If you check, the last post I published on the blog was the announcement post, and I even ended up taking a break from social media because I was so burnt out.

But I don’t regret working on the lettering series at all. Not only did I learn more about my limits and about the importance of setting up a proper work routine to have balance in my life, but I achieved what I wanted out of the series. At the same time, I made one big mistake: I underestimated the amount of work it would take.

At the beginning, I wanted to do the series for a number of reasons–doing something with my winter break, creating work to go on a portfolio, but the primary one was getting to be more proficient in Adobe Illustrator. That was why I decided that not only was I going to make this a lettering series with quotes about love from poetry, they were all going to be made in Illustrator.

It was a recipe for disaster. Remember, I wasn’t that good at Adobe Illustrator to begin with, and some of the quotes had even more than twenty words. I was thinking of doing 28 quotes, stroke by stroke, in Adobe Illustrator within a month. If that wasn’t enough, I even thought of sharing a nice, little reflection every day on my social media and an email newsletter. It really wasn’t a surprise that I wasn’t able to finish within a month and that I was so fatigued at the end.

And honestly, I could have prevented my burnout, if only I’d been faster to admit that I was wrong and adapt my direction. I had a non-negotiable deadline of February for the series, as I wanted it to coincide with Valentine’s, and I stubbornly thought that I could still do everything as I originally planned. It wasn’t only until the last week of January that I switched to inking them by hand and having Illustrator read the black and whites, instead of drawing them bit by bit in Illustrator.

But in the end, I still came up with 28 lettering pieces. They’re also available on Society6 and Redbubble as prints and other products.

All 28 lettering pieces from Love Letters 2.17 by Shannelle Chua, a lettering series of love from poetry

And not only did I get to make that, but I learned a lot of lessons along the way that I intend to keep in mind for the future.

1. Planning the quotes that I want to letter beforehand is a time saver.

Whenever I finish a lettering piece, I would wonder what to do next, and that always takes up so much time. Either life would get in the way, or I just wouldn’t know what exactly to choose, and I realized just how much time I was wasting over that step during the series. I had chosen all the quotes before even starting to work on the first draft, and it kept me focused on the work. I’ve kept a list of quotes that I wanted to work on ever since.

2. I don’t need to achieve 100% perfect every time.

It’s ridiculous how some of the pieces that I thought looked the best weren’t the ones that got the most interaction, and it was confusing to me. But I have to accept that I can’t control what people think of my work, and the only thing I can do is make more, which I’m not going to do if I always get hung up on achieving perfection.

3. I can’t hustle all the time.

It’s not that I can’t work hard, it’s that when I keep working on just one thing in a row, I get burnt out, really quickly. Towards the end of the project, I was dreading to do the work that I needed to finish it all.

And at the beginning, I felt frustrated at myself for it. Why couldn’t I work as hard as everyone else? Was my determination just not strong enough? But once I recognized that I was at burnout, I had to be honest with myself and come to terms that how I work isn’t how everyone else works. I just can’t push through for long periods of time without harming myself, and that means I have to schedule some time for breaks when planning something else next time.

In fact, I already do have another series in mind. I’m still slowly fleshing it out, but I know more now, and I plan on keeping this one easier on myself. I hope I can share it soon!

All 28 lettering pieces from Love Letters 2.17 by Shannelle Chua, a lettering series of love from poetry

8 thoughts on “Love Letters 2.17 Wrap-Up: Mistakes and Lessons Learned

  1. Hi Shannelle!! I found your blog through your Instagram and your works and hand lettering pieces are so nice! I’ve been telling myself to learn Illustrator but lol, tamad, so I always push it back. The commitment you had for this is A+. People don’t realize it enough that to make something everyday–even though how little and even if you doing it a lot–takes so much dedication and hardwork.

    xo, Lou | Caffeine Rush

    1. I just use Illustrator for live trace, haha! And God, yeah, it was hard. It’s worth it in the end, but when you’re going through it, boy, is it rough

  2. Okay, I’m super late to commenting on this but this post went live the day Dave arrived in the US and then after he left I was a bit distracted so HERE I AM!

    First off, love this series and kudos to you for getting it done, even if it took slightly longer than you would’ve liked. I have yet to try to do a daily challenge like this for my art, though I do think I might try to do one at some point in the future, but I can only imagine how tough it can be. There are some days when the mind just doesn’t want to cooperate!

    I do think planning as much as you can in advance is great advice. I feel like I’d even go so far as to create a few pieces in preparation as a back-up for those days I’m not feeling it or life gets in the way. It’s not cheating if no one knows about it, right?

    Heck yes to the perfection thing, I’m horrible with that. Well, usually. I do find that I’m more forgiving with my art which is a bit odd. I guess I see it as more of a journey. So what it may not be perfect, I’m getting better and happier with my work with each piece! I’m curious though, which ones were your favorite(s) that you did?

    1. Hey, I’m always happy for you and Dave. And I seriously recommend doing it, you’d be surprised by how much you’ll grow! <3 My favorites were Love Conquers All, Come Live In My Heart, My Heart Is Ever At Your Service, How Do I Love Thee, But 1 Man, and 'Tis Better. I hope you understand which ones those are, though!

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