Firstly, could you each introduce yourselves and give us a short description of how you came to be so passionate about lettering and type.
The Letterettes are a quartet of four female creatives who came together through their passion for lettering. We are Eliza Svikulis, Carla Hackett, Kate Pullen and Wanissa Somsuphangsri. We all come from a graphic design background and we all love type, but each of us got into lettering for different reasons. Wanissa initially began lettering because she needed an escape from the constant demand of digital work, and she quickly fell quickly in love with the meditative nature of lettering. Eliza has been obsessed with handwriting and letterforms for as long as she can remember. Embarrassingly, she spent one primary school holidays attempting to write out the entire dictionary (only ever reaching the letter ‘B’). Carla’s passion for lettering started in primary school writing ‘bubble’ writing for her friends and spending hours tracing the Australian Lettering Book.
Yes and yes haha. There is a specific moment in time to which we can point – live lettering Christmas cards at Bayside Shopping Centre in Frankston, at the end of 2015. We began the shift just like any other, as four individuals… but during the shift Eliza gave us an elevator pitch and we left as part of a fledgling lettering girl group; brainstorming rates, names and uniforms all the way home.
Being such a talented girl-group do you feel that you inspire younger women in the creative industry? And do you have any advice for these budding creatives?
We hope so! If we’re totally transparent, we have often found it hard as women in this industry. Perhaps not so much at live lettering events, talking to customers and creating gift cards, but certainly on a site painting a mural, or back in the office talking to a client. We have had the absolute pleasure of working with some wonderful clients, but it hasn’t always been rosy (whether that be whilst working as The Letterettes, or individually). We’ve been overlooked on a job site because we’re women, the client or supplier automatically introducing themselves to the male in the room; we’ve received negative comments from passersby while painting; and we’ve at times found it difficult to negotiate the business-side of things. We’ve found that this stuff isn’t talked about a whole lot, so hopefully the simple act of opening the discussion will help other women navigate their own path within the industry. On a lighter note, we represent creative women joining forces and supporting each other both inside and outside of our group. We hope this encourages other gals to focus on working alongside rather than competing with each other.
Outside of The Letterettes, we’re all individuals who freelance under different hours during the day. For instance, one Letterette’s most productive hour might be another Letterette’s pyjama time. These hours do vary depending on current work demands and we try our best to distribute workloads. In the past, we’ve used the magic of working in a group of four and our ability to tag-team to work our ways through several massive jobs that would have literally broken our backs had we done it alone. (Side note, we aren’t actually joking about the back-breaking bit. A lot of the work we do requires physical exertion. For instance, staying on ladders for hours while chalking through wind and rain, or laying down belly flat on the floor, painting in 36 degree heat while also getting a nice neck tan.)
Eliza: KFC= Korean Fried Chicken Wanissa: When it comes to data, I always excel
Continue the juggling act of individual and group, personal and commercial work, while trying our hardest to maintain some kind of work/life balance and a steady cash flow – it’s a tough gig! (Which is why it’s so great to be able to share the ups and downs together.)