Getting Social with Nicole Miyuki Santo

This week we're getting social with graphic designer and letterer, Nicole Miyuki Santo. As an explorer at heart, she was kind enough to be another amazing LA Social Studio Shop sponsor of ours and gift our socialites with adventurer tote bags. When she's not wandering on an adventure or lettering, you can find her teaching water coloring workshops.  Today we learn about her creative background, what inspires her,  and what plans she has for the coming year.

Oh darling, let's be adventurers. Work by Nicole Miyuki Santo. | Getting Social with Nicole Miyuki Santo via @social_studio

Photo by Carley Rudd

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how your interest sparked in hand-lettering + design?

My name's Nicole Miyuki Santo and I'm a graphic designer, lettering artist and explorer at heart. I would say my interest in hand-lettering started after I graduated from college and had a full-time graphic design job. I loved it, but felt like I was missing that hand-drawn feeling since I was always on the computer so much. So I started a tumblr called Grounded on the Daily and combined my love for watercolors and quotes and posted an image once a day for about it a year. You can tell how much my style as has changed in less than 5 years!

What was that “breaking point” or moment where you first felt like you had “made it” and your work was a success?

I don't think I feel that I've "made it" and not sure if I ever will. But I will say that it was within the last 6 months that I decided to own what I do. I think I hid my passion for this art for a number of reasons and it wasn't until I got the amazing opportunity to be one of nine calligraphers and hand-lettering artists for an online summit that I felt "yes I AM a hand-lettering artist" and this is what I love to do.

We see that you offer workshops – tell us about that! What do you teach during these workshops? What has surprised you the most about these?

Yes I do and I absolutely LOVE it! I teach a Watercolor Brush Lettering workshop where I teach the basics of brush lettering and set the students up with the tools I use on the daily. It is such a fun class and love it when the students have the "ah ha" moment when it clicks.

Your work is so inspiring. Can you describe + share with us your creative process as a designer? Where do you draw inspiration from? How would you describe your “design style”?

Aw thank you! Hmm, this is always a tough question and I have a different answer than you might expect. I would say that I receive my creative energy from being surrounded my other creative people. In Los Angeles especially, there are SO many other small business and entrepreneurs who are simply doing what they love. Personally I have only worked for small business owners with less than 10 people since I've graduated and that to me is unique. I don't think like a big corporate person, because that isn't the environment I'm personally in. It is totally different for everyone and that works for a lot of people which is what makes this world amazing and go around. But for me, that is where I gain my light; even by people like you all who want to learn ignites a passion in me to create.

What’s one important quality you feel every artist + designer should carry to be successful?

I would say take time for yourself. Currently, this is something I'm still working on and it's taken me a long time to realize the importance of this. Within the last year I've fallen in love with yoga and the practice has helped me center myself and clear my mind. Yes I work really late at night and am a workaholic, BUT I have learned that it's okay to close my computer for an hour and go workout. Because on my drive, I have a new thought and idea that I wouldn't of had if I was just staring at my computer for 9 hours straight.

Let’s talk tools! What is one design tool you can’t live without and your favorite social media network in terms of marketing yourself?

Tools - definitely my brush! My favorite and the one I teach with is Princeton Art & Brush co size 2/0. It travels with me everywhere; it's small but packs a punch. And for social media, definitely Instagram. It is amazing how it has transformed the world of creatives and is pretty much a portfolio that is free and easily accessible to anyone. Instagram is how we connected so theres a prime example!

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned? What tips + advice do you have for those who are trying to find their style + niche?

The biggest lesson I've learned like I mentioned earlier is owning what you do. And this pertains to any aspect of your life. Own your story. It doesn't matter if you consider yourself a creative or not, owning what you do and what season of life you are in will allow yourself the ability to be present. And as far as style + niche, my advice is to just go for it. Try different styles, post it on Instagram and find out which one you like and maybe comes easiest to you. Also make sure to put yourself out there and allow people the space to even know that you have this creative side in you. If you hide it because you've afraid of being judged etc, then no one may even know that your talent exists. Go for it!

"The biggest lesson I've learned is... owning what you do.  Own your story." (Tweet this!)

What are some of your plans for the future? Knowing you, we’re certain you have creative plans up your sleeve — any details you can share?

My biggest thing coming up is the Modern Calligraphy Summit that I mentioned earlier! The official release is February, but I've been skying with my students who signed up with my link and it's been fun talking to them one on one. I love talking with people and learning their stories and realizing how small the world is and this creative community! And I'll be gearing up to sell some of my own products again like the tote bag from the #LAsocialstudioshop workshop! I'll be at Unique LA 12/5 + 12/6 and Renegade LA 12/12 + 12/13 and hopefully I'll be able to meet some of you guys!