Student Feature: Amanda Arneill Posted on 12 May 11:44


If you told me a year ago that I would have an Etsy shop and be doing custom lettering for things from prints to shirts to logos to tattoos, I would probably laugh and say, “I can’t do anything special enough for that.” I’ve always enjoyed being creative, but I hadn’t found my niche. And then my second baby came along.
While I was designing her birth announcements, I couldn’t find the perfect font for her name because what I had in my head wasn’t a font, it was something special and unique that only hand lettering could achieve. I ended up having to use a font because, as many times as I tried, I couldn’t make my hand lettered vision come to life. A few days later, I signed up for the atly class “Basic Script Lettering 101” by Tosha Seeholzer. This class helped to give me some of the basic rules of hand lettering, like thin upstrokes and thick downstrokes, and it was fascinating to watch her process. Honestly, I found it liberating to see how her first draft isn’t her final product and how many times she erases and tries something else. If she didn’t do it perfectly right away, I didn’t have to be perfect either! While I still had no idea if I would be able to create anything beautiful, I was given some brush pens and calligraphy nibs for my birthday and I started to try.
{Day 2 of trying to learn ink calligraphy.  How do people make this look easy?!}
My first attempts were exciting and overwhelming. When I look back at them now, I see many things that I would love to improve, but I also remember how proud I was. I stumbled through learning but I kept practicing and I also purchased the book “Modern Calligraphy” by Molly Suber Thorpe. Every night after I put my girls to bed, I would curl up on the couch with my pencil and eraser, pens and stacks of paper, and I would doodle and write and revel in the time that I had to create and put the business and worries of the day behind me. Not only did I enjoy the process of hand lettering, but I felt like, while my day was full of putting my needs and wants aside to take care of my kids, the time that I spent lettering was all about me and I needed that respite.
I started to share my lettering on Instagram (@amandaarneill) and went from 40 followers (mostly family who pretty much had to follow me) to more than 5000 followers in 6 months! One of my favorite things to share on Instagram are my #saidaroundhere posts which feature ridiculous things that my 3-year-old has said  (as 3-year-olds are known to do). I love that, by writing these down and sharing them, I’m creating a collection of special little moments frozen in time that make each day with her memorable and make my heart laugh (or make me roll my eyes).
A few months ago, I took the plunge and did what I so recently would have laughed about: I opened an Etsy shop. I used my knowledge of Photoshop and Illustrator, from previous classes with atly instructors Melanie Burke and Alma Loveland, to create prints for my shop. I recently expanded the shop to add cards and mugs. With the shop and my amazing Instagram followers, I have been able to create custom canvases, tattoo designs, logos, and wedding envelopes, place cards and escort cards. I am hoping to expand my card line (I’m already thinking about designs for Christmas cards) and keep creating new prints each month to add to my collection.
However, while I love my Etsy shop and sharing on Instagram, I am most excited about using my lettering to fundraise for BC Children’s Hospital in July. Three  years ago my then 5 month old daughter’s life was saved there when she went into cardiac arrest and was diagnosed with an extremely rare heart defect and put on life support while her heart tried to recover.  Every July, our family raises money to give back on what we have come to call her “Heart Birthday”. This July, I will have a month long sale to raise money for the hospital and the amazing work that is done there. As a family, our long-term goal is to raise enough money to buy another life support machine for the hospital (at a cost of $250,000) and we’ve got a ways to go! Stay tuned to my Instagram profile (@amandaarneill) and my Etsy shop (sayitprettydesigns.etsy.com) for full details.
And to think one atly course made all of this possible!