Ilyn Lopez

The Giving Journal prompted us to discover Ilyn Lopez and her talent. She would often draw, doodle, artistically write inspirational and uplifting quotes on the pages of her own journal, which she would then share online on her social media pages and with the rest of the community. We featured her work one after another, and it was not long until she started participating in our Brew Your Best Year community events. Our events were another way for her to express her creativity, and a way for her to share it with everyone else who had the same passion for the arts.

Read all about her story as an artist and as a Community Member of Brew Your Best Year below.

WHO IS SHE? Ilyn Lopez, 25 years old
WHAT DOES HE DO? Ilyn is an artist who focuses on hand letterings and paper crafts.

Read all about his story as an artist below.

1. Tell us about your story as an artist. How did you discover your love for lettering/crafts?

I started practicing hand lettering back when I was 9 years old. I guess I got interested when I saw my older siblings doing it effortlessly. At 11, I unconsciously got hooked into scrapbooking. Back then, it was the typical art paper + photos + scrap gift wrappers glued on a page of an empty drawing book. Keeping all sorts of memorabilia- from gum wrappers to movie tickets- became a habit. As I created scrapbooks, I also got to practice lettering when I did journaling on it.

2. What kind of artist are you? Describe your style/niche and how this has changed through the years.

I used to be a perfectionist. I was the type who was too conscious with my work, with my style, and even my process. And that actually hindered me from becoming productive in what I did. I would get stuck with ideas. Through the years, I learned to let go of perfectionism because there is nothing perfect anyway. I’m now a spontaneous one so I make sure I always have a small notebook with me. It’s quite ironic because by personality, I’m a planner. But when it comes to creating, I normally just go with whatever comes to mind. I’m also a learning-enthusiast. I continuously seek to learn, be it a new craft, a technique, or ways to expand what I already know.

4. What is the highlight of your practice so far?

I’m not sure if it counts but I guess the highlight is not using pencil whenever I practice hand lettering. I just try to work around the initial sketch that I come up with. I do that because I want to learn to create letters first time right. On the other hand, it serves as a challenge on how I can design it and alter to become a pretty lettering even if I messed up my initial draft. It was just recently that I got to appreciate the use of pencil, actually.

5. Where do you get inspiration?

I get inspiration from the most random things such as pretty interiors, various prints, flowers, and sometimes, even from mess. Pinterest is often my go-to app for visual inspiration.

I practice on my own without visuals, to make sure I avoid simply copying. In Instagram, I actually don’t follow the accounts of the known letterers/artists though I check their feed once in a while. I believe seeing their works too often would make me subconsciously pattern my work from theirs. Also, that is to avoid comparing my pieces to theirs which I know would, most likely, make me downplay my work.

6. What is your creative process like?

Before, my creative process has this pattern: I get ideas and inspiration and I start lettering but a few letters after, I would (most of the time) see my initial work as a mess, so I would stop. I’ll scribble on it, tear the paper, crumple, and then I’ll throw it in the trash bin! I always have a hard time convincing myself to complete my work before I judge if it’s good or bad. Now, I still have those moments but I try my best to appreciate I what do, so to help myself to do so, I prepare the area I work from.
I prefer working on a very tidy desk with white light if there is no natural light available. I create at least 2-3 layouts of what I will create. If the piece I’m working on requires days to finish, I make sure to take photos of it in the process to see my progress. In that way, I also get to appreciate my phase.

7. Do you experience creative blocks? What do you do when this happens?

Yes, I do experience creative blocks. Whenever this happens, either I read creative books, browse Pinterest, or just rest. I noticed that most of the time I get creative blocks when I have so many thoughts and can’t seem to process them accordingly.
So, resting and not thinking of anything at all helps me relax and it refreshes my mind.

8. How do you choose what artwork to create?
Most of what I post in Instagram are hand letterings of quotes that either I can relate to as of the moment or realizations I want to share with others. Often, I come up with those after I spend quiet time which serves as my prayer and journaling time wherein I sit down and reflect about life in general (including career, family, relationships, etc.) It also depends on what is being requested from me. 

9. Who are some of the individuals you look up to in line with your craft?

Roxy Navarro. She, together with her team, is behind Works of Heart PH. I admire her works and I admire how she works. Though I haven’t really had the chance to directly work with her yet, I got to attend a Typography Workshop facilitated by her. Her designs are simple yet beautiful. She knows the value of creating not just to play with design but more of putting it into purpose. 

10. What’s your favorite piece that you’ve created?

Handmade wedding invitations with a rustic theme (50 sets). I’m currently working on this, actually, and I’m more than halfway through. (Yeyyy!!) This is my favorite among all I have worked on because it’s the most challenging. I manually cut the board papers, designed it, stamped it, and hand lettered on it. Even the envelopes were made from scratch. It required so much time, and more than that, it required patience and perseverance. I like it the most because I learned a lot in the process of creating it, not only the techniques but also more of myself as an artist. From there, it became more real to me that creating is truly my passion.

11. What kinds of challenges are associated with your craft and how do you overcome them?

One is time allocation. I work as a Senior HR Administrator in my day job, which often requires me to work more than 8 hours a day leaving me with almost no time for anything else when I get home than rest. Another is the content – this goes to hand lettering. This is a challenge for me because whatever I write, I want it to speak with meaning. Even the phrases I use for practice, I want them to have substantial content.

How do I overcome it? With regards to time, I just make sure I maximize what I have. During weekdays, I would normally be seen outside the office on lunch breaks. More often than not, I’m in the tea place with my laptop, journal, and pens; either I’m practicing or reading. On weekends, I also make sure to allot time for crafts in between house chores and errands. On the other hand, the challenge with regards to the content, I overcome this one by being more mindful of where I am and of what others are going through. So from there, I try my best to hand letter pieces that will serve as a reminder for encouragement and positivity.

12. What are your biggest lessons as an artist?

First, there will always be someone better than you, and it’s okay. It’s okay because to begin with, it’s not supposed to be a competition. If it has to, the comparison should only be between the you yesterday and the you today. Second, make time. Regardless if the schedule is not too tight or the work isn’t as toxic as it normally is, if I won’t make time, I wouldn’t find time and there will be no way for me to be better in my craft.

13. What do you believe is an important factor in creating a good piece of art?

Your reason or purpose, your WHY, for me, is the most important factor in creating art. This is the starting point. From here I’d know what I should create and who is the audience I can/should reach out.
I find my WHY by answering the question: what do I want to impart to others? It is a given that I want what I do. But more than wanting it, it’s also on top of my mind that I like to share something positive to the people around me. So the same goes for others. They can find their why by knowing what is it that they would want to contribute to the community around them.

14. What advice can you give the community, especially emerging artists/writers?

In all things, be intentional. We all have dreams and aspirations. Our passion may differ from one another, but for me, the key to get there is to be intentionally passionate. Take steps and move forward. It is good to have a vision but it is as equally important as taking action. Start and show your work!

15. What is Brew Your Best Year to you and how has it inspired you as an artist?

At first, Brew Your Best Year was just a venue for me to share my works. Then I got the chance to join their events. But later on, as I got more involved, it became a real community for me wherein I get to meet new acquaintances and interact with them, even after the events already. It has now become a venue for me to openly contribute my pieces hoping to inspire other through my works and stories.

I should say, Brew Your Best Year was like an encouragement or the “push” I needed back then to start discovering more about the creative side of myself. I know I like creating – that I’m very interested in design, crafts, and lettering even before. But it was only when I knew about Brew Your Best Year in 2014 that I became brave to get my hands on my craft and continuously seek ways to improve on it. Recently, I started accommodating paid requests (through @elevenfingeredcrafter). It is something I considered doing way before but I was quite hesitant to get myself into because I used to doubt my skills and always had that thought that somebody else could do it better, that I still didn’t know other technicalities. But later on I realized, just like what I have mentioned earlier, it is a given that someone will be better than me, but no one can do it exactly the way I can. And not because I now have the guts to put my work out in the open, meant I’d stop equipping myself. It is the other way around. I still attend workshops, I read more books, and I still do self-study.
The initiative of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf to give back to the community through Brew Your Best Year opened my eyes to see beyond; where I belong and made me more willing to look for ways to give back as well. The prompts in the Giving Journal made me reflect in various ways helping me practice mindful living even more. All the initiatives of Brew Your Best Year encouraged (and is still encouraging) me not only to continuously brew the best version of myself but also to empower others and help them brew the best version of themselves as well.
Below is one of Ilyn’s first feature in Brew Your Best Year, dated back in 2014:
Artwork by Ilyn Lopez

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One Thought

  1. Nina says:

    Hi Ilyn. Thanks for volunteering at the Giving Town last year. I really appreciate your sacrifice and effort in creating the mini-workshop for the participants. I had fun learning how to make notecards and envelopes, and I enjoyed listening to you talk about your passion for your craft. Hope to see you again in the future!