Daphne is a graphic designer/calligrapher from Taiwan famous for her passion for stationery and her selfless sharing of tips and resources. Her calligraphy style is bold and intuitive. As a creative, she values honesty and integrity the most. She has been holding workshops all around Taiwan since 2015 and has also been active in major calligraphy events ever since. You can find her here on Instagram, Tumblr, or Facebook.
Hi Daphne! Thank you for doing this interview. For those of us meeting you for the first time, tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into what you do.
Daphne: Hi! I'm Daphne. I'm a senior art director based in New Taipei City.
I was first introduced to calligraphy when I was in junior high. I came across one of the books Makiko Odawara and I couldn't believe the beautiful letters I saw in the book were created by hand. I was instantly blown away! Back then calligraphy supplies were not as popular as present, and all I could get were ruling pens and drawing ink. Only until I started working I could finally get my hands on supplies such as parallel pen or calligraphy markers.
Most people know you as the calligrapher/letter behind the Facebook fan page Drama Daphne, but at the same time you work a 9-5 job. How do you balance your time between work and creating?
Daphne: Because of work, I need to be really good at utilizing segments of time. For example, if I need to wait long-ish for a file to be saved, I would take this time and quickly doodle a few words in my sketchbook, and it totally looks like I'm working extra hard! Also, I would try to make use of lunch break by quickly finishing lunch, and then go hide in the storage room where I practice writing or record short videos of me doing it. After getting home from work, I would pull out the files of my side-freelance gigs and start working on them. Weekends are also werk, werk, werk. Usually it's the only time I have for workshops, or on site calligraphy such as the ones I did with Burberry this year.
Some people might think you HAVE TO practice hours a day to be good, like my dad. As for me, I'd like this to forever be something therapeutic to do, so I never force myself to practice. If I'm happy, I can go 2 hours straight. If I'm burnt out, a short 10-minute session would be good enough. The key is to do it everyday.
You do a lot of design projects that incorporates calligraphy and lettering. How is it different from your other projects? Can you share with us an example of your process?
Daphne: There are two kinds of work I do: 1) custom lettering/calligraphy and commercial projects. Custom works are plain and simple, and most inquiries are from brands that need something more personal than digital prints for their VIPs. Other inquiries are mostly from people who wish to have a copy of my work for collection purpose or to gift a friend. These projects are very straight forward, usually it's: I get paid, I send out the finished work, and that's it!
Commercial projects I take on can be further divided into two different categories: 1) lettering and 2) graphic design. Lettering projects are also pretty straight forward. As soon as I know what style of lettering my clients are looking for and where they will be using it, I would come up with an estimate. After that, we would work out a contract. I then start working on it upon receiving the down payment. Most graphic design projects are for company logos. This kind of project would normally include the design of business cards as well as any side products. It would require intensive communication between me and my clients to make sure I tend to their needs. Agreeing on a contract is a must too.
It might sound too complicated, but it's really important to know what purpose is the design for and how much you are getting paid for. Pay attention to WHERE and HOW your clients will be applying the design, because it has significant influence to how much you should be charging for the project. Think like this, a custom work would cost way less than a company logo design because of the difference in the nature of application. Last but not least, ALWAYS make sure there is a contract between you and your client. Some people might think it will scare the client away by asking them to sign a contract, but it is for both your sake and theirs. Never overlook the importance of it!
Have you ever had a client that gave you the impression that he or she thought you were charging too much because it was just writing up a few words?
Daphne: Not really. I price my service according to the time I devote on it, how complicated the work or design is, and where/how they will be used. If a client thinks I'm charging too much, it simply means they don't need my service. I think I have been pretty lucky with clients. One of my friends had a client who tried to pay him with two pineapples!
What plans do you have for yourself as a calligrapher/letterer?
Daphne: To be honest I wish I'd never have to work a day! (Just joking) I do have a day job right now, so I'm currently more leaning towards keeping calligraphy and lettering as a hobby. As long as I get to shop for new supplies, practice writing from time to time, and teach workshops, I'm happy. I do have some bigger-scaled projects in mind that I've been putting off, but hey, you have to pay the bills first! I hope I will be able to get on with it some time this year though.
All mages provided by 做作的Daphne
Personally, I've always admired the way Daphne goes about things. Needless to say, I am also a big fan of her works. I used to get the impression that if you want to work as a creative, you need to be prepared to suffer financially, but Daphne is a living proof that having a day job doesn't mean you have to give up your passion. Who's to say that what ever you do besides your 9-5 job is not a job too?
Even though Daphne joked about how she wishes she'd never have to work, she is probably one of the most hard working people I have ever seen, and it's always inspiring. Daphne also helped me a lot when I first started lettering and taking on projects, and that's why I'm extra grateful that she took time to share with us her experiences as well as insights to working as a creative!
*As a token of gratitude, I hand-lettered a quote which Daphne inspired me with:
"Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire."
Lettering by Letter with Simplicity