July 1, 2018

Pride, Work and Necessity of Side Projects: Graphic Designer Belinda Kou Cultivates Her Hand-Lettering Craft



What are you working on—on the side?

For the past year and a half, I have been challenging myself to hand-letter on a regular basis. It began as random doodles that I would draw here and there, in the margins of the day, until I decided to really focus and commit to a 100-Day Project of daily lettering. It challenged me to practice consistently and embrace progress over perfection, which was my biggest hurdle at the time to create anything outside of work. I ended up creating an Instagram account to house all of my drawings as a form of accountability, and it has since grown into a lab space where I can experiment with different styles, refine existing ones and connect with the greater lettering community out there. It has also sparked several ideas for new lettering series, so stay tuned for future project launches!

How do you manage to work
on your side project(s)?

I fill up my time outside of working hours with lettering, mostly in the evenings and on the weekends. The kind of lettering I do is very different from the work I do during the day, so I find the creative challenge fun and motivating enough to commit to those extra hours outside of work. Completing the 100-Day Project has opened my eyes to how much more time I actually have, if I just committed to it, and even a few minutes a day can be so rewarding in the long-run.

Why have a side project?

My side projects are driven by personal passion and provide a creative outlet to what I do at work. I’ve found that combining side projects with challenging work projects has been a sweet spot for hitting that creative high, where you not only feel a sense of accomplishment in the contributions you make but also experience a ton of growth in skills. Taking the time to refine my hand-lettering craft also helps me to approach my creative strategy at my day job with a different eye, and I am able to hone a keener eye to grid layouts in typography and quick concept sketches. Essentially, side projects help me to build up skills outside of work and add fuel to my creative fire. I would recommend anyone who is feeling burned out or stagnant in their career path to pursue a side project to reignite their creative spark.

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Diptych courtesy of Belinda Kou.


This series, devoted to side projects, is delivered in association with Chicago creative agency 50,000feet—dedicated to helping brands and businesses soar.


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