Christina Luo • Fox & Flourish
As soon as I saw a lettered quote from Christina Luo of Fox & Flourish I wanted to know more about her. There was something about the ‘o’, so whimsical mixed in with such a confident hand. Christina has a wonderful exuberance about her craft, you can tell how much she truly enjoys it. I love that Christina finds time each month to share her passion with others via her workshops, which seem like a good time for all. I have been so enjoying reading all of these interviews, it’s amazing how diverse the answers are and how much I learn from each one of them. I hope you feel the same, Christina’s interview is no exception it is brimming with sparks that will surely motivate you and advice that will keep you from giving up. Without further ado…
Where are you located?
Beautiful Vancouver, BC. I live in a neighbourhood downtown right by the water with a breathtaking view of the mountains, lots of cute pups, and pretty humans to ogle at.
How did you get started in lettering?
My story starts in the 4th grade, when I told my parents I wanted to become a graffiti artist, already trading “tags” of my friends’ names for snacks. My father informed me this was neither a profitable nor legal occupation, so that was that. I continued to fall in love with words, reading, and poetry, so armed with this knowledge, I went on to study journalism and publishing (all the while, continuing to replicate other people’s penmanship, doodling names and words in class – never illustrations – and admiring what I did not know was typography and lettering all around me).
A few design courses later, Fox & Flourish was born mainly out of boredom during the free hours after a 9 to 5 workday at a communications internship. Calligraphy grabbed my attention specifically because of the precision involved, and I suddenly got into the online calligraphy community in a big way. I was already only posting lettering to my Instagram account, so I changed my handle, created a website, and the rest is history! Little did I know, there was only one local modern calligrapher at the time operating on Vancouver Island, so news about Fox & Flourish spread among wedding vendors and small businesses very quickly.
Via Fox & Flourish
What are some of your favorite supplies?
Sumi ink is my go-to for black ink. I love how it dries a bit glossy and debossed, so you can really feel the movement underneath your fingertips. Gouache for colour. Any small round brush (I like spotter brushes for precise work), and the big Japanese calligraphy brushes from Daiso! My nibs change with my mood, but I’m currently loving my vintage Esterbrook 358, paired with the Tachikawa G. marker paper and bristol board all the way. And what artist can survive without mountains of washi tape on their desk?
Can you name some of your inspirations?
I love taking long walks with no real destination and finding interesting hand-painted signs, store window art, or apartment building numbers. Each style tells a different story about that neighbourhood’s history or the personality of its residents. I often venture into used bookstores and try to forage any handwritten notes I can find tucked in between pages, especially the inscriptions. Recently, I traveled to a couple of Scandinavian cities and am still processing their minimalist attitude to not just design, but as an overarching lifestyle.
Can you go a little into your process of how you work on a project?
I try to get to know my clients and their values in relation to their business or event. With this information in mind, I take to my marker paper pad and generate as many ideas and styles as possible – immediately with ink, no guidelines. Then, I go through and mark my favourites. If it’s a digital lettering project, I’ll scan every page in and spend a great deal of time cleaning up potential drafts. It’s this part that I love – the seemingly mundane task of refining composition and letterforms until they reflect the spirit of the project.
Any tips for newbies on how to develop their own style?
Just write! Fill pages with words, quotes that resonate, the names of your friends or your favourite musicians. Educate yourself about the technicalities of course, but most importantly, play along the way. There are myriads of different writing instruments, ink alternatives, and lettering styles to experiment with.
Any recommendations of books or classes for lettering enthusiasts to further their studies?
Online learning platforms like Skillshare or Atly have classes for almost every level of calligraphy/lettering/typography disciplines, as well as extended tutorials on graphic design in relation to lettering and logotype. Now that I’ve graduated university and am free from the perils of papers and exams, I try to have at least 1 or 2 Skillshare classes on the go, making sure to schedule in at least an hour of continued education every day. Currently, as I expand Fox & Flourish, I’m taking a few business development classes.
Do you have some favorite projects you would like me to mention?
Recently, I worked on a logo for an equestrian lifestyle business. The research and development for that project immersed me into a completely new cultural space, and I had a great time translating that into a calligraphic piece with sweeping movement and grace. Another recent favourite is a Twin Peaks inspired design for Lululemon that was cut out of tennis turf and displayed in their store window!
Any advice on what ‘not’ to do?
Don’t limit your inspiration to just other lettering online. Try to explore your urban landscape. Attempt to encapsulate a feeling, instead of a certain look in your letters.
If you want to mention any upcoming workshops…
We are announcing two July beginners’ workshops soon, and you can sign up to be notified at foxandflourish.com/pages/workshops. Fox & Flourish holds two workshops per month, and will be expanding into different calligraphic styles.
Name one random talent you have that people may not know?
I can lick my elbow!