Katie Decker Hyatt • Signora e Mare
I am fascinated by people that take on multiple disciplines and are actually good at them. You’ll often hear people admonish someone with multiple pursuits with the cry of ‘focus’. I think it’s a modern state of mind to chastise those that want to try on different ‘hats’ so to speak. If you were living in the Renaissance it would be par for the course. Katie Decker Hyatt is one of those wonders someone who has pursued photography and is obviously gifted and now she has tried her hand at lettering and in a very short amount of time has developed a signature style and following. Katie was in the middle of a move when I asked her to please participate in our interview series and in perfect multi-tasking form she was more than happy to oblige. Please welcome her here and make sure to let her know how much we appreciate her taking the time out of her busy schedule to divulge her secrets. Thank you Katie!
Where are you located?
In good ole’ Atlanta, Georgia!
How did you get started in lettering?
I’ve actually always been interested in letters. When I was young, I would emulate different types of handwriting into my signature. But, I never pursued it seriously until just recently. What really grabbed me back to it was a chest of my grandparents love letters. I found it one day in the back of their closet. I sat there reading one after another. It was so nostalgic and romantic at the same time-like I could actually feel how they felt through those handwritten notes. It reminded me of the lost art of writing and how so much can be conveyed in the style of how each word is written. And since then, I’ve been hooked.
What are some of your favorite supplies?
Hands down the Brause 361 Steno/Blue Pumpkin. I use that nib for a good bit of my work. I find I can manipulate it fairly well and I love the flexibility of it. My go to ink is Higgins ink. It’s a basic ink, but I find it works really well for me. I work a lot on watercolor paper and it’s a perfect match for Higgins. When I’m working on editorial or wedding pieces, I like to use gouache as I can change the consistency, color, and flow as needed. In terms of holders, I alternate between an oblique pen holder and a straight holder like the Tachigawa T40 depending on the look I’m going for.
My favorite paper is anything handmade. I gravitate toward Italian and Spanish handmade as they’re such good quality and they take to dyes well.
Can you name some of your inspirations?
My inspiration can come from a variety of places. For instance, an image and the feeling it conveys. Often times, I will have clients present me with a board or an image that captures the environment or feel they are going for in their logo, brand, or wedding paper.
Can you go a little into your process of how you work on a project?
My process. Well, it’s not the most structured-which is funny, because I’m pretty structured in every other aspect of my life. Typically, I will sketch out several designs and narrow it down to a final. From there I will ink, scan and clean up (either in Photoshop or Illustrator) before sending to the client for approval. I’m not into cleaning up my lettering a lot. My clients pick me for my organic style and simplicity and I don’t stray to far from that.
Any tips for newbies on how to develop their own style?
Practice, practice, practice! That cannot be said enough. I still practice and I’m constantly learning and grabbing for more information. Find someone who inspires you and use them as a basis and from there develop your own style. Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon is a great book that uses the art of inspiration from others and making it your own. So, I would say, collect those ideas, those images that inspire you, that logo that makes you in awe, and put them in your pocket. Mix it all up and use your imagination to create something wonderful.
Any recommendations for books or classes for lettering enthusiasts to further their studies?
Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls has a great workshop that I would actually love to attend! And Meredith Bullock does private lessons. She’s a wonderful friend of mine and super talented. As I mentioned before, I love “Steal Like An Artist”. It’s not a lettering book, but it’s wonderful for inspiration. As far as lettering or calligraphy - Modern Calligraphy by Molly Suber Thorpe, Calligraphy in the Copperplate Style by Herb Kaufman, Scripts: Elegant Lettering from the Design’s Golden Age by Steven Heller and Louise Fili are a few good ones.
Do you have any favorite projects?
Oh, gosh. Each project is a favorite in it’s own way. One of my favorites was working with Pearl & Godiva for an editorial piece. I loved it because I really challenged myself and the end result was absolutely worth it (or, at least in my head it was).
Any advice on what ‘not’ to do?
Don’t get frustrated with yourself. I find my best work is when I just relax my mind, clear it and focus completely on what I’m doing. It’s important not to rush yourself- take your time.
Name one random talent you have that people may not know?
I can speak dog. Yellah Dog and I have many a good afternoon conversations.
Katie's Shopping List
Brause 361 Steno/Blue Pumpkin
Modern Calligraphy by Molly Suber Thorpe
Calligraphy in the Copperplate Style by Herb Kaufman
Scripts: Elegant Lettering from the Design’s Golden Age by Steven Heller and Louise Fili
Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon