Interview with Olga Muzician
Olga studied art her whole life, starting out as a painter and transitioning to graphic design and now lettering. When not working, she spends time on personal projects and various lettering challenges to keep her skills constantly evolving. Because of her background in fine arts, Olga loves to include illustrations in her lettering work to give it even more of a hand-made and personal touch.
Hey Olga! Would you introduce your design practice, what project are you working on right now?
Hello my name is Olga Muzician, with a Z, and I run my own lettering and design business under the name Olga Muzician Studio. I started my business about exactly a year ago in March and am currently based in my home in New Jersey. I work on everything from branding to chalk lettering for restaurants and cafes to food lettering to greeting cards. Just about any type of digital lettering that can be applied online or in print. Usually I'll work with big companies but sometimes I'll get individual requests for things like wedding stationery, invitations, logos for small startups. So I do a little bit of everything. When I'm not working on client projects I really try to stay busy writing blog posts, taking part in various online challenges, creating online products that I could sell as passive income—so that could be things like fonts and brushes and templates for invitations for any special occasions—and working on personal projects. And those are really so important in this business because I think about 95% of my work comes from a client that has found me on my Instagram and they contact me because of a specific piece that they saw on my page that they want to either replicate or reference in the work that they're asking me to do. So I think personal projects are really what drives this business. And there's just so much you can do running your own lettering and design business that I think sometimes the possibilities get kind of overwhelming, so I think it's so important for people in my field to really be able to focus their attention on one or two things at a time because otherwise they wouldn't be able to get anything done.
What are you preferred tools? Pens? Pads? Programs?
So the really wonderful thing about hand lettering is that a lot of the tools that you need for your work are so affordable and easy to get that I probably have way too many sketchbooks and colorful pens and pencils to last me about a lifetime. But if I really had to pick one set of tools that I couldn't live without it would definitely have to be my trusty iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. I use that with the Procreate App for most of my digital work and it really cuts down on the time that I spend from sketching to final piece so dramatically that I think it's really worth the investment for any letterer or illustrator out there. But aside from these I still really love to use my sketchbooks and my pencils because there's really nothing that could digitally replicate the feel of a real pencil and paper and it really makes your work look different when you use the analog tools. When I have time to play with my tools I like to use Micron and Staedtler pens and sometimes even watercolors and when I work on my computer I'll use Photoshop for image editing and for mockups, InDesign for all of my graphic design work, Illustrator if I need to vectorize anything and AfterEffects for editing all of my videos.
A large portion of your design work is in lettering, what drew you to typography?
I think in a way I've always been drawn to lettering even before I knew what it was or that it was something you could do professionally. I've just recently found some really old lettered drawings that I made in high school of the names of my favorite bands lettered on little scraps of paper that I forgot even existed. My background is in fine arts and I've been drawing and painting and taking art classes ever since I was about six years old. But then when I was in high school and applying to college I realized that unless I wanted to be a teacher, which wasn't something I thought I was going to be good at, I probably couldn't make a living painting so I decided to try graphic design. What I loved about graphic design when I started learning it was typography and I loved to design these big beautiful graphic headers using type and that's really what drew me to magazine design. I would always see magazines like Esquire and Harper's Bazaar use type in such bold and dramatic ways and it was really something that I wanted to do. So while I was in college I started interning at Hearst Magazines and I eventually got my first job there and I worked there for seven years. I did miss drawing though and I would always try to inject illustrations and lettering into my everyday work and I would always look at people like Marian Bantjes and Jessica Hische and I would see them doing lettering and I realized that it was something that was actually a profession, that it was a field that you could actually go into. But when I tried it back then I wasn't really any good at it so I thought that it wasn't something that was for me. It wasn't until about 2017 when I decided to dedicate an entire year to lettering every single day where I realized the power of practice because I saw my work getting better and better and I realized that maybe this is something that I could do. Lettering combines my love of typography and drawing so perfectly that I can't believe I didn't know about it sooner. I think I was really just about the journey for me to get here.
What industries are you currently designing for and what industries would you like to break-into or focus on?
I work in various different industries. I've designed greeting cards for big card companies, food lettering for food companies, I've done chalk lettering for local businesses, logos for startups and calligraphy for big company events or for people's weddings. I would like to break more into lettering for magazines and advertisements, as well as do more food lettering because I enjoy it so much. I'd love to also be able to work on gift card designs for big companies like Target and Starbucks and definitely do more greeting cards. There's just so much you can do as a letter and designer that I really don't want to limit myself to any one thing in particular. I constantly try to push myself to step out of my comfort zone and I think that doing various different types of work is really what helps me evolve and get better as a letterer.