The Future Is Bright
It’s been around four years since I started pursuing lettering as a career though I wouldn’t have labeled the pursuit “a career” at the start.
Two years after graduating college, with an associates in Graphic Design, I was trying to find a way to get back to drawing — the thing that I had truly loved doing since I was a kid. Seeing as I was sketching out a lot of type for logos at the time, this searching for an excuse to draw again manifested itself in the form of hand lettering. It was the perfect blend of design and drawing. But at this time in my life I was also still very much in a place of self discovery as an artist. I had a general vision of what I wanted my artwork to do — inspire and encourage others to do the things that they loved — but I was still searching for the voice that would carry that vision.
While I was still in this season of discovery, opportunities presented themselves to me which no young artist in their right mind would turn down. They were huge opportunities for me - opportunities which I am so grateful for - but in taking those steps, I found myself settling down into a specific style and niche of work before I was done searching. Though this work was affirmed by those who found it online, I can’t deny that it had been heavily influenced by my peers.
Humble pie is tough to swallow but once it’s gone down it has an uncanny way of clearing the mind. As soon as I was willing to admit all of this to myself, I no longer felt the need to defend my work against the criticism of others and that included myself. I was finally free to start performing an honest assessment of my work and so I started asking myself some questions. What do I want my work to do? — to encourage and inspire others. I knew that. But, what was the subject matter and stylistic approach of my work communicating? — the good o’l fashioned tough guy. The way I was carrying myself did not inspire the effect that I wanted my work to have on people. My work had become a contradiction to the vision which had started it.
Sorry guys, but I am no tough guy, as hard as I may try to act like one from time to time. I like to smile in photos, make nerdy puns, read books, and act like a dork as often as possible. I don’t want to contribute to a culture of exclusivity, sarcasm, and pride. I want to communicate the things that I stand for and at the heart of those things is a very approachable, open- armed, attitude of love and forgiveness.
At the point of a realization such as this, one can either pretend like it had never happened or they can do something about it. But if I decided to act on this revelation, it meant that I would have to abandon the only outward facing, artistic, identity that I had worn since I started and this was a bit scary. I had spent the past three years drawing grungy letters, angry animals, snakes, lightening bolts, skulls and crossbones. People who followed my work hadn’t done so for whimsical scenes painted in primary colors. This new work will no doubt require a little different audience. This has been reflected in the fact that, since making the shift on Instagram and various other social media platforms, my inbox has been quite a bit quieter than it’s ever been. Call me crazy but I’m okay with that as long as it means moving away from a persona that I’ve come to realize just isn’t really “me.”
“So what’s next? Does that mean Yondr Studio is through?”
“Sort of but not totally.”
Though externally the shift is going to seem to have happened over night, realistically I don’t expect Yondr Studio will be closing its doors any time soon. Life goes on after all and my wife would like me to help keep the lights on. If I can do that without returning to my high school job as a floor guard at the local roller rink, that would be ideal. So I will be taking work as it comes in, whether that be through Yondr Studio or not. I imagine Yondr Studio will turn into more of the “design portfolio” whereas NathanDouglasYoder.com will from now on be my illustration portfolio. Regardless, I think artists do their best work when they are working from their strengths and contributing something fresh to the community that they are a part of. Hand lettering and branding is great but there are so many super talented folks specializing in that right now who, in my opinion, have a lot more experience and are doing a way better job at it then myself. This is why from now on I will be doing all I can to move away from the kind of work that is currently featured in the Yondr Studio book (including Yondr Flash) and closer to that featured in the NDY book.
On the NDY front, I would love to start using my work to share ideas rather than products. I would love to take on more editorial projects, dive back into animation (which I’ve always secretly dabbled in), and, even more so, I would love to write and illustrate children’s books. I’ve had a few stories of my own completed for a while now while waiting on the right illustration style to come along. Now that it’s here, I expect those stories will be coming together sooner than later.
Thanks so much to all of you who have shared a “like”, a kind word, or picked up a print from my online store over the past few years. It’s for you that I felt the need to write this note. Your support has been so encouraging. The future is uncertain but either way it’s bright and colorful.
See you all around,
See the new work and the process behind The Future Is Bright video at: