Or a growing list of things I would tell the younger me if I could go back

Often, I am asked by young illustrators and designers for any advice that I might be able to share on getting started in this line of work. Every time I respond to one of these emails what I really find is that I am, in a way, responding to myself—if not the me of today, at least some previous version. So rather than rewriting this email over and over again I figured I would simply share it once and for all, here, for anyone who might be interested in learning what I wish I could have learned a bit sooner…

For a long time I approached the betterment of my work through a trend-centric mindset. It kept me up to speed with what was going on in the industry but that’s about it. There was no real forward movement in terms of my own personal artistic skill and personality.

Over the course of the past two years, I have begun spending less time concerning myself with what is on trend and more time studying the elements and principles of design. This kind of betterment is much slower, requires more reading, and leaves less time for sharing work. …

Once there stood trees, here
Ripe with good fruit
Their trunks had grown strong
By the reach of their root

Wisdom and virtue
Were layered within
Wrapped thick in a coat
Of durable skin

In light from the sun
These giants delighted
To the helpless, protection
Their branches provided

One day a gale
Blew in from the east
A tempestuous mob
The axe had a feast

Adolescences and youth
Were given control
The keys of the forest
To worm and to mole

In darkness and tunnels
These shadows conferred
A way of their own
A pot to be stirred


Creativity is one of the most rewarding things in life but it can also be equally discouraging when we hit a creative wall.

There are a few questions that I like to ask myself when I come up against such a wall. These questions have been beneficial to me in getting through creative block and so I thought I would share them with you.

You’ll note that I’ve tried not to dive too far into the specifics of how these ideas manifest themselves in my own creative process—comparing our process with another’s is a great way to add to the wall before us. …

How do you move on after you feel that you have shared with the world the most important thing you could possibly share?

On September 4th, 2017, my wife–Katherine–and I lost our baby boy, Simon Alexander Yoder, on the day that he was born into the world. We knew Simon faced severe complications from week 6 when we found out at his first anatomy ultrasound appointment that he suffered from renal agenesis— a condition in which a newborn is missing one or both kidneys. In Simon’s case, he was missing both which meant he wasn’t producing the amniotic fluid needed for his lungs and various other body parts to develop correctly.

Shortly after my wife and I got the news, we decided to…

A couple weeks back my wife and I went in for our first anatomy ultrasound to check in on how our baby was doing and to hopefully get a chance to find out the gender. That being said the last thing on our minds was the possibility that there may be complications with the pregnancy. Everything had been going according to plan up until this point and so we were anticipating an exciting evening spent with family, revealing the gender of our baby, and exploring names for the little guy or girl.

During the ultrasound it was a bit hard…

Recently I finished The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. The story follows a family of Oklahomans, the Joads, who are migrating west to California in search of work during the harsh conditions of The Dust Bowl during The Great Depression. Once they reach California, their desperation is met with the greed of plantation owners unwilling to pay sustainable wages or share the excess of their crops with the starving families of the migrants. The desperation of these migrants draws them together to depend on one another. At one point the Joads find refuge in a community of migrants who…

I want to be authentic so I know just what I’ll do.
I’ll analyze my every move until I’m just like you.

I want to be creative - originality of mind.
So let me study all the greats ‘til their work looks like mine.

I want a life of comfort. Yes, I think I need more stuff.
What? Not now, I can’t relax. I’m tending to my fluff.

I want to be accepted: to be in the inner ring.
So tell me what to wear, how to act and what to think.

I want someone to love me for who…

There’s a mountain far above me
And way out in the distance
I know it’s there though to be fair
Doubt often gives resistance

“Have you ever seen it?”
One will ask me as I travel
“All I have is evidence
These rails upon the gravel”

For moving up and down the climb
A train who’s load is light
More than once has found me
Heavy laden in the night

From its cars, I’m free to take
Whatever I may need
And in return I send my thanks
I send my word and deed

It never fails, it always comes…

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…

Dark Water

The Illustrated Journal of Nathan Yoder. NathanDouglasYoder.com

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