Favorite Things, Vol. II

Two weeks in a row! I'm as shocked as any of you. Who knows where this could go! It's been a busy week with my day job of nannying and some art projects and getting some spring cleaning done, but I'm still here and somehow still make time for finding internet things I love. Sleep? Ehhhhh. Very healthy priorities, as you can see. Anyway...

Timothy Goodman is someone I've recently begun following on Instagram and this image is from his latest project, entitled 12 Kinds of Kindness. He and some volunteers created this kindness wall around Trump Tower in NYC today, and his article on his reasoning both behind this act and how much more we need to emphasize kindness in America is eloquent and wonderful.


When It's Good To Be Bad : Living in a culture so focused on successsuccesssuccess can get real draining, real fast. This article proposes that taking breaks and knowing failure is inevitable are critical in order to accomplish any sort of goals. A very refreshing read for the recovering perfectionist inside of me.

An Open Letter to Donald Trump : All notes about how millennials love open letters aside, this eloquently worded piece from the creator of the brilliant Humans of New York sums up why opposing Donald Trump is "no longer a political decision, but a moral one."

This Four-Letter Word Is The Swedish Key To Happiness At Work : Going to a university where I met plenty of Swedes and learned a smattering of random Swedish words, I also learned about fika, and want to make everyone have it all the time. Our culture can be so hurried and therefore harried, and I'm always looking for time to slow down and take a breather. Might as well take a breather AND get more caffeine in my system, right? 

I Try To Keep My Skeletons In : An absolutely fascinating read from a mortician on the cremation of a stranger, and being present for someone's last moments.



This Team Is Simulating A Mission To Mars To Understand The High Emotional Cost Of Living There : Science + Emotions = My Favorite. A really interesting look into how emotionally fraught the Mars exploration may be.

SNL Explains Why Feminist Songs Are Impossible, Creates Feminist Anthem Anyway : SNL is great, feminism is great, catchy songs are great, sass is great. This has legit been stuck in my head since I heard it.

"Good Grief" by Lucius : Lucius is one of my favorite bands, and their new album covers all sorts of ground, from dancey to pop to ballads - fronted by two badass ladies who you can usually find matching, I've hardly stopped listening to it since it came out on Friday. Check it out now!

T-Pain Tiny Desk One and Two: Admittedly, my knowledge of hip-hop and rap is small, but growing. I've long loved the Tiny Desk concerts from NPR, and when I saw T-Pain's first Tiny Desk, I had NO idea what to expect, given the amount of autotuning in most of his music I knew. But I found myself simultaneously giggling at the bizarre nature of a stripped down concert from T-Pain and blown away by how talented he was, just singing along with a basic keyboard backing him. He did a more full scale concert at the end of last year, and I was again at the juxtaposition of laughter and awe.



Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection : A beautifully worded talk on how critical it is to encourage both boys AND girls to strive for bravery, whatever that looks like for them.

Thumbs Up For Rock and Roll : I'm ALL about the inspirational YouTube video, and have sent this one in particular to some of my favorite people this week. Now we can all watch it and believe in ourself. I KNOW YOU CAN BELIEVE IN YOURSELF.


May your week be full of kindness, bravery, and plenty of good music!



Favorite Things, Vol. I

Last week, I thought for about the one kajillionth time that I really ought to be doing some sort of more regular blogging. I've been wanting to for awhile, and it's not just something I feel like I "should" be doing, but something that I think will be good for me. Light & Pine, while primarily focused on my art and my process and my shop, is also still a big part of my life, and my life is full of all sorts of things and inspirations. So I'm going to attempt to do a weekly sharing of some of my favorite things - people, places, internet things, books, cute videos, words - and see where it goes! Tuesdays have always seemed like a strange day of the week to me. It's not quite Monday, but it's still the beginning of the week and it's still a bit of a struggle to get going, at least for me. Maybe this will help, maybe it won't, but we won't know until we try! So heeeeere we go! 

And before we get to any of this favorite things business, a very happy International Women's Day to all of you! I would be nothing without all the badass, inspirational, stunning, creative, talented, caring, devoted, and incredible women in my life (and the men who support those women) - here's to celebrating those babes, working towards equality, and smashing the patriarchy everyday.

(Image courtesy of Amy Poehler's Smart Girls, found here)


What Women Find in Friends That They May Not Get From Love by Rebecca Traister, NY Times

Nine Learnings From Nine Years of Brain Pickings by Maria Popova, Brain Pickings (an older piece, but I refound it this week and boy oh BOY is it brilliant, as is all of Brain Pickings)

The Gendered Way We've Learned to Ask Questions Is Terrible for Both Men and Women by Elizabeth Weingarten, Quartz

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson (my most recent book I've read and WOW did it make me have all the feels. I cried, I laughed so hard I snorted into my beer, I felt okay being human - an abso-frickin-lutely stunning read about real life.)

(Check out Quartz for a wonderful way to get the news!)



I'm kind of a fan of this whole let's-release-secret-albums plan, and although my hip hop knowledge is pretty limited, Kendrick Lamar's new album is phenomenal on so many levels. If you didn't get a chance to check out his performance at the Grammys, make sure you do now. 

I love NPR, I love good live music, and I only wish I had been able to be at the All Songs Considered Sweet Sixteen concert. Two of my favorite sets were by The Suffers, who made me feel alive and empowered and amazing and do some intense seated dancing, and Glen Hansard, who could sing the ABCs on repeat and I'd be gloriously happy, but who chooses to sing his own songs and has my heart forever.



Stop Saying "Sorry" If You Want to Say "Thank You"

To Anyone Who Thinks They're Falling Behind In Life by Jamie Varon, Huffington Post

Don't Think About The Future by Christopher Butler

I recently finished Amanda Palmer's book The Art of Asking, and it absolutely blew me away. If you also struggle with asking or if you need a reminder that you're not the only one who struggles with The Fraud Police or if YOU ARE A HUMAN, please give it a read. Her TED talk is also a great place to start, and if you get a little teary, then RUN and go get the book.

The Internet is a funny, terrifying, beautiful place, and I'm so damn grateful to have met some of the most wonderful humans because of it. I've followed Nora McInerny Purmort's story for awhile, and I have lost track of the times I've read through her blog and cried and been enraged and astonished at this whole life business. The way she crafts her words is stunning and heartwrenching and honest and true, and if you've somehow missed any of her writing, change that NOW. She is so many things and is doing so much good in the world - her work at Still Kickin and her writing and her honesty - and I'm so glad for her voice in my life. She is one of my most favorite Internet Friends, and we got to meet up and become Real Life Friends not too long ago, and her upcoming book is going to BLOW. YOU. AWAY. Preorder it right now. Do it. Stop stalling. The link is right there. Until it comes out, try and satiate your penchant for badass ladies who write about REAL things with anything she writes - here's some to start you off:

I'm A Young Widowed Mom, and I Make People Uncomfortable

My Husband, My Boyfriend, and Me

You Do Not Have To Be Good

Oh Shit, Am I A Mom?


To badass ladies, dancing while seated and standing, and lots of talk about real life. Happy Tuesday!



All The Things: Brené Brown at 99U

Approximately two years ago, my life was going in a few directions I hadn’t expected at all, and I was not in a great place. Friends, relationships, jobs – there was hardly anything that I had anticipated, and quite a few of them were painfully surprising. I’ve long been a fan of TED talks, and had been hearing great things about Brené Brown’s talks, so I decided to check them out. If you know me now, you’ll know that I’m ALL about her work, which you can find through her first and second TED talks, as well as her incredible book, Daring Greatly. Reading the book is one of those experiences where you suddenly know that these are the things that are so tricky and so worth it and so hard to begin doing. Her work on things like vulnerability and connection and authenticity has influenced me greatly as both a human and an artist, and I was excited to find a talk she gave recently at the 99U Conference on vulnerability, specifically regarding creativity.

Her book title comes from a speech Theodore Roosevelt gave at the Sorbonne in 1910, which has come to be known as the Man in the Arena speech. It talks about how the critic isn’t the one who really counts, how it’s not about pointing out how people could do things better or how they have already failed. But that in fact, it is all about the person in the arena, the one actually doing all the things, the one covered in dust and sweat and blood, and the one who tries again and again and again. It is about the willingness to go back in, time after time, even (and especially) when you know that you may not succeed. It is about the truth that if you win, you know true success, and if you lose, you do so daring greatly. You’re out there trying and giving your whole self, and it’s not always fun, but it is extraordinarily important.  Brené jumps off of this central theme – that of daring greatly – and applies it beautifully to creativity. She reminds us in this talk that if you want to show up and be seen in your work and your life, “there is only one guarantee: you will get your ass kicked.” No one tells you about the ass kicking when you’re dreaming or just excited about a project without having thought through the details. No one warns you about the ass kicking found in long days and short nights and lack of sleep and printer miscommunications. It’s hard. Life can be hard. AND we need to remember that the ass kicking and the losing and the failing is part of showing up and being seen and daring greatly.

I think the biggest thing I took away from the talk was one of her first points – about the perspiration that comes from fear, the perspiration that comes when we are talking about something we care about deeply or have worked on for a long time or is incredibly meaningful to us. I don’t know about you, but in my experience, it is absolutely terrifying to even think about sharing an idea outside of my brain. Once it’s out of my brain, it could be something that is real, and in my let’s-go-immediately-to-the-worst-case-scenario brain, that means that it could be a failure. Is failure guaranteed? Definitely not. But it is still a possibility, and it’s not a fun one. As I’ve been navigating my experience as an artist, and even my journey to calling myself an artist, it’s been anxiety-inducing and stress-dream-creating and so much more. The voices of my critics say things like, “You didn’t go to school to be an artist!” or “You hardly have any experience! How could people want you?” or “You don’t know anything about graphic design, so how could you make any progress in such a digital age?” Critics are hard. And as she reminds us, the critics will always be there. There’s no getting away from them, especially the top three critics of shame, scarcity, and comparison, as well as what often turns out to be our harshest critic – ourselves. But if we reserve seats for them, knowing what they will say before we are in those situations, we can be prepared to hear them and see them, but to show up and do whatever it is that we are doing anyway.

While the critics can be really loud and a bit too present at times, we also get to reserve seats for the people on our home team. Your home team is made up of the people who tell you how awful it truly was, and how brave you were. They tell you how it’s time to get back out there, and continually love and support you in big and small and average ways. And the best part? They don’t love you despite your imperfections. They love you BECAUSE of them. I’m absolutely flabbergasted most of the time when I think about the people who make up my home team, and the people who have supported me on this journey so far. I would be absolutely nowhere without them, or any of you, and could not be more grateful. As I’m embarking on some exciting projects and learning to see my critics and acknowledge my gremlins and show up anyway, I hope you do too. You’re much too important and valuable to keep yourself down, you beautiful, talented, brilliant, powerful musk oxen.


PS: For my show currently up at Baker Miller, I made this piece of the Theodore Roosevelt quote - if you're in Chicago, you can go see it in person and get some ridiculously delicious baked goods while you're at it! 

Behind the Scenes: Wedding (Matt & Erin)

Although I’ve had the incredible opportunity to work on wedding invitations in the past, I haven’t quite done anything as involved as this invitation suite, and it was such an incredible process. It took a lot of time, and required a lot of time and effort, but being able to do it for a dear friend and doing so with such an incredible support system made it seem like no work at all. I thought it might be fun to see the process that goes into something like this, so here’s a little behind the scenes for you!

I met Erin in high school (maybe junior high?) and she has long been someone who is constantly a light and joy. Although we didn’t keep in super regular touch throughout college, whenever we did get to see each other, we simply picked up where we left off, and I couldn’t be more grateful for her. She got engaged to Matt, a wonderful man, last fall, and the three of us met over the holidays while we were all in Minnesota to talk about what they were wanting. After we got some ideas together, I started sketching out ideas for the four pieces they were wanting: an invitation, a details/directions card, an RSVP postcard, and an invite to the rehearsal dinner.


Plenty of emails and text messages later, we had our final invitation design, and were working through the wording for the other pieces, so the first big step was complete!

Now that everything was finalized, my next step was to handwrite each piece, so I sized everything out and very carefully made each piece as neatly as I could.

However, as I am human, there were a few mistakes and smudges and I also accidentally spelled a word wrong (OH DEAR). Thankfully, I was already working with a graphic designer friend of mine who was going to be cleaning things up and adding color and sizing the pieces for print, so I had a little room for errors. Once they were complete, I sent them her way, and she worked her magic so I could send them to the printer and anxiously await the proofs, which absolutely did not disappoint.

I don’t usually do a lot of doodling, but Erin and Matt had wanted to include little doodles and pops of color, and it was really fun getting to play around with something out of my comfort zone! I also got to do the addressing (including one to The President & First Lady – apparently they’ll send you a congratulatory card which is SO COOL), and just love the combination of the blue envelopes and the cream invitations.

In short, it was an incredibly fun project, and I’m hoping to have the chance to make more in the near future! 


There Is Only Make

Hello, and welcome to my blog! If you are reading this, it means I managed to stop distracting myself with looking at tattoo artists and listening to TED talks and trying to decide which book to read next and cleaning my apartment long enough to sit down and write something. Not that I ever try and do too many things at once. 

Helen Handlettering Edits-78.jpg

For any new friends, my name is Helen, and I am a creator of many types of handlettered goods currently based in Chicago. You can read more about me and the adventure that is Light & Pine here, about the year of lettering that led me to where I am here, and get in touch here! I’m looking forward to having this blog as a space to share people and art and words and music I find inspiring, to share my thoughts on any number of various topics, to write a little more than I do on my sometimes-too-long-Instagram posts and overall to give Light & Pine a more personal touch and behind-the-scenes look at my life and my work. 

This quote from Sister Corita Kent comes from her list of Art Department Rules for a class she taught at Immaculate Heart College in 1967-1968. During my year of lettering, I found this quote to use for the final day of the year and think it says so very, very much about what I believe to be true about creating: “There is no mistake. There’s no win and no fail. There is only make.” Art and creativity and making can be such tricky things. There always seems to be an underlying current of comparison and you-are-not-quite-enough and who-do-you-think-you-are, and it can be so damaging. The way she puts it is difficult and simple all at once: there are no mistakes, no wins, no failures – only making. It’s such an easy thing to hear, and so much more difficult to put into practice and to believe, and also so important to start doing so. As I start this journey of art as a business, I’m sure there will be some things that may not entirely feel like a win, some things that will definitely feel like failures or mistakes, but they will all be things that I have made. Thank you times infinity and beyond for joining me on this adventure! 

You can find the entire list of rules here, from one of my favorite websites, illustrated by Lisa Congdon, who has been a big source of inspiration to me as well.