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Meet Jane Gahng of Red Letter Day in Pasadena

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jane Gahng.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I started drawing and painting when I was in elementary school and started taking oil painting classes after school. As I practiced almost every medium I could possibly get my hands on, I took on a year abroad in Florence, Italy and got deep into drawing and painting at the Accademia di Belli Arti. It was the best thing I could’ve done for myself in college.

After graduating from college, I was trying to make money and thought I wanted to do the art gallery thing. I was pursuing this career by interning then becoming a gallery assistant then eventually working my way up to being a gallery director. I loved it in the beginning and as the job took its toll on me, I started to hate every minute of it. It was during that time that I remembered selling handmade greeting cards in Italy to make some money as a poor student. I had fun doing it and loved the freedom to make as many or as little as I wanted. So I decided to start making greeting cards again and selling them at holiday marketplaces and pop-ups.

Then in 2007, a friend messaged me and asked if I would be interested in making her wedding invitations. I had zero clues how to do anything non-manual, but it was fear and excitement that made me say yes. I quickly started to look up youtube videos, take online classes, sign up for workshops that had anything to do with design.

After I finished that first invitation, I was slowly starting to get inquiries in an industry where there was not a lot of great options for couples to choose their custom wedding invitations. I started to fill up my year with orders and requests and decided to quit my job as a gallerina and pursue this full time.

It took off pretty quickly after that and I was booked out a year and was starting to book the following year in January. My business grew so fast that I had no idea how to control it and it burnt me out. In 2012, I realized that I wasn’t doing my best work and just trying to churn out work that was less than what I expected for myself. It was after a long conversation with some friends and family that I decided to take some time off to figure out how to better myself and my business.

During the 2 years off, I started to get into calligraphy and wanted to get back and use this new tool for the pieces that I had been doing. It made me appreciate the arts again and had a broader perspective on what I could do.

Since 2014, I’ve had a variety of projects from designing wedding invitations, onsite calligraphy, special events, teaching watercolor classes, logo/brand identity projects and also a number of brands that I’ve been able to work with for a specific campaign. It’s grown exponentially since I started the new journey with RLD with the help of social media. The next phase is to grow as I’m starting to book more branding/logo projects as well as getting into murals and large-scale work!

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It definitely has not been a smooth road. I’ve had to learn everything on my own, reach out to others that are more experienced to find out how to manage things, start thinking about how to pay for another person to come in and help me… I have many high tides and many low tides, it’s all a very humbling experience.

My main struggle is taking on too much work and not being able to have a regular schedule like most people. I got burnt out when I first started and ended up taking 2 years off. So now I try to be aware of my workload and only take a limited amount of jobs.

Although during the wedding season, it gets a little crazy, I try my best to control this issue. I also work with mainly custom requests so this limits the number of people that want to even book my services.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Red Letter Day is a boutique event and lifestyle illustration & calligraphy studio. We offer custom illustrations & calligraphy services for clients looking for custom wedding invitations. This entails the stationery, day of pieces, signage, illustrations and custom event branding for the couple. We also work with clients looking for logos, special event campaigns, and the fun part is working with big brands and celebrities!

I proud to say that as an artist, I can offer many different things. Because I have an interest in so many different things, I try to learn as much as possible in those industries and pull from what I can to make a project special. I think being able to say that I have a diverse creative reach is my strong suit. I don’t ever think a project is ever too large or too small… the content and story is what we’re all about!

What were you like growing up?
Growing up, I think I was curious but shy. I think that’s why I was drawn to art. I would always “decorate” my homework with drawings or puffy paint. I wanted my homework to be on the wall in the class and be the most colorful which I would be so proud of.

Even though I grew up with strict Asian parents, and they wanted me to go to Harvard or Stanford and study medicine, law or be a teacher, I was always encouraged when I showed an interest and talent in art. I appreciate and am very grateful to my parents for that.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Adrienne Gunde (https://www.adriennegunde.com/)

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