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Meet Trailblazer Lanie Whitby

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lanie Whitby.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My name is pronounced LAW-KNEE and I am a lettering artist that was born in Los Angeles, CA off Sunset Blvd – now based in North County San Diego, CA.

I’ve always had a passion for writing which stems from my father who recently passed away (Rest Easy, Dad). In fact, I have vivid memories of him teaching me how to write at the ripe age of 4 years old. He always stressed the importance of having a really good signature. And ’til this day, my dad had one of the best signatures that I’ve ever seen.

I remember the repetition of writing the letter “a” on gray toned paper with a blue header line, a broken mid-line, and a red bottom line – the same paper that grade school teachers would hand out to their young and eager pupils. I was not in school yet, but I had a desk of my own that was set up in a room I shared with my older sister. Guided by the fluorescent light of a small desk lamp and the lines on the gray paper, I was spellbound. And it was during that time, that I distinctly remember falling in love with the art of hand-lettering.

At first, my career path was directed towards fashion since I graduated from the Fashion Institute in Downtown LA and I did not discover LETTERING (the art of drawing letters) until a few years ago. The first piece of lettered art that I created and posted publicly was after Lupita N’yongo’s Oscar’s acceptance speech in 2014 (https://www.instagram.com/p/lJjebKJWwB/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link) in which she said, “No matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid”. And that sentiment stuck with me. In an industry that is predominantly Caucasian, I did not have an example that looked like me whose footsteps I could follow. I had no clue that lettering could be a career path for me. But soon after posting that piece, I received compliments and inquiries on purchasing it as a print. Thus, the birth of LaniLetter Designs (www.instagram.com/laniletterdesigns). With the unexpected support from family, friends, and online strangers – my passion project quickly grew into a profitable business, ranging from finished goods to custom commissioned pieces.

My side hustle of slangin’ art prints online has grown into something bigger than I could have dreamed – LaniLetter Designs. And I find it serendipitous that it started with the quote, “No matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid” by Lupita N’yongo.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
As a Filipino-American woman, there was an immediate perception that I was going to be in the medical field (more specifically, a NURSE). But that was just not the case with me. Since I was young, I have always had a creative tick. And finding direction towards a creative career was not only difficult, it felt non-existent.

With that being said, I am striving to create a lane for creative Filipino-American females. To show that we do not have to be put in a box. Filipino-American women have a stigma of being submissive because our culture is so patriarchal. But I want to show the younger female generations, of any cultural background, that we can stand on our own and follow our passions.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about LaniLetter Designs – what should we know?
LaniLetter Designs is a collective of hand-lettered and hand-made goods. Using both hand-drawn and digital elements, I create hand-lettered items for typography art lovers, like myself, in hopes of sharing my love for letters and keeping the art of hand-lettering alive.

With my background in Fashion & Graphic Design, I offer a wide range of lettering styles and the sky is the limit.

Finding a mentor and building a network are often cited in studies as a major factor impacting one’s success. Do you have any advice or lessons to share regarding finding a mentor or networking in general?
As an outgoing introvert (yes, that’s a thing), I am not the biggest fan of networking. And I cringe at the idea of striking up conversations for a profitable gain. But what I will say about networking is – people will know if you’re genuine or not.

If you are truly passionate about a subject, surround yourself with like-minded people with similar goals. Make real connections with people that goes beyond what they do for a living. Remember that knowledge is wealth. And focusing on the numbers will get you nowhere. Jobs will come organically from the genuine connections that you create. I am a firm believer in manifesting your destiny. And what you put out is what you will receive.

Pricing:

  • Custom Orders are based on $100/hour labor and can be placed at: www.laniletter.com/customorder
  • Logo Design starts at $400 and the process can be started by placing a custom order: www.laniletter.com/customorder
  • Art Prints/Greeting Cards are also available in the LaniLetter Shop (ranging from $5 – $10): www.laniletter.com/shop

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
JVV Photography, Six Thousand Minutes Photography, Janey Pakpahan Photography

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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