Interviews: Callie Hegstrom of Make Media Co.
A new interview with the lady who has an amazing portfolio and collection of fonts as well as a hilarious Instagram feed. Read on to learn a little bit more about Callie Hegstrom from Make Media Co.
With a quickly-growing Instagram feed of highly-relatable and uniquely charming hand-lettered quotes, Callie Hegstrom is probably someone you’ve already heard of. Especially if you’re into the brush lettering/calligraphy scene. Between being a mother, and running her own business, she is a busy lady however I was lucky enough to ask her a few questions and gain a little insight into her world. Enjoy!
Can you give me a brief introduction of who you are?
Hi! My name is Callie Hegstrom. I’m the designer behind Make Media Co. I have an adorable little boy, a wonderful husband, and a tiny home office (a.k.a. The Living Room), in which I create all my goods. Oddly enough, I have a degree in Journalism and another in Web Design, but I somehow landed on hand-lettering and font design in recent years. I really love what I do and I hope that it shows.
How do you take your coffee?
Black. Don’t you dare put any cream or sugar in my Organic Medium Roast. What can I say, I’m a purist.
How & when did the transition from graphic designer to full-time letterer occur for you?
I should probably give you a little backstory before I answer that. Ready? After I had my son, I really wanted to do something more relaxed (with the possibility of passive income), while I spent time with my little guy. I had been freelancing for about 7 years before then, and had anywhere from 3-7 clients at any one time; including a series of bi-annual coupon booklets, and a part-time client which required weekly travel. I honestly just couldn’t keep up with client demands and a newborn, so I took a brief, personal hiatus from freelancing. On a whim, I started designing flyer templates and ‘Save the Date’ cards for GraphicRiver.
To my surprise, they actually started selling, and whenever I found time, I’d add to my portfolio. When I heard about Creative Market, I jumped on the chance to join a new marketplace. I started with illustration work and within a year or so, that turned into font design. At that time, the hand-lettering movement was in full-swing, and I was wildly inspired to give it a try, so I started practicing whenever I got the chance. I forced myself to do a ‘daily Instagram post’ just to polish my skills. In roughly 6 months, it went from being a ‘fun hobby,’ to how I define my career. My style is continually evolving too, but I think that’s what keeps my work fresh and interesting. Or at least, I hope people find it interesting.
Where did the name ‘Make Media Co.’ come from?
It was basically my husband and I sitting around brainstorming ‘catchy names,’ and checking to see if they were already taken. We came up with some gems, but most of them were previously registered business names. I think we settled on Make Media Co. simply because it was available. Ha ha. It does roll off your tongue though. And I am a ‘maker of media,’ so it works.
What are your biggest sources of inspiration for the designs you create?
I find inspiration in the strangest of places. I notice the graphics on people’s shirts, mugs, totes, tags, etc. I love packaging, and have been known to buy products just because they ‘look cool’. I visit card shops, antique stores, clothing stores, art stores, etc. My phone harbours a bevy of photos that I’ve taken while walking through a mall or at a farmer’s market. There really isn’t a single place that I turn to for inspiration. It honestly finds me. When I’m receptive to it, inspiration is everywhere.
Of all of the products in the Make Media Co. catalogue, which is your personal favourite and why?
For some reason, I still really like Bellissimo. That font just came together for me. It started as an experiment, but once I began putting letters together, I felt like I needed to make it into a usable typeface. It’s just really organic and unusual. At this point, I’ve seen it used on everything from business cards to apparel, and I think it works beautifully in so many applications.
What are some of your favourite tools for lettering?
I was pretty obsessed with watercolor inks and fine-tipped brushes for a while. Then I drifted to those gorgeous, FineTec metallics and a calligraphy nip, but slowly moved back to your basic, black Hydrus ink and a Niji watercolor brush. Recently, I invested in an iPad Pro and Apple pencil. This has been my latest obsession. It definitely speeds up the lettering process (once you get the hang of it), but I do miss the feeling of paper and ink. I think I’m going to divide my time between ink and digital. They both have their pros and cons, but if you’re a traditionalist, I think you’ll always gravitate back to doing things by hand.
Being a mother who runs her own business, do you have any advice on how to create a nice balance between work & family and to stay motivated?
Ha, ha. No. I actually wrote a blog post about this very topic not too long ago. There’s no great way to balance work and family. At least not that I’ve found. A lot of people don’t know my backstory, and they aren’t aware that I have a young family, so they expect me to hold ‘normal’ work hours. I honestly haven’t had ‘normal’ work hours in years. I generally work nights, and when my son is in preschool. I’m rarely at my desk during the day, and generally have to answer emails and support requests on my cell phone, while making chicken nuggets. On most days, ‘work’ doesn’t start until after 9pm. But that’s what I signed up for, and it’s what works for me. ‘Busy & tired’ is my new “normal”, but I believe this is why Starbucks was invented.
You’ve got a great Instagram feed! Where did the inspiration to create these beautifully lettered, and highly relatable quote images come from?
Let’s be honest, self-deprecation is hilarious and highly relatable. Most of my posts are about coffee, donuts, Netflix or apathy. I get very little down time, so I have to live vicariously though my Insta feed. I don’t eat donuts or cake nearly as much as I talk about it. Nor do I have much time for Netflix. I do however, drink as much coffee as I talk about. That’s really just my mode of survival.
In your opinion, what is the best thing about your job?
Freedom. I have an enormous amount of freedom. I call the shots. I decide what to create and when. I decide how it will be presented. I decide when to release it and how to price it. I have complete autonomy over my work. I’m really not the type of person who likes to work under the direction of others. If I have a creative vision, I have to see it through, without interruption. Plus, if I need a sick day, I take it. I don’t have to clear it with anyone. My job is truly glorious. I have zero complaints.
What type of advice would you give an aspiring creative looking to earn a living with their passion?
Just put yourself out there. I realize that change can be a scary thing, and following your dream requires quite a big leap of faith, but you never know until you try. Five years ago, I would have never thought that I’d be in this position. But sometimes when you take a risk, incredible things can happen.