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Conversations with the Inspiring Crystal Petersen

Today we’d like to introduce you to Crystal Petersen.

Crystal, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
As a child, the question “what do you want to be when you grow up” was always met with a matter-of-fact response. A tiger. I wanted to be a tiger. Obviously. I really took it to heart when my parents told me I could be anything I wanted to be. That response, however, became less and less acceptable the older I became, for obvious reasons.

Eventually, I started thinking about what job I wanted to spend my life doing. My obsession with art supplies and overactive imagination made it clear that the only career path for me was becoming some type of artist. At first, it didn’t really matter to me what kind of artist – so long as I got to create things and it wasn’t the “starving” kind. After a while, I found that I loved when strategy and creativity could intertwine to create something that was not only beautiful but also purposeful. This realization is what led me to the decision to become a graphic designer.

However, design is only half of the equation. My love for lettering was born during college while working on the handwritten, color-coded notes I used to study for each class. One day, I randomly decided the ampersand I used as an “and” symbol could use a little work. While looking for ways to improve (half out of procrastinating my studies and half out of an actual desire for better handwriting), I stumbled across the world of hand lettering by accident. From then on, I was hooked. I lettered as much as I could, every chance I got.

I started freelancing for branding design and hand lettering immediately after graduation. My business has changed a bit since then to focus more on calligraphy-inspired designs and providing resources for other letterers, but the love of what I do remains the same. If you ask me, I’m pretty sure getting to wake up every day and do what I love is way better than being a tiger any day.

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?
I think everyone faces ups and downs during their career paths, especially people who own their own business. I’ve had to learn a lot as I go, mostly about the “business” side of things like setting up systems and processes. There’s been a lot of “I don’t know what I don’t know” moments. I’ve never had anything so bad happen that I wasn’t able to fix or quickly recover from, and every situation has provided an opportunity to learn from my experiences and improve my business in the future.

My biggest piece of advice for other women, new business owners, or anyone who wants to make a living doing what they love, is this: Build an online community filled with industry peers, experts, and/or potential clients. Industry or Interest-Based Facebook Groups, Twitter, and Instagram are great places to do this, at least for anyone in the creative industry. No matter how you choose to build your community online, it’s important to keep a mindset of giving as much as you get. Don’t use FB groups as a place to sell or pitch, use them as a place to answer other’s questions with thoughtful, well-written, and valuable responses and to ask questions of your own.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into Crystal Petersen Design & Lettering story. Tell us more about the business.
I run Crystal Petersen Design a Lettering, where I serve creatives who are looking to use calligraphy or hand lettering to personalize their business branding, wedding day, event experience or even just their daily lives in a way that shows their unique style and personality. I’ve created hand-lettered business logos, day-of wedding decors such as place cards and welcome signs, resources to help others more easily create their own lettering, chalkboard menu signs, and more. Lettering can add a handmade touch to pretty much anything, and I really like the range of projects I get to work on.

I’m a firm believer in the concept of “community over competition,” in both my life and in my business. One of my business’ founding principles is to never stop learning, growing, sharing the wealth, and providing value to everyone I can. I love sharing what I’ve learned by helping others learn, improve, and monetize their own lettering so they can spend more time doing the kind of work that they love.

It would be great to hear about any apps, books, podcasts or other resources that you’ve used and would recommend to others.
“The One Thing” by Gary Keller is a book I recommend all the time. Reading it changed my mindset about life and the way I look at working on my business.

Other books I love: “Logo Design Love” by David Arley, “Steal Like an Artist” by Auston Kleon, and “The Calligrapher’s Business Handbook” by Molly Suber Thorpe.

The podcasts I listen to focus mostly on business strategy for creative women. A few of my favorites are: Being Boss, All Up in Your Lady Business, The Strategy Hour, and Creative Pep Talk.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Molly Weir Photography, Evan and Evan And Jenna Creative, Horn Photography and Design, Sarah Elizabeth Photography

Getting in touch: VoyageATL 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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