I recently met a fellow artist on Twitter. Her bright smile and her brilliant art in the black wall behind her is hard to miss. She was engaging with her audience through polls and offered hand lettered names as a gift for those who participated and that's how I became acquainted to the fascinating Maria Oben.
Maria has been a Chalk Mural Artist for the past three years and has been teaching Calligraphy and Hand-lettering on Youtube as well but that was not exactly where her career started. I was curious to get an interview from her and surely enough, she had a hell of a story to tell. So here it is!
What drove you to start lettering as a career?
Maria: The way I started my lettering Career was DIY’ing crafts. I started to stop at one of my favourite home decors stores called Marshall’s. I wanted to decorate my room with those signs with your basic “Live, Love, Laugh” sign or something witty, but once I looked at the prices for it, I laughed and said to myself:
I didn’t want to be that person that just said it, so I took immediate action and started with Lettering the word “Faith” into a string art project. About 3 months later, I decided to sell it in my parent’s thrift store.
How did this interest then turn into a full time career and then expanded to a Youtube Channel?
Maria: Can you believe I was a Pizza Delivery Girl here?! I was not your typical lady in NYC. It was so rare to see a woman deliver pizza, especially in the city.
Anyways! This was my first chalkboard, blank since the restaurant opened, 10 feet off the ground. I knew I wanted to do more chalk lettering/ murals for restaurants because I assumed owners liked to offer more than the taste of their food, and I was right. This chalk mural was done before I even started Youtube! Who would've thought that this was the beginning of it all.
Fun Fact: Before I was a Lettering Artist, I was a photographer for skateboarding and made a business called “Skatetography.”
You seem to have ventured into multiple streams - Photography, Lettering, Wall Murals, what are your next plans of venture in 2021?
Maria: Not exactly a change of stream is planned but I’m excited to showcase my digital artwork into the Crypto world in 2021 for my business. I believe the value is appreciated on another level.
What impact has vlogging/social media had on the lettering career?
Maria: Vlogging/ social media has caused my lettering career to be exposed to local news/ newspapers causing a domino effect to working with different types of businesses such as new opening restaurants, schools, and various communities with a cause.
What advice do you have for designers and artists who want to start their business in 2021?
Maria: The advice I have for designers and artists who want to start their business in 2021 is a cliched and a brilliant one.
START. Make a plan, take action, and go! Here’s an analogy for it: You’re going on a road trip. Do your research on where you’re going, there will be times where you need to stop and look at your map or get some gas. Just get it fixed up and drive!
And what advice would you have for the artists who want to create content to boost their business?
Maria: Tips I have for content creation in 2021 for designers and artists are a small notebook that fits in your pocket and a mapped out Content Calender. This can be digital or on paper. I do both. The notebook is for the times you’re out and about and have an idea. Stop and write it down. We’re intelligent, but we are not computers.
So that was Maria and her methods for running a creative business online. This blog is just an introduction to her but if you ever want to learn Hand Lettering, you should definitely subscribe to her Youtube channel. Here is a little peak into her classes and her social media handles.
Patreon: Maria Oben
What should be your key take-aways from this blog?
Careers need not start and end in the same field. You could always shift paths and try new things.
START. Just start and see where it takes you.
Write down all your ideas. They will then turn into content.
Put out content consistently to attract your ideal clients.
And lastly, Give generously.
Maria sending a simple note with my studio name hand-lettered is what began our friendship. She didn't ask for anything in return and just wanted to engage with her community which is why she has a true fan in me.
She gives generously with no expectations, thus she receives support with no asks.
Sending some support to all those who are making major pivots this year. I hope it turns out to be a massive success for you. Sincerely, Jayshree