Hello! I recently discovered Zuer Designs on Instagram, and I absolutely loved the clean lettering and simplicity with which Jo creates! I contacted her to get some more insight on her work, and here’s what she had to say.
Please tell me a little bit about yourself.
Hello! My name is Jo, I’m 21 years old and I’m the creative designer behind Zuer Designs. I’m currently a student here in New Zealand, in my last year of my undergraduate studies. Handwriting related arts have been a passion of mine ever since I was 8 or 9. I’m also a huge stationery junkie and love collecting pens (especially fountain pens) which helped to fuel my handwriting passion.
I remember from when I was younger that for every friends’ birthday I would buy them an art or crayon set. Looking back now, I should have considered the appropriate toy, but obviously, stationery was, and is, more important! Apart from lettering and writing related things, I am known to be a bit of a Minecraft fan. I was that one girl who spent her whole summer stuck glued to her computer playing Minecraft. I’m actually a bit embarrassed to admit that, but we all have embarrassing moments, right? In the next few years I aim to pursue postgraduate studies while growing Zuer Designs on the side.
What is your creative process like?
My current creative process begins with finding a source of inspiration which is often times based on my emotions and the mood at that moment. If anything significant is going on in my life, it reflects through my lettering pieces. Same goes for any inspirational pieces that I find. It sticks with me until my next piece of work. I’m an avid journal writer as well, so all my thoughts and ideas are noted down. I constantly flip through my journals when I’m stuck for ideas. I also like to take lots of breaks to make sure I actually like what I created two days later. Kind of like self reflection. Enjoying what I do is ultimately the most important part of my creative process.
What are the things that inspire you the most?
Definitely the works I see on Instagram. I love following different creative individuals and getting inspiration from their pieces. Alongside drawing inspiration from my emotions, I’m also inspired by the lovely atmosphere and environment in New Zealand. So when I do use colour, I draw from the colours I see around me.
How did you get started with lettering/calligraphy? What keeps you motivated?
I got interested in handwriting thanks to the penmanship lessons we used to have in primary school (pen licenses, anyone?), which eventually evolved into a love of hand lettering over time. I actually discovered lettering through the explore feature of Instagram. I thought it was really neat and wanted to give it a go of my own. Believe me when I say that I was absolutely horrible in the beginning! I did give up at one point but the encouragement from my friends kept me going. Every time I bump into a friend that I haven’t seen in a while, they always talk about the lettering that they see me post on social media, which really makes me smile and keeps me going.
What would your ideal day be like?
My idea of a perfect day would definitely consist of lettering and playing Minecraft while sipping coffee. If I’m with friends, I quite like relaxing at the beach or getting together to have a good meal. I’m always down for exploring new and interesting eateries.
In the midst of creativity and life, how do you keep yourself focused?
It’s almost as if lettering is part of my life. It sounds so cheesy but I always spend an hour or more of my day sitting down and writing something down. Whether it be in my journal or lettering, I always have to do it. I don’t have to set aside time for it, it kind of just happens. It’s never a chore.
What’s the part in your creative process that makes you the happiest?
Seeing the final product makes me really happy. I know that for a lot of other people, seeing others happy with their work makes them happy, but for me, I feel like I have to be happy with the final product myself before I share it with others.
How do you juggle a business along with maintaining your creativity at the same time?
I’m not exactly an expert since I only just started my small biz less than a month ago, but I think that being creative part of starting or owning your own business. If you’re not creative with your ideas, you won’t stand out from the crowd, so having a business means that you’re always challenging yourself and coming up with new, creative ideas. You’re becoming more creative as your business grows. It’s kind of a cycle, you see.
What is the hardest (and easiest) part about starting a creative business?
The hardest part for me was actually taking the plunge and opening my Etsy store. I toyed with the idea of starting up Zuer Designs for almost a year before I made an account on Etsy. It then took me another month to actually decide to open up a store and set everything up. After I made the commitment, everything because a little easier, although nothing is really that easy in the beginning! The easiest part for me was deciding what I wanted to be involved with, which was hand lettering.
Just for fun: What’s your favourite colour and outfit staple?
My favourite colour is a dark purple. Clothing wise, I’m pretty much always seen in head to toe black which I would like to get out of but it’s such a comforting clothing colour! My staple would be either a plain black tee or my black Dr. Marten boots – I can’t decide since I always wear them together!
How did you come up with the name for your brand?
Zuer is actually my Chinese first name phoneticised, and the Design part is self explanatory, haha. I wanted to bring in a bit of myself into the brand so I thought that my name would be interesting.