Catching up with Lyn Tran from Draw & Explore.

Q - Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m a second-generation migrant, currently living in the beautiful city of Melbourne. My name is Lyn, and I’m the heart and soul (and ink stained fingertips!) behind boutique design and hand-lettering studio, draw&explore. My partner and I have a gorgeous husky called Cooper and I love letters and letterpress.

Growing up, my parents found it difficult to accept that design could ever be a successful career path. They suffered through many hardships during the Vietnam War and thought that being a doctor or a lawyer would bring the good and stable life they wanted for their children. It was only upon my graduation, where I designed a journal detailing my parents’ escape from the Vietnam War and gave it to them, did they understand the impact of design. I really love Sagmiester’s philosophy “Can design touch someone’s heart?” I definitely believe it can.


Q - What got you into the type game?

My fascination with type and lettering started in Japan and quickly became infatuated with their incredible craftsmanship and passion for beautiful handmade items, which really resonated with me. I
loved Japan so much that I decided to move there, where, in a tiny mansion in the heart of Osaka, I studied paper making, craft, lettering and calligraphy, and dreamt of the day I could do this for a living. Throughout my stay in Japan, I recorded my journey through hand- lettering in my journal. Fast forward 5 years, and I have transformed this knowledge of hand lettering, signwriting and print techniques into an unmistakable design style. I love combining playful hand-lettering, typography, illustration, unique print techniques and materials to create fun lettering designs that are bursting with happiness.


Q - Can you name any childhood memories of designing something?

My earliest memory of designing artwork would be when I was a teenager and was really interested in graphic design. My father ran his own textile business and I was assigned to create his business card. At the time, I was pleased as punch with my design where it featured a cute iron and sewing stitches. I look back now and I cringe, but what was most important was that my dad had faith in me to design an important aspect with his business. From then onwards, I started to study further and improving my design skills. If it wasn’t for this project, I would not be where I am today. Thanks Dad!

Q - What has been one of your most enjoyable jobs and why? (Please send us some pics of this work.)

One of my favourite projects is with Kate and Sam at #littlejarofhappiness. My task was to design and handpaint a mural with the phrase “I must have flowers, always and always – Claude Monet”. I instantly had heart eyes when I heard flowers and lettering in the brief. It was an interesting process as I rarely use a projector for large scale murals. My assistant and I arrived at the site at 4am, with our hoodies on and quickly outlined the artwork. We could see flashes and sirens going off behind us. The policemen got out of the car to chat to us. Despite, the fact we had permission from our client to paint their wall, I couldn’t help but feel extremely nervous. Turns out, they wanted to chat about the design and when we were expecting to complete the mural as this is their usual patrol area. I felt this particular piece really engaged with the community, as each person that walked by engaged in nothing but smiles and positive vibes, curious with anticipation more than anything. The interaction was priceless and supremely encouraging. The most rewarding aspect is hearing from the community, how much the mural has brightened their neighbourhood. And seeing all the selfies being posted on social media is the cherry
on top!


Q - Can you give us a bit of a run down on your process, the programs you use and any interesting quirks in the way you work.

One of my favourite processes in design is the opportunity to constantly experiment with ideas, especially with different materials and mediums. I really love to get my hands dirty with ink and paint!
I tend to work with pencils, brush pens, signwriting brushes and I’m a little obsessed with texture and paper. I love the fact we are surrounded by such amazing talent; there are so many creative people that inspire me to try new things, everything from techniques to mediums to materials – I’m a sucker for anything hand made.

Over the years, my processes of thinking and designing have changed. When I was younger, I had an extremely methodical approach – every element had to be perfect from the get-go. Working in different environments has challenged my auto pilot thinking and helped me become a much better designer. I’ve learnt all the rules, and call me a rebel but I also think some rules are made to be broken! It was only when I started experimenting outside my comfort zone (and of course constant practice) that I learnt to trust my instincts and take more of an organic approach.

My world has changed since the iPad has been introduced and expedited my process. It’s godsend! I tend to use my iPad to sketch my rough layouts and skeleton of my lettering. Then slowly evolve to finalise my sketch. Once I’ve refined the letterforms and concept, I will digitalise the artwork using either Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator.


Q - Any tips for emerging illustrators?

Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.

With social media, it’s a great way to connect with other designers, illustrators and the community.

Stand by your principles – even if it means passing up a job.