Words, photos and video by Olivia Bauso
“Do you have something to say or are you just making noise?” - Lauren Hom (@homsweethom)
Local hand letterer, Michala Schram of Jade and Stone Design aims to always make meaning of the noise with her work. She explains, “I try to put as much heart into it as I can because these words mean a lot to me too; I don’t just write them.”
After picking up lettering as a hobby while working a desk job, Michala quickly realized her work could be much more than just something to pass time with. She first became interested in calligraphy and lettering back in 2016 when the trend was picking up steam on on Instagram. She wondered what this "pretty lettering" was and began following more and more lettering artists' accounts. She says, “ I wanted to challenge myself in something artistic. The lettering trend was really big on Instagram and I decided to let myself take on the challenge of practicing every day.” From there, people began noticing Michala’s skill, which led her to freelance opportunities. “I was even just offering my services for free all the time to practice and because it was really something fun that I enjoyed doing,” she adds.
Michala has always been a creative person, and attributes her artistic side to her grandfather. She says, “My grandfather was definitely a huge influence on me. He painted (primarily with acrylics and some watercolor) and always told me how relaxing it was. It was his way to get away.” She continues, “Looking up to him I started picking up the pencil and began to draw too.” In school, Michala’s art teachers continuously commented on her work and always encouraged her to push her art further. Michala explains, “I was always into pen and ink then, which is funny because it’s very similar to what I do now. It was just fun to see people noticing my skill, but I never thought it would turn into a career.”
Once Michala realized her lettering could lead to a viable career, she began to work from home full-time. This has allowed her to not only turn what she loves into her work, but also to spend more time with her 4 children. She says, “My kids are my biggest motivator. Before, when I would go to work they would see that I was unhappy and they never wanted to let me go. Now, they still don’t want me to shut away and do work, but they see the difference in my vibe and that I love what I do.” She continues, “They push me to do what I want to do and they see that I’m motivated in growing my business. My daughter even says she wants to be an artist like mommy!”
Of course, Michala can’t forget about the support of her husband in all of this. She says, “My husband is the best partner to have and he really pushes me to do the things I want to do. Everybody has those days where it’s just not fun, and he really brings me back to solid ground. It’s been really amazing to have him by my side.”
Michala offers a variety of products including mugs, prints, acrylic paintings, custom journals and custom lettering for weddings, events and gifts. Basically, if you can name it, Michala can write on it. She says, “Any quote that means a lot to you, I’d like to put on something you’re going to use every single day.” Her pieces are a collaboration of simplistic and raw designs and bright, bold, colorful, fun designs. She also offers a wide range of fonts with her lettering. She says, “It’s interesting because I’m finding that with each project I do, I kind of try new things and end up really liking what I try. So I feel like [my style] is ever-evolving, but it’s always casual and whimsical.”
Michala grew up in Marion, NY and still lives there with her family. She frequents Rochester spots Glen Edith and Fairpour for a latte when she needs a break from work (before jumping right back in!). Like any business in its first few years, Jade and Stone Designs has had its ups and downs. Michala’s goal for the next year is to find some consistency with the amount of work she has coming in and to continue building relationships with her customers. She says, “When you purchase from me, I become emotionally invested in you. Money doesn’t grow on trees and I really take that into consideration with my work. For me, giving people the best of what I personally have is really my biggest goal. You know, putting the time and investment into the project.”
In addition to working on custom pieces for customers, Michala has been putting more personal pieces together pieces to hang in her first gallery show, which will be on display at Rochester Brainery through the end of 2018. She says, “I feel like I’m still pinching myself in this idea. It's huge to be able to have a collection of pieces that you worked hard on and can showcase to other people. I do a lot of custom pieces, but this is who I am as an artist, how I express myself.”
Shop Michala's art and work from other local vendors our September Brainery Bazaar! As always, the first 25 people to enter the Bazaar will get a free tote bag filled with swag from our vendors and goodies from us. Or, learn how to letter yourself by trying one of her upcoming workshops.