July 14, 2017
Amy Latta is one artsy mama. Literally. The 2002 alumna is the mom, the talent and the businesswoman behind the blog, One Artsy Mama, and the brand new author of just released “Hand Lettering for Relaxation.”
Becoming a successful craft blogger and author wasn’t among Latta’s plans when she was an English major with an Education minor at McDaniel. Sure, the Honors student dreamed of being an author someday. Still, she could not have foreseen the path that took her from an English classroom in Carroll County schools to teaching ballroom, Latin and swing dancing to creating a crafting blog boasting more than 21,400 Facebook followers and 81,000 unique monthly pageviews and a book on the latest hot trend of hand lettering.
After her son was born eight years ago, Latta decided to take a break and stay home with him, but she found that she wanted to use her teaching skills, perhaps somehow combined with her love of art and creating.
“I stumbled upon the world of craft blogs by accident while looking online for projects to do with my son and immediately saw it as the answer I was looking for,” she says. “I decided to set up a simple blog and started posting craft projects in the hopes of inspiring other moms.”
Latta’s blog moved from hobby to profession when, in no time at all, she had a reasonable-sized following and companies wanted to work with her. Her son, known on the blog as Little Crafter, shares his mother’s love of creating cool stuff and her husband, aka “Hubby,” cheers them on even when he returns from work to find that their once-brown dining room set is now a white table with gray stencil surrounded by turquoise chairs.
In October of 2015, in the midst of the adult coloring book rage, Latta noticed that people were getting into hand lettering. It looked like fun — typically, she leaped right in.
“I think it's a natural progression from the coloring trend; people have enjoyed coloring the work of other artists, and now they want to create and color art of their own,” she says.
Major companies are using fonts that mimic the brush-lettered style. A few months ago, Starbucks released blank pastel-colored cups and encouraged customers to use markers to decorate them and, during the holiday season paid to use images of hand-lettered cups in their red cup commercial.
Latta’s hand-lettered holiday cup that she posted on Instagram the year before was among those used in the Starbucks commercial. Obviously artistic by nature, she taught herself hand-lettering techniques and shared them on her blog.
“In May of 2016, I approached a publishing company about the possibility of working with them to publish a lettering book, and they were very interested,” she says. “By June, I had a contract, and six months later the book was written and illustrated.”
As an English major, Latta honed her writing skills and learned a lot about good teaching in her Education classes. But critical thinking and problem solving skills learned at McDaniel are what she values most.
“I have had to teach myself everything about this industry,” Latta says. “In addition to being an author and teacher, I have had to become a computer programmer to create and maintain my blog itself, a marketing specialist to figure out how to monetize my blog and sell my book and a PR expert who reaches out to brands with whom I want to partner. I have had to advocate for myself, get my name out there, negotiate deals with companies including my publisher, and figure out how to stay on top in an ever-changing market.”
She’s had to think for herself and solve problems in an instant.
“I've had to learn and adapt to various forms of social media, interpret my analytics, and advertise,” Latta says. “No one course of vocational training could prepare a person for all of that.”
Although she will always regret not immersing in the College’s art offerings, Latta has consciously incorporated every aspect of her McDaniel experience into her career.
“While I was on campus, I worked in the Admissions Office — I even spent two summers working there too. It was so much fun, and even that helped me because I got practice speaking in front of others and marketing while giving tours,” she says. “I learned to explain things well and to help ‘sell’ the college, which helped me figure out how to sell what I'm offering to brands.”
A great joy, says Latta, is when someone who considers herself “not crafty” follows one of her tutorials and realizes that they can make something beautiful.
“Every week in my Facebook group, I have a thread where readers can share photos of their current projects, and it is more rewarding than I can express to see not just the lovely creations themselves, but the growing confidence of the creators,” she says.
Amy will lead a session for McDaniel alumni and friends on Fri., Sept. 29, from 6-8 p.m. using her interactive workbook to turn doodles into art. Cost is $25 per person and includes a signed copy of “Hand Lettering for Relaxation: An Inspirational Workbook for Creating Beautiful Lettered Art.” Advance registration required. To register and find more information, click here.
Amy Latta’s book, “Hand Lettering for Relaxation,” is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million and other bookstores.