Elizabeth Gray - Letterer
I’m Elizabeth Gray, better known around the internet as @thegraytergood. I am an artist/creative person with a focus on hand-drawn letters, or ‘handlettering’. I’m an introvert who isn’t afraid to admit I struggle with “people-ing”, and when I started using art to express myself, I found that people all over the world are drawn to that kind of honesty. That humor and openness has become a distinguishing mark of my personal style, and I’ve created fun, custom lettering work for big brands, small restaurants, and everything in between. My style of work is usually characterized by the use of a monochromatic color palette and is always detailed, playful, and legible.
When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
Ever since I can remember, I’ve always wanted to work for myself, but I can’t pinpoint an exact time where I just wanted to be an artist. In fact, I never thought I was the creative type, even though now I can look back and see that I’ve always been creative in different ways. When I started getting into lettering, I struggled to call myself an artist because I thought I had to be ‘good enough’ or at least have a design degree in order to be able to introduce myself as an artist. But last year I really decided to define what I do and make a choice that this is who I am, not because I’m perfect but because it’s what my heart loves and it’s what I’ve worked hard for. As I’ve been public about my journey towards being confident and embracing my chosen identity as an artist, I’ve found that this is also something that a lot of people identify with!
How does your personal story/background influence your work?
Since I am a lettering artist, I work with words every day, so my personal story and journey has become a large part of my portfolio. I’ve had to learn what it means to embrace who God made me to be, and that that is okay to do! Once I started talking about my journey and my introverted feelings online, my audience started to grow because people related so much to what I had to say - despite me thinking that I was alone with how I felt.
When it comes to hand-lettered art, you’re not only using words to get your message across, but also color and letter style and illustration impact the overall mood of your piece. So each seemingly insignificant detail is oh so important, and everything is always influenced by exactly how I’m feeling in that moment.
Which of your works are you most proud of?
I’m truly proud of the works that I’ve created from a place of frustration but also works I’ve created when I’m overflowing with joy. Whenever I create something that I’ve always wanted to do or something that is a true, deep, authentic representation of how I’m feeling or a topic I’m passionate about, I can sit back and be proud of it.
What is the hardest part about being a professional artist?
Having to be creative on days where you’re not feeling inspired is hard, but dealing with the assumptions that come with being a professional artist is harder. Many people think it’s not a real job, or you can’t make a decent living being an artist, or they think it’s just a cushy job because “all you do is sit around and draw all day.” It’s so much more than that. I create for fun but creating is my job too - which means that I do more than just create. When doing what you love means having to deal with marketing yourself and managing client emails and writing contracts and keeping your finances in order, you learn a whole new meaning to the word “love”. You wear a thousand hats and do so many things that you don’t want to do in order to be able to just draw or paint a little each day. But in the end we do it, because being yourself is worth it!
Who are other artists that inspire you?
Some lettering artists that I really look up to are Becca Clason, Martina Flor, Jennet Liaw, and Ken Barber. They are all lettering artists, but they each have such a distinctive voice/style and work in so many fascinating mediums, from tactile lettering to mural painting.