What I learnt from meeting Lauren Hom

Lauren Hom displaying her iconic ‘flour crowns’ as well as her chalk hand-lettering.

It was a typically busy Toronto afternoon.

However, it wasn’t so typical for me because I was feeling a happy-kind-of tired that comes from being continuously inspired from engaging talks at a conference filled with creative people.

When most people were filling up their third cup of coffee for the day at 2PM, I was happily planted in my seat and wide awake because I knew, although I’d never seen her videos or even followed her on Instagram before, that the upcoming artist named Lauren Hom would be amazing and her message would deeply sink in with me.

I couldn’t have been more right. And wrong, because it didn’t just sink in with me, it changed me and my whole direction.

Within two minutes of her talk, I couldn’t have been more happy to be listening: I had my eyes and mind wide open as she spoke about her story, her hilariously witty insights and her down-to-earth practically great advice for artists and creatives chasing their dreams in her talk, “How to Build a Serious Career with Silly Work”.

I learnt that she is not only an artist, but a very strong businesswoman who teaches workshops, creates books and commissions her hand-lettering around the world including in office spaces such as Google and Facebook.

She began when, for fun, she started hand-lettering “little lies” that people say everyday. The whole thing took off and became a book!

I love how inherently silly and brilliant, as well as hilarious the concept is. You can check out the blog here.

Back to her talk’s title, “How to Build a Serious Career with Silly Work”.

What an incredible title, even.

I feel like it encapsulates everything that I’ve been waiting AND wanting to do my entire life.

Of course, I’m still a student but creativity has always been infused into me.

My Dad, a photographer and entrepreneur has engrained this in me, running a full-fledged studio for over 30 years. He has taught me that you’re never too old to always create monster faces with your food, but most importantly, that you can do and create anything with your art, and of course, build a career with your creative passion.

But to build a legitimate career with silly work? What an incredible idea. I love witty slogans, as well as inspiring ones, and just in general, hilariously fun side projects.

The world needs more of it.

In her talk she spoke about how no idea is too silly. She said that she had an idea to make fun of the flower crown culture by taking photos of herself wearing cupcakes and baked goods as a crown and coined it “flour crowns”.

She was almost too afraid to even tell her friends.

She decided to go and guess what?

It took off on her Instagram and website.

People loved it.

Brilliant.

What I loved most about this story is that she had taken these photos in the back of her Grandma’s alley with nothing more than a simple coloured backdrop and a simple tripod and Canon point-and-shoot.

And they’re BEAUTIFUL images.

You don’t need fancy equipment, a lot of money or great drawing tools to start.

You just need to use your creativity IN your creative pursuits.

You can make anything work!

And plus, if you are creative with the approach, it makes the story of how you made that thing THAT much more original.

After laughing, feeling infinitely inspired and refreshed after her talk, I walked up to her (I was so nervous and excited) and complimented her on her down-to-earth approach to that project. I explained to her that my Dad is an entrepreneur (a big influence of mine) and has taught me that you can start from anywhere with anything.

She smiled wholeheartedly and agreed: “Yeah! Right?! You don’t need big fancy equipment to start.”

“You’re totally right. People tend to get their egos wrapped up in equipment”

It was amazing.

She told me that people tend to get so caught up in the details that they lose sight of the big picture.

We then chatted a bit about her approach, I explained to her that I’m an aspiring author and hand-letterer and she was so uplifting.

She asked me if I’d ever published a book.

I told her that I’d just finished publishing a book, Messy Minds, with my co-founder Soheila, in August and that we sold out of our first 100 copies

She was very encouraging and said, “I meant to mention this in my talk but I want to tell you something.”

I’ll paraphrase what she said.

You need to brag about the fact that you sold 100 copies. With anything, you can’t be afraid to talk about your accomplishments because it will only do you good.

People worry that it’s narcissistic to brag, but really it adds to your growth as an artist. If people judge you, or unfollow you for bragging, then they were never really meant to be a part of your circle/following anyways

If people judge you, or unfollow you for bragging, then they were never really meant to be a part of your circle/following anyways”

Lauren Hom

That sunk home so much.

I was creatively rejuvenated, uplifted and so excited after meeting here. Plus she was such a lovely person and I can’t wait to meet her hopefully in person again one day! I’d love to attend one of her workshops, meet her or even shadow her for a day.

Here are a few things that I learnt through Lauren Hom’s work:

  1. You can build a serious career based off of a (silly) side passion. All you need to do is start with a side hustle, as well as imagine the type of projects and clients you would like.

    Lauren Hom started with a tiny blog that begun as a concept called, “Daily Dishonesty.” In it, she would create beautiful hand-lettering of hilarious little lies we tell ourselves everyday. That turned into a book, which ultimately helped her grow as an artist.
  2. Don’t take no as an answer. Interesting side jobs will come. Take them, and keep hustling no matter what. People don’t know what’s possible for you – but you do. You can create your career and life into anything with hard work.
  3. Don’t quit your day job. Don’t just ditch your job immediately. Have a plan. You can build your brand on the side while you are still working to eventually go solo.
    Also, start anywhere.

    When Lauren Hom first started, she would offer to hand-letter on chalkboard signs for restaurants in return for the food she was writing. Genius! Plus it gained a ton of exposure and led to another project. Another big lesson.
  4. No idea is too silly. If it makes you laugh, it makes you laugh. Which means that it will probably make your friends laugh, as well. You never know what it can turn into. Look at how Messy Minds evolved into a book or how her blog “Daily Dishonesty” also turned into a book!
  5. Pick through the raisins. This one has to be my favourite lesson and really hit home. Lauren Hom was talking about losing followers on Instagram (which could relate to even friends or people in your life) as you chase your dreams. She describes this as sorting through the people who won’t buy from you anyways, and it’s a good thing to lose followers because it’s like picking through the raisins of the trail mix as she describes it. This idea is absolutely brilliant and totally reframed the way I think of growth through my website and social media. Maybe the less the better! But truly if you do your own thing, and be authentic to your work you will only attract the right people and build an authentic supportive following.

But truly if you do your own thing, and be authentic to your work you will only attract the right people and build an authentic supportive following.

Danielle’s Deep Probing Thoughts

So how did this inspire me?

I’m going to start small, with one thing. I’m going to follow through on some hand-lettering projects as I’ve loved it but never truly thought there was big potential there.

I’m going to fearlessly tackle my current passions, as well as some new ones.

I’m not going to worry about embarrassing myself. I want to make a creative impact in this short time.

Side note: one of my close friends, a professional tattoo artist, Renee and I used my parents fairy props to create something called ‘pizza fairies’.

It doesn’t make any sense, but it’s hilarious.

Plus, my friends think it’s hysterical.

I might just revamp it a bit and make it a thing on my website and Instagram.

However, most of all, what I truly learnt, is that following what you LOVE, not in a cliched way, but truly what you think is authentic and real and hilarious to you, whether that is a simple tagline or a full-on photographic project, will only fuel your growth as a person and an artist.

The world needs it.

The world needs you to come to life and true.

Thanks Lauren Hom and thanks for reading,

Danielle xo

Meeting Adam J. Kurtz

It was 9:30AM in Toronto.

I’d just had a fresh cup of coffee, and I was feeling really excited.

I’d been following Adam J. Kurtz through social media (Instagram) for the past few years and I was about to see him, one of my biggest inspirations speak on stage.

There are 3 reasons why I like him so much:

  1. His down-to-earth refreshing honesty. 


    Adam J. Kurtz is an entrepreneur, author and artists who is also an activist on a lot of important issues. He has a keen wit, a down-to-earth demeanour and a sassy-but-honest sort of speaking style. I was sucked into every second of his talk because of this. 

    He’s made it in the design world merely by being himself and creating art that is honest. He doesn’t believe that design can completely change the world but he does believe a little bit of that positivity and honesty can go a long way. 

    What I also loved is that he teaches the motto to not “quit your day job”. Not only do I find this refreshing, but also inspiring because unlike a lot of rockstar designers who go on stage preaching that it’s totally okay to “quit your job tomorrow and you’ll be fine” I find his approach a lot more relatable.

  2. His honest-to-goodness awesome artwork!

    Adam has such a keen sense of wit, and a positivity mixed with darkness that is deeply imbued in his artwork. I love the rough but endearing aesthetic of the doodled-on artwork. It feels real and relatable. He’s even created a neat tarot deck, three books including “Things Are What You Make of Them” and speaks around the world to inspire other people and designers, as well as artists. You can see more of his artwork and products here.

  3. His kindness

    I kept telling myself to not feel so nervous as I was waiting in line to meet him. I truly feel inspired deeply by his work. I had personally published my first book back in August and his motto of overcoming perfectionism and the tone of darkness imbued with positivity was a large theme in my own book. I relate a lot to his process and art. Anyways, my mind was racing with thoughts of how I wanted to compliment him that as soon as I met him I was greeted with a super warm smile and a friendly greeting – all of my worries dissipated and we had an awesome conversation about my book, his lessons and about him visiting his roots of Canada again. It went great and I even got a photo with him!

The biggest thing I got from his speech is that truly, things are what you make of them. You can create something from anything, as long as you have the right attitude. His work stems from a refreshing honesty and as he mentioned that we have literal ‘magic wands’ in our hands (pencils) and we can create anything, inspire a movement or simply create motivating artwork – I felt a deep sense of empowerment.

Thank you so much, Adam J. Kurtz for being awesome, visiting Canada again and your sharing your artwork and kindness!

Danielle Provencher

Do it with passion or not at all

I’ll be honest, I almost completely stayed in bed this morning. I told myself, get up, or don’t do this at all, you won’t regret it. 

I went and grabbed a coffee at Kuppajo and walked to the school of Architecture for a school project.

Here’s a photo of me, completely disheveled but happy walking there in the brisk morning air.

Honesty hour: I wasn’t a big fan of shooting HDR because I thought that the same look could be achieved without the time-consuming photo stitching that it takes post-processing.

Here’s the thing, I knew I should’ve been a fan. I should’ve been over the moon to shoot HDR. I’ve come to realize it’s such a beautiful way to bring out the full dynamic range in a photograph, and highlight details in a way no other way possible.

Here’s a quick story to highlight why I should’ve been a fan of what I thought was a nitty gritty post-processing technique. I first started photographing night photography at the Ten nightclub and lounge and I absolutely hated it at first.

I despised figuring out low-light settings, trying to understand ambient lighting and how that meshed with using a flash.

I didn’t like working with drunk people and all of the loud noise. It was a boisterous and confusing experience for a long time.

But here’s the key word: it didn’t last forever. And over time, the photos I produced were great. And that challenging atmosphere combined with the technical challenges of using my flash in low-light situations forced me to understand so many other key elements of photography. It’s the reason I can do what I do now.

So here’s what I’ve learnt: when learning something new, do everythingevery aspect with passion. Because every part of it will build you up to the artist you’re ultimately to become.

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Here are the HDR photos I ended up taking (I took one nature photo, one with an object, and one interior architecture photo).