Hi! My name is Emily and I'm a graphic designer and letterer, and maker in general. I left my full-time job nearly a year ago to challenge myself freelancing, and getting me to pursue the things I've been meaning to try and do. My work as a designer is based in print and 2D, but I'd found myself wanting to work with more tangible, 3D projects that involved more handmade, rather than digital work; things you can touch, and interact with. Working alone, I was looking forward to working with a group of other female creatives and makers - with the residency, I jumped in head first and so glad that I did!
Our cohort's classes include woodshop, metal lab, laser cutter and the CNC router: first impressions I was most terrified by the woodshop tools, most excited by the laser cutter, and constantly worried I would break something. The CNC actually ended up being my first real tool trial: a wooden sign project that utilized a new tool, but worked with the familiarity of lettering and wordplay.
It wasn't without issue: I booked 3 hours of time, and the reality of it was with the booked 2 hours trying to set up the file on VCarve for ShopBot, and the remaining hour setting up - with 5 minutes of actual cut time. What helped most was having fellow cohort creative/maker Anne for moral support (and two heads are always better than one!), and the willing help of other people in the woodshop (thanks Josephine of former group!). The sign and end mill I chose were a complete trial run, afterwards learning that a downward cut end mill would've helped with less burring (and requiring less sanding after the fact), but just gaining familiarity with the set up process and tool was well worth it.
Having ended up using the CNC router as my real first test run, the laser cutter afterwards seemed so much easier! As my first trial run here, I lettered a little fun piece for some friends. Test cuts went much smoother, adjusting power and speed depending on the thickness of the acrylic, and the size/shape of the letters, but again, prep and revision time was exponentially more than actual cut time (~2 minutes or less per piece).
Back to the CNC router again, the tool I thought I'd never use, but am now more excited and motivated to use more than ever! I designed a few versions of an ampersand to test out more of the pocket and profile cuts we learned and armed myself with a few tutorials off the Shopbot site. The biggest "hiccup" this time was a speed change so we thought it wasn't moving, but every time we've experience an "issue," we've just learned how to use the machine better. The more I've used the machine, the more potential it and my work has to incorporate textural, tactile elements into my lettering work and I can't wait for the opportunity to put these newfound skills to use more.
As a last project, I wanted to experiment with laser cuts, working them into hanging, 3D lettering installation pieces that played with shapes, space and readability. The assembly for these has been a work in progress, and definitely trial and error. Stay tuned on @emcheungdesign to see if these turn out!
Having reached the end of the residency and looking back - I'm so glad I went on this adventure and it's been one of the best things I've done in challenging myself creatively, learning new skills, and letting myself try things (whether they work out or not). My favourite part of the learning in this residency format, was that it was along with other fellow female creatives to motivate, support, and bounce ideas off of, and I can't wait to see where we all go next!