Annie’s Guide to Editing, Design, Artist Etiquette + More.

Hey y’all!

Wow, I have been writing this blog post for three months and I just haven’t gotten around to posting it. Actually, I haven’t really known if I’ve wanted to or not.

I’m constantly asked what products, software, camera and etc. I use for my art and shop. Usually it is a few times a day and sometimes it can even get confrontational. (This is the WORST). It takes up so much time to individually answer everyone’s questions without sounding like a snooty artist who isn’t willing to share.


Truth be told y’all, I have worked so hard to get to where I am. I never thought I would be owning a business. I never though I would be doing calligraphy and lettering. I never thought I would learn how to edit photos. But I’m here. And I have. It’s a crazy feeling.

I remember what it was like being in a place of wonder and curiosity. (Honestly I still am a large part of the time.) I remember looking at people’s videos or posts on Instagram and wondering how they did things. I remember wanting to buy everything that I possibly could in order to make me a better artist. But here’s the deal, y’all.

Art and creativity and success are not based on the products you use. They are not based on the money you spend. There is no EXACT paint brush for that will make you do paint calligraphy like a pro. There is no EXACT graphics software that will allow you to draw or design like someone with a graphic design degree. There is no camera that will make you automatically take pictures like a professional photographer. An iPad Pro and an apple pen will not make you be amazing at digital lettering. But there are things you can do.

You can practice and do drills. You can buy a cheap set of brush pens or even crayola markers. (I learned how to letter with crayola markers). You can look up “how to” videos on YouTube. But practice is key.

If I told you everything that worked for me, majority of you would probably come back and say that it didn’t work for you. Do you know why? It’s because I have practiced and put in all of the years of searching for what works for me. I’ve put in the time to learn how to do calligraphy and hand lettering. I’ve put in the time to figure things out. Time is valuable. Time is precious. Time is what makes you good at something.

As an artist, we LOVE comments. We love hearing comments. We love helping other people get started. But repeatedly being asked what exact products you use can kind of become insulting. It takes years of time to figure out your style, your apps, your software, your skills, your favorite products, and to reveal them all to people in just a paragraph? It feels like a waste. It feels sad and hurtful. It feels wrong. All of that searching and money saved and nights staying up figuring out software and the exact way to tilt a paint brush seem meaningless. And it’s because it kind of is.

When you are curious, remember who you are talking to if you ask questions. Think about how it might make them feel. Because as a creator, you spend years on your craft. And an artist will never reveal everything to you because giving everything away – it’s not right when you spend years collecting information. Also, if you ever wish to repost something, be sure to contact the artist and ask permission. Always tag the artist/original content creator on the image and within your caption – not just on the picture. Artists spend so much time creating and it is the right thing to do!

As for products, as for advice, as for helping people get started…I’m totally down for it. I’m so here for helping people get started. It’s an amazing journey. Creativity is a GIFT and a JOY. It is a wonderful ride. But I will not be revealing my steps and everything because it is just not right when it probably wouldn’t work for everyone and it also wouldn’t be fair. Instead, take the things I give you and explore the internet a bit too to find what works best for YOU and where you are and what style you wish to have. So, here are some frequent questions I get asked and as an answer: great beginner and starter options for design, lettering, editing and more.

How Do You Do Calligraphy? What are The Best Products to Use?

I did a post on how to letter a few months ago with some products and I will link that HERE. But, some great starter products are crayola markers. The fat ones and the skinnier tip ones are great for beginners. Papermate felt tips are also great. I used to letter with both. They are cheap, easily disposable, and create some really cool lettering.

How Do You Make Your Insta Stories or Draw on Your Pics?

Design. This has been really big for me because I am going into graphic design. I adore the field and it makes my heart pump just thinking about all of the possibilities. For beginners, I recommend looking into apps. I used collage apps in the beginning like “pic collage” or text ones like “phonto” and stuff like “polyvore” and etc to build my love for stickers, collages, overlays, and fonts. They got me into the whole field. Honestly, go through the photography or editing section of the App Store and find things you like. My current fave that I start all of mine with is “Story Art”. Go to Pinterest and find things as well. Then, surf the web once you are comfortable and wish to find more advanced stuff. I love drawing on my pics, but I use paid software and often doodle exactly what I want.

How Do You Edit Your Pictures?

Pictures. Photography. Editing. These are all what I get a LOT of questions about. And again, I started with basics. I started with just Instagram filters and moved to things like “afterlight” and “vsco” and “a color story”. All of these are great for pics. However, some of the cost money or there are in app purchases. “Pics art” is always a fave, it has been since when it came out, but the ads get SUPER annoying. Editing reaches a point where you have to invest. I also use collage apps and now, I now use software to draw and layer my photos and add personalized doodles. I use a huge range of Adobe software just for one post or picture, and my mixture might now work for you like it does for me. So search the internet for a style you like and go from there! The app store charts for photography is a great place to start!

Do You Love Your IPAD PRO? What Kind is It? How Big? Do You Recommend it – I Want to Get Started in Lettering!

This is the MOST asked about. I get questions every day about editing, and THIS. Yes, I LOVE my IPAD PRO. I ADORE it! It was a gift and something I had been dying to have for a very, very, VERY long time. I have the largest size (13in) and I also have the apple pen. I 110% recommend this. I letter, design, edit and just about anything on it. HOWEVER – if you are a beginner and want this specifically for drawing: DO NOT BUY. I would recommend learning out to do real hand lettering and calligraphy first. The apple pen and design software does not make you perfect at lettering. You have to know what you are doing beforehand with strokes and fonts and layouts and more. It would be a complete waste of money for you to invest in this expensive device and end up not using it or being disappointed because it doesn’t improve your handwriting or designing. (I know people who have done this and it is really sad. It is an AMAZING product) Once again, it is about practice. Time is important, and materials do not make you an amazing artist. I still love doing calligraphy and lettering with Crayola markers and felt tip pens. When you know what you’re doing, even cheap materials are a tool. Anything is a tool. Practice, practice, practice. When you are ready and know that you will love it and use it every day, then you should buy it. Don’t buy it and hope it works out because it is just a waste of a LOT of money.

What Camera Do You Use?

I mostly use my phone camera (I have an iPhone 8) but I also use my camera for photography and that is a Canon T6i. I also have a larger size lens. Phone cameras often work great nowadays so don’t feel like you need an expensive camera to take great pictures! I love my camera and it is amazing, but my phone takes great instant pictures and I don’t have to lug a 10+ pound camera around with me. But my camera….gosh it is like my BABY! I’m a Canon girl all the way!

My Biggest, Most Important Advice

When you are getting started in the field of art, design, editing and more, stay open. Be curious. Search the web. But stay true to your style and what you want to do. You need to have fun. Don’t buy something you know you won’t use just because everyone else does. Buy something you know you’ll use over and over. Explore your options. Look through photography apps in the app store. Search the internet for what you’re looking for. You can often find how to’s on just about anything. But HAVE FUN. If you are doing it because everyone else is, it isn’t fun. Do it for yourself. Art is a journey. Creativity and self expression is a long, long road and everyone has different stories. Find YOUR path instead of trying to follow someone else’s because your story is unique and so is your style!

I hope that this blog post did something for someone in finding a road for themselves and I hope it also teaches some etiquette in asking questions of artists and how we treat them. I used to be super curious too, and had to learn that sometimes the way we ask things can be insulting to someone’s field and experience. Remember to be kind, respectful, specific, and give creators credit for their work! But if someone tells you that they don’t reveal the way they do something, remember that it is okay! They aren’t being rude, they just have worked for a long time in their craft and have found what works for them. When art is your business, you usually don’t want to reveal everything that works for you, because your talent and tricks are how you make a living! 🙂

Have a great week and check out my Etsy Shop by clicking the widget on the right side bar or the etsy shop button in the top menu!

xoxo, annie

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