Lauren Hung is the creative director of the blackline by lauren, a calligraphy and design firm she started instinctively in 2014.
I talked with Lauren earlier this year about her journey from the Australian fashion industry to creating her own unique brand.
As black ink flows from the tip of a fountain pen and streams down onto a blank white page below it leaves a permanent impression, a design to be interpreted, an idea to be discovered or perhaps to be inspired by.
It takes a human touch to leave that impression, an intention to create something real and authentic, a mark which we find less and less of in the world today, but something that is no less as powerful in its ability to leave a lasting effect.
For many creatives, the most debilitating fear they have is that they may make a mistake in this moment – and that what they produce will not be worthy or acceptable.
This is the fear that constricts creativity, and makes silent onlookers out of the most talented amongst us. It is a fear that keeps the ink trapped inside like an unused fountain pen.
When a person finds their own inner stream of creativity, whether by stumbling over it or perhaps being forced to reveal it – by some circumstance or event – the ink of their soul is drawn out for the world to see and appreciate. This moment is when inspiration strikes and new ideas begin to take on real form.
This moment is exactly what happened to Lauren Hung, who, four years ago while working as a fashion buyer for an established clothing label in Sydney, discovered that she and her team were burning out and in need of something to boost morale.
Lauren began instinctively to write short notes for her co-workers, small letters of encouragement and appreciation in a distinctive style that left an impression and a sense of shared understanding during what was a difficult period for many of her friends at the company.
"Our team was suffering, and it was my job to keep the team morale up, so that's how I started."
The response from this initial outpour of creativity was so favourable that she soon began to receive requests from her colleagues and friends to create invitations and cards in her unique black and white style.
And so, buoyed by this growing positive feedback, Lauren started her calligraphy brand in 2014 and titled it the blackline by lauren, working on it as a side-project along with her full-time job.
But it wasn't until she travelled to China on a work assignment the following year, and saw the conditions that the employees in the textile factories were working under, that she decided to leave the fashion industry and turn the blackline into her sole focus.
"When they sent me to China, everything changed, I couldn't get my head around the fact that I was contributing to a problem that was enhancing a cause that I am passionate about."
From talking to Lauren, you can sense she is a person who is in tune with her environment. Her studio is immaculately maintained and organised, the third floor workspace situated within the Surry Hills creative precinct is naturally lit from several large white framed windows surrounding her desk, while several vases filled with white flowers are always positioned within arms reach of her creative working areas.
It isn't surprising to hear then, that it was the working conditions in her office in Sydney, as well as the factories she was exposed to while overseas that led to the establishment and initial inspiration for the blackline label.
Today Lauren’s company has grown significantly, with clients such as Audi, Giorgio Armani, Swarovski and Tag Heuer utilising her unique calligraphy talents and creative skills. She also creates commissioned works of art for private clients, runs calligraphy workshops for people interested in learning how to explore their own creative sides, and frequently posts her own work in her social media feeds portraying her distinct personal style.
"I'm interested in taking age old ideas that have perhaps been swept under the rug because we speak a different language now, which is very quick and fast paced, and encapsulating those ideas into statements that people can really hold onto in their day to day lives."
Lauren's work is bold, flamboyant and flows freely across the page, without grasping to the traditional conventions of calligraphy. She likes to explore the feeling behind the words she writes and the emotions that can come out of them as they are written.
"I like to be driven by the words, one of the parts of my workshop that I get attendees to do is to think about what they're writing and then to write it out how they feel it should look aesthetically. So, if I was to write the word escape, I'm not going to write that controlled and small and consistently. It always becomes something really big, with large brush movements and expansion into the space"
"If I get stuck or splatter ink on the page, I never throw that out, I just use it and build that into the work. It's more about working with whatever circumstance I get."
It's this aspect of her practice that reveals Lauren's learned acceptance of whatever comes her way.
"I lived in fear for a good twelve months before I started getting the jobs that have pushed me and kept me going."
"I didn't know what I was doing. I thought I was on the road to failure. But the minute you step out and act on something that you are fearful of, you lose it. Because you're doing something about it."
Lauren is a person who accepts fear for what it is, and what it can be, in fact, she smiles at it when she sees it knowing that it will never be entirely eradicated from her life, but you get the feeling she likes it that way.
“You’re always going to feel it, but over this past few years I feel I’ve lost that thing where fear cripples you, It’s more that I see it from an outsiders perspective, and know that it’s something I can keep pushing through.”
The process of moving from the safety of full-time employment in the fashion industry to establishing a part-time calligraphy business and now working as a full-time entrepreneur with her own creative projects has been a path that has revealed to Lauren who she is, what she stands for, and where she wants to go.
But she isn't finished yet.
"This is my current vehicle, not the end game. It's not about making dreams come true necessarily, it's about what I can learn from this experience that will make me into a better person for wherever I am going to go next."
Like black ink transferring onto a blank white page, Lauren is leaving her inspiring impression on the world around her.
Lauren currently operates the blackline by lauren out of her studio in Surry Hills, Sydney. For more information on her work and future workshops visit - www.theblacklinebylauren.com