The PS lady; Natasha Lee
Photographed and interviewed by Audris Adabella
Hi Natasha! Can you tell us more about yourself?
N: Hi!! I'm currently a third year undergraduate at a local university, studying political science. I enjoy having good, hearty conversations with friends, jamming, and writing songs. I also write original poetry and prose pieces on the side under my brand, Design By Lacuna.
When did you start taking an interest in the arts?
N: Ever since I was a child, words have always had an impact on my heart. I loved art classes and drawing in my primary school days because I could revel in the imaginary and the colourful. At 17, I started writing poetry (sporadically) to express the things on my heart; It was a lovely outlet for me as an internal processor, especially from the pressures of school and teenage life.
During a point in my late teenage years, I became really interested in fonts, font types, and font styles. Words and the meaning they carry had long been a thing for me, but this time I focused on the visual aspect of words - how different fonts adopted various visual styles but could still be recognised as alphabets.
I think I can still identify certain fonts by their name if I see them now, haha! Looking back, these two areas really planted seeds for what I am doing with LACUNA now.
Was there something/ someone that moved you deeply to go into writing and lettering?
N: I guess it was a desire to produce something authentic! It started five years ago. I would use a photo-editing app on my phone and put quotes on an image I’d find online (with a pretty font, of course). I remember some friends using it on social media or as display images on their Whatsapp profile. That greatly encouraged me, but more than that, it showed me how powerful words are - They can build someone up, and people remember them.
A couple of years later, I attempted to start a card business; It was at this time I incorporated a bit of my own wordsmithing into the pieces. Everything was still done digitally, but I felt this did not capture the place of authenticity where my words came from. The same year, discontented with the little endeavour, a friend shared with me about an opportunity to learn brush lettering - at a fraction of the usual price.
From there, there was no turning back. After that one-off, three hour session, I found myself writing for hours on end, without even knowing that time had passed. I mentioned earlier that I enjoy having conversations and songwriting, but I have never done something with so much focus and intensity. Over time, I also started developing my own style of writing.
Wow! So "Do what you love and you'll never work for a day in your life" is very real for you! Please tell us about the products/services that @designbylacuna provides.
N: LACUNA is in the business of using words to build relationships, allowing individuals and communities to live empowered and celebrated. We create original poetry and prose pieces for both corporate and private clients, written analogue from a selection of our very own styles. These generally come in the form of celebratory cards (for birthdays, or Mother’s Day), something to put up on a wall, for events, or even corporate merchandise and collaterals. We’re also very open to putting our writing on other platforms and media.
What is the meaning of "LACUNA" and what does it mean to you?
N: Lacuna is an English word, meaning ‘gap’ or ‘void’. The significance of ‘Lacuna’ for me comes in a few layers: While a ‘gap’ can be interpreted as a physical space, it also refers to a person’s head space, and heart space. To me, there is so much value in cultivating these heart spaces well, thus the name ‘LACUNA’ for the brand.
So much of what makes us human - our thoughts and feelings - takes place within us. What occupies our minds and hearts often determines how we treat ourselves and others. We are wired for community; Relationships play a big part of life and living, rendering having healthy head and heart spaces important for one to thrive.
How do you think words can shape or shift cultures?
N: Words carry ideas, making them so powerful in influencing the way we think, understand, and approach things. I feel that culture is shifted when people start going against the conventional through intentional action (or inaction); And ideas are actions packaged in seed form. Words, when used appropriately, can become potential catalysts in realising one’s dreams and aspirations.
As a university student with a side hustle, you must have your fair share of challenges. What motivates you?
N: Juggling school with the side hustle has been challenging – Many sacrifices and changes to my lifestyle had to be made. I had to be more aware of how I was using my time, especially during crunch time at school.
The special moments that come forth when people engage with LACUNA’s pieces keeps me going! To see their eyes light up because the words speak straight to their hearts – without me knowing much about their situation – is pretty crazy (in the best way)! I’ve had the privilege of experiencing this every now and then, and it makes me really delighted. It’s a huge honour to get to play a small part in whatever they are going (or have gone) through.
Tell us a little more about your first piece, "The Waves".
N: “The Waves” was specially created for Paradigm Shift Label's launch of THE LONG BLACK (yay!). For this piece, I had a resilient woman in mind, one capable of facing adversity and challenge no matter how tumultuous these waves were.
So very often we are daunted by our giants even before attempting to conquer them, or allow ourselves to waver because of what others say; It is my heart that this piece brings a renewed strength, boldness, and courage to whoever reads it.
Till date, we are still in love with that piece you created. Thank you for that! Moving forward, what are your hopes for LACUNA?
N: I started LACUNA with a small dream that the pieces would transform toxic head, heart, and physical spaces into positive, healthy ones. I’ve seen that come into fulfilment and would now love to see this on a more sizeable scale. Culminating into a shift in thought culture. Perhaps one day, branching overseas to reach the hearts and minds beyond the shores of Singapore would be a reality.
Thank you for your heartfelt sharing, Nat! You definitely have what it takes to shift cultures. Words indeed have the power to make or break. We can’t wait to see how LACUNA grow and expand!