Joyce Chai + Char Gladden
Quick kinships can feel especially rare, so we're supremely lucky to have found one in Char Gladden. She's an incredibly talented LA-based designer and letterer who heads her own practice at Char Gladden Studio. Endless admiration for the care and craftsmanship that's evident in all she does–read below for a peek into her practice.
I’m the founder of a graphic design practice in Echo Park, Los Angeles. A typical day consists of commuting to my small backyard studio, and is usually equal parts designing/sketching, admin, and fretting. Each day starts with some form of industrious optimism, which predictably dwindles later on. I heat up leftovers in a cast iron skillet most days for lunch, and will sometimes work at a library or coffee shop nearby to feel more alive, and less inhibited. My days are bookended by care for my two young kids, involving fervent games of fish, calming big feelings, and hard-target searches for that one special marble. Opposite head spaces for each fueled by a deep love of each, respectively.
I’ve only newly reconnected with inspiration after having been eluded by it at the end of last year. Recently it’s a paring back that’s helped me to feel enlivened. And an uptick in the things that fall away during density. Less looking down, more time outdoors, less solitude, more Coca Cola in the morning, a song on repeat for 3 days (conjuring equal parts melancholy and nostalgia), and brown gel nails. Remembering to use humor as a tool. Lately I’ve been reading 3 books intermittently instead of sequentially - it’s been so refreshing! I think the moral of my delight lately is bite-sized joy, it’s more accessible that way.
Besides my daily phone call with Mom, I’m relatively isolated which I can’t tell is a result of introversion, or just an occupational hazard. I cherish my dear friends, near and far and they keep me grounded. I recently hired a business manager and it’s been so neat to dissect studio processes that would otherwise be a swirl. For a long time I marveled at how social media manifested as a tangible community for some, but lately have come to celebrate its capacity for just that.
The park bench overlooking LA in Elysian park behind my house, the Home Depot hot dog cart on Figueroa, Brand Library & Art Center in Glendale (or any Library), Clark Street for pastries, Taix for drinks followed by its parking lot flea market the following morning, and Despair Books down the street. Anywhere quiet.
I think living in LA for over 15 years has had me on a perpetual pendulum swing away from matcha and yoga, so I’m always trying to find “intention” in a way that doesn’t feel prescribed. I recently got two devotionals from contrasting spiritual leanings that really give me a different but equally meaningful start to each day. I have always valued opposing viewpoints for balance (or maybe it’s the commitment-averse in me). Strong coffee and loud music have been my most routine rituals, then and now.