#WhatDrivesYou: Stephanie Ko
August 29, 2016
Meet the woman behind the hypnotizing penmanship on your Instagram feed. Stephanie Ko, creates stationery for the modern paper lover in her own calligraphy and design studio- Simply Steph Ko.
Tell us about yourself – what makes you, you?
My name is Stephanie, and I was born and raised in Ottawa! I have many passions, including calligraphy and stationery, my faith (I'm a Christian), evidence-based public health, good food (and good coffee!), and community. I work a day job in public health, and use my other hours to practice calligraphy, do client work, and design greeting cards. Some might call me a workaholic, I just think of myself as multi-passionate.
What drives you out of bed in the morning?
I would love nothing more but to stay just 5 minutes longer in my bed (okay, more like 20 minutes). But the prospect of a new day, a clean slate, and possibility drive me to get up and out of bed in the morning. I am not a morning person by any means, but I love the freshness that morning brings. So I try to use my mornings to be productive, whether that is taking some quiet time for myself, getting a head start on a new calligraphy project, or hunkering down and writing a new blog post.
What do you love about your career?
What I love the most about my creative career is the people I've met, creative and non-creative. I love connecting with other creatives who are pursuing their creative passions, and journeying together with them. And I love connecting with clients who ask me to walk into their worlds and help them achieve their goals, whether personal or professional. I always want to hear stories, and everyone has an interesting and unique story.
What advice do you have to those aspiring to be successful in the creative world?
Put yourself out there, and just do it!
I am a shy person, and am also introverted. Not all introverts are shy, but I am both. It has been so incredibly character building to put myself out there. My greatest fear has always been people rejecting me, and not liking me. But for every person who doesn't like me, there are always more who do.
So have coffee with someone who inspires you! The creative community is very welcoming. You might not be able to connect with someone who is leaps and bounds ahead of you without paying for consulting time, but find someone who is steps ahead, and they are usually willing to walk alongside you. And then you can grow together. The worst that can happen is that they say no.
How do you overcome a creative roadblock?
To get past a creative block, the first thing I do is declutter. Whether that be decluttering my physical space or my head space. It really helps to take a step away and come back at a later time, but I am definitely what you call a procrasti-cleaner. But it helps! With a clean space, ideas flow more easily. It can so really help to get an outside perspective too. Surround yourself with people who are rooting for you, and want to see you succeed. They will be your biggest cheerleaders, and are so helpful when you're stuck.
Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in my everyday life. I surround myself with things and people who encourage and uplift me, and I reflect that in my work. You won't find puns and trends in my work, because that just isn't who I am. And while I appreciate puns and trends, I am probably the least sarcastic person you'll ever meet. I am genuine, I am warm, and I am curious. And I surround myself with inspiration that propels me forward in my mission to share love through calligraphy and stationery.
Who is your role model and why?
I don't have a role model, but I pay attention to other people in my life who I do admire. My parents, older couples at church, and many others. They demonstrate drive, passion, generosity, and best of all, they are real people. Role models can be good, as long as they don't become idols. Don't strive to become them, but learn from them.
What is your favourite piece that you’ve ever designed?
I am always biased, and think that my latest piece is my favourite piece. But I think that just means that I am always learning and improving. The latest thing that I've designed is this Ampersand wedding card. It represents the union of marriage, and I've had people come up to me and say that the unique way I draw the ampersand is so me, and that they recognized it from across the room. I love that!
When you’re not creating what can we find you doing?
Oh, that's easy. You can find me in one of two places: curled up on the couch watching Netflix with my boyfriend, or at a coffee shop or restaurant instagramming my meal.
Stranded on an island, what’s the one thing you’ll take with you and why?
See, I feel like I should say a calligraphy pen, or something creative related to my craft. But honestly, I would bring my phone. Does that count? It's many things in one. I'm sticking to it, because I am a millennial, and my life is on my phone. I am not ashamed to admit it.
Photos by Brittany Lee Photography.
Follow Stephanie on Instagram.