Ella Lama is a letterer and illustrator based in Manila, Philippines. Her work is a perfect mix of good cheer and unfeigned creativity. Recently, she designed a Lomo’Instant White camera with cute and playful illustrations inspired by her Japan trip.
Please introduce yourself.
Hello! My name is Ella Lama and I am a letterer and illustrator living in Manila. I actually worked for Lomography before, but I am now taking on arts full-time. Aside from drawing, my small stationery business keeps me busy. I also like travelling, reading, trying weird food and learning new things.
On getting into art and pursuing it as a career
I started lettering in 2012 as a way to entertain myself away from the computer. I spend all of my time at work in front of the screen so I wanted to work with my hands whenever there’s time. I initially wanted to draw human figures and landscapes but my skill level wasn’t enough at that time to render those subjects beautifully so I got into drawing letters. Last year I started integrating illustrations into my lettering work, and this year I plan to explore the illustration side more.
My work almost always comes out as cute and playful. I like working with lots of colors, inspiring messages and images of food, animals, and nature. Most of my lettering and illustrations are drawn by hand and then finished on the computer. I aim to spread happy vibes with my work.
On her Japan trip
I visited Japan for the first time in 2014 (I stayed for 6 days), and I promised myself I would come back and stay longer. Luckily I was able to fulfill that promise, and last year I spent 2 weeks in late October and early November visiting Tokyo and Kyoto. I spent my first five days in Tokyo, seeing all the “tourist-y” spots like Senso-ji Temple, Tokyo Skytree, Ueno Park and Zoo, Shibuya, etc. Then I went to Kyoto to experience a slower pace and visited the Arashiyama Bamboo Groves, Daigo-ji complex, among other things. I went back to Tokyo a few days later and went to Nakameguro and Shimokitazawa.
I was lucky to be able to go to Tokyo Designers’ Week. It was an eye-opening experience and probably my favorite part of the trip. I liked the architecture exhibitions and was able to talk with local handmade artists at the Creema Market.
I went to lots of bookstores to look for Japanese drawing books because I am really inspired by all things kawaii. (My favorite is Maruzen!) I ended up bringing home 13 books, almost 1 book for each day of my stay! I also checked out art stores because many of our local suppliers in Manila source art materials from Japan, so I thought I could get high quality materials at a lower price if I get them in Tokyo.
I also love the food! I am a vegetarian but I trained myself to eat seafood (I usually get allergies) just so I can eat sushi and other delicacies during my stay.
On how the trip inspired her design
Hai! (“Yes” in Japanese) I wanted the camera to be a reflection of my journey so I inscribed it with places I went to, food I ate, expressions I learned and friends I spent time with. I’d like to think of it as sort of a time capsule—when I look at the drawings on the camera, the special memories of the trip will all come back to me. Eating monja on a rainy afternoon in Asakusa, going up the Tokyo Skytree and seeing Tokyo from above, riding the shinkansen on a sunny day and seeing Mt. Fuji.
On the Lomo'Instant and favorite Lomography cameras
I like the Lomo’Instant because it looks so sleek and different from all the instant cameras out there. It’s much more compact than it looks and is lightweight, so it’s a great match for people on-the-go, especially travelers. Design-wise I would say my favorite Lomo camera is the Diana F+ because I am greatly inspired by retro stuff. But my personal favorite is my LC-A which is my constant travel buddy.
I am developing a new product collection currently, with the hope of distributing them online and abroad. I also would like to build a solid body of work this year so I can self-publish my own art book, inspired by Aiko Fukawa, Yuko Higuchi and Toshiyuki Fukuda.