Bravely Reaching Full Potential

Chelsie Tamms ’16 started her freshman year at Bradley with a laser focus that isn’t commonly found in young students. She already had a career vision for herself beyond college, but she couldn’t have imagined how her journey as a Brave would jump-start these ideas into reality. Tamms’ ambitions evolved from studying graphic design to specializing in lettering to learning how to run her own creative business by the time she reached graduation. She credits these achievements to hard work and plenty of support from Bradley faculty every step of the way.

“I always knew I wanted to do graphic design since high school,” Tamms said, “and I especially loved everything about lettering.” Her teachers took notice and worked to create more opportunities for Tamms to develop these specific skills. In her first typography class she was given personalized coursework by professor Sharon Conlee to push her creatively and build on her hand-lettering talent. These unique opportunities shaped Tamms’ educational journey. She reflected on how these moments blended together to create a personalized path that she thrived on: “The project from professor Conlee’s class wasn’t polished, but I put it into my portfolio to show that I loved lettering, and that landed me an entire summer of countless lettering and illustration projects in an internship.”

Tamms continued to take advantage of every chance she saw for personal and professional growth. After attending a conference about branding, she immediately put these lessons to action by working to rebrand student communications at Bradley’s Smith Career Center. After learning that she could achieve a dual degree, Tamms worked with Dr. Margaret Young to create an independent study that would satisfy the requirements. And most notably, when Tamms began to see that she could build a business as a designer, she found encouragement and guidance from her Bradley mentors. Becoming her own boss was part of the grand vision she brought with her to Bradley, but even Tamms admitted she didn’t think it would happen while still being a student.

Her business idea won the 10th Project Springboard competition and was awarded $10,000 in startup funding. This was the beginning of Lettering Works, a professional milestone that she thought would only come years after graduation and field experience. “Because the right
opportunities came up for me,” Tamms said, “I was essentially able to fulfill my five-year plan for after college while still a student at Bradley.”

Since graduating, the business has continued to grow and expand thanks to her unparalleled drive. Tamms moved from Peoria to Chicagoland, and Letter Works is now able to bring her signature style to even more clients. She summarized the impressive journey with one of her favorite quotes: “Things don’t get easier, we just get better at them - and that is something that I learned and experienced starting at Bradley.”

Example of Lettering Works products

Chelsei Tamms sketching for Lettering Works