Finding ‘Lettering with a Purpose’

September 3, 2021 | Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, Mexico | Libna Stevens, Inter-American Division news

Ever since she was a little girl growing up in the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Mexico, Heidi Cartagena wanted to bless others with her voice by singing or preaching. But she was too shy. It wasn’t until she was in college that she found her voice through lettering—the art of drawing letters.

“I had been studying architecture for one year and decided to change to graphic design,” recounted Cartagena, a third generation Seventh-day Adventist. “While I was in graphic design, I came upon calligraphy and later lettering.”

She enrolled in a lettering course and that launched her ministry to share hope and love to a troubled world.  After graduating in 2019 with a degree in graphic design, she got a job while learning all about lettering.

“Sometimes I would spend seven hours straight practicing lettering, many times practicing from 5:00 p.m. to 11 p.m. on a Friday night preparing a Sabbath lettering message,” says Cartagena. Cartagena says she was never really good at drawing and remembers her first-grade teacher saying how pretty her penmanship was. She also remembers watching her dad write out her and her sisters’ names. “I would take my crayons and draw names over and over.”

Heidi Cartagena stands next to a chalk board lettering art she did in her pathfinder leader uniform during the “Jesus in my City” youth outreach launch program at the Polyforum Center in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, Mexico, in 2018. [Photo: Courtesy of Heidi Cartagena]

“It’s like God had a purpose in me because I always wanted to talk about Jesus and this allows me to preach in a creative way,” says Cartagena, “I absolutely love this art.” She has always been active in church, creating lettering for youth activity signs, and done projects for church conferences, Montemorelos University, the five Mexico unions and the Inter-American Division.

Lettering became something special because it’s something that drew her closer to Jesus, she says. “This has allowed me to get to know Jesus personally and see Him move in my life in an amazing way,” says Cartagena.  Today, she focuses on lettering full time. Coined as “Lettering with a Purpose” (Lettering con proprósito), she says her ministry is inspired from verses she studies in the Bible and her personal day-to-day experiences. She says she listens to music and says a prayer before each lettering design so that it can come out beautiful and touch the hearts of people.

She shares how-to videos, lettering tips, practices and inspirational experiences. She sells agendas, prayer journals, bullets, stickers, mugs, tote bags and more on social media platforms. Her ministry has grown to 6,000 followers on Instagram, 4,000 on Facebook and hundreds on her YouTube channel. But, she says, it’s not about the social media exposure. She is motivated by touching people with a message or verse that her followers need to hear at that moment.

“I don’t know who is going through a difficult time but I’m so committed to continue sharing through this lettering ministry because it’s definitely a ministry that touches people deeply,” says Cartagena. “People let their guard down when they see something beautiful, a message, a verse, that reaches them.”

Cartagena recently took part in a city-wide campaign showcasing positive giant signs in Mexico City. She had met a graphic designer while she was studying and now works at an ad agency in Mexico City. He invited her to take part in a public exposition by showcasing positive and motivational messages that could encourage people who have struggled during the pandemic. “He told me the signs could not have anything religious on them or mention God,” says Cartagena. Two of her lettering drawings were accepted for the exposition, which took place at the Gustavo A. Madero municipality close to La Reforma, which is in the heart of Mexico City.

Her lettering ministry keeps expanding. “I keep depending on God and He is helping me grow every day,” says Cartagena. It’s about sharing Jesus in every possible way you can, she says. “God has expanded my horizons and led me to understand that I don’t only want to share Jesus in a digital way but also in a physical way, with products such as a journal, a mug, or the like as a way of testifying anywhere they are.”

“I am letting God continue to lead me and speak through my ministry into the plans He has for me each day,” Cartagena says.