Happy International Calligraphy Day 2020! Calligraphy is one of my favourite new creative hobbies. It’s one of those things that can be tricky to master at first but once you start to find your flow it’s a really relaxing mindful activity that can actually be really useful in your everyday life (you can always make an impromptu greeting card when you can do calligraphy!). To celebrate the day I asked one of my closest calligraphy friends Milly from Blink Lettering some questions about her calligraphy journey and her answers were so interesting! If you want to get on your way to becoming a calligraphy pro, have a read!
What made you decide to start calligraphy? Did anyone inspire you in particular?
I work as a full time graphic designer, which I love! However a lot of my job involves sitting in front of a computer for 8 hours a day. I really missed the hands-on approach of school and university, so I started doing book binding. I absolutely loved it, and did sell at a couple of craft fairs. It takes up a lot of space though, which wasn’t ideal in a tiny one bedroom flat.
Just when I decided to stop, I stumbled across the wonderful calligraphy and lettering community on Instagram. I was hooked. I loved all the beautiful words being created in videos and wanted to do the same. Plus I figured pens don’t take up too much space, right? This was quite a few years ago now, but I think the main person who inspired me was Sharisse from @piecescalligraphy.
What’s the most exciting calligraphy project you’ve worked on?
I’ve worked on a huge variety of projects, as I can use my design skills alongside my calligraphy. Last year I was approached by a Stylist who was working on an influencer event for The Outnet. I designed and hand painted the menus and also did calligraphy baubles, which were the place names for the event. Around the same time I also did about 400 place names for the Royal Osteoporosis Charity Gala. It was a huge event, that include some celebrities, so that was quite surreal writing their names in calligraphy.
More recently, I’ve had the opportunity to work with Royal Talens on a virtual workshop campaign. I hosted three Instagram lives, where I taught a variety of things using Royal Talens’ products. I really enjoy this kind of work as it enables me to engage with my audience and share my knowledge, as well as having the opportunity to work with a brand I love!
And you’ve been busy building your brand Blink Lettering to get more people started with calligraphy! What’s been your proudest moment with Blink Lettering?
The thing that I am most proud of is that I keep going. Running a business alongside a full time job can be so overwhelming and tiring, this hasn’t stopped me though. There have definitely been a few times that I have felt like throwing in the towel, and my amazing husband has supported me through those low points. I feel incredibly lucky that I get to work with a huge variety of amazing brands, I’ve definitely had some pinch me moments.
What’s the best piece of advice you can give to an aspiring calligrapher?
Practice every day. 10 minutes of practice every day is better than an hour practice once a week. Calligraphy is all about building muscle memory and learning the basic calligraphy drills, so regular practice is really important! Don’t think you have enough time? Add calligraphy into your daily life. Keep a pen and paper next to the kettle, so you can practice while it’s boiling. Write your shopping lists and start signing greeting cards using calligraphy.
Which calligraphy tools couldn’t you live without?
The Pentel Brush Sign Pen! This was my first ever brush pen, and it’s my favourite! It is such a good pen for beginners and I recommend it to all of my students. The colour palette used to be quite limited, but this year they bought out 12 new colours and I’m obsessed!
What’s your favourite technique in calligraphy?
I absolutely LOVE blending bright colours. It’s my favourite thing to do, and you can do it with basically any water-based brush pen. I even created a class on Skillshare that takes you through how to blend brush pens and also add shadows.
Are there any skills or techniques that you’re currently working on perfecting?
Recently I have been doing a lot more watercolour lettering, and I would love to expand this into watercolour florals too. It’s hard to make the time for new skills when running a business and working full time, however it is also SO important to make this time too. Now things are slowly getting back to “normal”, I am building myself a better routine, so I can start looking at developing myself further. As a creative, it’s so important to continually learn and develop skills.
If someone wants to get started where should they go?
For anyone looking to start learning calligraphy, it’s SO important to learn the drills first. These are a series of strokes that are used to create letters. I run a FREE 7 day live challenge twice a year in March and August, where you can learn as part of a community and encourages you to practice for just 10 minutes a day. Although the live challenge for Better Brush Drills has just finished, you are still able to sign up to the challenge and work through it in your own time, you will also get a discount code for my workbooks! To find out more and sign up click here.
Once you have learnt the basic calligraphy drills, it’s time to dive into the alphabet! I run a 30 day challenge called Better Brush Letters (original I know), in April and September. Each day the Better Brush Letters workbook takes you through the steps for creating a letter and connecting them to other letters. If you join the challenge this September, you’ll be able to learn as part of a wonderful community, plus myself and my Blink Ambassadors will be on hand to help in the private Facebook group. This workbook is available in my shop, alongside a variety of other calligraphy workbooks: https://www.blinklettering.co.uk/workbooks
How are you celebrating World Calligraphy Day?
Creating calligraphy of course! I haven’t got anything major planned for World Calligraphy Day, but I will definitely be doing what I love most, sitting down and getting creative with my pens.