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My modern calligraphy journey

So it's been four whole years since I picked up my pen holder for the very first time! And it sure has flown I thought I would take you along with me on my journey back, reviewing my calligraphy style and how it's evolved. WARNING, it's gonna be a long one, so grab a cuppa and settle in whilst we rewind the clock...

I love seeing before and afters, from people makeovers (did anyone used to watch Extreme Makeovers on Sky?!) to house renovations (we're currently doing ours up so any extreme renovation success stories bring me joy) and calligraphy styles.

I'm not even sure where I first heard about Modern Calligraphy or saw it but Instagram was already a thing by 2016 and I somehow found Quill London (my bad memory - wish I remembered) and ordered myself a beginners kit. Bearing in mind, I was into typography, studied Graphic Design and loved anything crafty so this was right up my street. Plus, at the time, I was in a job that I didn't love and wanted to get some creativity back in my life so enter, modern calligraphy...

This will be the most dramatic before from all my mini montages but I loved the drills, I sort of still do, as a perfectionist, it's so lovely creating these little thin and thick strokes! I started learning at home and bought Molly Suber Thorpe's beginners book, read my blog on the best books to buy if you're starting out here.

Then I attended a workshop by the amazing Judy Broad at the end of 2016 after practising at home by myself for a month or so which was brilliant! It makes such a big difference having someone who knows what they're doing to tell you the best way to create these beautiful flourishes!

By the end of the year, I had just about gotten comfortable with black ink and white paper and Santa (husband/bf at the time) bought me black card and metallic inks for Christmas which I started experimenting with.

Then 2017 was a year of experimenting and practising in my spare time alongside my full-time Events job. This was also the year that I set up my Instagram and decided to call it Dinky Ink Calligraphy, thought it sounded cute and it was just for fun to begin with. Thank god I changed it!

Also this account got deleted shortly before I decided to start Inkscript Studio so it no longer exists but I tried to track down all the old photos from then.

This was a fun year of playing around but I must say it makes me cringe to see how 'bad' my calligraphy was but I still kept posting, kept practising and I even made cards and prints for friends and family!

This was before I discovered a laser light (obviously) and I even created place names and menus for John Lewis for an event I was working on at the time! That definitely boosted my confidence but I look back and wish I had that opportunity now where I feel my writing is better...

We also got engaged in 2017 so I wanted to be able to write well enough for all of our wedding stationery and that definitely spurred me on to practice even more!

2018 was a crazy year for us, I turned 30, started a new Events job, was planning a wedding, got married and we were house hunting so I didn't actually do a whole lot of calligraphy this year compared to 2017.

Even though I didn't create as much calligraphy, I definitely experimented more in terms of media and styles. From vellum to chalkboards and using pens to create faux calligraphy and Finetec were a firm favourite!

My style definitely improved during 2018 from 2017, with more steady lines and a thought out composition to create a design. The laser light was still out of reach and I was too lazy to use a ruler!

After our wedding in the summer, I finally had more time to practice and it was such a joy to pick up my pen holder again and just write for fun without thinking what would look nice as a place name or what style table plan did we want...

Which then brings me to the start of 2019 when I decided I wanted to make this a full-time job! It actually scares me more now looking back than at the time when I made the decision. Looking back, my calligraphy wasn't the best and I had no clue how to turn it into a business so I sort of just dived in the deep end with the support of the husband and then Inkscript Studio was born.

If you were thinking of doing this full-time, I would suggest having financial back up and doing it as a side hustle for a while first, there'll be another blog in detail about the business side of things to come.

So I left my Events job at the end of January and started to plan how I was going to make money from this calligraphy business. It was a challenge at first, my strengths are being creative and coming up with ideas, finance and numbers make my eyes glaze over so I had to really focus and learn what the basics were of running a business. To be honest, this is the stuff you can always learn, it's the passion and creativity that you can't learn (as cheese as that may sound) so I ploughed on and it's still something I have to get my head round now with spreadsheets for everything.

I started the year thinking I would focus on wedding stationery as that seemed to be the standard job for a modern calligrapher and signed up to all of the online wedding vendors and even set up at a fair in the summer. They say the first few years of starting a business doesn't count as you're finding your feet and finding what works and doesn't work and I couldn't agree more!

Because I spent all year practising and writing anything and everything, my style definitely improved as I had the time to finesse strokes and identify where I needed to improve. I invested in my laser light. different types of inks and papers to just write, it was amazing. From here, I created a styles sheet offering more flourished script, a brush style and my standard script style and it was so great being able to create different styles for clients to have an option.

During the summer, I thought it would be nice to design some greeting cards alongside my wedding stationery offering and have them on my website, maybe sell them in some local shops. Again I had no idea about wholesale or what my overall plan for my own stationery line would be. I just designed five very simple cards and got them printed, packaged up in my bedroom like an assembly line and sent some samples to a few home/gift shops across Surrey and now I'm stocked in six different shops!

Then Christmas came and I designed a range of Christmas cards and festive wrapping paper which was so much fun and sending off orders was my favourite bit! Adding a handwritten note in a beautifully flourished envelope, pretty post is the best!

Then I wanted to start hosting workshops in 2020 (bahhhh) with everything that I had learnt so I designed everything and had my first workshop at the end of the year ready for the new year...

2020, where do I start! We completed on a house at the end of January which was a complete renovation that we gutted and basically started again so we gave ourselves ten weeks to do the big building bits and move in at the end of March...our timing could not have been worse!!

Boris made his announcement on Tuesday evening and we managed to move by the skin of our teeth on the Saturday, it was without a doubt the most stressful week of my life! However our kitchen got cancelled so we only had hot running water upstairs in our ensuite, no heating in the house minus the bedroom and it sleeted on the night we moved in, the radiator in the bedroom only had an on or off switch so it was either freezing or boiling....the list goes on but it took a lot of getting used to to say the least.

So Inkscript took a back seat whilst we tried to sort ourselves out and get our home a bit more liveable.

During lockdown I thought it would be so cute to design some postcards with a 'Wish you were here' vibe so I created one for that and one 'Miss your Face' which turned out to be my bestseller of the range! Which is just lovely, thinking of all those people that have sent these onto people that they love and miss during this very strange time. These were in monoline alongside three card designs which I really love, it was a bit out there after all of my designs are in traditional nib and ink but I love the playful element it gives.

I had also been meaning to rebrand after Inkscript hit its' one year birthday, it didn't feel like me and I didn't love the branding. So I spent some time tweaking the logo slightly and breathing some life into the brand and my dusky pink logo was born! The website was updated, my stationery was refreshed and I loved streamlining and creating consistency across everything Inkscript.

I recently designed a range of cards inspired by this colour palette as well as some more bespoke cards that could be used across all occasions and they are my most favourite yet!

Inkscript is still evolving now and I'm looking for more stockists in our new home area. Christmas is about to kick off, strangely before October is even here!

Also I'm planning 2021 at the moment with more cards, prints and even homewares so watch this space, so excited to bring out more new designs!

PS well done if you've stuck with me and read all the way down to here! Leave me a comment and let me know how long you've been practising calligraphy and what your milestones have been :)

Jen x


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