I love progress pictures, don't you? They are a tangible way to see movement in a forward direction: confirmation that your hard work is paying dividends, that your efforts are not in vain.
I began studying calligraphy in October of last year (2016), so this month marks one year of really diving into the world of the hand-lettering arts. It started with realizing that different nibs did different things, and that, although I had been playing for a few months with broad-edged nibs, the images my mind conjured up when I heard the word "calligraphy" were in fact created with a pointed pen. I bought a few pointed pen nibs and my life changed forever.
Now that a whole new universe had opened up for me, I had to find out more about it! I did a cursory Google search for learning calligraphy and found Lindsey Bugbee at The Postman's Knock. She has a successful blog that answered some of my questions, plus she offers worksheets (seen below), courses and lessons in modern calligraphy, reviews of products, et cetera.
As autumn waned and Christmas approached, I knew I wanted to give my family and friends calligraphy gifts, but didn't know what to do! I happened to participate in a holiday-themed workshop with Corrie of Inspired By U, where we took pre-designed paper, distressed it, then glued it to canvasses and waxed it for protection. I decided to do the same for my Christmas gifts, writing people's favorite Bible verses in calligraphy and then waxing and decorating the canvasses.
This top canvas was for my mom (a truer Proverbs 31 woman I have never known), and she cried when she opened it. (Win!)
As I moved along, I learned about the different types of calligraphy and discovered that modern really wasn't my cup of tea. So I kept pushing until I found Copperplate, which fulfilled every expectation I ever had of elegant, fancy writing. In February I started working through Eleanor Winter's endlessly-recommended book, "Mastering Copperplate Calligraphy".
While away from home, I made sure to practice even if all I had was a regular ballpoint pen, because it's a matter of teaching one's hand the proper movements, regardless of the tool you're using.
Once I began to study calligraphy and determined that I wanted to build a business around it, one thing I did was to jump on the social media train. I have mixed feelings about social media, and only in the past 3 or 4 years got a Facebook account at all because of what I was missing. (A friend had their baby and I didn't find out until a week later when my husband casually mentioned it, because I hadn't been on Facebook to hear the news!) In my experience, social media sites, while they absolutely have their benefits, also contribute to people experiencing weakened social skills and diminished attention spans. (Of course this is the fault of people who choose not to exercise their tongues and minds outside of the computer world, and not the fault of an inanimate website, but the problem is there nonetheless.) But I digress. My husband and I own a business, and I saw firsthand through his efforts the power of harnessing social media to market, advertise, gain exposure and credibility through word-of-mouth, communicate with customers, and much more. Believing that it would be unwise not to use social media to some degree, yet knowing that my personality could easily get roped into the addictive and mindless smart-phone-thumb-scrolling that often accompanies it, I decided to board the bandwagon but set boundaries for myself. I give myself 15-20 minutes in the mornings to browse and post new material, and the same at nighttime to browse and follow up, and, unless an app notifies me throughout the day of a Facebook message (not a notification), I try not to use social media at all during the day.
With this limited time frame, I needed to choose where I'd get the most bang for my buck. I set up a calligraphy page on Facebook, which was a no-brainer because I was already using Facebook on a personal level, and after debating the benefits of Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter, I chose to step into Instagram as well. What a wonderful decision that was! I had no idea the vastness of the lettering community on Instagram! Incredibly skilled and creative people all over the globe join together to inspire, uplift, learn from, teach, exchange pieces, and encourage one another in every stage of learning. My general policy is to only follow lettering artists who are much better than myself, so I'll always be inspired to do more and do better. And it's working. I truly believe that, if I hadn't joined Instagram or something like it and been exposed to the beauty created by other artists, I would not be where I am today in terms of my skill development.
About 6 months into learning Copperplate, I felt myself feeling uninspired and considered jumping into a new style: Spencerian. I consulted with some contacts on Instagram about good Spencerian learning resources, and one man counseled me to devote at least a full year to the study of any hand. He turned out to be right in that, once I started paying more attention to the nuances of the script, I'd fall in love with it all over again! So here I am, 8 months into Copperplate and one year into calligraphy... still loving every graceful curve and swell, with so much yet to learn!
I can't wait.