It’s 2016 (woohoo!) and I’d like my first post of the year to be special. So here’s one special destination wedding I had the pleasure to work on last year – Tom and Simone’s big day in Phuket, Thailand.
It was a travel-themed wedding, so each table number featured the couple’s photos from different places. And not just that — either of them were holding a small chalkboard with a number on it! I thought it was a very cute idea.
I also did the calligraphy and lettering for the signs and stationery used at the venue. There were the menus for dinner, cocktails and cupcakes, photo booth sign, and wedding programme to name a few. My favourite has got to be the escort cards which weren’t cards at all, but little paper airplanes hanging in strings! The colour motif was grey and dusty blue, which were perfect for a classy beach wedding. I’m very happy for this sweet couple, and I’m pretty sure you’ll like the photos as much as I did. Scroll down to see more.
The last Beginners’ workshop of the year is worthy of its own blog post, because it marks the beginning of another year of learning and teaching this lovely craft. If I’m not mistaken, I started with the Happy Hour Workshops in March of 2014 with only 8 participants. At present, due to the demand, we have doubled that number and each class is still always fun and interesting, thanks to the diverse group that I get to teach every time.
Last Saturday’s workshop was packed to the brim. We made good use of the ‘Make Your Own Happy Hour’ pads, and were treated to a lovely spread of pastries and artisan coffee. The Untitled Space studio was bathed in beautiful light at that time of the day, and I couldn’t be any happier! It makes for great photos, too.
One thing I learned about teaching modern calligraphy is that each student has a certain difficulty to overcome, and it is through experience that I am able to address the issue. It feels great when after some drills and practice strokes, I could see the progress that each student makes.
I will be back in January for a couple of Beginners’ classes, and Advanced classes will follow (crosses fingers). If you’re interested, leave your email address to subscribe to the newsletter. I cannot wait for a new round of workshops for the next year!
For artists and creatives looking for a venue for your workshops and exhibitions, I would highly recommend The Untitled Space. The photos speak for themselves, don’t you think?
For me this year, the peak season for wedding calligraphy started on the later part of the 3rd quarter. I was on my first trimester of pregnancy at the time, and I was feeling extra emotional and tired. After tucking my daughter to sleep, I couldn’t get myself to work some more. I thought, how will I get through the wedding season if I was tired all the time? I was worried, but sleep always got the better of me. I hit the sack a couple of hours earlier than usual.
Then I worry again the next day because of the work that has been piling up.
Calligraphy and lettering is something I do because I love doing it. I like writing, and drawing letters, ever since I was a little girl. So why is this whole thing, the thing I’m supposed to love, is stressing me out? Now that I’m well into my second trimester and down to my last calligraphy addressing project for the year, I’m feeling much better and excited for what the coming year has to bring. I was able to accomplish the invitation suites for December weddings (and even one for March!), delivered place cards right on time, and also had a few large-sized calligraphy done for some clients. Let me share with you some of the things that kept me motivated — and sane — during the time when the work load was almost too much to handle.
FOCUS ON YOUR GOALS I was able to do this by listing my goals down on paper. Seeing it on my wall makes it more ‘real’, and I was able to focus on my priorities instead of procrastinating and doing less important things. Focus on your daily or weekly goals and stick to it.
So yes, it’s important to get work done, but you’re headed for burn out if you don’t take a breather once in a while. There was a 250-word poem that I had to rewrite 3 times because of some silly mistakes I’ve made and it was frustrating! There was one evening when everything seemed to go wrong. I knocked my ink over, the envelope drying rack tumbled, and my hand was shaky. Why not take a break? Making watercolour washes on my pad relaxes me, and scribbling with my brush pens calms me down. Trust me, it works. By the time I got back to writing, it was so much better.
CHECK YOUR WORK
I’m lucky to have a husband who designs as well, and was willing to give his creative input into my work. Having another pair of eyes look through your finished work is better because he/she may see things differently than you do. Having someone else proofread is also a good idea. However, some of us would prefer to do things on our own and if this is the case, carefully check your work before sending it out. It saves time because you don’t have to do things over again, and you’ll have happy clients all the way.
ACCEPT YOUR LIMITATIONS
I had to give up some calligraphy workshops during this period. As much as I love to teach this craft, and I get emails asking when my next class would be, I knew I couldn’t handle it. Take a step back and see how your work load is, and learn to say no if you simply cannot handle any more. Your clients will thank you because you’ll be able to churn out better work.
REMEMBER WHY YOU’RE DOING THIS IN THE FIRST PLACE
When work gets too much for you to handle, pause and ask yourself why you’re working so hard for this anyway. I pick up my pen and dip it in ink and get lost in pointed pen bliss because it makes me happy. I’m passionate about this craft, and I want to share the beauty of calligraphy. What makes you do what you do? Think about it, and it’ll put a smile on your lips. Now check your daily goals and focus on them because believe me, it feels pretty good to get some work done.
What a lovely experience this has been! This was kind of a dream project because I get to paint florals and leaves (sage leaves, specifically) and do lettering with my brush as well. Though we eventually dropped the sage leaves while finalising the logo, we retained the 2 kinds of flowers that I painted.
Cotton and Sage is the brainchild of florist E’an here in Singapore. She specifically wanted a certain brush lettering style for the logo type, and gave me creative freedom for the watercolour florals. I liked the lettering style as it was a something that I’ve been trying myself. After a few rounds of revisions, we have arrived at the logo that you can see on the pop-up shop sign below.
It was a breeze working on the Cotton and Sage logo, and I am grateful for opportunities like these. Oh, and did I mention that I got a gorgeous bouquet of thanks from the florist herself? It made my desk pretty despite all the inky mess.
I became an instant fan of the classic 1920’s look because of this art deco themed invite suite I had the privilege of designing. It was a vintage theme, yes, but the beautiful thing is, it doesn’t look ‘old’ at all. It’s just pure class, and I truly enjoyed the whole design process.
The suite is a mix of handwritten elements and digital design, and searching for the perfect art deco font proved to be a challenge. A self-proclaimed font snob, I found myself browsing through fonts that were too mediocre to use. I finally found one or two that would suit the design excellently. Paired with the classic art deco pattern and modern calligraphy, the printed suite came out so much prettier than what I saw on my laptop screen. The colours came out soft and pleasing to the eye — exactly how I wanted it to be.
Am I the only one hooked on brush lettering fonts? Everytime I click on Creative Market, there is a vast number of brush fonts for sale. For those who find lettering with a brush a bit challenging, one can always invest in a font or two to make artworks.
After pointed pen calligraphy, I also love lettering with a brush and trying out different styles can be tricky. For the beginner, looking at the structure and letter forms of these fonts can help one understand how these are written. These fonts are so natural-looking and you can even see the strokes on the letters. Talk about organic!
Wish I could give away a font that I have designed myself. But while I figure out how that dream will come to fruition, let me share with you my favourite premium brush fonts so far:
Hi everyone! I know it’s been a while since I wrote something about The Happy Hour workshops. The good news is, I’m writing about the revamped beginners’ workshops that I’ve started last 19th of September.
The demand for the HHP workshops is still overwhelming, which made me think about the class size. The only way to bring in more participants is to find a bigger venue — and here in Singapore, that is not an easy task. Good thing was I attended the Googly Gooeys’ Watercolour Workshop, and there I found a perfect venue!
So the first part of the revamp is having the classes at The Untitled Space, a centrally-located, light-filled workshop space that doubles as a photography studio and occasional cafe. The class size is still small, but the space was able to accommodate slightly more participants. As always, the coffee is sooo good (and there’s Rooibos tea for non-caffeine drinkers!).
The second part, and the most important project I’ve ever worked on for the workshops, is the ‘Make Your Own Happy Hour’ workpad. It’s exclusive to participants, and has a new set of exemplar and practice strokes. The alphabet guide is based on Copperplate but still follows my own style of modern calligraphy. It has beautifully-lined pages for drills and freeplay which participants get to take home for more practice.
I’ve scheduled a couple more modern calligraphy for beginners workshops in October. You’ve been notified of the registration if you subscribed to the newsletter. Hope to see you in one of my classes soon!
My first impression of this ink was, how come it’s so watery? I’ve always used sumi ink, which is a thicker, darker kind of black than this one. Sumi has the perfect viscosity in my opinion. So the first time I dipped my Nikko G into McCaffery’s, I was surprised that not much ink stayed in the reservoir.
I didn’t give up, of course. It wrote quite smoothly, but I found myself in another situation. The ink wasn’t black enough! How can this be penman’s black if it’s a weak grey? I waited for the ink to dry, and realised that the ink actually gets darker as it dries. Problem solved! It still has slight gradients just like walnut ink, specially on the downstrokes, but I liked the effect nonetheless.
Another good thing about this ink is that it’s super smooth to write with. It behaves like Higgins Eternal, but with a ‘silky’ flow. It gives super fine hairlines that you won’t get with sumi ink. Though I wouldn’t recommend this for artwork that you will scan eventually (your scanner might not be able to catch the hairlines), it’s a lovely ink to write with. It gives your calligraphy some character, and it dries beautifully.
The only downside is that you need to wash your nibs with water right after use — which was a bit difficult for me because I leave my nibs to dry for hours. McCaffery’s ink would eat your nibs, so make sure you wash it after use.
The verdict? Smooth, silky, deep grey ink, that gives my calligraphy some character. I would definitely recommend this ink.
There are so many reasons why many would opt for modern calligraphy over the traditional styles. First reason would most probably be because there are ‘no rules’ in the modern style. Another reason would be its popularity all over the web and social media platforms. Modern calligraphy is everywhere nowadays, and a lot of people are doing it as a hobby. Third reason, and this is the reason I believe the most, is because the modern style can reflect the writer’s personality. It would display one’s individuality, and you can have a style you can call your very own.
Before I go on, I’d like to dispel the myth that modern calligraphy simply has no rules. It’s a myth. It’s false. Modern pointed pen calligraphy is based on traditional Copperplate, so we will still follow the basic rules that come with it — consistent slant, legibility, and uniform thicks and thins. I would prefer to write something that is actually readable.
Now, for the fun part. With so many calligraphers and enthusiasts out there, how can you make your work stand out? It took me 2 years to come up with my own style — and I’m still learning, everyday. For beginners who want to display your individuality, I’ve come up with a few pointers.
1. Learn your basic letter forms.
Once you have memorized how each letter would look like, your calligraphy will look more consistent. Try to write the same letter in that style every time. Once you’ve mastered it, make slight variations to make it a little more exciting. Which leads me to my next point.
2. Write your own exemplar.
To help you memorize your basic letter forms, why don’t you write the full alphabet in the same style? You can always refer to it whenever you’re writing. You can write your variations there, too.
3. Study calligraphy fonts.
Modern calligraphy fonts are different from each other, and observe why this is so. Some have thick downstrokes, some are very upright, while some are playful and carefree. While doing this, you can also gauge what style reflects your personality more.
4. Keep on practicing.
Even the expert calligraphers out there still practice and do their drills. Believe me, it helps! It builds muscle memory, so you’ll be able to do your letter forms right. Practicing also keeps your mojo going, and very relaxing, too. I can write drills for hours. Just remember to have your own exemplar around while practicing so you can be consistent with your slant and style.
Finally having a style you can call your own will take months, or even years of practice. I must admit I tend to jump from every style I can think of when I was starting out. It’s not bad, and it actually helped me come up with the style that I would actually stick to eventually. Good luck in finding your own pointed pen style! Remember — Practice Makes Pretty!
The latest modern calligraphy class at the library@orchard is by far the BIGGEST group I’ve ever had. Wow. I’ll let you in on the scoop — I was invited to teach 2 workshops at the Library, and I was given this spacious learning venue they call ‘Make’, with floor to ceiling windows and glass walls. Both classes were sold out, which means more people are interested to try their hand at this craft which I fell in love with so many years ago. library@orchard is by far my favourite library in Singapore since it opened, because it’s great for creatives and makers and they got loads of interesting events every month.
Well, glass walls also meant passers-by can have a preview of what’s going on in the class. As with my former Advanced Class, we mixed our own pots of gouache — first with a dark-coloured paint, then with white. Watching the participants write calligraphy with white ink on black is always amazing, because each one has a different style, and it’s always a sight to see! We ended the 3-hour workshop writing a short quote on black card stock.
Look at that group shot! I told you our group was huge.
As always, I’m super happy to see familiar faces who have been to my previous beginners’ or hand-lettering classes. Hoping to back at the Library for a workshop again, and I don’t mind being a student this time. As always, thanks to everyone who came and it’s always a pleasure to share the art of calligraphy to everyone.