6 Reasons Why A Creative Workshop Is Good For You

Never Stop Learning via Happy Hands Project

I have attended a few creative workshops in the past 5 years, and they have been nothing but amazing. I tend to be picky and only attend classes that are of my interest, so that means it’s mostly calligraphy, and these classes have taught me so much more than what I can teach myself in a  year.

I have taught myself creative or modern pointed pen calligraphy, but what really got me going was after I attended Maybelle Imasa‘s class here in Singapore. I’m all for self-study, but nothing beats an in-person workshop, based on my experience. Here, I have put together 6 reasons why going to an in-person workshop is good for you.

1 :: It speeds up the learning process

It took me 2 years to teach myself pointed pen calligraphy. If only there were workshops here in Singapore back in 2012, it would have taken me just a few months! I had Eleanor Winters’ Mastering Copperplate Calligraphy book for ages, and I could just follow the instructions if I allowed myself to learn from the book. But when she came here in 2014 and taught our class how to write the strokes, I had so much insight that I could not wait to get home to practice.

Same thing with Spencerian. This is a hand that I’ve been wanting to learn for years. I bought the Spencerian Workbooks by Platt Rogers Spencer. I’ve had it for a year and have only begun on the first workbook (it had 5). I could not even master the entrance strokes.

Last month, I attended a 2-day beginning Spencerian class with calligrapher Michael Ward. After the class plus weeks of practice, I can already write monoline Spencerian in lower case (while using his exemplar as a guide). It would have taken me years if I depended on my time management skills and the workbooks.

2 :: Someone points your mistakes (and commends you when you’re right!)

Eleanor slightly adjusted the nib on my plastic oblique holder during class. It has been angled wrong all along! During the classes I teach, we were able to address minor issues right away—scratchy nibs, ink blobs and usually the most challenging—connecting letters to form words.

You will be inspired and encouraged when your teacher tells you you’re doing something right, and it’s something you won’t forget that easily. The most effective teachers I’ve met were those who point out mistakes but were never patronizing nor condescending. I wouldn’t say everyone’s a snowflake, but it sure feels good when students receive a little encouragement.

3 :: You learn tips and tricks that you wouldn’t learn elsewhere

When the teacher is right there in front of you, you can just ask a question and receive instant feedback. It’s hard to judge your work when you’re alone. I remember a question I posed to Mike Ward during class. I showed him my uppercase B’s and asked, “these look right to me, but something’s off. Can you tell what it is?”, and he took my sheet and marked the first loop. It had to be a tad rounder.

Calligrapher Paul Antonio taught us the importance of good posture and a breathing technique to make writing easier. And I have applied it to the way I write.

4 :: You will find the value of practice

These teachers give lessons because they are experts in their own field. You will realise the hard work they’ve been through to get better in their craft. Nobody becomes an expert overnight, and after learning from these experts, I have found the value of practicing in order to refine my writing.

You can spend so much money going to different classes but without practice, you will never get better at it. It pays to flex those (hand and arm) muscles and put on paper what you’ve learned so that the workshop fees you’ve paid for truly is money well-spent.

5 :: Your passion will be ignited

Being around people in a creative environment is enough to super-charge your passion. Writing calligraphy, lettering, or even painting, can be a solitary activity. But spending hours or days with people who share the same passion as you will trigger a certain passion inside you. It is up to you to do something about it!

I love hearing the teacher’s creative journey—how they started and how long it took them to be where they currently are. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t all roses and sunshine, but hearing how they got better at their craft was enough to inspire everyone in the room to keep going.

Have you ever gone to a painting class and could not wait to get home and get your painting tools out? If you have, that’s exactly what I was talking about.

6 :: You make new friends

During those breaks during class, you’ll end up chatting with those around you. You’ll exchange Instagram handles, or plan the next art jam, or ask each other which class you’re going to next. Either way, you’ll get to know those like-minded individuals and you might just hit it off with one (or even two) of them!

So there you have it. I hope this year you’ll decide to go to a class and learn something new. The next blog post will all be about online workshops—and why they’re good for you, too—specially when in-person classes are out of the question. Let’s all keep on learning!

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Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls in Singapore

Maybelle in Singapore via HappyHandsProject

Just the other day I remember a discussion on the Flourish Forum about Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls’ calligraphy exemplar. Some were wondering if it would be worth attending her class or just purchasing her kit online. The kit alone is such a treat – I can stare at Maybelle’s handwriting all day! However, if you know that she’ll be in your city, I’d say go to her class instead. An in-person workshop is a much better option if you have a choice.

Let me tell you why.

Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls in Singapore via Happy Hands Project

Being in Singapore, I was so fortunate to have Bloesem Creative Space invite Maybelle for a series of classes. To say workshops by renowned calligraphers are rare here would be a total understatement. I’ve never gone to a calligraphy workshop before so this one will practically be my first ever. Being a fan of her works and style for ages, I was super excited to say the least!

It was a glorious Sunday morning. After having breakfast with my husband at the Tiong Bahru Bakery, he walked me across to Bloesem for the 3-hour class. You know what made the morning even more glorious? I had a front row seat! Exactly in front of Maybelle! It was very inspiring to hear how she started out and be able to observe how she actually writes. It’s very beneficial especially for beginners because simple things like incorrect writing angles will be easily addressed. Anyone’s free to ask questions, too. And the kit. Oh, the kit. I know I already have a lot of ink holders, pens and a million other odds and ends, but I love all the handmade tools and letterpress exemplar that Maybelle brought for the workshop.

Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls in Singapore via Happy Hands Project

Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls in Singapore via Happy Hands Project

Aditionally, I believe it’s Bloesem’s interiors that really set the mood for such an enjoyable class. Who wouldn’t love practicing calligraphy in such a lovely space with rays of sunlight peeking through? We were all pampered with refreshments as well – all cooked lovingly in Bloesem’s kitchen. After mingling with Maybelle and the ladies, champagne was served. Yes, you read that right. We were that spoilt.

Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls in Singapore via Happy Hands Project

 

Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls in Singapore via Happy Hands Project

I guess all this pretty much sums up why I think an in-person workshop would be well worth your time. Be sure to check Maybelle’s workshop page as that’s where I found out she was coming here and almost fell of my seat. Bloesem’s classes always have something interesting being offered as well. I would go to every single class if I could!

For my very own Happy Hour Workshops here in Singapore, I’ll be announcing a date (or dates!) soon. Leave your email here to be in the loop.