Calligraphy is no longer an antiquated art form. In fact, it’s coming back with full force and being delicately applied to everything from wedding invitations to coffeeshop signs. It’s a simple, yet stunning way to add detail, personality, and craftsmanship to anything in need of words or a title.
This coming October 21st, talented calligrapher Laura Hooper will be gracing Portland with her presence in collaboration with Vanity Affair for a modern calligraphy workshop at Studio 1904. But before we grab our nibs and ink, we spoke with Laura about what we can expect from this creative Saturday event and how she got her start. Make sure you nab your tickets from this link or the one below before it’s sold out!
How did you first get started with calligraphy?
My mom taught me broad edge calligraphy when I was around 11 years old. I’ve always been artistic and had a weekend job personalizing caricatures with the broad edge calligraphy. Around age 21, my best friend was getting married, and I offered to address her envelopes. I wanted to do this in pointed pen calligraphy, so I just started experimenting on my way and went from there!
Why is this such an important art form in your opinion? What about calligraphy is special to you?
Calligraphy is such a beautiful art. The rhythmic movements of the pen, the idea of writing with a dip pen and ink, it’s all pretty romantic and the outcome is just stunning once you get really comfortable with the art. There is something special about physical mail and the written word and calligraphy just brings it all together.
What was your biggest mistake? What about your greatest victory?
While I appreciate the path I took because it helped me to develop very strong troubleshooting skills with the art, I’d say my biggest mistake was jumping straight into writing words. I didn’t take the time to really work on my skills - improving letter consistency, smoothing out my lines, learning about letter connections. I just skipped ahead to the fun part of addressing envelopes and because of that it took me longer to improve. That was over 15 years ago though! I think my greatest victory has been taking advantage of the opportunity to share the art through our workshops and at-home learning. Sharing the art with so many individuals through our in-person classes as well as starter kits that have shipped all around the world means so much to me. When I first started, there was very little interest in the art of calligraphy, so experiencing this resurgence has been really special.
What has been your favorite part about being a calligrapher, and why did you decide to focus strongly on the wedding industry?
I love being the very first impression that a guest has for a couple’s wedding. When someone receives a beautifully hand-addressed envelope for the save the date or wedding invitation, it really does set the tone for the whole celebration. I sort of fell into the wedding industry since that’s how I initially got started, but as the industry grew, my business and I evolved right along with it. If I could address envelopes all day long, I really would. There’s quite a bit more to running a business, though!
What can students look forward to at the upcoming workshop in Portland?
In our beginner session we start by covering the tools themselves–the oblique pen holder, grid paper, nibs & ink–before getting started with practice strokes. Once we have a chance to get everyone semi-comfortable with the pen (it takes a bit of time to get really comfortable), we move into a beginner alphabet and cover the full alphabet, upper and lower case. During class we talk about tips for practicing, more recommended supplies, next steps and more, and once we wrap up the alphabet we will talk about cleaning and pen care.
What is your biggest piece of advice for calligraphers who want to make something out of their work?
Don’t give up. Calligraphy is a skill that takes practice, dedication and repetition over time to develop. Having tools that work well together will make it a more enjoyable learning experience too. We share our top tips for new calligraphers here.
Laura Hooper’s workshops have been held across the states and many attendees have praised her for her and her sister’s patience, passion, and teaching skills. “I’ve been wanting to dive into calligraphy for so long, and your workshop helped me address some of the main issues I’ve had in my first attempts,” said Julie. And Melissa L. drove four hours to Toronto to get her fill of technique and application. Don’t miss out on the chance to learn or enhance your artistic abilities and be inspired. To buy your tickets follow this link. We look forward to seeing you there!
Photos courtesy of Anne Kim