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How My Calligraphy Journey Started and A Little About Me

Updated: Sep 8

Hello! My name is Catherine and I am the owner and calligrapher behind Everlace Design Co,

a calligraphy and design studio in the Bay Area. I offer wedding calligraphy service and onsite calligraphy for company events. I have done work for Bvlgari, The Clorox Company, Rituals, Year & Day, Entire Production, and more. I also teach calligraphy workshops which was how I started this business! Read on to know more about my background and how my calligraphy journey grew in the past year.



FROM A TINY ISLAND TO THE BAY AREA

At the beach in my hometown of Lombok, Indonesia May 2019

I grew up on a tiny island called Lombok in the south part of Indonesia. It is next to Bali and if you like Bali, you’re gonna like Lombok because it is as pretty (if not PRETTIER) and less crowded!

Anyways, since I was little, I have always liked doing artsy things. (*I won a coloring contest hosted by McDonald's when I was a kid!) I enjoy playing with colors, composition, and balance. Long story short, I had the opportunity to move to Seattle after high school and I studied Graphic Design in college.

Since I grew up in a tropical island where the average temperature was 78℉ (or 26℃) and it is sunny 90% of the year, my body literally needed MORE SUN. So, after years of suffering enough gloomy days, freezing rain, and a moderate case of S.A.D (Seasonal Affective Disorder), I decided it was time for a change and moved to the Bay Area in 2015.




Getting a nice, round scoop of ice cream (P.S. this is also how I get my arm workout in)

HOW MY CALLIGRAPHY OBSESSION STARTED


Life steered me to a totally unexpected path that allowed me to acquire a small ice cream store in 2016 and I have been running it ever since. I do everything from ice cream scooping and floor mopping to accounting and managing employees. It is a lot of work, I learn something new every day and I am here to PROUDLY debunk the myth that says creative people are bad at math! 😎💪🏼💃🏻


My interest in calligraphy began when I was looking for inspirations on how to create a chalkboard sign and other marketing materials for my ice cream store. After chalk lettering, I was exposed to pointed pen calligraphy on Instagram and I was immediately drawn to the beautiful letters and how it was incorporated beautifully into the wedding world (envelopes, place cards, menus, invitations, signages, etc). I started following some calligraphers whose style I resonate with on Instagram to feed my growing interest.


Then, I decided to teach myself calligraphy. I bought a workbook online and a brush pen from a Japanese stationery store and gave it a try. What an UTTER FAIL. I couldn’t figure out how to make it work for the life of me! I got frustrated and left the workbook in the corner to collect dust and thought to myself,” Maybe calligraphy is just not for me.”


So, you know how Instagram keeps showing you posts similar to photos you have liked? Well, my feed was filled with calligraphy and it was slowly feeding my curiosity in calligraphy again. And as I was getting married in Dec 2017, I thought if I wanted to take a calligraphy class, this would be a very good time because I might be able to do some calligraphy for my own wedding. So, I browsed for some local calligraphy workshops and finally settled on Brown Fox Calligraphy in San Francisco because I was really drawn to her style of modern calligraphy.



TOOK MY FIRST CALLIGRAPHY WORKSHOP

I took my first calligraphy workshop on Nov 2017 and it was such a foreign experience picking up an oblique pen holder for the first time and learning about the different nibs and pressure control. I went home feeling excited to practice and possibly create something for my wedding! But, between planning a wedding in a different country (we got married in Vancouver, Canada where my husband is from), planning and guiding a 3-week itinerary for my visiting family, and managing a business, I did not have time to practice and therefore, no pretty calligraphy at my wedding. I had to endure the welcome sign that the venue created (a chisel-tip Sharpie on thick foam board). I only found out after arriving at the venue and there was nothing I could do. To this day, I still cringe every time I think about that sign!🤦🏻‍♀️😂 And secretly, one of the reasons why I now offer wedding signage as a service is so that NO ONE else should endure having a chisel-tip welcome sign as I did!


Fast forward to Feb 2018, when I finally had time to practice. I remember feeling so lost and had to refer to the alphabet guide for every stroke I was making, which I thought was so interesting because it’s the same alphabet we see every day, yet it’s such a foreign concept trying to recreate it using the pointed pen! So, being the avid researcher that I am, I scoured the internet for more information on calligraphy, watched many videos on YouTube and Instagram, read many blogs and books while setting aside at least 15 minutes every day to practice. I joined a practice challenge by Laura Hooper Calligraphy where we only do basic strokes for 20 minutes a day for 5 days straight. At the end of the 5 days, I noticed my strokes were more consistent and my arm felt more comfortable moving the pen holder.

Consistent practice is key, my friend!


Here are photos of my calligraphy in the early days (Feb-Mar 2018)




TAUGHT MY FIRST CALLIGRAPHY WORKSHOP!

The practice challenge encouraged you to post your progress on social media so I posted some videos of myself doing the drill and photos of words that I wrote after doing the drill. Some of my friends saw the posts and asked me to teach them! So, I created my own alphabet guide, did my own logo and branding and taught my first calligraphy workshop in May 2018. I would like to thank my first three students who believed in me and trusted me to teach them calligraphy. Without you, there would be no Everlace Design Co and I am forever grateful! Well..., there would probably still be but it would just have taken me a LOT longer because without the pressure, and being the perfectionist that I am, I would've taken my time scrutinizing every little detail to perfection while in some case, it is better to just DO👏 IT👏 ALREADY👏!!!


Here are photos from my first workshop as a teacher.



GOT MY FIRST CLIENT

Soon enough, I got my first client who found me on Instagram and wanted me to address envelopes for her wedding. She ended up asking me to also design the invitation, make a chalk sign, and calligraph her place cards. I still remember the giddiness I felt after my client confirmed the booking. It is SUCH a humbling experience to know that my work is good enough for someone to want to hire me!


To K, thank you for being such a WONDERFUL first client! I truly couldn't have asked for a better experience and I would never forget that moment. You're the best, girl!


Here are some photos from my first client project!




AND MORE CLIENTS!

After that, I have been blessed with such fun projects including a 7-foot tall seating chart, custom quote, acrylic signages, and many wedding day-of pieces. I got to do live lettering events such as personalizing Brita bottles at The Clorox Company, writing personalized note cards for Bvlgari, monogramming bud vases for Year & Day, personalizing candles for Rituals, writing name tags for Entire Productions events and others. And, this is one of my favorites, I get to share my knowledge by teaching calligraphy workshops! It is such a full-circle moment for me to teach people a skill that I was once clueless about. I love seeing how people go from creating their first shaky downstrokes to writing their name confidently at the end of the 3-hour class. If you are interested in attending my workshop, click here to see the schedule!


Some of my goals going forward are innovating better ways to teach calligraphy so I can provide the best learning experience for my students and finding unique ways to bring my client's vision to life. I hope to bring joy through my work and to keep inspiring people who just started learning calligraphy to keep practicing because YOU CAN DO IT!


Well, there you go, my friend. Now that you know a little about me, I want to know who you are! Tell me in the comment about how you found me and what brought you here. If you have any questions, feel free to message me at everlacedesignco@gmail.com and if you are on Instagram, let's be friends! Find me @everlacedesignco


Thanks for reading!




Cheers,


Catherine




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