Creative Calligraphy Q&A

There is something mesmerising, peaceful and fulfilling when witnessing a Calligrapher at work. These are certainly the feelings we experienced when we first came across Angela Reed. Based in the North East, Angela owns Creative Calligraphy which is a bespoke service offering beautiful writing for all occasions.

We are collaborating very closely with Angela over the next few months on all things Calligraphy related. Before we lose ourselves in her calligraphy strokes let’s first take the opportunity to learn more about Angela and her passion for Calligraphy.

Who or what inspired you into Calligraphy?

I was introduced to calligraphy by my art teacher at secondary school when I was about 12. A very talented calligrapher himself, he started a lunchtime calligraphy club and I joined. Art and English were my favourite subjects at school, and I loved that calligraphy seemed to combine both drawing and writing.

When I set up Creative Calligraphy I joined a class run by Susan Moor, who is chairman of the Northumbrian Scribes. She has introduced me to several new styles and helped me develop a more artistic approach to calligraphy. I continue to be inspired by her and the Northumbrian Scribes, as well as many of the calligraphers I have connected with via social media. Having as go at modern calligraphy is my next challenge.

Calligrapher at work

What pens do you have in your collection?

I still have the first Manuscript Pen Company pen I bought, along with a couple of their sets that were bought for me as gifts when I set up Creative Calligraphy. I also have some Pilot Parallel pens and a Pentel brush pen that I will one day get around to trying out!

I have a collection of stainless steel William Mitchell nibs that were given to me for my dip pens. One of my nib holders is very special, having been handmade by Driftwood Pens from driftwood found on the beach at South Shields, where I live. It’s very lightweight and lovely to use.

I also have a glass calligraphy pen brought back from Bruges by my cousin. I invested in some Staedtler fineliners when learning akim script and I love my oblique nib holder and pointed nib for copperplate script.

Favourite paper / ink?

I’m constantly being introduced to different papers and inks by fellow calligraphers. I tend to use plain white cartridge paper for calligraphy practice, or write directly onto stationery that I’ve been provided with, but I do like Bockingford Hot Press paper for special commissions. Ink-wise, my go-to black is Higgins Eternal and I’m currently in love with my FineTec pearl metallic palette.

What ink disasters have you experienced?

Fortunately not many! But there is a stain on my dining room table caused by me knocking over a bottle of black Higgins Eternal ink. I blotted quite a lot of it out and in some parts, it blended into the grain of the wood, but it still has a candle holder strategically placed over it. Rather my furniture than the stationery I was working on at the time!

What advice or tips would you give to a novice?

Go to a class, find YouTube tutorials, read books – just pick up a pen and practice! If you’re used to typing rather than writing things down, get some general handwriting practice in with a ballpoint, or even better, a fountain pen, before progressing on to a calligraphy pen with a flat-edged nib. You can even practice with a pencil at first if you feel like you need to build a bit of confidence up first. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. Even the most experienced calligraphers still practice their lettering on a regular basis.

How did you get started setting up your business?

I had the idea for Creative Calligraphy bouncing around in my head long before I actually put it into practice. I had a spate of requests to add names to wedding invitations and place cards for friends and family and wondered if it was something I could turn into a business, but it wasn’t until I took voluntary redundancy in January 2014 that I started looking at it seriously.

I heard about the New Enterprise Allowance through the North East Business and Innovation Centre in Sunderland and was successful in my application for start-up support in the form of financial help and mentoring for my first six months of trading.

Creative Calligraphy was officially launched on May 27, 2014.

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What services do you provide?

I offer beautiful writing for all occasions, with weddings accounting for much of my work. People have also come to me to have poems, readings and other pieces of writing penned in calligraphy. I also run workshops, most recently for the Cultural Spring, a community arts engagement project funded by the Arts Council in Sunderland and South Tyneside.

Why do you think people want Calligraphy services?

Who doesn’t like getting something that’s been handwritten? Calligraphy comes from the Greek for ‘beautiful writing’ and it is the beauty, as well as the personal touch, that captures people’s attention and makes a lasting impression. It shows care and consideration.

Are you experiencing an increase in demand for your Calligraphy services?

I have been in business now for two years now and demand continues to grow, particularly in the run-up to wedding season, but also for commissions. I love the variety of my work and how calligraphy can be applied to so many things.

Do you offer any courses?

At the moment I am leading calligraphy workshops on behalf of the Cultural Spring, a project funded by the Arts Council to widen participation in the arts in 10 local authority wards in Sunderland and South Tyneside. I have also done taster sessions at venues including Bede’s World in Jarrow and Newcastle Does Vintage at Hoult’s Yard, as well as schools.

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We hope you agree this was an exciting insight into Angela and I’m sure you are eager to learn more about Calligraphy in our forthcoming Getting Started guides. In the meantime you can head over to her website at Creative Calligraphy and socially you can connect with Angela on Twitter or Facebook. If you are inspired by Angela’s story and you too want to get started with Calligraphy then we have a curated selection of pens to help you.

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