Workshops, Online Courses, Conferences and other Resources
There are so many fun ways to learn calligraphy and hand-lettering! You can attend an in-person workshop, take some online classes, go to full-day conferences or enroll in actual classes. I love learning! So I'll talk about my personal experience with the classes I've taken and mention some others that I haven't taken but would love to!
As a caveat, I will say that I have an art degree, so I spent four years taking fine art and design classes. Having that foundation did give me a leg up as opposed to starting from scratch, so I will totally recommend looking into some fundamental classes - beginner watercolor, oil painting, basics of design, art history, stuff like that. Or just hit up your local library and soak up as much knowledge as you can about the basics of good design - layout, color theory, hierarchy. And because I was concentrating in graphic design, that meant I was taking multiple classes a semester where I was learning and working in the Adobe programs (Photoshop, Indesign, Illustrator, Dreamweaver, etc.) So I will say that sometimes getting formal training is the best avenue, especially if you're looking into getting into commercial, editorial or layout design. There are lots of 2-year design-focused programs out there.
Secondly, as with pretty much everything, there's no work-around to time and experience. Even though I came out of college with four years of learning, once I stepped into the corporate design world I realized how inexperienced I actually was. Nothing can replace good old fashioned practice and commitment. But, if this is something you truly want to learn, you'll be fine committing to years of practice! Take heart! If it were easy, everyone would be doing it :)
There are oh-so-many amazing workshop experiences these days! Many of my friends host workshops that I would love to attend!
I've only been to one in-person workshop, probably because I don't really live near a major city. It was Stephanie Fishwick's, and it was amazing. She has a very distinctive and elegant calligraphy style. She's also really, really nice. I was pumping at the time and she totally set up a little comfortable station for me in the bathroom (it was a very nice, one-person bathroom.) Also Corbin Gurkin was there taking pictures, and she did a little teaching on flat-styling your items to get amazing shots of your work.
Here are some other workshops I'm dying to attend:
- Calligraphy: Anne Elser, Suzanne Cunningham, Mon Voir
- Watercolor: Joannie Candi, Wildfield Paper Co.
- Hand-lettering: Molly Jacques
- Sign-painting: Mike Meyer
Thanks to the wonderful inter-webs, we can take classes from anywhere! Something I'm extremely appreciative of, since I'm nestled up here in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
My delve into calligraphy grew from an obsession with sign-painting. If you thought calligraphy was niche, sign-painting is even 'niche-r'. After stalking a bunch of blogs I stumbled on some calligraphy and started researching how I could learn more. That's when I found Melissa Esplin's I Still Love Calligraphy course. It was my birthday present that year and proved to be more of an amazing resource than I even realized at the time. Melissa has a wonderful balance of traditional and modern knowledge. In art school it's hammered into your head to master and learn the rules before you can effectively and intelligently break them. Ie., you have to learn traditional calligraphy before you can create a good modern version of it. That's where Melissa's class was super helpful. She gives great, personal feedback (which I totally didn't utilize enough. Hindsight is 20/20) and you can also join her Facebook group, which is an amazing place to connect with others on their calligraphy journey, ask questions and learn new things!
I had another great opportunity to beta-test Molly Jacques new online classes! Her approach is totally unique in that she's set up a subscription based model where you pay monthly and get access to ALL kinds of different classes. You guys, she's got calligraphy, hand-lettering, Photoshop, pricing, creating a type-face, breaking into commercial work, logo design, the list goes on! I'm so excited to check out all her classes! She also gives personal feedback and has a shop where you can easily buy all the supplies you need.
This hasn't happened yet, but I'm also signed up for the Modern Calligraphy Summit. This is so, so, so cool! It's essentially an online conference happening in February. A whole bunch of amazing creatives are teaching different online classes - from calligraphy, to brush-lettering, to watercolor and everything in between. There's teachers like The Fozzy Book, Wildfield Paper Co., Anne Robin, and so many more!
There aren't a ton of lettering conferences, but there are lots of design and creative small business ones.
I've been to Converge and An Event Apart which were both great design conferences. An Event Apart was more specifically about web design, while Converge is more overall design. Both amazing, with big name speakers. I really enjoyed how Converge broke up into smaller sessions and you could pick which ones you were interested in. Bummer if two are on at the same time that you want to listen to, tho. At An Event Apart you don't miss a thing, and the presenters and everyone eats lunch in the same place (aka, the place where I got to sit and eat lunch with Jessica Hische!) Overall these were conferences packed full of amazing content.
The other conference I've attended is Creative At Heart. This conference is unique in that it's focused on small business owners, or people who desire to start their own creative business. So people like photographers, calligraphers, event planners, florists, bakers, etc. The content was really practical and extremely helpful, but the thing that puts C@H above and beyond is their whole networking strategy. With the other conferences I've attended you just kind of keep to yourself, listen, learn, take notes. But at C@H there were so many moments scheduled and planned for us to connect with each other, with the speakers, to create a tribe. It's one of the best styled conferences ever, and they also have amazing swag/surprises - like free headshots!
Conferences I want to experience:
- IAMPETH - The ultimate calligraphy conference!
- TypeCon - A conference all about typography? Uhh, yeah count me in.
- Making Things Happen - I really gotta save up for this, but this conference looks amazing. It's for all us creative small business owners.
- SXSW - Of course! The end-all be-all for creative, artistic conferences.
- Grow Conference - It's geared towards more big business but I'm sure it just oozing practical know-how. And I think it'd just be super interesting to hear everyone's success stories.
- How Design - Straight up design, the real nitty-gritty. I'd love to attend!
Books, Tutorials & Other Helpful Resources
- Jessica Hische In Progress
- Typography Sketch Books
- Script in the Copperplate Style
- Modern Calligraphy
- Mastering Copperplate Calligraph
- The Calligraphy Bible
- The Universal Penman
- Ornate Pictoral Calligraphy
- Hand-lettering Scripts & Flourishes
- Hand-lettering Calligraphy
- Modern Calligraphy
- Copperplate Calligraphy