An Interview with Nina Tran
Nina is the absolute sweetest! She's chock-full of talent and calligraphy know-how, and equipped with a heart-of-gold. That is the recipe for success, my friends! If you've ever been over on Nina's Instagram feed then you know what a gold mine it is! She is so incredibly forth-coming with what she's learned. She's constantly posting videos of her perfect Copperplate hand, sharing tid-bits of helpful advice and uplifting others through the Handlettered ABC's account that her and Sharisse started! (You can read Sharisse's interview here.)
I am regularly blown away by how beautiful Nina's work is, and humbled by her generous and free-giving spirit. She is the perfect reminder to share what you know, and use your platform to not only inspire, but to uplift others as well!
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Favorite way to treat yourself:
I enjoy treating myself to hazelnut iced coffee or milk tea boba. I also enjoy knitting and crocheting. It's very therapeutic. I love taking hikes or trips to botanical gardens on my own. Oh, with my camera in hand, of course.
'I wish I knew how to…':
Use Photoshop and dance. Maybe learn how to sing while I’m at it.
5 adjectives that describe your business:
Helpful, Beginner-Friendly, Detail-Oriented, Fun
Favorite tools of the trade:
How did you get started in calligraphy and how did you turn it into a thriving business?
Many people inspired my Copperplate calligraphy journey. When I first picked up a pointed pen in December 2014, my intention was to learn modern calligraphy. I had no idea that it would become anything more than a hobby. In January 2015, Paul Antonio, Gail Madalag and Dr. Joe Vitolo introduced me to Copperplate script (on Instagram). It was love at first sight. Their work and dedication to the pointed pen continues to inspire me to learn and teach this elegant script. Sean McCabe’s Seanwes podcast pushed me to me to practice differently and to pursue my growing passion for calligraphy. He suggested that I share everything I know. And so I did. Amazing things began to happen after that.
I am where I am today because of the encouragement and support of the lettering and calligraphy community on Instagram, Dr. Madalag and Dr. Vitolo, Seanwes, and my dear friends – Sharisse, Tina, and Grace. I’m so blessed to have so many amazing people in my life.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
- My morning starts at 5:30AM. I journal for 20 minutes, do yoga for 20 minutes, and read for 20 minutes.
- At 6:30AM, I pack my 4-year-old daughter’s lunch and get ready to take her to school.
- My mornings are spent playing with my 2-year-old son, keeping up with @handletteredABCs on Instagram, replying to emails, housework, etc.
- My son and I have lunch at 10:45AM. When he goes down for a nap at 11:30AM, I continue with emails, HandletteredABCs, and housework. If there’s extra time, I squeeze in a 10-minute power nap.
- When my son wakes up, we leave pick up my daughter and my 13-year-old niece from school at 2PM. We get home around 4PM. Then I prepare dinner and we eat between 4:30 and 5PM.
- Then everyone showers and gets ready for mommy’s quiet time.
- My super-focused quiet time is typically from 7:00 to 8:00PM. This is when I bust out my calligraphy things and practice or study for an hour. No interruptions – except from my buzzing phone, which I need to learn to turn off for 1 hour.
- I put my son to sleep at 8:30PM and my daughter by 9:00PM.
- My morning me time is the most important part of my day.
- And that’s my full day :D
What is your favorite type of client work to get?
I love teaching anyone who wants to learn. I get really into it, sometimes. I'm just so passionate about what I do. I can't contain it. I get very animate when I talk about calligraphy.
What’s next? What career goals are you working towards?
It would be a dream come true to teach at the IAMPETH conventions. I would love travel all around the world to teach.
For now, I’m planning Copperplate calligraphy classes in the Los Angeles area. I’ve recently been given the opportunity to teach at Twig & Fig in Berkeley, CA – which is super exciting!
I think I’d eventually like to create online courses, but I prefer hands-on teaching and getting to know my students in person. It’s much easier to teach and answer questions in person.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by everything. I’m inspired by all the talented artists on Instagram – what a great community! I’m inspired by nature and the things around me.
My family inspires me to do my best and to be present in the now. Sean McCabe and the Seanwes community inspire me to show up everyday and to step out of my comfort zone. My dear friends Tina Tang, Sharisse De Leon, and Grace Jimenez are my accountability partners. They really keep me motivated and ready to move forward – with my personal and calligraphy goals.
What are your favorite Instagram accounts?
Oh my goodness… my list can go on forever! Here’s my “short” list. Let me know if you want the actual list ;).
@piecescalligraphy | @the_md_writes | @drjmvitolo | @bygraceabounds | @suzcunningham | @fpmmac | @fozzybook | @andrewh | @iamjudyg | @seanwes | @kathleenprumo | @tinlunstudio | @inky_bianca | @desertplumecalligraphy | @simplebc | @logos_calligraphy | @tiajoykim | @masgrimes
Do you utilize drills? Books? Classes? If so, what are some of your favorites?
I love the exemplars on Dr. Vitolo’s website zanerian.com. Those exemplars have great drill exercises. My favorite one is by Joseph Galterio.
Time saving tip for other calligraphers to try out:
- Study as much as you practice, as the past masters say.
- Start with the basics strokes and concepts. It’s easier to build good habits than break bad ones.
- Keep your calligraphy workspace tidy
- Designate one location for all of your calligraphy tools and materials
- If you work on the dining table like I do, put the basic tools that you use inside a bin or small box for easy set up and clean up.
What do you want your legacy for your business to be?
I want to preserve and promote the art of calligraphy and handwriting by teaching.