Back in 2012, when the Olympics fever swept the streets of London, I set foot on British soil for the second time in my life. This time, on my own, for a 3-month long solo trip to Europe.
What has this got to do with calligraphy?
Stay with me. After some thinking, this is where I’d like to start the story of how I began my “calligra-journey”.
There I was, 6 years ago, relieved that I was finally on a much-needed break from work and life back in Singapore. But here’s the kicker – I had just got together with a man (who eventually became my husband) just two weeks before.
This man is a fountain pen collector, and to cut a long story short – some of his precious vintage pens were off limits to me because my ballpoint-using grip would ruin them. Challenge accepted.
That marked the start of my adventure into the world of fountain pens - and eventually pointed pen calligraphy.
As I glance over my desk, a part of me is wishing away most of the tools crammed on top of it. These are the products I’ve amassed over the years and now come to realise that I only need a few:
If anything, I’m a no-frills person and prefer to keep things simple.
It’s a bit of a tongue twister and equally a roller coaster ride of a career change.
I started where most makers would – Etsy, where I sold personalised cards and prints. As I went on, and with the support of my friends, I dreamt bigger. The whole point of Artsynibs was to allow me to become both a full time career woman, and mum. The kids aren’t here yet (we like to plan ahead), but we do have a dog.
One of my favourite memories of Artsynibs is my first on-site project. I was engaged to personalise items at Paperchase, Manchester. Those mixed emotions of trepidation and excitement are still deeply etched in my mind. Having to interact with people, entertain them and make no spelling errors all at once was mentally taxing, but rewarding. It was also at that moment when I cemented the direction I was going to take as an artist and businesswoman. Fast-forward three years on; I would never have imagined that Artsynibs would become my bread and butter, especially in a different country. It’s still a struggle to navigate the business arena but this experience has taught me a great deal.
I’ve moved on from Etsy and now offer my calligraphy services for on-site demonstrations, personalisation and event stationery. Along the way, I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate on a few products with Manuscript and Paper Republic. Not forgetting my love for teaching, the Artsynibs Workshop has travelled a fair bit as well.
I remember when I first started; a friend asked me – what do you hope for Artsynibs to become eventually?
I told him that I’d love to set up my own Modern Calligraphy and Brush Lettering workshops, create an Artsynibs practice pad, convince more companies that calligraphy is worth investing in, then maybe build my own line of stationery.
Of the four above, I’m thankful to say that the first two have been fulfilled. The challenge of pitching to companies for calligraphy-related projects motivates me. Perhaps that will be the new focus for Artsynibs in the next few years.
At the end of the day, I love what I do because it brings people to a place of rest when they attend a workshop, or joy when they receive a handwritten note.
It’s that authenticity that I find lacking around us these days, and one I will continue to pursue through Artsynibs.
14 August 2018