Coming soon…

It’s not always lettering and biz over here. Ok most of the time it is, but I wanted to start a monthly post where I share some of my favorite things from the previous month. Sometimes there will be lettering things. Other times there won’t be. But hope you enjoy reading about some of my faves – and maybe you’ll want to check them out for yourself!

Let’s get started!

 

Brush Pen Lettering by Grace Song

My friend Grace wrote a book guys! She wrote a book I wish I had when I picked up brush lettering years ago. Fun fact, Grace was actually one of the very first lettering accounts I started following on Instagram, before I even had Write Pretty Things. It’s full not only of how to’s, but also shows you how to troubleshoot as well as suggestions on fun projects to help you practice and improve.

If you’ve ever wanted to learn brush pen calligraphy but can’t make it to a workshop, I’d definitely recommend Grace’s book. You can purchase here.

Rothy’s Flats

I’m obsessed guys! I think I stumbled upon these in the black hole that is Pinterest, but I’m so glad I found them. I had a hard time choosing from hot pink (because obviously) and a camo print so I bought two. They’re so comfortable and I was sold on the fact at you can wash them in your washing machine!

Having spent years in tech (aka hoodies and sneakers daily) and now working for myself, heels just aren’t a part of my wardrobe anymore. Seriously, I think they’re all in storage. So these super comfy flats make me feel a little more put together. Check them out here.

Korean Skincare

I’ve been following a multistep skincare routine for years but I had to share some of my recent favorites.

Neogen Real Fresh Cleaning Stick in Green Tea
The best cleanser for travel because it’s a solid. Once you arrive to your destination, just wet your face, apply and lather.

Huxley Secret of Sahara Cream
This is more like a gel vs a cream. It’s lightweight like many Korean gel moisturizers, smells really fresh (weird way to describe a scent, but it does smell fresh) and the packaging – like all Korean beauty products is on point. I’m a sucker for packaging.

Nordstrom BP Sunglasses

I’m going through a sunglass phase. Maybe it’s because it’s summer? I do tend to wear sunnies year round so I like to mix it up. I found these guys at Nordstrom for less than $20 and they’re amazing dupes for Gentle Monsters.  I’ve been asked on IG and in person about them and people are so surprised at the price. Shop here.

Ok friends, there ya have it. Some of my favorites from July. I’m trying to mix up the lettering and business stuff with a little bit more… well life. So let me know what you think or if there’s anything you want me to cover below.

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I get it. I balanced a full time job and calligraphy for more than a year. We only have 24 hours in a day and when you have a full time job, sometimes half of our day is spent getting ready for work, commuting, physically being at work (but maybe daydreaming of practicing calligraphy) and commuting back home.

Then there’s the dogs to take out, a workout to squeeze in and dinner to make. Finally, it’s creative side hustle time. Maybe that means replying to emails, writing blogs or working on addressing envelopes. Now it’s midnight and you repeat this all tomorrow.

While you may not be able to quit next week, you can make more time to work on your side hustle during your busy day.

Here are five things you can do to make more time for what you’re really passionate about – even if you have a full time job.

1. Time Blocking

While your 9-5 is pretty consistent when you have a full time job, you can block out early mornings and evenings. I know, waking up earlier can be rough but if your goal is to eventually leave your full time job, some sacrifice (ie losing some sleep) may be necessary. Just think, it won’t be forever.

Maybe you block off 6am – 7am Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for admin things for your biz (emails, making sure Quickbooks is up to date etc). Or 9pm – 10pm Tuesdays and Thursdays becomes your time for practicing your craft. Once you hit the end time, STOP. You put in solid work  and do need to rest.

Block your workday lunch hour too. Step away from your desk and use that time for yourself or to make client calls.

2. Plan Your Upcoming Week

Every Sunday night, grab a piece of paper or notebook and write down all the things you have to do. At first, don’t think about when you have to do something or the priority. Just write down anything that you need to accomplish that week – from replying to a specific email to beginning a larger project, even chores.

Then take a new piece of paper or new page in your workbook and assign each task to a day. I suggest no more than 3 “big” tasks per day – film a lettering video, reaching out to 5 potential partners, or getting 50 envelopes addressed. Then plug in your smaller tasks throughout the week.

It’s super tempting to continue down the list after you’ve completed the day’s tasks but don’t. You already have the day job and if you continue to do all the thangs for your biz, well – you could burn out faster. Feel amazing about yourself that you got through your tasks and save the rest of your tasks for their assign days.

3. Batch Your Days

This could look like this:

Admin Mondays, Content Tuesdays, Custom Work Wednesdays, Content Thursdays, Admin Fridays

Even if I have a client job that I’m going to have to work on all week, I set aside time on Mondays and Fridays to first make sure all emails are answered and bookkeeping is up to date. Then I work on that client job. And on Wednesday, well that’s one whole day where I can work on client orders.

4. Say No

Never say no to tacos, wine or puppies – but know what you will, and most importantly WILL NOT do. Your time is limited because your business is currently a side hustle and that’s ok! Just be firm in what kind of jobs you will take on and what kinds of clients you will not work with.

A last minute chalkboard sign that will cause you loss in sleep or a bride who wants you to write like someone else with a completely different style – just say no. Just. Say. No. You literally do not have time for things like this.

5. Use Your Lunch + Commute + Gym Time

Audio books? Business podcasts? Email/blog/IG caption drafts? Use your lunch, commute and gym time. For me, it was tough to leave my desk for lunch at my day job but I definitely took advantage of my commute on public transportation. I’d listen to podcasts and take notes as well as draft blogs. I’d listen to audiobooks at the gym.

Being a calligrapher, it’s difficult to bring ink and nibs on public transportation, so doing other things for my business filled my commutes + gym time. Heck, I’d even make sure my bookkeeping was up to date while on the ferry by using my Quickbooks app on my phone.

Find those pockets of time. Even if it’s 5 minutes as you wait for your coffee to brew. You could totally outline a blog draft in that time.

Bonus Tip –  Weekends

I know. You deserve a break because you work so hard in both your day job and your own business. But know that you’re working so hard now so that you may not have to later. And if your goal is to leave your day job like my goal was – you do need to set aside some time on the weekends to work on your business.

I definitely don’t recommend 8 hours. But an hour or two while the kids are at a friends. Or asking your significant other to do the grocery shopping while you work? Those hours add up.

Have any other tips? Please share below.

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Whether you’re using brush markers, pointed pen or even an iPad, warming up before you start lettering is super important. Here are some of my favorite calligraphy drills.

There’s no set time to how long you should warm up. Most of the time I do drills until my hand feels warmed up and my strokes look consistent. And honestly, some days, all I have time for are warm ups and THAT’S OK. You’re still building your muscle memory by doing a few minutes of warm ups.

Other days when I don’t have a particular project I’m working on or a custom order, I like to start with the drills below – then add some fun words like “minimum” or my fave, “mimosa”.

I love background noise when I practice. So after the drills below, I’ll continue my calligraphy practice by writing down the words I’m hearing on the TV, lyrics of songs I’m listening to, or advice I hear from whatever podcast I have on.

A great tip is to save some of your practice sheets and date them. It’s the best way to track your progress and you’ll love looking back a few weeks or months from now to see how far you’ve come in your lettering journey!

 

 

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The longer I handletter, the longer I notice that calligraphy is everywhere! And if you see something that doesn’t have calligraphy on it, well I bet you could add your script to it.

Here are five side hustles you can start if you’re interested in turning your calligraphy hobby into a side hustle. You have to pay for #allthepens somehow right?

1. Day of Calligrapher

You can specialize in wedding signage. Think of welcome signs, ceremony schedules, bar menus, procession details, guestbook signs, gift bags, menus, seating charts and more. Chalkboards, cloth, mirrors, wood, acrylic – you letter on it all!

2. Greeting Card Maker

Bonus if you can doodle! If not – no worries. Your letters will still take center stage. Brush lettering or watercolors would be great for greeting cards, either handmade or printed in mass. They’re original and I’m sure better than anything at big chain card stores. You can offer customization too!

 

 

3. Wrapping Paper Designer

To go with #2, think about designing wrapping paper, and not just for the holidays! Birthdays and other special occasions need some wrapping paper love too. You can easily digitize then make a pattern of you saying in Photoshop and Illustrator and create something totally original.

4. Font Creator

For the longest time I’ve wanted to create my own font and handlettered fonts are super popular on online marketplaces like Creative Market. If you’ve ever had anyone say they wish they could write like you, well – direct them to your store and they can at least use your font.

5. Semi Custom Template Designer

Wedding suites, baby shower invites, logos – these are all things that you can handletter, digitize then create PDF templates for. By offering semi custom options, you keep the work to a minimum since you’ll only have to change details like the names, businesses or details. All other design elements only need to be designed once.

 

 

Have any other ideas? Let me know below. Also, sign up for my newsletter to receive a list of my suggested beginner and intermediate calligraphy supplies! Plus fun mail (discounts, giveaways, oh my) is always a good idea.

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Maybe you’ve been practicing calligraphy for a few months. You’ve got your ovals and compound curves down and your style is evolving into something that’s perfectly and uniquely you. So you’re thinking about selling products to earn some income from your new skillset. But where do you start?

Here are the top three things you should consider before opening up that Etsy shop or store on your own website.

What to Sell

Handlettering is everywhere! You can basically write on all the things. I don’t want you to be a vandal now – but think of all the products you can add lettering too (and if you need more inspiration – check out this blog post).

Yes, you can sell mugs and prints like a lot of calligraphers do. But think about how your products will be slightly different? Will they be foiled? Will they be some super bright color? Will you have a theme across all your products? Think about adding some special touch that will make your products stand out.

Where to Source Products

If you’re going to hand make all your products yourself, start doing your research! Grab a notebook or Google Sheet and write down the pricing for each item you need to create your product. Is it cheaper to buy in bulk? Where do you even get great quality products at a low cost? After shipping the products to you, what’s the true cost per unit? Knowing this (along with how much similar items are selling for) will help you come up with your retail price.

Google all the manufacturers. Google is your friend guys. But so are other small business owners who are selling products with their hand lettering. If you have a relationship with one of these peeps, ask him/her for any tips. They may not share all the deets of their secret sauce, but they may give you some much needed advice or at least send you off in the right direction.

And if not – no worries. I had no one to ask when I started and did a ton of research. So keep digging. Check out wholesale printers or dropshippers and see what suits your needs at this point in your business – but don’t forget to figure out your true cost. Even that pack of paint pens should be factored in.

Shipping & Branding

Don’t forget to incorporate your branding into your package. While you’re researching where/how to get your products made – also research the cost of the supplies you’ll need to ship your items to their new owners. Down to the tape and confetti guys. These small things all add up. Calculate how many pieces of tissue paper you think you’ll need, how many orders you think can pack with a roll of tape, the cost of those printable labels.

And incorporating brand colors is important too. I’m all about the hot pink and white – so my products are shipped with pink and white details. You won’t order something from my shop and have it arrive in green crinkle paper for example. In your thank you note, make sure you’re writing something the way you normally “speak” on social media and on your site. It just ties everything together to create a seamless brand experience.

Oh and PS – USPS has free priority boxes. Just head to their site, place an order and have boxes delivered to your door.

Happy researching friends! You’re on your way to starting that side biz!

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How cool would it be to personalize dog bandanas or pet bowls with your own lettering?! Ok, I may be one of the few who gets excited at the thought of personalizing anything my dogs use – but it is totally a possibility!

Here’s a list of (more than) 10 items you could personalize with your handlettering and sell online or in person!

1) Mugs/Coffee Tumblers/Plates
2) Totes/Pouches
3) Posters/Wall Art
4) Greeting Cards/Wrapping Paper

5) Blankets
6) T-Shirts & Baby Onesies
7) Pet bandanas & food bowls
8) Pillows
9) Phone cases
10) Notebooks

Any other products you want to add your calligraphy to? Let’s brainstorm below!

Chat soon,
Joyce

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Not sure what to use to get the calligraphy style you’re going for? Think brush pens are only for casual looks? Wondering what nib to use for a tattoo design? Yes – that last one was a bit random, but I have been asked to design one before – maybe you’ll be asked too.

While there are some experienced calligraphers who seem like they can pick up anything and magically write really well with it in one go, when trying to find your unique look, I suggest becoming really familiar with one calligraphy tool. Once you define your style, you can take up other mediums later, but since we’re chatting about your unique look, the medium you choose affects that – so, let’s review some different calligraphy tools you can use as well as different ways to use them.

 

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Congrats, you’re engaged! After the bubbles and celebrating, it’s time to actually plan the wedding. Dress hunting, venue scoping and (most importantly in my book), cake tasting have to happen. But how will your guest know the details of your big day? Through your wedding stationery of course! Yes, wedding websites are a thing guys, but nothing replaces a beautifully designed wedding suite. Read on for a timeline on when to mail your invites, hire a calligrapher and more.

 

 

First things first – If you’re looking to hire a calligrapher to design everything from Save the Dates to your Thank You cards, hire your calligrapher early! Custom and semi-custom suites take time and may calligraphers start booking months in advance. If you have your heart set on working with a specific calligrapher – reach out at least 6 months before your wedding, even earlier if you’d like them to also design your Save the Dates. If you’re looking for a calligrapher to address envelopes and create day of signage, reach out 3 to 4 months before your wedding.

Once you’ve secured your calligrapher, finalized your wedding suite design and worked out the details (who’s assembling and mailing suites, will a wax seal be used etc), you’ll soon start to receive those “joyfully accepts” responses and be a few steps closer to your wedding day!

For more details on when to order other day of signage plus a budget tracker for each item, sign up and download your wedding stationery planner and budget tracker below.

 

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One of my favorite tools for brush calligraphy is the waterbrush pen. If you want to learn how to achieve an ombre look or watercolor on the go, read on my friend.

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What is is

It’s a pen that breaks into two parts. One end is an empty chamber you can fill with water or ink. The other end has the brush tip that is typically available in three different sizes – small, medium and large.

I use the Pentel Aquash, Kuretake  and the Sakura Koi Water Brushes. They’re all pretty similar in design and available brush sizes.

Ways to use

Water brush pens are super versatile and can be used multiple ways! Depending on what you’re creating and the look you’re going for, you can use it to achieve different styles and sizes of calligraphy or create an ombre look with watercolors or colored ink. They’re also a great tool for watercoloring on the go.
 

The most common way I use a waterbrush is by filling the chamber with ink instead of water. Because the pens aren’t super pricy and you can sometimes purchase in sets, dedicate one of your brushes to ink. I never rinse this out and just keep refilling with black ink as need.

Tip: for all those who have beginning calligraphy kits but no longer use the Higgins Eternal that typically comes in kits – Fill your waterbrush and start writing. Great way to use an ink that’s not ideal for pointed pen.

Need a break from black ink? Use your waterbrush to dip into fun colored ink or watercolor. Fill your chamber with a bit of water, dip the brush tip and go.

Using the same method as above, add some variation or fancy up that lettering piece by using different colored ink.

You can achieve this look by either filling the chamber with one ink color then dipping into a second color or by leaving water in the chamber, dipping into one color then another when you want to transition.

Urban sketching and watercoloring are two things I want to experiment more with this year. It’s so easy to grab your sketchbook, your waterbrushes and a travel watercolor kit and go. Make sure they’re filled with water and you’re set for a day of creative fun.

 


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Easily and quickly edit your Instagram photos with my favorite iPhone photography apps! I even snuck in one of my most used video apps and share an Instagram video trick for you fellow calligraphers (or those who shoot overhead videos).

Here’s my easy editing process for Instagram photos.

1. TapPicGo
The easiest way to color correct your shot. I typically use the auto color filter and sometimes the brightening one. I like to auto correct pictures so that any additional filters I add later have a “clean slate” so to speak. If your picture is slightly orange for example, then you throw your regular filters on, it’s going to look a little off and may not blend in with the rest of your feed. Color correct first! 

2. Snapseed
Once I color correct, I drop the picture in Snapseed and use the healing patch if needed. You can also crop and edit white balance here, but since I’ve already color corrected in TapPicGo, there should be no need to. Honestly I only use Snapseed to “erase” a dog hair or paw from my shot. Dogmoms feel me.

3. ColorStory
Lots of times I go straight from TapPicGo to ColorStory. There are so many amazing filters in CS! You can manually tweak picture settings, but as you can see I’m all about easy editing. Find a filter that fits your feed/mood/brand and stick to it, at least for 6 to 9 pictures and see how you like your feed’s overall look. Place that filter on top and save.

4. Watermark
Occasionally I’ll throw a watermark on my IG photos because I hope to be credited in case my work is shared. I mean, that’s only fair right (#CreateOrCredit)? You can play with watermark colors and the opacity of the watermark so it can be as subtle as you like.

5. Video Swivel
My bonus tip! I film my Instagram videos using a tripod – future post coming – in front of me & looking down! Meaning the video is filmed upside down.

The reason for this is to make sure I don’t bump into the tripod and to make sure the tripod legs aren’t in the shot. It also gives you a straight overhead shot vs setting up a tripod on your right or left.

But you can’t post an upside down video, so Video Swivel to the rescue. Import your video, flip the orientation and you’re ready to post on IG.

If you have any editing apps you’d like to share or have other questions about how I edit using the above apps, let me know below.

 

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