Introduction - Lauren from Oh Wonder & The Calligraphy Store
Hello and welcome to the newly launched Calligraphy Store blog. The goal of this blog is to become an informative space for all calligraphers, new and experienced, young and old. Over time it will become a place that you can find tutorials using our supplies, behind the scenes projects, troubleshooting tips and interviews with some of my favourite calligraphers along with lots more. I have huge plans to make this a space for calligraphers to get inspired and informed and I hope to keep it evolving continually.
For our first blog post I wanted to introduce myself and to talk a bit about how I got into calligraphy as it is one of my most asked questions whenever I do Q&A posts over on Instagram. I will try and keep it short and sweet but I am warning you now along with most things that I write it may turn into a ramble.
First things first, I am Lauren and I am the face and hands behind Oh Wonder and The Calligraphy Store. My calligraphy journey started back in 2013 when I was struggling to figure out what I wanted to do with my career and life. After studying fashion journalism at university and then graphic design at adult education I had just quit my supervisor job at a designer fashion boutique with some very unthought through plans of starting up a wedding stationery business. However I completely choked and spent a year feeling completely lost and overwhelmed. Calligraphy was my saving grace at this time. Being creative but not particularly artistic, I have always loved writing (hence the old journalism degree). In a digital age I still carry around a paper diary and countless notebooks filled with lists and musings. So when I started seeing gorgeous images of modern calligraphy on my Pinterest and Instagram accounts I wanted to give it a go.
I went to an art shop, which I remember this so vividly…it was Cass Art in Angel, spent a fortune on completely the wrong tools and got to work. I was using the wrong nibs, the wrong paper and had no idea about anything to do with calligraphy so it looked like a mess but from day one I absolutely loved it. I spent months getting lost in stacks of paper, ordering a tonne of nibs off the internet and spending every moment I could practising. At the time calligraphy wasn't as popular in the UK as it was in America so I struggled to find the right information and tools but then the wonderful Molly Suber Thorpe, who I still look up to, bought out a book called Modern Calligraphy and my eyes were suddenly opened to the correct way to do things. Like how to prep a nib - for months I hadn't been doing that and wondering why ink never flowed correctly from my nibs. From there I found specialist online retailers in the UK where I could order the nibs that I would end up falling in love with, Nikko G still being my number one, and I finally started to see a real improvement in my lettering. Calligraphy stayed as a hobby and something I did for friends, as I was still far too scared to turn it into anything else until after I had my son, Oscar in April 2015.
Having a baby somehow gave me the kick that I needed to really think about what I wanted to do and figure out how to turn something that I loved doing into a career. I desperately didn't want to go back to working full time with a long commute and as much as I fell into my new role of being a mother with absolute undoubted love I knew it couldn't be my only role and that I needed some sort of creative outlet - not only for my sanity but also to show my son that it is possible to make a living doing something you love. He was and still is my inspiration and drive for Oh Wonder. It was from here I started to devise my big plan for launching my calligraphy business and in January 2016 when Oscar was 8 months old I launched Oh Wonder to the world (aka my Facebook friends and about five Instagram followers) with a basic website with some truly terrible pictures I had spent months agonising over. I fell into a wonderful community of wedding professionals and started to get commissions and build up a portfolio of decent imagery.
The retail-specific side of Oh Wonder started off with a beginners calligraphy kit and 3 handmade inks (mint, pale pink and grey) and slowly grew and grew until at the end of 2018 I decided that it needed its own space to flourish and grow…so the Oh Wonder brand had a little baby, called The Calligraphy Store which launched in March 2019. I went all out and had the photos taken professionally by my favourite Holly Booth which changed the whole look of the store and by changing to a e-commerce specific website it made everything behind the scenes easier too meaning that we could manage a higher amount of stock and orders. We expanded our offerings, something that is continuous and honestly the growth has been incredible. My goal with the store is to make it the go-to destination for all modern calligraphers where they know they are getting the best supplies to make their creative journeys as easy as possible.
And here we are...I have just had my second son Otis and due to a global pandemic, I am running the store solo as my sister can't come to work due to government regulations. The coronavirus pandemic has bought a huge increase in orders in the store as a lot of people have had to take a step from their busy day to day lives and have time for the small things like hobbies so are ordering kits to learn calligraphy. Whilst it is one of the busiest periods my business has ever seen, and I am doing it single-handedly with a newborn, it has cemented my love for sharing my passion for calligraphy with others. The fact that calligraphy can offer a tiny bit of solace in amongst the absolute batshit (excuse my language) madness that is the world currently makes me want to cry with happiness, and I hope that so many of you who are trying it for the first time now find it as therapeutic as I did when I first started.
Lots of love
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Also in The Calligraphy Store Blog
The calligraphy store blog will be launching at the end of January. Filled with posts about supplies and projects along with inspirational interviews with our favourite calligraphers we hope it will be an excellent resource for all calligraphers whether beginners of experts.