Jennifer Lioy


One Year of Calligraphy


It seems the craziness of school has clouded my awareness of what day/month it is, but I recently realized it's September, which means it's officially been a year since I first picked up a pointed pen! It feels strange that it's already been a year, and even stranger that it's only been a year. So, I'd like to take a few moments to talk about how I found myself head-over-heels in love with lettering.

I remember first learning to write in cursive as a plaid-wearing second grader. We were all required to learn to write in cursive, of course, which was a task many of my classmates loathed. I, on the other hand, loved the playful quality of cursive, the practical ease that came with the form. I was also a perfectionist, even then, and enjoyed flying through sheets and sheets of letter guides, tracing the curves, tilting my paper just enough to get the perfect and consistent angle with my letters. Yes, I was even that kid who entered the Zaner-Bloser handwriting competition. I continued writing in cursive long after it was a requirement, and still do. I write almost exclusively in loopy, bouncy, curly cursive.

When I began studying graphic design in high school, my work was most often type-centric, as I geeked over ascenders, descenders, tracking, and kerning, and developed a vocabulary for talking about type. College brought Pinterest into my life, and with it came a new venue for appreciating letterforms, combining digital and hand-drawn. I loved The Notebook Doodles and Lisa Congdon's 365 project, using Pinterest and folders of bookmarks to collect them all. I have sketchbooks filled with lettering that mimicked those, and eventually began developing my own style.

Calligraphy followed in a very natural way, as I looked for a way to incorporate script into my hand-lettering repertoire. After reading her blog and investigating my options, I did what any sensible millennial would do, I enrolled in a calligraphy e-course, Melissa Esplin's I Still Love Calligraphy course to be exact. A month with Melissa's instruction and feedback, and I was off. I can honestly say taking that course was the single best investment I made last year. The first two images here were from my very first month of calligraphy.

Which brings me to the present. Since last Fall, hand-lettering has become something I practice, in one way or another, every single day. I practice in class during boring lectures, it my journal at night, on the backs of receipts, in my calendar, and often on neon post-it notes. My life is covered in scripty goodness, and I pass along handmade birthday and thank you cards as often as possible, eager to share my newly discovered love for this whole process. And it's certainly a process, but it's one I really enjoy.

So, that's all. Thanks for joining me on this continuing letter-filled journey. Here are just a few highlights from my first year with calligraphy: