Modern Calligrapher: Angi of Angelique Ink

Back when she started calligraphy as hobby at the age of 12, there weren’t any online classes, calligraphy communities, Etsy, or Instagram.  You certainly would not think that you could make a living doing calligraphy. Nobody ever said, “I want to be a calligrapher when I grow up!”

She started her business, Angelique Ink, in late 2009, when her husband introduced her to Etsy. Now she teaches calligraphy workshops; creates custom invitations, stationary, wall murals, logos; and sells a line of products online that all incorporate hand-written calligraphy.  Here is Angi.

Creative Process
My creative process varies depending on the type of project.  Most of the time, it starts with gathering the information from the client.  Then, I sit on it for a while in my head and let it marinate. Then at some point, I think “Oh my deadline is coming up” [laughs] and I’ll just start writing.  I have some kind of a blank canvas in front of me and lots pencils and pens and I’ll just start writing.  There’s no rhyme or reason to it. I’ll often write the word or phrase. I jot down things that come to mind and it looks like a bunch of junk on paper.  But that’s what gets the wheels turning. And then I usually put that down for a while and then I come back to it in a couple days and I’ll refine the work from there - looking for things that match or go together, looking for spaces and letters that read back into each other.

Embracing Imperfections
I like traditional styles, but find that too many rules impede my creativity which I like about my work and gives me a distinctive style.  So I stay away from being too tied to traditional forms of calligraphy in order to have the freedom to be creative.   

Breaking away from traditional scripts can sometimes look ugly or careless, so my goal is to makes these deviances look beautiful and intentional.  You embrace the imperfections. The lines move in a free and unique way like a song and dance.  Even though it’s not perfect in typical calligraphy standards, for me, there’s more room to connect emotionally with something that is relatable, emotional, free and unique.

I think that people can have emotional reactions to any art work.  In calligraphy, it can be through the way the lines look or the flow is happening or the placement of a word or line.   

Poetic Flow
I think my work has a certain poetic flow to it. [Yes!  Her lines and strokes make the words come to life!]  I do get a lot of inspiration from poetry and thinking through the emotion behind words and how that’s expressed.

I recover from creative block by going to the garage and just working with my hands in a different way than calligraphy.  So shaping a piece of wood or building something, and seeing how much detail and intricacies are in a small piece of wood - even the grain in wood - can be inspirational to me.  

[Angi takes me to her garage where she does her wood work.  She drills holes in pieces of wood that become inkwell holders for herself and her workshops.]

Comparisons + Social Media
One of the challenges for creatives is the comparison game.  Everyone struggles with wanting to be better or wanting to be like someone else.  And it's hard when you personally want to grow in your craft and are not feeling like you’re making progress.  For me, when I start feeling inadequate, I don’t spend a lot of time on social media for my personal sanity. I sit down and do the work that’s in front of me and not worry about what other people are doing.  

Social media can be a great tool.  I do use it. It's helped my business a lot, but it’s a black hole so I set up strict boundaries for myself so I don’t get caught up in it.  It’s a great way to connect with people. It can be a very affirming environment, but you get addicted to the affirmation.  And regardless of how social media makes you feel, you just need to keep working and creating.

She is constantly writing phrases and words.  So she’s come across countless wise and profound sayings.  But on her own body, she’s chosen to ink, “We’re better for all that we let in.”  Thank you for sharing your open spirit that embraces people and opportunities!