bailey amon interview collage

I feel so very lucky yo be able to bring you Bailey Amon’s interview, she is one half of the very talented duo known as Antiquaria. Unless you have been living under a blog rock, I am pretty sure you have heard or seen their gorgeous work. Bailey is the lettering artist and Emma James the illustrator, together they create work that makes you want to shout ‘Brava’ at the top of your lungs, it’s just that good! Speaking of good, between Bailey’s interview and her new calligraphy tutorial series you will find so many resources and such good information for your calligraphy adventure that you won’t know what to do with yourself! To make this interview even better I have another copy of Molly’s book to giveaway (a resource that Bailey mentions in her latest tutorial, I’ll choose from the comments). Leave a comment, ask a question, let Ms. Bailey know how much we appreciate her time + sharing. Thank you kindly Bailey! So without further ado…


Where are you located?

In beautiful Pasadena, CA!

How did you get started in lettering?

My background is in visual design & merchandising. When I graduated from college I worked doing store windows and styling mannequins. I eventually moved into a position with an event planner and he introduced me to his calligrapher. When I found out that she offered evening classes, I signed up and have been hooked ever since. I honestly didn’t really expect to stick with it, I just figured it would be added to the long list of hobbies that I’ve dabbled in, so the fact that it has become my livelihood is kind of funny.

What are some of your favorite supplies?

My everyday stuff is Sumi Ink, Nikko G and Brause EF nibs and Rhodia paper (blank, graph and dot). I just recently got back into practicing brush lettering so I’ve been playing with a ton of brush pens. My biggest advice for supplies is to buy nice stuff. You can very rarely go into an art store locally and get anything that you’ll have success with-even the papers labeled for calligraphy are terrible. Your lettering will never look good if the paper bleeds. I learned this the hard way.

Can you name some of your inspirations?

I am inspired most by my visual surrounding and things of the past. I love historical costumes and vintage signs. When I travel or walk my neighborhood, I stop to record minute details that others may miss, like a gate pattern on an old fence or the leaf shape of a tree that I walk by. You never know when some small thing is going to set off an “aha” moment!

Can you go a little into your process of how you work on a project?

It really depends on the project. I mostly work with stuff for reproduction these days, so I start on white paper with a pencil or black ink (depending on how complicated the design is). I do lots of different options for the lettering, including any flourishes or additional components that I may want to add to the design once it’s digitized. Then, I scan it all into the computer and bring it into illustrator. From there, I manipulate the lettering and design elements until I’m happy with the final product!

Any tips for newbies on how to develop their own style?

I remember really wanting a fun & whimsical style that was all my own when I first started out in calligraphy but it alluded me for a long time. It wasn’t until I really focused on very technical aspects of lettering and was hired to do jobs in a traditional Copperplate hand that my own style really began to develop. Focusing on basic fundamentals is never what a new student (i.e. forms, spacing, connections, x-height, etc.) wants to do but it really is what will get you there. If you merely copy a style of another calligrapher that you admire, you may not develop to your full potential as a lettering artist. Understanding the structure of each letter, how to connect them together effectively and how to balance each word are the keys to developing your own style. From there, you can let loose and be free!

Any recommendations of books or classes for lettering enthusiasts to further their studies?

Besides my initial class in pointed pen, I used the book Mastering Copperplate Calligraphy by Eleanor Winters and Dr. Joe Vitolo’s videos on IAMPETH in the beginning. I still use that book from time to time for letter form ideas. Both resources are very traditional but offer a wonderful foundation for pointed pen lettering.

I also took as many calligraphy classes, from as many teachers as possible when I first started, through my local calligraphy guild. It didn’t matter the topic or tool that was being taught, each one helped me further my understanding of lettering.

We’ve just started a tutorial series on our blog to help new folks with their lettering practice. We’re keen on spreading the calligraphy love!

Do you have some favorite projects you would like me to mention?

A few come to mind, although I really do have fun with every new challenge. Most recently, I was asked to contribute calligraphy and photo styling to the book, Mastering Calligraphy by Gaye Godfrey-Nichols. I was asked to create an illuminated piece and the process was photographed. It was really fun and out of the norm for me.

What is a dream project you hope to work on one day?

I’d love to teach workshops (which we’re working on for 2014). Ever since I learned calligraphy, I knew I wanted to share my love for calligraphy with anyone who was interested. I’m excited that so many young people are becoming interested in calligraphy and hand lettering. It make me very happy!

Any advice on what ‘not’ to do?

Don’t give up. Starting calligraphy can be a test of your patience. If you really love it and are keen to learn…stay with it!

Name one random talent you have that people may not know?

Not really a talent…but I can fold my tongue into the shape of a clover.

P.S. If you haven’t already check out Antiquaria’s magazines, yes magazine!

P.P.S. Antiquaria even has a new kit for sale, get it here!

Author / Miss Tristan B

Miss Tristan B. is the proprietress of Besotted Brand and the writer of this delightful blog. She recently re-located to sunny Seattle with her handsome husband and two pups, they are expecting a baby girl in December (possibly November). Her lofty goal here is to make this a creative resource repository and to inspire you to fall truly, madly, deeply in love with your life.


  1. Thank you so much for giving your time to talk to us, Bailey! My question(s) are really more on the business side of things. I’ve been doing calligraphy for many years now, and just opened a “business” around 2 years ago. My first year was great, I did 4 weddings and that felt like a perfect first year number. But this second year has been a huge struggle in finding brides and clients to work with. Any suggestions or recommendations on how to find great customers?

    1. I’d like to clarify for a second– I’ve thought of doing local bridal shows, but all of the shows in my area are charging a minimum of $525 to show. With the cost of that plus signage and other materials for a show, it’s really not in my price range to be able to do right now. So what are some things I might not have thought of?

    2. Hi Tara,
      You’re so welcome! The key is just to get your work out there. Do you have a website?
      Also, meeting with local invitation shops and wedding planner is the key to getting consistent work. Once the jobs start rolling in, word of mouth should help too!
      I’ve personally never had any luck with bridal shows…but it’s different for every person. I’d put my money in my website, classes and portfolio!
      Good luck with your business:)

  2. This is such a great post! I love the advice to get a good foundation in learning the traditional technical skills. Because I get excited about the creative side of things, it is easy to just get ahead of myself trying to create a unique “style”. I am relatively new to calligraphy, but trying to get the fundamentals down has actually been really fun! Thanks for the advice :)

    1. It IS great advice! I have been saying that forever but no one listens to me I hope they will listen to Bailey, someone that has proven to take that piece advice and create something amazing!

  3. Thank you Tristan for all the interviews you do with calligraphers! I devour each and every one of them. Bailey, thanks for all the great advice. As a newbie who is participating in my very first bridal show in 2 weeks, every bit of information is like a golden nugget that I stash away preciously!

  4. Tristan, these interviews are great! Totally agree with Bailey that learning the classic copperplate is the way to start out. Reminds me of my old ballet teacher always telling me that no matter what type of modern/jazz/interpretive/whatever dance you wanted to go into, getting a foundation in ballet would serve you well! Of course she may have been a little biased, but I do think it’s true! :)
    Nikko G is my favorite nib right now, I’m excited to look into the Brause EF! Thanks for all the advice!!

    1. I wholeheartedly agree! Nikko G & Zebra G (they are almost identical) are great beginner nibs, I always steer newbie’s in their direction because the results are usually much better initially than with a more flexible nib. I think having a bit of success in the beginning is key to keeping one motivated to keep practicing.

  5. Great interview! So fun to learn more about Bailey and her beautiful calligraphy. I totally agree with the fundamentals. My husband is a jazz musician and travels the world teaching and playing. He tells his students (advanced and beginners) that they must master the fundamentals before being able to be successful at anything else. Thanks for the lovely series, I so enjoy it!

  6. I would LOVE to get into hand lettering and calligraphy! Now if I could just find the time… When I do, I will definitely check out those tutorials! Cheers!

  7. Another great post. Love all your writings. I am determined to learn even though practice time is few and far
    between. Never to late to teach an old dog new tricks as I am probably older than your Mama but what do I care. I do have a tip for getting your work out there. Visit a few wedding venues and offer to make some signs for them in exchange for a reference. Almost every bride I have wants some hand lettered signs and I am keeping my gal busy these days doing menus, fun signs and escort seating. In the meantime i am purchasing Dasha until my practice starts paying off.
    Also I love the name India

  8. Bailey is amazing and so very REAL. I was so excited to find out they are doing a workshop in Austin where I just moved. She has been so kind answering all my questions and giving some great advice. I love women who help other women to better themselves. I have Molly’s book but I am hoping to win this one to send to my daughter, an illustrator in LA. Good luck to everyone!

  9. I always try to choose a new craft to learn every year. For 2014, I’m choosing calligraphy. I’ve been doing it since 2012 and although I don’t always master the craft, I find new appreciation for those that do. Thank you so much for inspiring me with your blog Tristan! It’s posts like these that encourage me.

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