Betsy Dunlap Interview Part IIII

Betsy Dunlap Interview Part iiii via Besotted Blog

It’s so hard to say good-bye, this is the last of our interview series

with Betsy Dunlap, I have loved every second of it, I could read a 100 more answers, each one was so thoughtful, you really get a sense of her and why she has achieved so much. We thank her for taking time out of her very busy life to share this interview with us and wish her loads more success in the future!

Can you discuss how your Shanna Murray Project came into fruition?

Shanna approached me back in 2007, to work on some lettering for her logo, and a friendship was born, as well as a collaboration. Hello Handmade was the name of our little studio, and we produced calendars, seasonal prints, and custom valentines for several years together.  It was some of the favorite work I’ve ever done.  I’m sure many calligraphers can attest that it can occasionally be lonely work, in a way, so I really enjoyed collaborating and creating with a dear friend.  We both ultimately got too busy in our personal careers and had to shutter the shop, but I’m so grateful for the friendship that remains.  Shanna is so talented and such a dear heart.

Will you ever be doing any workshops?

I have tentatively talked to some people about offering some workshops here in Tucson, but will probably wait until my babies are a tad older.  I’ll keep you posted!

How to you manage your projects with babies underfoot?

This has been a huge challenge for me.  I obviously can’t have inkwells and nibs lying out with babies around, so I mostly work when they are napping or asleep for the night, and I also have help from several people that occasionally watch them.  I’m still trying to find the perfect balance of working/ being a mama.  I strongly feel I would regret it if I worked full time during their young childhood, as that time cannot be wished back for the world.  So right now, in this season, it just means less free-time for me.  I am usually always working when they are sleeping.

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

I can play the bass guitar.  And I love quilting- my mind is always swimming with a million quilt projects I wish I had time to execute.

Author / Miss Tristan B

Miss Tristan B. is the co-creator of the world’s best + easiest product photography editing tool-Foto Rx | Shopkeeper’s Helper and one of the writer’s of this delightful blog. 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.

Betsy Dunlap Interview Part III

Mary Oliver quote by Betsy Dunlap

When Betsy sent in this quote I had chills, of course the lettering is stunningly beautiful, but the words so truly resonated with me, especially after our week of ‘Age of Grace’. I immediately emailed and asked if we could make it a desktop wallpaper for download, I think it’s a quote that is perfect for that little nudge you may need when you are feeling ambivalent about your current situation and need that extra bit of encouragement to keep going, or take that first step toward your dreams, I just love it! And of course Betsy obliged, she’s awesome like that. I couldn’t wait to read part III of the interview, I have gobbled up Part I + Part II and am sufficiently motivated, (I am getting the answers just a tiny bit before you, but not by much), it has been a super exciting process, like Christmas in my inbox! Without further ado…..(P.S. download the wallpaper 1920 x 1080 here).

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

Every project evolves differently, but I basically just spend some time getting my workspace set up, putting on music that fits the mood of the project I’m working on (usually lots of jazz- Coleman Hawkins is a favorite), and then I spend a lot of time initially sketching, with pencil, and then moving on to the actual drafts in ink.  A lot of the initial work is super gestural.  And it is hard to explain but I letter super quickly, sometimes kind of looking off to the side of the letterform as it takes shape, not right at it.  That sounds nuts, but its what works for me as I get going. Honestly, since I don’t touch up my work, a lot of it ends up in the trash, because I do it over and over again until I think it is perfect.

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

My best advice would honestly just be to keep your head down and work.  Back when I was getting started there was very little as far as any sort of calligraphy community.  Now there is such an amazing, huge network of all these wonderful artists popping up all the time.  While I think that is so helpful and beneficial in many ways, I think it can also seem overwhelming, and all the many. many voices and viewpoints can drown out your own inner one.  Putting on blinders, at least some of the time, and just experimenting all you can until you have a voice and style of your own that you love, is some of my best advice.  And if you’re working late at night, have a glass of wine! Helps with the gestural instinct.

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

I know that most everyone knows this, but I would recommend (and love to take myself!) the workshops that Maybelle offers all over the world.  She is full of so much grace and has so much knowledge to offer (come to Tucson, Maybelle!).  IAMPETH is a great resource, too, for all of the archived images.  And it just seems like there are wonderful blogs and forums popping up (like Besotted!) that have wonderful collections of advice and resources.  Its so very inspiring.

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

Probably my most thrilling project was being flown to NYC to do the lettering for the place cards at a Gala at the Guggenheim Museum several years ago- it was so exciting to be a part of the day-of events and work behind the scenes to make it come together, and it was super fun to watch everyone come in, decked in grand attire, and find their card. I felt honored to be a part of it.

Another favorite of mine has been the custom valentines I’ve offered when I was doing Hello Handmade with Shanna Murray and then from my own shop, Litterae.  I felt so honored to be entrusted with all of these personal messages that people were sending to their loved ones- I hope to offer these again next year.

Any advice on what ‘not’ to do?

My only advice on what not to do is not to compare yourself to others too much.  It’s so important to find your own style and voice and then be proud of it, confident in it, and just run with it.

Author / Miss Tristan B

Miss Tristan B. is the co-creator of the world’s best + easiest product photography editing tool-Foto Rx | Shopkeeper’s Helper and one of the writer’s of this delightful blog. 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.

Betsy Dunlap Interview Part II

betsy dunlap interview part ii via besottedblog

I feel like one of my main reasons I live and breath is to create beauty.  I can’t really stress how much I love to sense that I am creating something where there was once nothing.  A beautiful letterform where there was once a blank page; A quilt where there was once just a pile of fabric; a quiche from a bunch of spinach and some eggs; a hat for a newborn head where there was once merely a skein of yarn; a piano nocturne where there was once a quiet room; a new thought created from the page you just read.

What are some of your favorite supplies?

My choices are fairly basic as far as supplies go.  My thoughts on them are similar to my views on cooking- I don’t think it is necessary to own a million gadgets or expensive ingredients.  As long as the ones you own and use are of good quality and you have a firm mastery of them, you are bound to create some magic!

Sumi ink is my go-to as far as an everyday black ink, for creating most of my drafts/ finals for scanning, and my favorite nib is simply a Hunt 56.  I have always adored mixing my own custom colors with gouache, and Pearl Ex powdered pigments are the absolute best way to execute metallic inks.  Took me a while to figure that out.  I typically use Rhodia paper or vellum, but I have a stash of gorgeous onion skin paper that I acquired when I bought my first typewriter that I hoard and use sparingly on personal projects.  I also love using vintage shot glasses for mixing, a beautiful bamboo plate rack for drying envelopes, and this little guy for drying place cards.  People are also always asking where I find all my vintage postage- just stop into your local coin shop. Often they have sheets upon sheets of unused postage that you can buy for 80% of their value.  Its super fun to sort through everything and they are such thrill to use on a letter to a friend.

Can you name some of your inspirations?

I feel like one of my main reasons I live and breath is to create beauty.  I can’t really stress how much I love to sense that I am creating something where there was once nothing.  A beautiful letterform where there was once a blank page; A quilt where there was once just a pile of fabric; a quiche from a bunch of spinach and some eggs; a hat for a newborn head where there was once merely a skein of yarn; a piano nocturne where there was once a quiet room; a new thought created from the page you just read.  I just truly feel most inspired when I am creating something, as simplistic as that sounds. I have limited time now- for everything, really- with two babes under three, but I’m trying to think of it in different terms now.  Creating babies that feel loved and nurtured, as opposed to the opposite, is often one of the main objectives of my day, and I love that, too.

As far as calligraphy goes, I was most inspired by Maybelle,  Cynthia Warren and Diva Pyari of Linea Carta when I was first starting out, and now there are so many newer calligraphers I love to follow, a current favorite being Alissa Mazzenga.  There are so many rabbit holes of inspiration to fall down these days, but I truly find that my limited time during this season of life is a blessing, as it forces me to just kind of keep doing my own thing and not get super distracted.

I’m also very inspired by my husband, who administrates and teaches the classics at a small private school he helped found.  He works tirelessly to try to bring into fruition his dream of growing the school, and his example helps me so much when I’d just prefer to go to bed rather than perfect thirty more drafts of a project I’m working on.  I’m so blessed to be married to him and he is super supportive of me and what I do.

Author / Miss Tristan B

Miss Tristan B. is the co-creator of the world’s best + easiest product photography editing tool-Foto Rx | Shopkeeper’s Helper and one of the writer’s of this delightful blog. 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.

Betsy Dunlap Interview Part I

Betsy Dunlap interview part i via besottedblog.com

I was working in a position I was unhappy in, and dreaming of doing something with my artistic energy, preferably from home, and I had an intense desire to do something very original, very new.

I am still pinching myself that the Betsy Dunlap agreed to an interview! When I reached out to Betsy (with fingers trembling) I introduced our blog and of course made the request for the interview with a link to all the past interviews, then I felt horrible, here we have had interview after interview with talented lettering artists, for years now and I never once attempted to reach out to someone that most people feel propelled this industry into what it is today. I decided that honesty was the best policy and just admitted that I was intimidated (I would have been crushed if she either ignored me or said no). Luckily for all of us Betsy is incredibly gracious and seemingly has no idea how influential she has been. I am sure you want us to get on with the interview so please allow us to present part I:

Where are you located?

I am based in beautiful Tucson, Arizona, where both my husband and I were born and raised.

How did you get started in lettering?

Even as a tiny girl, I was always creating. One of my earliest memories is of crafting drawing after colorful drawing and dropping them by the side of my parents’ bed as they slept in on the weekend- they would wake up to a mountain of them.  As early as grade school, I would copy down notes for each subject in completely unique scripts that I had made up for each one- it should have obviously pointed me in the direction of calligraphy, but I had no idea somebody could make a career of it.  It wasn’t even really on my radar.

I studied English in college, and Studio Art was my other major for a bit, so I dabbled in a bunch of different mediums.  My goal was actually to work in the editing field, but soon after I got married, back in 2006, I was working in a position I was unhappy in, and dreaming of doing something with my artistic energy, preferably from home, and I had an intense desire to do something very original, very new.  An acquaintance at work was getting married, and I spontaneously offered to address her envelopes, because it sounded relaxing.  It suddenly clicked that this was what I wanted to do with myself.  Things got rolling extremely quickly.

There were so few resources available at that time as far as learning modern calligraphy- no real online community at all.  I starting browsing our neighborhood art store, trying to figure out the tools I would need to get the look I was going for.  It took a TON of experimenting and lots of late nights. I made up a little website on my lunch hours, and then boom! One day I was featured on Design Sponge, and the rest is history; my inbox was flooded with inquiries and I’ve been super blessed with so many amazing opportunities ever since.  God truly answered my prayers and opened all these amazing doors and I am utterly grateful and in awe of how it all unfolded.  I love what I do.

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My friends, I hate to leave the interview here, but I need to work on Betsy’s fave supply list, I know you are waiting with bated breath for that. If you have any questions for Betsy now is the time to leave them in the comments, this is our once in a lifetime opportunity. See you here tomorrow!

Author / Miss Tristan B

Miss Tristan B. is the co-creator of the world’s best + easiest product photography editing tool-Foto Rx | Shopkeeper’s Helper and one of the writer’s of this delightful blog. 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.

Modern Calligrapher | Betsy Dunlap

Betsy Dunlap Interview Week via besottedblog.com

Ever since day one of the lettering artist series there has been one artist in particular that I wanted to interview, for many, many reasons, one being she seemingly has single-handily created a niche industry by just being herself. Without Betsy Dunlap I don’t know if there would be as many modern calligraphers out there and the world would be a less beautiful place to be sure. I know I for one may not have ever picked up a nib and ink if not for Betsy. Even the great Molly Jacques has credited Betsy with being a huge influence. I am pretty sure that almost everyone that has been bitten by the modern calligraphy bug has been inspired by Ms. Dunlap. I am so thrilled to be able to announce that we will finally have Betsy grace this blog with her interview, it has been a long time coming and I am out of my mind excited to be able to share her answers with you. We have decided that something as momentous as this occasion deserved a week dedicated to it and so we shall oblige. If you have any questions for Betsy leave them in the comments, or just say ‘hello’. All of these artists take time from their busy schedules to do these interviews and it is always welcome to have feedback, we appreciate it and we know the artist do as well!

Author / Miss Tristan B

Miss Tristan B. is the co-creator of the world’s best + easiest product photography editing tool-Foto Rx | Shopkeeper’s Helper and one of the writer’s of this delightful blog. 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.