Modern Calligrapher Interview | Diva Pyari

Calligraphy by Diva Pyari via Besotted Blog
Diva Pyari of Linea Carta was one of the first ‘modern calligrapher’s’ that I knew of that sold a kit, which I of course promptly purchased. I found it almost too gorgeous to use, the exemplar a little work of art. It was one of the first times I was introduced to tools that actually helped me gain some confidence in my burgeoning skill set and helped me to continue to pursue my love of lettering, for that I am grateful. We are thrilled to be able to add Diva’s interview to our long list of talented lettering artist interviews. Without further ado….
Where are you located?
Berkeley, CA

How did you get started in lettering?

I’ve been a lettering fan since I can remember!  My 2nd grade teacher Ms McIntosh had beautiful script, I completely idolized her.  when i was 10 my grandma gave me this little leather coin purse and sewing kit, and wrote my name on it in cursive.  I had no interest in the kit but was SO EXCITED because it had my name in her beautiful script.  I also remember how in 6th grade I befriended the girl who sat in front of me, Camille Farnsworth, solely because she had her own amazing style of penmanship — think Japanese:  Perfect and exact print — but then also with her own quirks here and there.  I tried out every art-store calligraphy kit, played with illustrative lettering, was always on the hunt for ‘a good black pen’, savoring the Blank White Sheet of paper..  As for developing my own calligraphy style, I was most inspired by Lauren McIntosh from the charming little shop Tail of the Yak in Berkeley.. About 6 years ago I walked in the shop and there were all these lovely little signs in her graceful hand, ‘Soap $1’ — it was nothing like i’d ever seen, full of personality. I went right up to the shopkeeper and asked who did that and do they teach classes?!  Later that year I was at her home copying her delightful calligraphy, and after a few months of obsessive practice one of my fellow students asked if she could hire me to do the calligraphy for her wedding invitations and address her wedding envelopes. That job led to others, and years later here I am!

What are some of your favorite supplies? 

 The Nikko G is my go-to nib, and I use Noodler’s bulletproof American eel Ink (waterproof and archival black) for many of my professional projects. I also love McCafferey’s Oak Gall ink, though a more transparent ink. I use gouache quite a bit, Windsor & Newton designers gouache, to mix custom colors. These days for projects I work mostly on Bond Layout Marker Paper– it’s smooth but picks up very subtle details. For brush lettering I like the Utrecht sablette size 0, and my favorite pen right now is by Muji (0.38mm hexagonal gel-ink needle tip).

Can you name some of your inspirations?

 Nature, the sky, the sea, my cuuuute dogs, travel, color (neons to pastels), friends & colleagues, packaging and design, light, a blank canvas..

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

 It’s always best if I take time to clear my desk or work table to make space for each new project. working as an artist and running my own business i can get overwhelmed easily, and it really helps manage the overwhelm if i can tidy up for each new project. I love a stack of blank white paper– anything is possible!  I make a lot of messes, just putting it all down, freeing up my hand, and at each new stage of the project I clean up and make space again. and again!  For my custom clients, I’ll have them send images of work they like, and we make time to talk in person or on the phone.  I find our conversation is extremely important, particularly if I can get them to share their excitement about the event/project/brand.  That gives a feeling and a sense of them and the project, and I hold that feeling with me as I do the design work. I then show them some initial artwork for feedback.  Often its a hit right away, I love to hear that I was able to exceed the clients expectations!  And every now and then we work together closely, back and forth, to create the finished product. The latter can be challenging but wonderful too- it pushes me to design something more unexpected, and I do notice a sense of pride in that accomplishment.  When I’m designing for my own brand my process is different every time– sometimes its a quick and inspired work that flows, other times its an idea that gets put aside for months as I work it out in my off-time thoughts.  and its everything in between.

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

I love that Pablo Picasso quote:  ‘learn the rules like a pro so you can break them like an artist’.  So first things first, get really comfortable with your tools – your pen & nib. have patience, this will take time! Practice all the fonts out there that you love. Eventually when you’re not trying so hard and you’re in the flow (maybe write a letter or a note from your heart), your own hand will naturally come through. see what it looks like and play with it, refine it, have fun with it!

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

I sell my calligraphy starter kit, workbook, and A-Z chart online– and even better if you can make it to one of my workshops for hands-on guidance!  i also teach an intermediate workshop, and my workbook no. 2 will be available soon.

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

Any advice on what ‘not’ to do?
Don’t give up!  Any new skill takes lots of practice, and calligraphy even more so. I’ve been drawing and lettering my entire life, and most would say it comes easy to me, yet still my first months of calligraphy (practicing for hours daily!) were not very pretty.  So don’t listen to that inner critic and keep at it– think of it as a meditation, cultivating patience, and remember that being a beginner does not last forever.

Will you ever be doing any workshops?

Yes! I teach regularly at Handcraft Studio School in Emeryville, CA(the SF East Bay), and I’m also ready to travel!  In fact, I’m planning a 2016 European tour of my workshops and would love venue/partner ideas for London, Paris, and Rome. I’m also organizing a Southern Italy Retreat — think Slow Art:  At home in a beautiful villa, living like a local, eating fresh and traditional foods, swimming in the Mediterranean, and making art every day!  Email me if you’d like to be kept in the know:

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

I speak Italian ;)


Calligrapher Interview | Mara Zepeda Neither Snow Part II

Anais Nin quote by Neither Snow | Mara Zepeda via besotted i

neither snow card

neither snow workshop

//Part I here//

What are some of your favorite supplies?

I’m pretty workaday when it comes to supplies and don’t do a ton of experimentation. You can find the supplies I use on my workshops page: Nikko G, Moon Palace Sumi ink, Dr. Martin’s Bleed Proof White. Canson Pro Layout Marker. What I am much more interested in is experimenting on different surfaces and with different materials. In London we calligraphed on leaves and the glass of vintage butterfly boxes. I love working with fabric and vinyl decals. And then there are the tattoos of course.

I may be wrong about this but someone mentioned you may be left-handed?  If so, any tips for lefties?

It’s true– I am left handed. After teaching many workshops one thing I’ve noticed, with left handed calligraphers specifically, but for everyone more generally is that ergonomics is the single biggest reason people feel frustrated, especially when they first start out. The angle of everything matters: pen nib, holder, paper, wrist, torso, shoulders, hips, thigh, chair seat. Most of my teaching comes down to helping each student identify the angle for all of these things that feels best to them. You will often find me adjusting elbows and crawling under the table to move the legs of a chair. The basic rule of thumb is all of these angles should be as aligned and harmonious as possible.  You can’t have your paper at a 55 degree angle but your legs at 15 degree angle and your shoulders at a 100 degree angle. My biggest tip for all calligraphers is to play around with the angles of all of these things and notice when you are contorting your body. Every awkward angle reverberates in your work. For left handed calligraphers they often need to move the paper practically perpendicular to their hand. Here’s a video of me at work as an example.

Read More

Calligrapher Interview | Mara Zepeda Neither Snow Part I

Lettering by Neither Snow photo by Jose Villa

Neither Snow Menu

I have been wanting to know more about Mara Zapeda for ages now, just like Betsy Dunlap I was intimidated to reach out, doing these interviews the fear of being ignored or rejected is always on my mind, but luckily most lettering artists have been more than accommodating, even with their full schedules, it makes this lettering-phile happy to no end! Mara not only complied for lack of a better description she ‘brought it’, so much so that we are compelled to make this a Part I + Part II, there’s just way too much great information here for you and way too many beautiful images

Where are you located?

After living for years on the east coast (Philadelphia and Boston) then pinballing from Los Angeles and Florence, Italy, I am happily settled in Portland, Oregon. Everything you’ve heard is true: it is an incredible city.

I am so curious about the name ‘neither snow’, I know it’s from the U.S. Post, but I am dying to know how you decided upon this? Did you read it standing on line and it resonated? It’s so charming and genius.

Thank you! I started Neither Snow in the summer of 2009, right before my own wedding. I went to Reed College (more on that later) where we read Herodotus’ Histories. The quote originates there and was then adopted and adapted by the US Postal service as its well-known motto, which I’ve admired for years on the facade of the New York Central Post Office. I liked that it referenced both my time at Reed and the nostalgia surrounding hand delivered mail.

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Book by it’s cover | Peter Pan by Liam Stevens

Book by its cover Peter Pan by Liam Stevens

“It is not in doing what you like, but in liking what you do that is the secret of happiness.”

I love Liam Stevens lettering and his interpretation of the Peter Pan book cover, so simple but still magical! I recently re-read Peter Pan (Peter & Wendy) and let me tell you it was so different from it’s Disney counterpart. It’s certainly not p.c. by any stretch of the imagination but if you can get through that and the idea that it was written another lifetime ago there is still a lot of the magic in there. One of my favorites parts that I did not remember was that the kids Wendy, John and Michael had a nanny that was a dog, I find that super endearing. There are plenty of wonderful quotes that you’ll find yourself wanting to highlight, one of them though is oft cited on Pinterest and the interwebs but is not the same as in the original book, I found myself wondering if the Disney version changed it.

If anyone out there is a designer/illustrator and a bibliophile that is feeling in a rut, I think re-interpreting your favorite books as an exercise would not only be something invigorating but great as a portfolio building exercise!

If you are inclined and feeling lucky, don’t forget our Intermediate Modern Calligraphy Kit giveaway!

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.

Intermediate Modern Calligraphy Kit Giveaway!

Win this Intermediate Calligraphy Kit via Besotted Blog

So now that I got everyone excited about an intermediate modern calligraphy workshop and then shortly thereafter got you frustrated that you were no where near Cleavland, Ohio to attend said workshop, we thought we would bring back the excitement with a giveaway! Just like there are many, many beginner kits out there in the world, this one is sure to be one of our faves (but of course), there isn’t many intermediate kits. Calligrapher Lindsey Buck has done a bang up job of putting hers together, housed in a wooden tray with a charmingly illustrated sleeve you’ll find some excellent goodies to take your lettering to the next level.

Your intermediate kit will include the following:
2 nibs
1 wooden nib holder
1 empty bottle + gouache tube of paint (gray)
Pipette for mixing with gouache paint
1 gold ink
Words + Phrases sheet
Hand-drawn, how-to instructions
Digitizing Calligraphy how-to instructions
Practice papers
Practice envelopes
Resources sheet

And to sweeten the goodness we think we should absolutely include our very own Foto Rx | L25 Paper to Pixel Photoshop actions set! Word on the street amongst the lettering cognoscenti is it is the best thing to happen to cleaning up lettering since well Photoshop. We are biased and those who own it now obviously are too, but we know you’ll love it as well!

Firstly, I want to preface this giveaway by adding please, please don’t enter if you don’t plan on claiming the prize! It happened with our last giveaway, the amazing Maybelle even took time to letter the winning quote, we sent email after email and no answer. We are busy bees and (I’m a tired mama) so if I have to hunt you down, I will be choosing another winner and if I have to hunt that winner down than I will just keep the prize for myself (as she rubs her hands together in the most villainous of gestures). No, seriously, make it easy on us please, make sure you have an updated email we can contact you at, or check back in a week from now or check our Instagram feed next Tuesday, the winner most certainly could be you!

To enter to win answer the following question:

What skills do you wished you possessed? 

I have about a million of these I could list but singing would be up there, never ask me to sing….

Winner will be announced Tuesday, September 22, 2015. For additional chances to enter Pin the image and use the hashtag #besottedwiththehive Good luck!

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.