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 ;)


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