Bespoke Lettering Bestow Besotted Blog

I am not sure if this is much of a bestowal for this Monday (I hope you are okay with it, fingers crossed). I have gotten many requests lately for custom lettering (so unbelievably flattering), but I am currently not confident enough in my skills yet to accept clients. As you can see from the above samples, my hand is all over the place, not much consistency to it. I thought it might be fun to offer two individuals the opportunity to have me create some lettering for them.  I can not do anything too long like an address, letter or quote but I can do up to three words.  I do love having words to practice. Your words can be anything–your initials, your name, the name of your business, a sentiment, etc. (just not more than three in row).  I will create the lettering, scan it, clean it up in Illustrator and then send you a hi-res file so you can use it how you please! To enter to win please answer the following question in the comments below and if you like you can leave your word(s) you would like me to letter along with your answer.

When was the last time you tried something new? And what was it?

This had me stumped, I asked my husband and he said, ‘I tried cow heart last week’.  I almost dropped dead. Seriously?  I think that is something I never needed to know about; his dirty little secret. Then I realized I did try out a new to me vintage camera last week (I bought it at the Salvation Army).  It’s a film camera and I don’t know if any of the images will turn out, but it was fun to research the manual, find the right kind of film and get my head wrapped around all the settings. I love to tinker so film photography allows me to do much in the way of tinkering.  I will announce the winner next Monday, March 4, 2013.  Good luck!

Find out who won last week’s Bestowal 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 the country with her handsome husband and two pups and will be re-locating back to the city in the very near future.


Afterglow Cheek Tint Besotted Blog

I had another post scheduled today about color correctors, but when I opened up my new Martha Stewart it looks like I was scooped.  It’s a nice little piece, I recommend you take a peek. I will do something on correctors one day soon and perhaps find you some equally as good (and less expensive) alternatives. I’d like to think great minds think alike, right?  Although, I am not sure how great my mind is. It is mildly obsessed though with beauty products. I want to discuss vibrant blushes and getting a natural flush look. I learned this trick from working with many makeup artists when I ran a fashion + beauty PR firm– there were lots of shoots and lots of events and me being nosy inquisitive always had to ask a ton of questions when I was in the presence of professional make-up artists, models and the holy grail-beauty editors. The consensus was always the brighter the better. This may seem counter-intuitive and several of you have emailed asking me, ‘how bright?’  I found this blush the other day and tried it on and this is how atomically bright it is in the pot and the swatch is how sheer it goes on.  That just doesn’t seem right, I know. Consumer make-up products cater to our fear and try to sell colors that we think will look natural, but usually look dull + ashy on. That’s fine let all those other girls wear them, you my dear will wear the one that make-up artists recommend and makes you look like a fresh-faced, natural beauty, right?  The one shown is called Crush from the Afterglow Glide-on Cheek tints by Urban Decay, I don’t care for the packaging but the products are top notch. This is for everyone that didn’t like the shimmer in the Tarte blush I recommended previously, which I completely understand I find a shimmer hard to pull off too, but I do like the Tarte consistency and wear.

Afterglow is a beautiful, sheer, buildable color, very believable as a natural flush. It does not work well with mineral make-up which I find is the case with almost all of them and creme blush. Since I couldn’t find alternate colors for the Tarte (the peachy one was the only one available), I picked up the Crush for a more pink option. I found this beauty blogger that has photos of her afterglow on after working from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., it shows how well it wears and how lovely + light the color is (and she’s darling as well).

P.S. My friends from my former life in the city ask me if all I do all day now is try out BB creams, blush and practice calligraphy in my new country life. My answer would be kinda/sorta. I mean I don’t spend all day on beauty + calligraphy, I work a good 12+ hours but I do have one wild day a week wherein I visit an Ulta. I practice the lettering every night. Yes, every night.

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 the country with her handsome husband and two pups and will be re-locating back to the city in the very near future.


Nib Identification System

Nib Faves Besotted Blog

I am a bit of a Type A personality. I once remarked that I was not a perfectionist because I could never get anything perfect which made the room of girls that heard my sentiment erupt in laughter; I guess I didn’t understand the meaning of the word and they all knew me too well. I always learn the hard way.  One of the things I have been struggling with in my lettering practice is being able to identify a nib once it is in its holder. Even though I feel like I thoroughly clean my nibs after each use there’s always ink that hides the nib identification and the nib holder hides the other part. I don’t know about you, but I have the hardest time removing my nibs from the holder. I have even tried the suggested jewelery pliers and only succeeded in breaking my nib in the holder thus rendering it useless and almost losing an eye.  In these novice stages of my lettering adventure it’s important to me to know which nibs I am enjoying so I can reference back to them for the future, if I can’t read what they are (and trust me it is hard enough without ink on them and being hidden in the holder) then I am working blindly. I decided to start from ground zero and replace nibs + holders and use a label ( a sheet of label paper cut to size). I am so happy with this system! Eventually I plan to create a chart so I can reference the different effects I can achieve with each nib. This may seem like a lot of extra work that you aren’t up for and you may wonder why I have so many different nibs. In this nascent stage I want to find the nibs that work best with how I create my letterforms. I am very heavy handed and a flexible, ‘bouncy’ nib creates a completely different look than a stiffer nib for me.  I haven’t been doing this very long, but I feel like I have already outgrown some of my earlier nib favorites in favor of nibs that respond to my heavy-handedness.  My main goal for the identification system is to be able to have a quick reference so I can re-create a look.  I also want to reiterate that what I am doing is not traditional calligraphy (although I admire that very much), although I do reference traditional calligraphy techniques like using guidelines and referencing calligraphy specimens. My goal is create my own hand(s) and thus the need/desire to experiment with multiple tools (nibs).

Since I get this email about 20 times a day I thought I would make sure I included my current favorite nibs, these most likely will change in the coming months but these are the ones I have been gravitating towards and why:

Hiro Leonardt No. 41-I would not suggest this for a beginner, it is very flexible and delicate. This is my favorite nib to create loopy girly letters, it makes loop forms like a champ.

Blue Pumpkin– This seems to be a favorite of  modern lettering artists/calligraphers (for good reason) such as Meredith Bullock of Hazel Wonderland. Both Poppy Pedals and Holly Hollon love it for cotton envelopes which have a lot of pulp. It is similar to the the above nib, a little stiffer. Again, this may not be the best nib to try if you are just starting out. I feel like I can control this nib well when I want to create very thin hairline strokes and a balanced down stroke. Sample lettering.

Gillot 1068A-I honestly don’t remember why I bought this, a mistake? Perhaps. It has turned out to be a happy accident. It’s very stiff and I would recommend for an advanced beginner. It works best on smooth surfaces so if you have any texture it will catch. You can get very nice angular/sharp letter-forms with this nib. Sample lettering.

Zebra G-I can’t recommend this nib enough. If you are starting out buy this nib, please.  It’s a little more flexible than the Nikko G (these two are very similar). It’s a nice stiff + smooth nib. When you are starting out with your lettering/calligraphy practice you have so many new things to worry about (angle, pressure, inking, substrates, etc.) just make it easy on yourself and get a nib that won’t be too wonky in your newbie hands and that won’t get caught on your paper and cause messy disasters. You can create nice fine hairlines (which seems to be what calligraphers around the globe covet). As long as I am lettering this nib will be in my lettering rotation.

Brause Rose-I have mentioned this nib before, I LOVE it! This nib is very flexible and the nib I go to when I want to re-create an almost brush like stroke, the upside is that it can also create very thin hairlines. Again, not a beginner nib (stick with stiff nibs), but it is a nib that you may want to add to your nib arsenal if you love the look of brush lettering but can’t get the hang of using a paint brush to letter. Sample lettering.

Nikko G-This nib is so similar to the Zebra G and the reason I mention them both is in the off chance you can’t find one or the other you have options. Stiffer than the Zebra G, again a great nib for beginners. I really love Japanese nibs they are precision cut, the Nikko G by hand! So smooth–like butter.  This is another nib that is in regular rotation. Advanced letterers will love this nib as well.

What I have learned in this lettering quest is that anyone can learn calligraphy, it’s about practice + practice (and then more practice), dedication and a passion for the art. I absolutely want to learn traditional calligraphy in the near future, but I have been so happy with where this project has taken me both personally and (recently) professionally. Let me know if you have specific questions I am interviewing an amazingly talented calligrapher for an upcoming feature and would be happy to pose some of your questions to her.

P.S. I have linked to the nibs in this feature (companies I trust like Amazon + Dick Blick), but you can always reference The Directory and look under Calligraphy Supplies for vendors I recommend. If you have a reputable Calligraphy supply company overseas that you like please let me know and I will add.  I want everyone to be able to find calligraphy supplies at a great price without worrying about outrageous shipping fees or long delivery times.

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 the country with her handsome husband and two pups and will be re-locating back to the city in the very near future.


Moira McLaughlin Curator Besotted Blog copyI can’t believe how many of you have emailed me to be considered for the Pinterest Curator series, the response has been as enthusiastic as the actual feature and I am so grateful! The best part is that the submitted boards have been extremely well curated, original and have amazing diversity!  I felt so lucky that I have so many creative readers (yes, I absolutely consider Pinterest curation a creative pursuit). Moira had emailed and when I saw her boards I knew I had to work on her feature. The one thing I loved most about the boards is she allowed her passion for Canines to be prevalent throughout her boards in a very interesting and sophisticated manner. I dare say, one of the best collections of dog imagery on the interwebs. Some of the boards that knocked my socks off were–Dogs:Musicians + Muses, Dogs: Artists + Muses, Dogs: Writers + Muses. You don’t need to be a dog (or animal) lover to appreciate these boards (but if you are get ready to swoon). It’s a fine collection of vintage images of dogs and their famous human best friends such as Picasso, Coco Chanel, Charles Dickens and the list goes on. It’s a nostalgic visual treat. Moira is a pretty prolific pinner so be prepared to lose yourself in some rustic, bohemian, vintage goodness. Be ready to explore, I admittedly spent way too much time at Moira’s boards under the guise of ‘research’. And for those that prefer their dog chatter to come with a little cute on the side, Moira has a delightful blog post on arguably the world’s cutest dog (take that Boo), the indomitable Mr. Winkle.

On another note, I suppose I have gone to the dogs this week as I am reading A Small Furry Prayer and quite enjoying it.  It’s one part memoir, a hefty dose of both historical and scientific data plus the inevitable heart string tugging (you can’t discuss animal rescue without it). I bought it on impulse because the author is married to the writer of  a book I really loved called ‘The Tribes of Palos Verdes’, it was $1.99 and had a photo of a cute dog on the cover.  I am obviously very indiscriminate to what I am willing to read and why. Good thing this book has exceeded my expectations and it is far better than it’s $1.99 price would infer. For those that own a Kindle, check out the book deals, there’s always a lot of them and not all the books on the list are half bad, some are even very good, for under $3.99 you can’t go wrong, my husband is currently reading ‘The Unexpected Hero’ about Winston Churchill (one of my personal historical favorites) a $2.99 purchase that he has been quoted as saying, “Sucked me in from the first sentence.”

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 the country with her handsome husband and two pups and will be re-locating back to the city in the very near future.


Elements of Style Besotted Blog

One of the goals I have this year is to work on my poor grammar.  I am very insecure about it and it’s a wonder I ever get a blog post up.  Putting my foibles out there is not my usual modus operandi. The problem I most run into with learning grammar is that it is a bore; granted I often find I get bored when I am having difficulty learning a subject. On the flipside of that coin, I believe with the right teacher or materials you can learn anything. Since I have decided to work on my grammar I thought I should just really bone up on my writing skills in general. I have some resources for you if you wanted to do so too. The above book, The Elements of Style is a classic, with the addition of Maira Kalman’s charming illustrations you will want to keep it on your desk, which I highly suggest for both aesthetics and reference ease. Roy Peter Clark a professor at The Poytner School of Journalism wrote a book aptly named-Writing Tools that looked interesting . I considered it for my Kindle, then I found out that it was available as a free podcast, read by Mr. Clark, each lesson is broken up into bite-sized pieces (think 1-2 minutes) and goes over 50 writing strategies. I had a lot of ‘aha’ moments during the listen and can’t recommend it enough. There’s Grammar girl which I wish I enjoyed more, but I don’t, a lot of people do so I thought she would be worth a mention. If you prefer a little more structure Media Bistro (a community for media professionals) offers on-line writing classes (and a grammar too). I have always wanted to take a class there, but it is a little spendy for me.  And for those that mentioned they would want to write a book if they knew they would not fail, I thought I would share this nugget-If you write one page a day, every day from today for the rest of the year you will have nearly 300 pages completed at the end of the year, that’s plenty for a book!

If you have any other suggestions for me–classes, books, tips + tricks please feel free to leave them in the comments. If there are grammatical errors on this site that are making you want to gouge your eyeballs out, please email me and I will try to rectify immediately (I do know there are plenty) and I wouldn’t want you to cause bodily harm to yourself on my account.

And…speaking of resources I spent an awful lot of time over the weekend updating The Directory, take a peek and let me know if you have anything to add, a subject you want covered or if you think your company/business should be included. Please keep in mind the directory is a creative resource so please keep your suggestions relevant.

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 the country with her handsome husband and two pups and will be re-locating back to the city in the very near future.