Nancy Hopkins Besotted Blog

I am so excited to bring you the interview of Nancy Hopkins, this has been in the works for a while now.  I wanted to be one of the first blogs to showcase her work and be the one that introduced her to a broader audience.  I feel like a lot of designers and letterpress artists know and work with her but keep her as their secret.  As you know, I am not good with secrets and I prefer to tell everyone that will listen how great this, that or so & so is, so without further ado let me start gushing…Thank you Nancy!


Where are you located?  

In Berkeley, California.

How did you get started in lettering?

Well, I’ve been drawing on most any available surface (including walls, clothes, shoes, newspapers, furniture, you name it) since I was a kid, but didn’t formally discover calligraphy and lettering  until I was in college.  While in a typography class, a calligrapher came in to give a guest lecture, and boom! I knew that was what I wanted to do.

What are some of your favorite supplies (inks, nibs, paper)

This is an area of the craft in which I’m not very well versed….and that is why I am so excited to discover your fabulous blog!  I always feel I could know a lot more. There are many times I sit down to a job convinced there must be a better paper, or a better ink, or a better nib for the task at hand!   That said, there is a Sumi ink sold by John Neal (my favorite resource) called “Moon Palace” that I use all the time because it gives the best hairlines.  And I use Mitchell nibs (size 4 & 5) and Nikko G nibs a lot.

Can you name some of your inspiration?

This is a tough question because there are so many things influencing me all the time.  Looking at other calligraphers and lettering artists’ work has got to be most inspiring. Georgia Deaver (who recently passed) was a great. The latest craze of chalkboard lettering is so cool — I love the work of Dana Tanamachi,  and type designer Jessica Hische is an incredibly creative talent.  The beauty and spontaneity of  graffiti, when done well, can be the ultimate mastery of control and  fluidity of movement.  This probably sounds kind of corny but feel that the most rewarding aspect of calligraphy is the rhythm  and flow you experience while doing it.  When you are in that “zone”, nothing compares.

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

Uh….well….I like to play tennis….

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

The Letter Arts Review is a beautifully produced quarterly publication that has interesting articles and high quality photos of lots of great works, especially the edition devoted to their juried review.  Also, most major cities have great local calligraphy guilds.  Here in the Bay Area, we have a fantastic organization called The Friends of Calligraphy.

I love how prolific you are with all your styles (and I do LOVE every single one of them), any advice on the best way to develop ones own style or create their own lettering off shoots. 

As is true with all art forms, in order to start abstracting from established styles, you’ve got to know the basics first.  Once you are comfortable with a specific hand and how it is  technically created, (which usually involves A LOT of practice) then you can start playing around with it.  Maybe try using a different tool (like a brush instead of a nib), or different types of inks, or  varying pen pressure at different junctures in the letter, or trying different types of paper (ones that bleed as opposed to to ones that don’t) to create different affects. Often really simple experimentation can inspire you in ways you hadn’t dreamt possible.

 I get asked a TON about white ink, is there any formula you use or suggestions?

Another calligrapher once told me she adds Pro White to Winsor & Newton’s Permanent White gouache.  I’ve tried it, and it works, but it does have a slightly thick, grainy  texture.

Any advice on what ‘not’ to do?

Never start in on a job without warming up for at least 20-30 minutes.  Sometimes I get impatient, and am always sorry when I begin writing when not fully “in the groove”.

P.S. This has been my best couple of weeks EVER!  I got to travel to the West Coast and meet such wonderful people, then I I got the thrill to work with Caitlin of Roost (faint) and then my very favorite stylist and someone I have long admired online Ginny Branch posted the NICEST post on me.  I am still fanning myself in order to not hyperventilate, it’s hard not to since this has been such an exciting time for me. Thank you’s all around to Caitlin, Ginny and of course you, you make my days so much brighter!

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.


Kanako Yamaguchi Curator Besotted Blog

I am going to confess something to you.  The reason I started following today’s curator Kanako Yamaguchi in the first place was not for her fabulous taste in fashion, accessories or the like, but because she pins the cutest animals.  Yes, there I said it, I mean it. I know Kanako doesn’t give a lot of attributions and it has been my main reason for not featuring her sooner, but she is on the other side of the globe and I am going to go out on a limb here but maybe, just perhaps, attribution isn’t as hot a topic where she is from as it is here in the states.  It hasn’t stopped me from cooing over her pins of furry creatures and yes, there is guilt involved but flog me for having this horrible little vice; I am going to believe she doesn’t know any better. Her pug board?  Oh, the smiles that it illicits, I am grinning as I write this for she recently added a new one pin that is laugh out loud darling. I hope you like this discovery and I am sure it will brighten even the darkest of days and dankest of cubicles.

P.S. I am working hard to edit some images from the Jen Huang Workshop that I want to show off.  I had so much fun!

P.P.S. Remember I am always scouting for new curators, so if you think your boards are awesome send me an email.

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.


product photography 101

I get multiple s.o.s. emails everyday asking questions about product photography. It is a subject that I have had to become well versed in and that I still struggle with so my heart always go out to the distressed people that write to me.  I have been meaning to put up tutorials for some time now but I get easily side-tracked.  I do have a pretty good tutorial on shooting in low light/no light situations, which is how I often have to shoot, it’s just easier for me when I can get even light and not have to work so hard on cleaning up my white backgrounds (which to me is the hardest part of product photography).  I am not writing this today to let you know that I have been too lazy, busy to create tutorials but to tell you to hurry up and take Kim Thomas’s SkillShare Class Make Awesomer Product Photos.  Yes, I am passing the buck. Kim used to be the head photographer for the PhotoJojo shop so she has plenty of experience, the classes are pre-recorded so you can watch them at your leisure and the BEST part?  Kim is offering the class for free!!!  Yes, you read that right, free!  You should be able to still join in as it just started.  I have gone through four videos thus far and have already learned some new techniques that I can’t wait to add to my repertoire. Kim has a nice, easy going style of teaching like she is talking with a friend. I feel like there should be a tip jar so I could thank her for the time + effort she put into the class. The class is aimed at beginners but she does discuss lights a little bit which is a little more advanced. You don’t need a shop to benefit from the class, I shoot for this here blog all the time and I am even doing a tutorial for a wedding blog and so happy to be able to utilize some of the new tips I learned from Kim’s Class.  I hope to see you in class!

photo via Best Made Co.

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.


circus alpha bestowal besotted blogWell, I am back! Not for long, I have a trip planned for New Orleans soon, a quick jaunt, that has been in the works for over a year, my poor husband, or lucky husband, I know he loves himself some alone time. Then from there I am on packing detail 24-7.  I have already broken down half my studio, it’s interesting how when you have space you are able to fill it so quickly and weird, me being a minimalist and all. I have not made up my mind where we will be moving, which is the most difficult decision of all not knowing where we will be headed.  I think it would be easier if I didn’t have one very, very expensive and regretful move cross country under my belt. My next move I feel needs to have a lot of ‘pro’ boxes checked.  Honestly, if I was able to get my old apartment back in Los Angeles I would move back there in a second, but I tried to offer the tenant moving money and he basically told me to kick rocks barefoot.  It was a prime location, with many amenities and the rent was below market value, I should have sub-leased, hindsight is 20/20, right? Sigh. He’s never moving out.  I saw so many beautiful neighborhoods in the Bay area thanks to my lovely tour guide Maybelle (love her), but I haven’t had much luck on Craigslist, maybe one of you lovelies may have some alternate suggestions?  I loved Berkley (which I didn’t think I would, so much for pre-conceived notions), Lake Merritt was beautiful and unexpected, Rockridge had the most charming little shops, Hayes Valley (so out of our budget) was like a little slice of Paris in the city.  Michelle, my co-professor on Souvenir Foto and one of my favorite people took up the Seattle part of my tour, thank goodness!  What’s not to like about Seattle?  It has everything San Francsico has at a fraction of the price.  Wherein the bay area we would live like paupers, bohemians, in Seattle we could have it all (maybe even a view of the water!) There is that weather detail to contend with, but seriously nothing could be as harsh as the weather I experienced here in the South East; either intolerably hot and humid (add a bunch of bugs into that equation) or super stormy and rainy.  I think Seattle would be a piece of cake. Please note, I am a Californian born & bred so I have had no prior experience with weather extremes, this was all new to me. The people in the South are warm and friendly and I do currently live on one of the prettiest plots of land this side of the Mississippi.  So it has not been a total bust.  I am isolated, very isolated (axe murderers, please note not that isolated) and that doesn’t work for me.  Who knew I needed interaction with people?  I didn’t.  I miss civilization, I loved seeing people walking on the streets and driving their cars this last trip, it was delightful.  I am up for hearing any advice or taking in any tips, this move will not be taken lightly as we have plowed through a majority of our savings and well, we kinda, sorta need to make a very good decision, no oops allowed.

Speaking of moving, I of course will not want to pack a bunch of inventory for Besotted Brand as I want to make sure my offerings are pristine and I don’t trust a cross country move to be conducive to that.  I won’t be ordering anything new or replenishing until we land in our new abode and I can set-up my studio (we are moving in May).  The good news is that I have many, many new offerings, plus an entire new section being added (that I am out of my mind excited about). I think you will be pretty excited about it as well!  I am going to be giving a lot of way before I go and I am going to start with some alphabet sets!  I have the one above and an alternate version that I will be sending off to one lucky winner! In order to enter to win please answer the following question by Sunday, April 1, 2013:

What are three unique/odd things about you?

I thought since I am in social butterfly mode, it might be nice to get to know you better.  Some unique/odd things about me are that I am legally blind (without corrective eyewear), you see how that doesn’t stop me from venturing into visual fields such as design or photography?  I cannot go to sleep at night without reading a book, impossible. I was once nominated by Vogue + W magazine as having one of the top 10 cult fragrances in the world.  Your turn!


Santa Barbara Fog by Tristan BThis is one of my shots from the morning of the Jen Huang Workshop.  I never acclimated to West Coast time my entire trip so I woke up at un-Godly hours but was able to watch the sunrise on multiple occasions due to my jet lag.  I really loved the photo-ops I had throughout this trip and of course being a California girl I will always have an affinity for my home state. I promise I will write more about the workshop and the trip, but I think there is something I need to address stat.  In my haste I did not announce any winners for the Hand Lettering Bestowal.  I did have a lovely young lady email me and of course I have lost her email (so organized with the emails), but because she was kind enough to gently remind me I would like her to be one of the winners (if she hasn’t given up on me).  I would also like to bestow some lettering on the following lovelies that entered to win and who patiently sat by whilst I neglected to announce a winner:  Karolina, Lori, Rebecca, Mary Macleod and Kathy.

To all the winners, please email me what you would like and I will get right on it! By the way, I chose so many winners for selfish reasons, I haven’t practiced my lettering for at least 14 days and I am anxious to get back to my practice and it is so much more helpful if I have a specific directive.  I am happy to be home, albeit my temporary home, but really my home now is where my husband and girls are, that being said I would prefer my home be on the West Best Coast. Sorry, I read that on a billboard and think it’s quite cheeky, so sorry to boldly rip it off.

P.S. One of my very favorite blogs + photographers, Caitlin of Roost asked me to do some lettering for her amazing beauty giveaway (gasp!) you would be remiss if you don’t go check it out (pinky promise). To say I was honored for the invitation is a complete understatement. To have my lettering on one of my fave blogs? It’s like winning the Lotto!

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.