10 BOOKS FOR SUMMER

Summer Reads 2015 via Besotted Blog

Hooray – it’s officially summer in these parts! Time to pour a tall glass of  (my current favorite) grapefruit soda and sparkling water (50/50 mix), lounge on a blanket in the shade and get lost in a book. If you don’t already have your reading list lined up, I have some ideas for you. These are a few of my latest reads with a couple of all time favorites sprinkled in for good measure:

Rooftoppers  by Katherine Rundell

A charming and whimsical story about a young girl searching for her long-lost mother. She has a caring and supportive adoptive father and a band of homeless children who live on the rooftops of Paris to help her in her search. If you happen to be in Paris, reading this may cause you to glance up at the rooftops more often!

Leon and Louise by Alex Capus

A story of rare and true loves and all of the barriers life throws their way. Leon and Louise feel so real, you’ll be wrapped up in their lives in no time.

The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro

The main character is an unfairly disgraced artist, who just needs to get her footing again in the art world. There’s a mystery, a love story, and you’ll be amazed what kind of work goes into forging a famous painting.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I’ll admit I had a hard time rooting for the main character for much of this book – she’s a wreck, and not a very sympathetic wreck at that. What kept me interested was all of the twists and turns, and the characters who are capable of anything – it keeps you guessing!

If you’ve ever had that feeling of not wanting a book to end, you’ll know how I felt after reading Water for Elephants. I just wasn’t ready to walk away from the circus world. So I dove headlong into these two books and was very happy I did:

Among the Wonderful by Stacy Carlson

On the surface this is a story about two of the employees of P.T. Barnum’s Museum of Wonders, but it’s really about humanity with a side of New York City life in the 1840’s.

Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin

A story about the life of Lavinia Warren. I couldn’t help but admire how she chose to listen to her instincts rather than cave into fear in a time when women weren’t often taken seriously and it was socially acceptable to treat her as if she were a doll instead of a real person. That’s true grit if you ask me.

And finally, Like Water for Chocolate, and Chocolat (and Five Quarters of the Orange) came up over the dinner table the other night. We all loved how these books wove sensory elements into their very rich storylines. Definitely worth a read if you haven’t already!

So tell me, have you read any good books lately???

P.S. This photo was treated with a little ‘La Vie en Rose’ action. We were in the mood for a touch of blush, it felt apropos for the beginning of summer and the launch of our class. Those that are on our mailing list received it for free. Yes, free! Every month we send out another free action to our subscribers so if you want in, come sign-up!

Author / Miss Michelle P.

Miss Michelle P. is a photographer, and the co-creator of Foto Rx Premium Photoshop Actions. She lives in the Pacific Northwest. Her muse is light.

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Find your next read!

Find your next read via besotted blog

I have been on a bit of a book binge lately, maybe it has something to do with the comments in this post. I have even been tipping my toes into fiction waters, a rarity. I finished The Night Circus, which so many of you loved and went on to read The Aviary (Michelle recommended), it’s by a children’s author so the audience is skewed younger, but it is well written, imaginative and a quick read. I started reading Birdbox, because Ez gave it a positive endorsement, I must forewarn you it is terrifying and adrenaline inducing from the very first page–not for those with a weak constitution.

After I put The Aviary down I was wondering if there were any apps that would recommend a book in a style that I just read, something that felt similar in feel but new and original. Kindle offers suggestions of what other customers who read a similar book bought as well, but I always find those so perplexingly off base. I did a little research and found the following sites that may help you discover your next book.

What should I read next- I enjoyed exploring this site because the recommended list is so varied, almost to the point of having you scratch your head and say, ‘huh’? But it’s a free service, use it with a grain of salt.

Your next read- I found this a little daunting and confusing, but if you figure it out let me know how it works.

Goodreads-This is more community based with recommendations from other bibliophiles. I signed up years ago, but I always forget about stopping here for a rec. Note to self–bookmark.

Whichbook

Head Butler-Your cultural concierge. More than book recommendations, but I found his book reviews really smart, witty and honest.

The Staff Recommends-Based on the ‘the staff recommends’ you see at bookstores this site curates the creators current recommendations. It’s a brilliant idea and I wish I thought of it because I sure would love a stack of fresh books at my ready (although sadly I only read my Kindle now because I do all my reading late into the wee hours).

Library Thing-Another community based/social network type site (ala Good Reads) but not as aesthetically pleasing.

Have you used any of these sites before? If so do you have a preference? Are there other sites I may have missed? Apps? Do you have an alternate way of choosing your next read? Inquiring minds want to know…

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 Interview | Janis Anzalone

Janis Anzalone Interview via Besotted Blog

I can’t even believe it’s the end of the week and the end of our week of up & coming lettering artists– sigh.  It has been such a treat for me to be able to read all of them, I feel very fortunate that these artists were willing to share their love of lettering, resources and advice with us (not to mention their quotes). These interviews always feel like a good sit down with the calligrapher, I hope that they read the same way for you. You are always welcome to add to the conversation by asking your own questions in the comments, all the interviewee’s are very forthcoming with their knowledge. I know it’s hard to make time to comment these days but I promise you that a little ‘hello’ goes a long way to thanking the artists for their precious time and enabling us the opportunity to continue to invite other modern calligrapher’s/lettering artist to participate in this series.

Michelle and I are very excited to present Janis Anzalone] today. You may have spotted Janis on Instagram where she also shares her gorgeous illustrations. We hope that you find her as thoroughly interesting and inspiring as we have. Without further ado…

I can only recommend what to do, and that is to have fun and practice.

Where are you located?

San Anselmo, California, 17 minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

How did you get started in lettering?

Calligraphy was not even on my radar until I noticed the beautiful hand lettering of Lauren MacIntosh (Tail of the Yak) and Wendy Cook (Bell’occhio) back in the mid 90’s. It may sound strange but seeing their calligraphy had a transporting effect, like being at an opera or a good foreign film. Enchanting! I wanted that skill. So I searched books on calligraphy and soon discovered copperplate was the style I needed to learn. With my books as a reference, I began teaching myself and practicing everyday obsessively. At the time I was working as a textile designer, commuting to San Francisco. The moment I’d get home from work I would make a bee-line to my drawing table and start practicing. Combining calligraphy with my illustration skills was how I imagined my future business.

What are some of your favorite supplies?

After looking at other interviews it seems I’m pretty simple as far as my calligraphy supplies go. My top favorite and indispensable calligraphy supply is a tiny box of vintage R. Esterbrook nibs I found at Addison Endpapers in Berkeley. I never heard of the nib before but wanted to try it. So glad I did! The nib is perfect for me, not too flexible and not too stiff, just right. As far as brushes and pencils, no particular brand, they just need to be sharp.

Can you name some of your inspirations?

I’m inspired by vintage calligraphy written by ordinary hands. Historical documents, vintage letters, the captions on the back of old photographs, hand lettered Victorian diagrams, lettering on botanical posters, and the hand painted shop signs and number addresses you see on buildings in the UK and Europe.

Artists such as Picasso, Matisse, and Basquiat (to name just a few) who used lettering as part of their artwork are very inspiring. I’m inspired by music as well, though when I’m working I’m very particular about what is playing. The group Tin Hat is perfect for writing. Their music has a push and pull and a roundness like script.

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

Creating an inviting work environment for myself is very important. So first I clear the clutter and ready my table for the next project. Then I allow myself a little time to think about the assignment, to daydream, to do some research.  The next step is getting acquainted with the text, playing with the specific wording and lettering style, seeing how the words feel and fit together. Then it is just a matter of editing until it is as good as I can make it.

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

I would say try to learn the rules before breaking them in most cases. Have a good foundation then let go, have fun, experiment. A style of your own will eventually emerge through hours of playful experimentation and practice.

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

Find a workshop! Lauren MacIntosh teaches a wonderful calligraphy workshop from her home in Berkeley. I highly recommend it. Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls travels all over teaching a very popular calligraphy class as well. If you don’t have access to a workshop, then try your local library or bookstore and find a book on beginning calligraphy.

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

My favorite assignments are ones that allow me to combine my calligraphy and illustration. Currently I’m working on a seed packet for an organization based here in Marin county whose mission is earth-friendly and sustainable fiber dyeing methods.

Any advice on what ‘not’ to do?

I can only recommend what to do, and that is to have fun and practice.

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

I make a mean jar of jam. In fact, after finishing this interview I’ll be making my first batch of the season, apricot, my favorite. Oh, and the final touch will be the label – with calligraphy of course.

P.S. You must visit M.K. Sadler (love her work) she photographed Janis at home and the images are just gorgeous!

 

Fox & Flourish | Christina Luo Interview

Fox and flourish interview via besotted blog

As soon as I saw a lettered quote from Christina Luo of Fox & Flourish I wanted to know more about her. There was something about the ‘o’, so whimsical mixed in with such a confident hand. Christina has a wonderful exuberance about her craft, you can tell how much she truly enjoys it. I love that Christina finds time each month to share her passion with others via her workshops, which seem like a good time for all. I have been so enjoying reading all of these interviews, it’s amazing how diverse the answers are and how much I learn from each one of them. I hope you feel the same, Christina’s interview is no exception it is brimming with sparks that will surely motivate you and advice that will keep you from giving up. Without further ado…

Where are you located?

Beautiful Vancouver, BC. I live in a neighbourhood downtown right by the water with a breathtaking view of the mountains, lots of cute pups, and pretty humans to ogle at.

How did you get started in lettering?

My story starts in the 4th grade, when I told my parents I wanted to become a graffiti artist, already trading “tags” of my friends’ names for snacks. My father informed me this was neither a profitable nor legal occupation, so that was that. I continued to fall in love with words, reading, and poetry, so armed with this knowledge, I went on to study journalism and publishing (all the while, continuing to replicate other people’s penmanship, doodling names and words in class – never illustrations – and admiring what I did not know was typography and lettering all around me).

A few design courses later, Fox & Flourish was born mainly out of boredom during the free hours after a 9 to 5 workday at a communications internship. Calligraphy grabbed my attention specifically because of the precision involved, and I suddenly got into the online calligraphy community in a big way. I was already only posting lettering to my Instagram account, so I changed my handle, created a website, and the rest is history! Little did I know, there was only one local modern calligrapher at the time operating on Vancouver Island, so news about Fox & Flourish spread among wedding vendors and small businesses very quickly.

What are some of your favorite supplies?

Sumi ink is my go-to for black ink. I love how it dries a bit glossy and debossed, so you can really feel the movement underneath your fingertips. Gouache for colour. Any small round brush (I like spotter brushes for precise work), and the big Japanese calligraphy brushes from Daiso! My nibs change with my mood, but I’m currently loving my vintage Esterbrook 358, paired with the Tachikawa G. Marker paper and bristol board all the way. And what artist can survive without mountains of washi tape on their desk?

Can you name some of your inspirations?

I love taking long walks with no real destination and finding interesting hand-painted signs, store window art, or apartment building numbers. Each style tells a different story about that neighbourhood’s history or the personality of its residents. I often venture into used bookstores and try to forage any handwritten notes I can find tucked in between pages, especially the inscriptions. Recently, I traveled to a couple of Scandinavian cities and am still processing their minimalist attitude to not just design, but as an overarching lifestyle.

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

I try to get to know my clients and their values in relation to their business or event. With this information in mind, I take to my marker paper pad and generate as many ideas and styles as possible – immediately with ink, no guidelines. Then, I go through and mark my favourites. If it’s a digital lettering project, I’ll scan every page in and spend a great deal of time cleaning up potential drafts. It’s this part that I love – the seemingly mundane task of refining composition and letterforms until they reflect the spirit of the project.

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

Just write! Fill pages with words, quotes that resonate, the names of your friends or your favourite musicians. Educate yourself about the technicalities of course, but most importantly, play along the way. There are myriads of different writing instruments, ink alternatives, and lettering styles to experiment with.

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

Online learning platforms like Skillshare or Atly have classes for almost every level of calligraphy/lettering/typography disciplines, as well as extended tutorials on graphic design in relation to lettering and logotype. Now that I’ve graduated university and am free from the perils of papers and exams, I try to have at least 1 or 2 Skillshare classes on the go, making sure to schedule in at least an hour of continued education every day. Currently, as I expand Fox & Flourish, I’m taking a few business development classes.

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

Recently, I worked on a logo for an equestrian lifestyle business. The research and development for that project immersed me into a completely new cultural space, and I had a great time translating that into a calligraphic piece with sweeping movement and grace. Another recent favourite is a Twin Peaks inspired design for Lululemon that was cut out of tennis turf and displayed in their store window!

Any advice on what ‘not’ to do?

Don’t limit your inspiration to just other lettering online. Try to explore your urban landscape. Attempt to encapsulate a feeling, instead of a certain look in your letters.

If you want to mention any upcoming workshops…

We are announcing two July beginners’ workshops soon, and you can sign up to be notified at foxandflourish.com/workshops. Fox & Flourish holds two workshops per month, and will be expanding into different calligraphic styles.

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

I can lick my elbow!

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.

Plume Calligraphy |Aileen Fretz Interview

Plume Calligraphy via Besotted Blog

Michelle was the one that discovered Miss Fretz of Plume Calligraphy. We both admired her ‘p’, it’s a hard letter to work with in my humble opinion and Aileen executes it beautifully. When Michelle mentioned I immediately looked up her site (a simple beauty), I was intrigued to learn more and I know that you as lettering enthusiasts are always up for a new discovery, so let us find out more about the lovely Plume Calligraphy

embrace the imperfections, don’t get caught up trying to be perfect!

Where are you located?

Just outside of Toronto, Canada

How did you get started in lettering?

My background is in Graphic Design and my love of typography and letterforms has been present my entire life! During elementary school I would create different ‘fonts’ with my handwriting, this is something I’ve never grown out of! I started practicing calligraphy as a 2014 new years resolution, I was searching for a new hobby and quickly became a lover of calligraphy!

What are some of your favorite supplies?

For inks, I love Higgins Eternal Black Ink, it’s my go to warm up ink. I recently discovered Pearl Ex powdered pigments for gold and other pearlescent colours – I’m in love with how smoothly they write. For colours, I love mixing very watery gouache so that you can see the paper texture and the colour gradients in the calligraphy.

For brushes, my favourites are Sakura Koi Water Brush & Grumbacher Goldenedge, but the Sakura Koi is my #1 go to for brush lettering!

My most used nibs are the Leonardt 111EF, Brause 66EF and my favourite is the Leonardt General.

For paper, my favourites are Canson Watercolour and Canson Mixed Media! Both are really smooth and the textures are just lovely!

Can you name some of your inspirations?

I am inspired by a variety of things, but I would say the most influential are old world centered. Antiques, vintage inkwells and pens, worn textures and anything Jane Austen!

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

When I’m getting started on a project, I will usually study a broad range of imagery related to a theme and use the overall feeling as a jumping off point for my creative process. For projects involving hand-lettering, I’ll write out the words in a variety of forms, playing with the spacing and size of the letter shapes, sharper, rounder, heavier and lighter to reflect the theme or feeling that I’m looking for!

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

Experimenting with different nibs and holders can help to develop your own unique style, by discovering what tools you like and don’t like. Practicing with different nibs and holders had a major impact on the development of my own lettering styles. I’ve found that I love the style of my calligraphy with an oblique nib holder much more than with a straight holder. Once you find the main combinations that work for you, incorporating a variety of different nibs will allow you to create many variations of your unique style.

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

I took Molly Suber Thorpe’s Digitizing Calligraphy Class & Molly Jacques Introduction to the Art of Modern Calligraphy on Skillshare. Both of these online courses helped me refine what I had self taught and learn techniques that I otherwise would not have known!

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

I have recently been working on a lot of editorial collaborations, which has been such a great opportunity to create for fun, the sky’s the limit and I can be as creative as I like!

Any advice on what ‘not’ to do?

I am a total perfectionist, which I think stems from my graphic design background, I naturally like things that are straight and perfect. But what I love about modern calligraphy is the ability to embrace the imperfect and accept, even strive for, the creation of unique letter forms. My advice would be to embrace the imperfections, don’t get caught up trying to be perfect! It will allow you to expand your style creatively and save you a ton of paper at the same time!

If you want to mention any upcoming workshops…

I am in the process of planning my first teaching workshop which will happen this summer! More info coming soon!

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.

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