Focus | Simplify + Clear out clutter


This quest for focus has been quite the uphill  journey for us. It has been rife with self reflection, tough questions, analysis of every aspect of our work lives, crystal ball reading (or attempts at it anyway), and seeking advice from trusted friends and family. Consideration of all of the variables has been EXHAUSTING, and left both Tristan and I feeling drained and overwhelmed for weeks. Ever the optimists, we were determined to find the light at the end of the tunnel, and after roughly a month of soul searching, the light appeared with glaring clarity (a giant lightbulb may have floated above our heads at that moment).

So now that we have our sights set on a specific target, we have to figure out how to move toward it. As with any new and ambitious project, the to do list is long and constantly evolving – in other words, yet another opportunity to feel overwhelmed. Speaking for myself,  I’m going to need every ounce of brain space I can muster, and that means clearing out any residual clutter both figuratively and literally.

Here’s my confession: the studio closet has been haunting me daily with it’s overstuffed shelves (Tristan isn’t even allowed to peek in there!). My Mom is an artist who always claims she couldn’t paint with dirty dishes in the sink. Even if clutter is out of sight, it’s lurking somewhere on your mental to do list, trying to steal your focus. This week, while Tristan has taken a rare and much deserved break, I have fought the beast… and won.

Have any of you read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up? I haven’t, but my sister in law gave me the cliff notes. She was greatly inspired and took the book’s message to heart (but did point out that in order for there to be significant life changing magic, everyone in the house would have to read the book). I made a huge mess pulling out every single item in the closet and dutifully asking myself “does this spark joy?”. Unfortunately, as is the case with many designers, YES – the stacks and stacks of paper samples from Neenah and Mohawk do bring me joy, but I can’t recall the last time I needed to reference one of them, so they had to go.

I also completely dismantled our old mood board (mood wall actually), and replaced it with an inexpensive but freshly painted white canvas. We’ll tack up inspiration with artist tape to keep things tidy and fluid. The stage is officially set, now for that to do list…



The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up


Artist Tape

I even ordered this pretty white table to replace 2 old desks, so exciting!


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.


Deep Dark Fears by Fran Krause

Deep dark fears by fran krause via besotted blog

Michelle and I visited a real live bookstore recently (yes, as rare as a Yeti spotting), at the store they had a wall of staff recommended reads and one cover stood out for us. It was a beautifully bound black book with a foil embossed scrawl that read- ‘Deep Dark Fears’ by Fran Krause. We didn’t know what to expect but within minutes both Michelle and I were guffawing out loud (we think you will too).  Illustrator Fran Krause asked people to submit their deep, dark (and very real to them) fears. She then illustrated them comic style. I think the thing with fears, is keeping them to yourself they feel very real and scary but saying them out loud to others that may have fears as deep and dark as your own (or more so) could actually lighten that load you have been carrying. I told Michelle one of my fears and she actually spit out her water, it is pretty ridiculous and I wish I could share with you but I am still a little afraid of it (and yes, it is water spitting absurd). If you have a chance we highly recommend checking this book out, it’ll make you feel sane amongst your crazy thoughts and who doesn’t want to feel a bit ‘normal’ sometimes?


Deep Dark Fears by Fran Krause

Book review

P.S. Michelle and I have finally come to a decision on our focus. We aren’t ready to announce it quite yet, but it was one of those things where it was right in front of our faces this whole time, like my grandmother use to say, ‘Girl, if it was a snake it would have bit you.’

Miss Tristan B. is the co-creator of the world’s best + easiest product photography editing tool-Foto Rx | Shopkeeper’s Helper and the fastest way to clean + digitize your lettering and line art –Lettering Rx | Paper to pixel and one of the writer’s of this delightful blog. Her lofty goal here is to make this a creative resource repository to inspire you to fall truly, madly, deeply in love with your life.

Lettering Artist | Alice Gabb


Super excited to share Alice Gabb with you today! Alice has such a unique hand that you can identify anywhere. It’s that wabi sabi hand that I wish for–perfectly imperfect. Alice is an uber talented artist and we hope you love reading her interview as much as we did!

Where are you located?

I work from a little studio in Dalston in East London, that I share with two other creatives, and a tiny Italian Greyhound.

How did you get started in lettering?

I studied Graphic Design and Illustration at university, and my projects always seemed to feature hand rendered type. I wasn’t interested in typography in a digital sense at all, I just wanted to draw it!  When I graduated I was accepted to have a stall at the beautiful Broadway Market every Saturday. I sold stationery that I had designed and screenprinted during the week. I started to get a lot of wedding invite commissions, and was hand drawing or painting all of my lettering, until I learned (years later) that the typefaces I was creating with a pencil or brush was called ‘Modern Calligraphy’and started to teach myself using the Besotted Blog for research. It took so long to learn because it was relatively new to the UK back then, and it was hard to get hold of the right supplies. That was three years ago now, it’s flown by!

What are some of your favorite supplies? (this people go nuts for!)

I love the Blue Pumpkin and Leonardt Prinicpal EF for nibs. It took me months to be able to use the Blue Pumpkin, so I advise beginners to start with the Zebra G or Nikko G nibs. I use Dr PH Martins Bleedproof White for white ink, Higgins eternal for black ink, and I have a small set of gouache tubes that I mix up with water and a few drops of gum arabic for every colour in between. I flit between straight pen holders and oblique, and I get through a lot of Daler Rowney A4 Layout Paper pads. I’m yet to get one of those Finetec Metallic Palettes but that is next on my list!

Can you name some of your inspirations? (books, music, artists, etc.)

I love going to Old Spitalfields on a Thursday morning so I can add to my collection of vintage stationery. I’m particularly interested in telegrams and fold out souvenir cards and I use old packaging a lot to dictate my layout and choice of typefaces. I like looking at traditional sign painting too. Although it can be hard to find these days, my parents live by the sea in Cornwall, and you can’t use vinyl because the sea spray makes it curl up and peel off very quickly, so there’s lots of lovely traditional painted examples about the place!

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

I am probably not someone to emulate in terms of work process!! I still haven’t got round to learning how to use a fancy tablet…I will though, one day! Everything is practiced on layout paper first, and then written or drawn numerous times until I am happy with it and scanned in to then be artworked in Photoshop, and then laid out in InDesign. I’m really particular about things, sometimes I will write a word fifty times before I’m happy with it. I think that surprises people because a lot of my work has a naive feel, and my calligraphy style is fairly whimsical with long lines and leaders, and never following a straight line – but often my process is fairly lengthy!

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

I suppose when you strip it back, it is all about patience, practice and attention to detail. I think it’s important to be really noticing the way other artists are creating their letters, making a mental note of  little elements you particularly like, and leaving bits you don’t. I can’t lie though, you need to practice, practice, practice! Write down song lyrics, swear words, inspirational quotes, your shopping list, anything!

I think trusty old Pinterest is a great place to be finetuning your preferred styles. I have one board for nicely styled shoots that inspire me, but another board specifically for close up examples of letters that I especially like the look of.

It’s also helpful to remember that Modern Calligraphy has evolved from traditional Copperplate script, and studying that style can hugely improve your control. Dr J.M Vitolo’s amazing online resource, Iampeth, really helped me at the beginning, as did Fozzy Castro-Dayrit. She is so dedicated to the study of calligraphy, and her instagram always encourages me to do my drills!

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

Obviously if you are in London you should come to one of my classes, but if you are too far away, you can’t beat the online course, the Modern Calligraphy Summit, that covers it allllll! Even though I had been a professional calligrapher for two years, when the Summit came along I just had to sign up because I was about to start teaching my own workshops, and I had this fear that my technique might be incorrect in the eyes of the calligraphy overlords, but actually it was a comforting reminder that I knew what I was doing and that I should go forth and share my lettering knowledge!

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

My collaborations with bookbinder Catherine Willis (who works under the name Kitty Farrow) are probably my favourite. She is a traditional book binder and box maker, and so between us we have a really unusual and old fashioned skill set! We’re a couple of old fashioned gals at heart, there is usually always a glass of sherry or two in our meetings. I find it very hard to work with other people as I’m so used to working alone, but Cat makes me macaroni cheese so everything is always ok.

Any advice on what ‘not’ to do?

Cripes, there are so many dont’s!! I’ve learnt the hard way! Most importantly, do not rush, and give yourself plenty of time to learn if you have a specific project in mind.  Secondly, try not to associate calligraphy with ‘hand writing’. Hand writing is something totally different, something we have subconsciously spent decades practicing. It also has a totally different pace to modern calligraphy, and you hold the pen and angle your hand differently, so instead, think of calligraphy as a series of lines and curves that you need to teach your brain by repeating and repeating until your muscle memory knows exactly what to do. It’s frustrating at the beginning but it gets easier!

Last of all, do not leave your nib in your penholder all the time like I do until it is fused with rust to your penholder and has to be pulled out with pliers….it’s a terrible habit…

If you want to mention any upcoming workshops…

Oh yes. I run Beginners lessons every other Saturday and Improvers classes on occasional Tuesday evenings. Both of which take place in my favourite East London cafes.

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

I am pretty good at hula hooping and roller skating…Marawa the Amazing used to run lessons at her Hoopermarket by my studio one summer, and I used to go every week, practice most days and had grand dreams (some would say delusions!) of one day becoming a Majorette….I think I’ll just stick to my fancy writing though….



Interview with June Letters

june letters interview

We have had a few interviews in the queue that we thought you might like to read sooner than later, perhaps you will take some of the tips they share and put them into practice?  And we certainly didn’t want you to think with all this talk about ‘focus’ that we were going to drop your lettering fix like a hot potato. First up is Jessica Levitz of June Letters. I am pretty positive she thinks I am one of the most annoying bloggers ever, but even still, she was gracious and provided this interview. I love Jessica’s quirky hand, sense of humor and eye for design, I especially loved her inspiration, as we share a lot in common! We do hope you enjoy her!  Here’s one more of Jessica’s hand that we loved (but might offend others), it made us laugh out loud.Read More

Finding Vivian Maier Review

finding vivian maier review via besotted blog

I did it!  I watched my FIRST documentary since my daughter was born (2.5 years ago), yes, it has been that long. This must be what it feels like for an athlete to make a comeback. I need to watch a movie next, it’s on my goals list (open to suggestions). I was actually going to watch another one that was suggested by Michelle, but it wasn’t available on Netflix, but when this popped up I knew that I wanted to watch it, we have written about Ms. Maier a few times and I find her story endlessly fascinating. The concise version– Vivian was a nanny and an avid street photographer who not only shot  extensively but did the very odd thing of never developing her film. One day a young man bought her storage locker of film, developed it, showcased it on his blog and Vivian became viral. The most interesting thing of the documentary to me was that the young man that discovered the undeveloped film rolls, his story is equally as fascinating. It’s just really thought provoking and if you love photography, a good treasure hunt and/or a feel good story, I think you’d enjoy this doc!


Finding Vivian Maier trailer

Vivian Maier posts here + here

Doc featuring a Camera Obscura ( Michelle’s doc recommendation)

Miss Tristan B. is the co-creator of the world’s best + easiest product photography editing tool-Foto Rx | Shopkeeper’s Helper and the fastest way to clean + digitize your lettering and line art –Lettering Rx | Paper to pixel and one of the writer’s of this delightful blog. Her lofty goal here is to make this a creative resource repository to inspire you to fall truly, madly, deeply in love with your life.