On listening to your heart and having the courage to let go

Real talk time -- 

Recently, I’ve been dealing with some internal struggles about my calligraphy workshops. As in, do I even want to teach anymore?

calligraphy-quote-courage-peony.png

Now, don't get me wrong - I love hosting events, teaching classes, and getting to meet people like you, who actually want to learn calligraphy! What I I don't enjoy is marketing myself, the anxiety associated with filling a class, lugging supplies all over the place, not having a venue to call my own, and the loneliness associated with being a solo entrepreneur, doing all of this on my own. It was starting to wear on me…

Last year, I had the opportunity to work with some amazing brands in NYC, which led me to hosting more workshops in the city. I admit, I was swept up by the excitement and “glamour” of it all. I felt validated, like I finally “made it”. But let’s be real. Taking gigs in NYC or anywhere else doesn’t make or break me as a calligrapher/teacher/business. The simple fact is that I was taking these jobs because it brought in funds that I needed to pay the bills. And yes, I will continue to take on gigs in the city as I see fit, but as far as workshops go - the anxiety of filling classes, plus expensive venue fees (and everything else mentioned above) was wreaking havoc on my physical and mental health. As much as I want to serve my NYC client base, I have to listen to my heart (and body) and let some things go.

Which, is why I’ve decided on the following:

City folks, going forward I will only be booking private workshops as the minimum number is guaranteed, eliminating some of the anxiety re: filling classes. So, if you live in NYC (or anywhere in the Tri-State area) and would like to learn modern calligraphy from me, invite a few friends and make it a girls’ night! I can travel to your home or you can book a Breather space of your choice (referral link).

I have also opened booking for private lessons in Westchester & Rockland counties - this is for anyone who’s looking to take their calligraphy to the next level, or whose schedule just doesn’t sync up with my workshop calendar.

Making changes in my business is always scary, and I know that I will be disappointing people (I’m sorry!). But these changes can lead to new and exciting things - which, I’m happy to share is on the horizon! Stay tuned! :)

Tea & Calligraphy in Taipei [HIGHLIGHTS]

I’m not usually one to make resolutions but at the beginning of this year I decided that I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone and teach a workshop outside of the Tri-State area least once this year. It was a mental note I made just for myself, not as a result of any suggestions/requests - certainly not because I have a mass following in any particular place begging me to come host a workshop.

So, this winter, I visited a dear friend in Houston, and while I was there I also got to host a brush calligraphy class (long overdue recap to come)! While I mentally checked off that little goal I had at the start of the year, I couldn’t help but dream some more…

It had been about 2.5 years since my last visit to Taiwan, and my heart was telling me it was time to go back. Back to my birthplace, to the warm weather, to all the amazing food, and of course my family (and much more)! Why not teach a workshop there, too?

Other than my family though, I didn’t have any real connections or leads to how I would go about putting together a workshop. Not to mention that my Mandarin is at a middle-school level, and incredibly rusty. An English-speaking venue (and attendees) would be ideal…

Delicious cakes, tea, + calligraphy - what’s not to love? ;)

Delicious cakes, tea, + calligraphy - what’s not to love? ;)

My mind always wanders back to food - I’m realizing more and more that it’s due to my upbringing. Food was/is a love language - it’s the way my parents show(ed) me love. In fact, in Taiwanese culture, many times family/friends greet each other with, “have you eaten yet” (regardless of time of day), rather than “how are you?”. This is why I’ve always tried to include some kind of refreshment for my workshops, specifically, dessert!

Who knows all about the food scene in Taipei? Joan of The Hungry Girl’s Guide to Taipei (aka @hungryintaipei)! I’ve been following Joan’s blog since the early days so I could live vicariously through all her Taiwan food adventures; we follow each other on Instagram but we’ve never actually met or interacted much with one another. Our common love for food and stationery is all I needed to know before I sent her an email asking if she’d like to partner with me in planning my workshop in Taipei!

[As an aside, I encourage you to send that email - what’s the worse that could happen? They ignore you? They say no? Then you know and you move on. But friends, from my own experience, 9 times out of 10, the answer will be YES. And all you had to do was ask. Your only regret will be not asking sooner.]

Rather than drone on and on about the details, I’ve included some photos below (with captions) from the event. It was a dream to have partnered with Joan, and Heritage Bakery & Cafe to bring my brush calligraphy workshop to Taipei. It means a lot that I was able to do this, because Taiwan is where my calligraphy journey began - it was back in the summer of 2015, while I was living in Taiwan that I decided to teach myself brush calligraphy/lettering! In a way, it’s come full circle. I’m so grateful.

I’d love to help you host your own Tea & calligraphy workshop / event - click here for private workshop info & rates!

Start with the basics | Real-time brush lettering [Video]

This post contains affiliate links. Which, just means I may receive a small commission if you decide to make a purchase via these links. I only recommend products I personally use and love. Your support is appreciated!

Do you know about the basic strokes that make up modern calligraphy? It's a set of shapes and building blocks that serve as an introduction to drawing letterforms.

When I first started lettering, I didn't have the slightest clue about these basic strokes and attempted (unsuccessfully) to practice brush calligraphy with every brush pen I could find, thinking I just didn't have the right pen.

Tools | Faber-Castell PITT Artist Brush Pen, Rhodia dot grid pad

Music | Chasing the Sun by Nick Petrov via hooksounds.com

It wasn’t until I realized there was a “formula” to learning brush calligraphy that I started seeing improvement in my letter formations. The "right" pen doesn't make the artist/calligrapher. Starting with the basics and practicing good habits gives you the confidence to experiment with different pens, mediums, and styles that once weren't "right" for you.

There is no “fast-track” to achieving your own whimsical, signature modern calligraphy style. Sure, you can start off by emulating others, but to truly develop your own unique style requires hours of consistent practice - experimenting with different letter formations, studying different styles, and a whole lot of trial and error.

As long as you have mastered the basics, you'll be able to master whatever tool you pick up - be it the brush pen, pointed pen, or even a paint/water brush. Your style possibilities will be endless!

Ready for the basics? Join me for a workshop or download my beginner’s guide to brush calligraphy to start practicing at home and check back in the coming weeks for a video tutorial all about the basic strokes!