Meet the Maker: Kelly Klapstein

Hand lettering and calligraphy are trends that are set to stick around well in to 2019… It’s a great versatile craft that can be used on all manner of craft projects from card making to scrapbooking, ceramics to embroidery, the possibilities are endless! If you’ve been itching to have a go and master the technique, Kelly Klapstein’s new collection, Kelly Creates, is the perfect place to start!  

We caught up with Kelly to find out what first interested her in the art form, how she developed her writing system and what her top tips are for hand lettering success!

What first piqued your interest in calligraphy and brush lettering?

I was on Instagram and watched a brush pen video three and a half years ago. I went into my studio and opened up a box of brush pens I had bought but never used and sat down to write. A calm descended and my practice became quite meditative. That was the beginning of my love affair with calligraphy. Soon after, I realized I had to teach people how to do this and feel relaxed.

Where did you learn your art form?

I am self-taught. When I started using a brush pen, I searched for resources online but there weren’t many. I found a few websites, read about traditional copperplate calligraphy, and practiced daily until I improved. Because there weren’t many resources I decided to make my own (always a teacher!) and my online digital worksheet business launched a year later.

Are there any calligraphers or hand letterers that inspire you?

There are SO many amazingly talented calligraphers and lettering artists that inspire me! Seb Lester is probably at the top. I’m a big fan of Paul Antonio, Suz Cunningham, Nina Tran and Kei Haniya who all work with pointed pen. As for brush pen calligraphers and hand letterers, I really admire Sharisse DeLeon, Molly Knabel (Poppy & Mint Design), and Elizabeth Wise (Wise Design).

There has been a huge resurgence in all things hand lettering in the past couple of years. Have you found there are particular fonts or styles that come in and go out of fashion?

Styles of calligraphy can really vary from person to person, unless the artist is practicing a definitive hand or script, like Spencerian. Brush pen calligraphy seems to have more variations, but I would say a ‘classic’ style seems to have the most permanence.

What interested you about lettering by hand as opposed to lettering digitally?

Lettering, art, and crafting are all about unplugging and working with your hands. There is tremendous satisfaction and joy when you express yourself with paper, pens, brushes and paint. You leave a permanent mark on the physical world.

Have you found that your signature style is constantly evolving? Or do you try to keep it the same and develop new font variations?

My signature style is always getting more refined in terms of technique but probably won’t change much overall. I do try to experiment and play with other lettering styles with my brush pens and also markers.

How does the system you’ve created help beginners learn the art of hand lettering and calligraphy?

My educational calligraphy program helps people learn by breaking down the letters stroke by stroke. Also, the repetitive tracing of forms, letters and words allows muscle memory to build. I find that most people experience success with this method.

What are your hand lettering essentials (top-tips/tools etc)?

A good quality brush pen that has a nice flex and comes back to a point is an essential, along with very smooth practice paper that has guidelines (grid or dot or lined). The correct grip on the pen, holding it high on the barrel at a low angle to the paper (not upright) is very important too. Probably my top recommendation is patience…this skill takes a lot of time to learn and we all progress at different rates, so avoid comparing yourself to others. My Learn Brush Lettering workbooks will really make a difference in the learning process.

 

What’s the most difficult letter to write? What are your top tips for mastering it?

Ironically, I would say that the letter ‘k’ is the most difficult to write, both lowercase and uppercase. As with all letters, focusing on the strokes that make up the letter K and practicing the breakdown of those strokes will help with mastery.

Is there one word that you love to write time and again?

“Love” is a beautiful word to write. “Beauty” is another one. Any word with lots of curves and ovals is usually very pretty.

What’s next for 2018/19?

Coming up in 2019 is some international workshop travel outside of North America. I will be writing another book (can’t reveal the title yet), and definitely more amazing hand lettering products are in development with American Crafts.

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