Meet the Maker: Hand Letterer Milly Withers
Milly Withers lives on the south coast of England in sunny Bournemouth. By day Milly is a graphic designer for a marketing agency, and by night she’s a hand letterer and small business owner. Her small business, Blink Lettering, sells hand lettered and foiled cards, prints, and gifts over on Etsy. Milly also has a love of sharing lettering videos on Instagram. You can check her out at the below links:
How did you first become interested in Calligraphy, and how long have you practiced for?
I remember when I was about 10 or 11 I had completed the advance spelling tests (no idea how, my spelling is awful now!), which meant that me and a few other people in my class got given some fancy calligraphy pens so we could write the spelling words in different styles.
I loved it, and I’ve always been oddly obsessed with copying other people’s writing styles – my own handwriting is awful! Whizz forwards many years to about 3 years after graduating university when I was working full time as an artworker, and although I enjoyed my job, I was feeling a little fed up of always being on the computer. I wanted to create things that were more hands on. I had already dabbled a bit in book binding, but it took up so much space in our tiny one bed flat.
I think I must have been a little bored one evening and was mindlessly scrolling through Instagram when I found a couple of lettering videos. I was mesmerised, and had an urge to try it! After lots of research I bought myself some brush pens and just jumped straight in. It’s been about 2 years since I first set up my Blink Lettering Instagram account » and I have had so much fun with it!
What is your most favoured pen / drawing medium?
I love the Pentel Brush Sign Pens, these were some of the first pens I bought. The small, semi-flexible nib makes it really easy to get the thick and thin strokes found in calligraphy. I also think the Papermania Metallic Brush Pens » are fab, they just dreamy to letter with, so smooth and have a beautiful finish.
What is your most favoured letterform to draw, and why?
I think if I had to pick one I would go with ‘H’. When ever I pick up a new pen, my go to word to letter is “hello”, so i think I have managed to perfect the letter ‘H’.
Where do you find inspiration?
There is so much awesome talent on Instagram, I would say that has definitely been my main source of inspiration throughout my lettering journey. As well as obsessively watching Youtube videos, and scrolling through Pinterest. I definitely fan girl over a few calligraphers and letterers.
Tell us about a piece of work that you are particularly proud of:
My wedding! It seems like one big blur of making and creating, but I had such a fab time doing it. From designing and making the invites, to hand lettering signage. Oh I also dabbled in paper flower making too!
Another wedding related project that I loved the outcome, was lettering I designed, that was embroidered on the back of a lovely brides leather jacket, that she wore when she was outside for her wedding. Seeing photos of it once it was embroidered were awesome.
What are 3 tips that you would share with a budding Calligrapher?
- Practice, practice practice. Even if it’s just 5 or 10 minutes a day. It’s all about training your hand and arm movement to create the different letterforms.
- Smooth paper is your friend. Textured paper can ruin brush pen nibs! I love Rhodia pads, Layout Paper » or even just A4 Printer Paper » is great.
- Try not to compare yourself to others. Everyone is at different stages of their lettering journey. To see how much you improve over time keep your original pieces, or even take lots of photos. Sometimes I love scrolling all the way to the beginning of my Instagram account, it is super cringey, but I’m so proud how what I have achieved.
I’m literally turning into an ice cube. My hands and feet are always so bloody cold. Whhhhhyyy?! ? • In other news I’m loving these dual tip watercolour pens from @docraftsteam ? they are so lovely to letter with be easy to blend. #cb_fave • #docrafts #watercolourlettering #watercolorpen #calligrafriends #brushletter #letteringcommunity #calligratype #typegang #goodtype #thedailytype #handlettered #calligrabasics #learnlettering #moderncalligraphy #typematters #letteringco #letteringleague #letterattack #typespire #strengthinletters #letterarchive #dorsetteam #modernlettering #letterlove #surelysimplechallenge #scriptlettering #letteringdaily #watercolorlettering #letteringvideo
What’s next for you in 2018?
I have quite a few exciting ideas for next year. At the beginning I’ll be taking a little break, as I’m off to Japan for my honeymoon – although that hasn’t stopped for me researching all the lovely pen shops over there! When I’m back I will be in full work mode in preparation of relaunching my website. I’d love to release my first hand lettered font, which I know will take a lot of time and work, but will hopefully be totally worth it.
I get so many questions from newbies, and I just love helping them out – so I would also love to create some hand lettering workbooks for beginners. From there I’d like to turn these into in-person workshops.
Milly has kindly provided a discount code for our Hobbycraft readers! Get 10% off in the Blink Lettering Etsy Shop » using the code: HOBBY10
(A note from Milly: I will be taking a little break between 16 January and 6 February, so the Blink Lettering shop will be in holiday mode. You can follow me on Instagram » to see what I’ll be getting up to on my time away, it will involve a stationery shop with 12 floors and some other awesome things!)