Hello everyone - I’m Erin for all who don’t know me!
This month I wanted to talk a little bit about teaching calligraphy - more specifically, me teaching!
I’ve been practicing calligraphy since January 2016 when my husband gifted me introduction to copperplate calligraphy classes with local (and super crazy talented) calligrapher, Joy Deneen (imaginejoy). When he gave me my gift - I was SO EXCITED. Finally, I’d be able to write beautifully like all of those videos I would see on Instagram!
After 3 years of diligent learning I went full-time freelance/business owner! I had taken classes with many different calligraphy teachers by that time (Joy Deneen, Barbara Close, Rachel Yallop, Rick Paulus, Christopher Haanes and Yves Leterme), and helped organize the 38th International Calligraphy Conference held in Sherbrooke, Quebec (Rendez-vous Calligraphie) in Summer 2019, and felt like I wanted a new challenge. Up to that point, I had been working in retail management for 10+ years and needed to do something that I was passionate about. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t scared to start my new career, but I was excited! #bringiton
About 9 months into running my own business, Neilson Letters Calligraphy, focusing mostly on in-store event personalization and weddings, I started getting more and more inquiries asking if I taught. Initially teaching wasn’t in my plan, but I remembered how excited I was when I got gifted my first classes, and I decided that I wanted to be involved in hopefully bringing that feeling and enthusiasm to others as well!
As I prepped for my first students, I was reminded of when I would train new employees at my old job. I had always loved being able to show people how to do things and see the light go on behind their eyes when they finally connected the dots and understood something. I started to get more excited to be able to share my knowledge!
After my first class with my students, I realized I really loved it! It was so much fun sharing my passion with others who were interested. There is only so much information about calligraphy my loving husband cares to listen about, (lol). Even prepping and creating the handouts by hand, and figuring out how to pass along the information, was fun for me.
As I got feedback from students, I realized that I was bringing out more than what I thought when I was teaching them. Some of them told me that calligraphy practice was their only moment of slowing down they had in their whole day. It was their “own thing” that they didn’t have to share with their kids, friends, or partners.
I know that when I began learning, I used the time almost as daily evening meditation. I would choose words to practice that were important to me, or quote that I loved and while I would be writing them, I would think about why I liked them, or what they meant to me. It was my own version of self-love and self care.
I find that now, in this time of uncertainty, I have gone back to this type of “meditation” too, and I think some of my students have as well.
Once some of the physical distancing restrictions begin to lift, I look forward to begin teaching in my home studio again! I miss being able to bring my passion and love of this art form to others. I’m just happy I’m already a stickler for cleanliness in my home, I’ll just have to stock up on Lysol wipes and hand sanitizer!
So here’s to hoping I can re-start teaching soon, and that I’ll be able to welcome new passionate calligraphy students into my home!