Your Mission. Your Voice. Take a peek inside my process for creating, lettering, and designing these passion posters for Voice A Story Magazine.

Your mission. Your voice.

On creating visual passion statements for Voice A Story Magazine.

 

Just over a month ago, I had the pleasure of sharing some of my favorite hand lettering work to date with the world through Voice A Story Magazine. If you don’t know, I am lucky to be the Creative Director of this digital magazine, so in addition to creating it’s very first physical product to sell in collaboration with South Ranch Creative, I also design each quarterly issue, create marketing graphics and images, and keep the website looking sleek and up-to-date.

 

WHOAH, you’re thinking. She’s got a LOT of passion for this company. And you’re right. My work as Creative Director for this magazine is currently 100% pro bono because the mission behind this magazine, this movement, is both powerful and necessary. And that’s where this whole idea started. The mission statement of Voice A Story magazine is as follows:

 

We are a magazine devoted to telling worthwhile and relevant stories, conducting thoughtful interviews, and publishing excellent fiction, poetry, and art without the media biased lens of what is or is not "news." We think people should able to define their own news based on things that really matter to them, rather than what the media thinks is sexy, dramatic, or contentious. Our goal is to point people to news and stories that matter. But we want to do more than that. For every issue of our magazine that is purchased, we donate one dollar to a hand picked nonprofit that’s helping give others a voice or bringing a voice to an issue. It is our belief that the best stories are the ones that have not yet been told, and we promise to do our best to provide the most relevant content on things that really matter, whether it is mainstream news or not. - Voice A Story Magazine

 

We are a magazine devoted to telling worthwhile and relevant stories, conducting thoughtful interviews, and publishing excellent fiction, poetry, and art without the media biased lens of what is or is not “news.” We think people should able to define their own news based on things that really matter to them, rather than what the media thinks is sexy, dramatic, or contentious. Our goal is to point people to news and stories that matter. But we want to do more than that.

 

For every issue of our magazine that is purchased, we donate one dollar to a hand picked nonprofit that’s helping give others a voice or bringing a voice to an issue. It is our belief that the best stories are the ones that have not yet been told, and we promise to do our best to provide the most relevant content on things that really matter, whether it is mainstream news or not.

 

The idea.

 

I created this visual mission statement for Voice A Story because I wanted the mission statement to not only tell of our passion and dreams, but show it. A visual portrayal of emphasis, passion, dedication, and most importantly, flaws was built to prove to readers that we mean what we say and we mean. We are here to share stories that matter from people and charities that have something powerful to say.

 

Our mission statement simmered in the back of my mind for weeks, as I continued to feel empowered by its message. I thought to myself, why not bring this same message of empowerment to our readers, our contributors, our supporters? To our adventurers, our storytellers, our activists, and our dreamers? That is the heart and soul of Voice A Story.

 

Process shot of hand lettering Voice A Story Magazine's Mission Statement. I created this visual mission statement for Voice A Story because I wanted the mission statement to not only tell of our passion and dreams, but show it. A visual portrayal of emphasis, passion, dedication, and most importantly, flaws was built to prove to readers that we mean what we say and we mean. We are here to share stories that matter from people and charities that have something powerful to say.

 

Putting our mission into action.

 

I set out excitedly sharing this idea with Voice A Story’s Founder and Editor-In-Chief, Ryan. With the rest of the VAS team, we set out to collaboratively write four passion statements for the adventurer, storyteller, activist, and dreamer. It has a little bit of all of us in it, and we hope it speaks to you too. These missions are both utterly personal and globally understood. We find commonality in our deepest convictions, where we can acknowledge our differences but see the beauty and strength in this thing we both feel.

 

These passion statements were written entirely by hand, with minimal retouching for prints. Because for me, it is important to recognize the inherent power in our very fingertips. That, while they may have flaws or hit a few bumps along the way, have the incredible power to create and feel and build. That we don’t need computer and technology and money to be fulfilled. We need passion and humility and creation.

 

Inspiration is a powerful tool because it allows us to see that we are the masters of our life, and thus we have the ability to shift and shape it into something good, something meaningful, something better than what came before.

 

 

So which are you?

 

You may notice that the four pillars of Voice A Story relate strongly to the core of South Ranch Creative: create. dream. explore. act. So it was incredibly difficult for me to say that I am not every one of these things! Let’s be real, most of us are probably at LEAST two and I know that in my own way I AM all of these things and more!

 

The print that kept me coming back, though, was the activist print. I praise many of the wise words of my friend Sara in this statement, for she (and we) were able to touch on everything I care about in six little sentences. Because activism is about donating or volunteering for nonprofits. It’s about the deeply felt belief that you are an equal being to every other on this planet. It’s about the feeling of obligation to lift up those who are down, in trust that you will be lifted up when you need it. It’s about humility and service and using your voice. Creation, art, crafts, design. Those are all tools for me to act. To be the person I want to be and help others do the same.

 

The print that kept me coming back, though, was the activist print. I praise many of the wise words of my friend Sara in this statement, for she (and we) were able to touch on everything I care about in six little sentences. Because activism is about donating or volunteering for nonprofits. It’s about the deeply felt belief that you are an equal being to every other on this planet. It’s about the feeling of obligation to lift up those who are down, in trust that you will be lifted up when you need it. It’s about humility and service and using your voice. Creation, art, crafts, design. Those are all tools for me to act. To be the person I want to be and help others do the same.

 


Which are you? The activist? The storyteller? The adventurer? The dreamer? Are you all four or something else entirely? I’d love to hear your story and which poster resonates both with you. They are available for purchase here so check them out along with our latest issue of the magazine! For a limited time, you can bundle issue 04 (our most recent issue) with a passion print of your choosing to get the ultimate passion package deal! That deal is available here and you can feel great about your purchase because $1 of every current magazine purchase goes to our featured charity of that issue. Issue 04’s featured charity is Far Away Friends, a brilliant and youthful nonprofit that just put the finishing touches on a school they built from the ground up in Namasale, Uganda.

 

So my adventures, my activists, my storytellers, my dreamers, and my CREATIVES, never stop looking for your passion and working towards the reality of it. You may just surprise yourself when you make it.



Stay creative. Stay you.

-B

 

Your Mission. Your Voice. Take a peek inside my process for creating, lettering, and designing these passion posters for Voice A Story Magazine.
A starting point for beginners in the quest to learning the tricks and tools of modern calligraphy. Includes exact supplies and suggestions on where to buy!

An Introduction to Modern Calligraphy Basics: The Tools

This lesson aims to teach the basics and “need-to-knows” about beginning modern calligraphy, which has seen a huge resurgence in popularity over the past couple years in everything from weddings to logos to home decor. One of my goals for the new year is to start posting more tutorials on the blog for creative individuals at the beginner level. This doesn’t mean you have to be an artist or designer to follow them (though of course you are welcome if you are!), just a creative-minded individual who’s doodled in their notebook a time or two.

 

So let’s get started.

 

What does modern calligraphy even mean?

Modern calligraphy put simply uses the techniques and materials of traditional calligraphy (pen holder, nibs, ink, etc.) but doesn’t follow the strict guidelines as to how to write in different script styles (such as Copperplate, Roman, or Spencerian). In modern calligraphy, you can make up any style you like!

 

For this tutorial, I will be focusing on pointed-pen modern calligraphy, which means that thick and thin lines are created by the pressure you put the nib to the paper as you write rather than the direction and angle you hold the pen. This type of calligraphy requires a certain type of nib. Which brings me to…

 

A starting point for beginners in the quest to learning the tricks and tools of modern calligraphy.

What on Earth do I need to get started doing modern calligraphy?

I know other calligraphers who swear by certain supplies might hate me for saying this, but from my own experience first starting out and trying new things, the exact materials you use don’t bear a huge amount of significance. I purchased the cheapo Speedball oblique pen calligraphy kit from Amazon and still use it today! There’s no point in buying expensive materials to start out if you come to decide that you don’t like modern calligraphy at all! One possible exception to this rule is ink. Your average craft store will likely only have a few kinds, mainly dominated by small containers of Speedball ink in different colors, which I’ve personally found to be awful probably because they’ve been sitting on the shelves for quite some time and have separated and hardened. Others swear by Speedball ink. I will tell you all the supplies that I use, but I encourage you to play around and try your own materials!

 

This list contains all the supplies I use for practicing modern calligraphy. You do not need all of it to get started! Even if you don’t have any of the supplies yet, you can get started with just a soft pencil (preferably not mechanical) and some printer paper and just start practicing the movements and the letterforms!


All the supplies listed below are linked to one of my preferred sites for buying art supplies. I would suggest checking a few for the lowest price before purchasing! If I don’t buy in-store, I typically purchase from one of the following: Amazon, Plaza Art, Paper & Ink Arts, or DickBlick. For simplicity, I’ve linked all the items to a listing on Amazon as every item can be found there, but it’s not necessarily the lowest price!

 

Ink/Paint

Higgins Eternal Black Ink: Higgins Eternal is a classic and well known calligraphy ink that is great for practice and those just starting out! Speedball Super Black India Ink is also a common starter ink that I’ve tried and have had decent success with.

Holbein Artists’ Gouache (in various colors): Gouache is one of my absolute favorite mediums to use. It is a paint that I liken most closely to watercolor with its ability to be watered down and used as a beautiful ink! It has a beautifully matte finish and comes in vivid colors. My favorites are pearl gold, jet black, and turquoise green but I also have the primary CMYK set which I use frequently as well.

There’s endless amounts of ink and paints out there to use and practice with, but I recommend you start with a black liquid ink. Mixing the right amount of water and gouache, water and watercolor, or water and an ink stick can be tricky business if you’re new to it, and it will help with troubleshooting problems if you don’t have to add ink to the potential problem list!

Paper

Rhodia Dot Pad 16.5” x 12.5”: I absolutely love my Rhodia dot pads and graph paper. The paper works great with the inks I’ve specified above and doesn’t buckle or get caught on the smooth paper. I purchased this large pad because I’m one of those people that hates to rip pages out of a sketchbook and I can fit in tons of practice on a single page with this size. That means I spend less time waiting around for the ink to dry before I can fold back the page and start on a new one.

Borden & Riley #37 Bright White Translucent Bond Paper: This paper is great if you prefer a dot or line-free paper to practice on. I simply use a sheet of pre-lined graph paper underneath that shows through the translucent paper to use as a guide for writing. Or, if I’m looking to create a looser style, I use no grid at all. It’s extra important on this paper to use a spare sheet of paper under your hand to protect the paper as you write. Any spare blank printer paper will do. Although I recommend doing this with any paper you are writing on, I’ve found this one to be especially sensitive to the oils in your hand which can cause weird things to happen when you write over it like the ink not appearing to “stick” to the paper.

8×8 to the inch Gridded Graph Paper: I recommend graph paper that has 8×8 squares to the inch because it forms a great and proportional guide for practicing calligraphy. You can practice straight on the paper (if it works with calligraphy ink) or use it under your translucent paper as a guide. Unfortunately the squares on the Rhodia pads are not to this scale, but the great thing about modern calligraphy is that you can make up the rules to the proportions and height of your letters to fit whatever style you like!

Nibs

Hunt 101

Tachikawa G

Nikko G

These are the three nibs I’ve used most frequently since beginning my exploration into pointed pen calligraphy. Now I’m far from an expert on nibs (there are literally thousands of different kinds), but I tend to like slightly more flexible nibs because they allow for wider strokes with less pressure. The Hunt 101 is probably the most flexible of the nibs, then the Tachikawa G, then the Nikko G. The Nikko and Tachikawa produce very crisp lines. The Hunt 101 can be very fun and create a lot of personality in the writing, but can sometimes be a little finicky releasing ink.

Penholder

Speedball Oblique Penholder

Speedball Straight Penholder

These is the cheapest, most basic black plastic pen holder you will probably come by and I’ve used them exclusively as I’ve been learning and teaching myself calligraphy. Bottom line: they work, they’re easy to clean, and they’re cheap. If you tend to get clammy hands like I do, you may want to look for a wood or higher quality penholder in the long run because this slick plastic could get slippery. Still, I would recommend it for beginners because of the price unless you know this is something you will be interested in for the long term.

The oblique holder I use for all my pointed pen (flex nib) calligraphy and the straight holder I use for all my italic (flat nib) calligraphy. The oblique holder looks scary, but it allows you to write at the proper angle to create thick and thin strokes. To my left handed friends: the oblique versus straight pen scenario is not so cut and dry for you. I have heard of people using the straight pen for what a right handed person would use an oblique pen for, but I’ve also seen others use the oblique pen fine. My recommendation is to get one of each and try out what you feel most comfortable with. I will be going over how to hold the pen in part II of this lesson.

Other

Staedtler Mars Technico Lead Holder (and lead!): I love my Staedtler and it’s a great pencil, but honestly any pencil will do fine. When it comes to calligraphy, I’m only using this to create my grid lines on my dot pad or graph paper.

Palomino Blackwing Pencil: Another instance where I have found a specific brand I like, but any will do. A non-mechanical pencil that is HB or softer works great for practicing calligraphy before you even get your supplies. You can practice the motions and the letterforms and even the thick and thin strokes by pressing down hard or light as you’re writing.

Small Inkwell: When I first started calligraphy, I was brushing the ink or paint onto my nib with a brush because the vial, dish, or container I was drawing my ink from was either too large to dip into (I always ended up getting ink all over my holder) or too shallow to dip in. This may seem like an exaggeration and I promise you it’s not, but the best move I ever made was getting a small vial to keep my ink in so that I could dip my pens rather than brushing the ink on. It saves loads of time and frustration with trying to brush with your non-dominant hand and you don’t have to have your whole ink bottle open and drying out as you work. Any tiny plastic or glass container will do, but I recommend buying one made for calligraphy as it will be the perfect height to dip in your nib but not too far and should come with a lid for easy transport!

Small plastic pipette: A necessary addition to using an inkwell. There would be nothing worse than trying to pour from a huge ink bottle into a tiny vial and losing about half your ink when you spill it everywhere. Trust me.

Scrap Paper: To use as a guard to protect your paper from your hand as you work. Plain printer paper works great.

Paper towel or small scrap towel: To wipe up any spills, clean your nib, wipe your fingers on. I promise you will use this in some way or another, particularly as you are learning to use your tools.

Adjustable Table Lamp: Not a necessity, but can be helpful to have a consistent light source! I recommend an adjustable table lamp so that you can place it in the proper position as to not create any shadows where you are writing. For someone right-handed, you want to position the lamp in the left upper corner of your workspace pointing towards your hand. That way as you write, your hand or penholder won’t cast a shadow over where you are writing.

Ruler: For drawing grid lines. I love my metal, cork-bottomed ruler. I recommend a 12 or 18 inch ruler. I use 18” because it’s big enough for my Rhodia dot pad but small enough to not be unwieldy.

 

Overwhelmed yet? I hope not! As I said at the beginning, don’t panic that you don’t know or have the perfect supplies yet; all that will come in time. Luckily, it is easy to find cheap, beginner materials that work great and many that are of great quality. Starting out in modern calligraphy is not a huge investment, so don’t feel the pressure to get everything perfect like I did!



If you’re still feeling a bit lost or uncomfortable, the materials I use specifically for the upcoming tutorial are as follows: 2 ½ fl.oz. Higgins Eternal Black Ink, Tachikawa G nib, Speedball Oblique Penholder, Staedtler Mars Technico mechanical pencil, Dinky Dips inkwell with wood holder, and the last five items under “Other” section (no specific brand although I hear that Bounty is in fact the quilted, quicker picker-upper).

 

A starting point for beginners in the quest to learning the tricks and tools of modern calligraphy.

What’s next?

Next week, I will teach you the basics of holding the pen, practicing basic forms, and writing your first alphabet with modern calligraphy! So gather your supplies, and leave any questions in the comments so I can get back to you before we begin!

Keep learning.
-B

Quotes that Matter Monday | Charlie Kaufman | "People are starving. They may not know it because they’re being fed mass produced garbage. The packaging is colourful and loud, but it’s produced in the same factories that make Pop Tarts and iPads, by people sitting around thinking, ‘What can we do to get people to buy more of these?’"

Quotes that Matter Monday – People are Starving

This is important. This lecture and quote are supposed to be about screenwriting but it applies to everyone. It really does. It’s a necessary excursion from the hum of daily life that we find ourselves trapped in. I actually listened to twice back to back. And then later a third time to write down quotes. I reconize I am a little crazy for that, and I know I’m a little behind because it’s from 2011 but that’s okay. You can read a transcript of the full lecture here or listen to it at the bottom of this post.

Charlie Kaufman, Screenwriters Lecture (September 2011)

 

“Here’s a recent quote that I found: ‘We do not talk, we bludgeon one another with facts and theories gleaned from cursory readings of newspapers, magazines and digests.’ That was actually written in 1945 by Henry Miller and I think it’s timely. I think what it says is that the world has been on its present course for a long time. People all over the world spend countless hours of their lives every week being fed entertainment in the form of movies, TV shows, newspapers, YouTube videos and the internet. And it’s ludicrous to believe that this stuff doesn’t alter our brains.

 

It’s also equally ludicrous to believe that – at the very least – this mass distraction and manipulation is not convenient for the people who are in charge. People are starving. They may not know it because they’re being fed mass produced garbage. The packaging is colourful and loud, but it’s produced in the same factories that make Pop Tarts and iPads, by people sitting around thinking, ‘What can we do to get people to buy more of these?’

 

And they’re very good at their jobs. But that’s what it is you’re getting, because that’s what they’re making. They’re selling you something. And the world is built on this now. Politics and government are built on this, corporations are built on this. Interpersonal relationships are built on this. And we’re starving, all of us, and we’re killing each other, and we’re hating each other, and we’re calling each other liars and evil because it’s all become marketing and we want to win because we’re lonely and empty and scared and we’re led to believe winning will change all that. But there is no winning.” –Charlie Kaufman

 

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/45290206″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

 

Live intentionally,
-B