Self Made Creative: The good, the bad, and the really really hard!

Self Made Creative: The good, the bad, and the really really hard!

I am so excited to bring you the first in a series of articles designed specifically for those of us who did not get a secular education for the skills we are pursuing. Whether you are a Calligrapher, Photographer, or are learning to play piano in your basement, we all have common struggles. Many of us also have similar strengths! In the first article in the series, we will discuss some of the challenges that come with being a #SelfMadeCreative!

Petoskey Michigan's First Calligraphy Workshop

One workshop down, more to come

In September of 2016, I had the wonderful opportunity of teaching my first Modern Calligraphy Workshop in Petoskey, Michigan. I am beyond grateful for this opportunity. It would not have been possible without the following wonderful people who helped to make it such an enjoyable event! Firstly, Jessica from Simply Sweet by Jessica, who not only allowed us to use her beautiful space but also provided the most scrumptious desserts. Rachel and Miranda from Sincerely Ginger were uber supportive and helped make everything so pretty! William from Monarch Garden and Floral Design provided the beautiful flowers. AND last but definitely not least Alexandra from A. Meyers Photo and Design captured these lovely shots! 

Now a little bit about the workshop:

I am just going to give a little introduction but I do believe that pictures speak louder than words, so please browse the selection of pictures below. This was my first time teaching others the art of calligraphy. There were no workshops of this sort where I live when I decided to learn calligraphy. I had to teach myself from resources I could find online. There was so much troubleshooting and second guessing. So organizing a workshop to make learning easier for others has been a long time goal of mine. 

I also really love to connect with people one on one. I have taught various things before, for example, I was a ballet instructor for a number of years, and I also volunteer to conduct bible studies. So to be able to transfer this love of helping others and spreading artistry to the calligraphy world is very close to my heart. I live in Petoskey, in Northern Michigan, and it is one of my favorite places in the world. While I love the this community and the Northern Michigan lifestyle, there are times when it can feel isolated, especially when it comes to artistic and cultural outlets. So I am so happy to be planning more classes and providing some fun nights out in the future. 

This class was a dream. The space was beautiful, and we had the best group of ladies and gentlemen who were excited to learn as well as relax and have a good time. Each person walked out with practical instructions, worksheets, and a complete beginner's kit to continue their calligraphy journey. It was so fun to meet people I had previously known only online! 

I have decided to put future workshops on hold this winter. I need to focus on client projects, as well as some personal projects (such as online classes!) in the next few months. However, new classes are in the works for late winter/early spring at Drip Works, in downtown Petoskey, as well as in the Traverse City area! I am also contemplating teaching small intimate classes on a more regular basis in my studio, so if this interests you send me an email! In the meantime, if you don't want to miss out, sign up for my newsletter to be the first to know when new dates and venues open up! This class did sell out and I expect similar enthusiasm for upcoming classes. So to be sure you'll have a seat, add your email below! I promise I will not send you cat memes. Unless of course you want them. In the meantime, check out the pictures from our latest class! 

Silver Fox Calligraphy's Modern Calligraphy Workshop in Petoskey, Michigan
Florals from Monarch Floral and Design at Silver Fox Calligraphy's Modern Calligraphy Workshop in Petoskey, Michigan
Beginner Modern Calligraphy tools for Silver Fox Calligraphy's Modern Calligraphy Workshop in Petoskey, Michigan
Silver Fox Calligraphy's Modern Calligraphy Workshop in Petoskey, Michigan
Ciarra Rouwhorst demonstrating modern calligraphy techniques at Silver Fox Calligraphy's Modern Calligraphy Workshop in Petoskey, Michigan
Ciarra Rouwhort assisting students at Silver Fox Calligraphy's Modern Calligraphy Workshop in Petoskey, Michigan
Ciarra Rouwhorst teaching at Silver Fox Calligraphy's Modern Calligraphy Workshop in Petoskey, Michigan
Student at Silver Fox Calligraphy's Modern Calligraphy Workshop in Petoskey, Michigan
Ciarra Rouwhorst (Instructor) at Silver Fox Calligraphy's Modern Calligraphy Workshop in Petoskey, Michigan
Ciarra Rouwhorst assisting a student at Silver Fox Calligraphy's Modern Calligraphy Workshop in Petoskey, Michigan
Students at Silver Fox Calligraphy's Modern Calligraphy Workshop in Petoskey, Michigan
Ciarra Rouwhorst assisting students at Silver Fox Calligraphy's Modern Calligraphy Workshop in Petoskey, Michigan
Silver Fox Calligraphy's Modern Calligraphy Workshop at Simply Sweet by Jessica, in Petoskey, Northern Michigan

Looking Back On One Year Of Lettering: Talent Vs. Skill

Hello Friends, 

As I am writing this post, I am a bit in disbelief. Last week I realized that I was coming up on the one year anniversary of the first post on my instagram feed. Now, as a little disclaimer, I had posted a few photos before this one, and they have been long since deleted because they were so shameful. But I did keep some of my early work on my feed as a reminder of where I began. In this post I will share some of my early Instagram images as well as some insight on what it takes to improve in your skills, be it in calligraphy, or anything else. 

About one year ago, my husband and I relocated back to beautiful Northern Michigan. We had lived out of state for a few years, but were very happy to come back to Petoskey, a quaint town on a beautiful bay of Lake Michigan. With this fresh start, my ever supportive husband encouraged me to do something creative for work, and offered to support us for a year so that I could get some education, acquire a new skill and start a business. Well, I must say that a year ago, I didn't really think that it was possible. I started out thinking I would start a little Etsy shop, and did, and it was horrible. I really hadn't developed any skills yet, I didn't know how to market myself and basically, I had no direction. Then I discovered hand lettering and calligraphy. 

 

One of my first attempts at calligraphy. A stiff pointed nib, and a random dish filled with fountain pen ink. 

One of my first attempts at calligraphy. A stiff pointed nib, and a random dish filled with fountain pen ink. 

The Early Days

Here is one of my very first attempts of pointed pen calligraphy. A friend had given me a calligraphy set and there were some ball point style pointed nibs. Very stiff, but different from anything I had tried before. This led me down the internet rabbit hole of calligraphy discovery. I read everything I could get my hands on. I subscribed to blogs, took online classes, and PRACTICED. 

One of my first attempts at hand lettering. I think I tried to sell this on Etsy. There are so many glaring imperfections in this, but you have to start somewhere. Side note, I would never try to sell this today!

One of my first attempts at hand lettering. I think I tried to sell this on Etsy. There are so many glaring imperfections in this, but you have to start somewhere. Side note, I would never try to sell this today!

The above picture is one of my first attempts at hand lettering. When I look at images of my beginning work, it is both humbling and inspiring. I am hoping that by sharing this little glimpse with you, it can encourage you a bit too. Because EVERYONE has to start somewhere. No one is going to be a pro when they begin learning any new skill. 

I started using a Nikko G Nib, and Rhodia Dot Pad. This was about the time I started taking Calligraphy classes on Skillshare.

I started using a Nikko G Nib, and Rhodia Dot Pad. This was about the time I started taking Calligraphy classes on Skillshare.

Talent Vs. Skill

The Talent Myth:

I am going to share something with you that I feel very strongly about. One comment that I often hear when I share my work with people outside of the hand lettering/calligraphy community is, "You are so talented, I could never do that." Well, quite honestly I don't believe that's true. Webster's dictionary defines talent as: a special ability that allows someone to do something well. Guess what guys? I am NOT talented. Saying that an artist is talented can imply that it must, somehow, be easier for them, that their skills just come naturally. And this idea can make people feel like they must not be able to achieve what others can. If someone becomes frustrated because learning a new skill is harder than they thought, they can easily think, 'well, I'm just not talented enough.' I feel like this is an over generalization that can discount the work that people put into their craft. Calligraphy did not come easily to me. I am left handed for one, and I struggled. I even tried to teach myself how to do calligraphy with my right hand. Not only was that an epic fail, but also extremely frustrating. I had so many hard days where I felt like I would never be at the place I wanted to be. And in all honesty, I still feel that way sometimes. This was also true with drawing. For years I loved drawing and painting... but was also really bad at it! It took intentional practice and critique to improve. And that is how it will always be, constant improvement and practice. 

Skill:

Webster's Dictionary defines a Skill as the ability to do something that comes from training, experience, and practice. Calligraphy, illustration and design are all skills. While it may be true that some people may need to work harder than others, to get better at anything will require training, experience and practice. To me this thought can be both inspiring and daunting. Yes, I believe that anyone can do calligraphy. I think that everyone should try! But, it does require work. It means you will have to schedule time to practice. It means you need to develop an eye for inconsistencies. It means you will need to learn from your mistakes. It means that you will need a little bit of grit to push through all of the bad work, to be able to make thing things that you can be proud of. BUT, it means that you can do it. 

Coming Up Next:

In the next couple of blog articles I will be sharing some of the things that helped me to grow the most in my fist year of learning calligraphy, and starting a business. If you don't want to miss these tips, and insights please sign up for my news letter by filling out the little form below!