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Wednesday, June 17, 2020

A Freelance Gig Worth Considering: Calligrapher

Before you start laughing, remember that the former Duchess of Sussex worked as a calligrapher between acting gigs.  There's also famed artist Tyrus Wong, whose typography skills were used on a number of album covers and various other mediums.  What it comes down to is if you've got a steady hand, creative mind, are willing to market yourself as the next big functional artist, and require a low start-up cost, this may work for you.

One thing to consider is that originality sells.  If you check out these famous calligraphers/typographers, you'll see the styles stand out from the droopy black ink script we all saw growing up.  Use of color, spacing, pen stroke curvature, and other features can sell in a number of environments.  Some of these look better than computer-generated art used to promote events.

While schools have gotten away from teaching students how to write in cursive, some styles incorporate a modified block.  In other words, you don't have to start with the fundamentals.  One of the best pieces of advice a newbie can use is to look at others work for inspiration.  In the meantime, a single fountain calligraphy pen is great for practice.  However, if you feel more confident about your artistic skills, a quality pen and ink set can be purchased at a reasonable price (like less than $20).



Once you've developed a style that has received positive feedback, you can use social media to show off your gallery of specs.  If you're submitting to a company for freelance work, a site with a personal domain that uploads quickly is best.  Going with a Behance or other known art gallery site account in addition to a 3rd party site can't hurt (and you just don't yet have the ends to buy a domain). Here are more tips for fine-tuning your craft.

Specs (or samples) can be tailored for every occasion. Some works may be more suitable for non-formal events or you may want to stick to creating a personalized brand for a site or individual.  Going the fine art route may earn you more cheddar over time but it may be harder to market initially.  Trends change and so do tastes, so going against the norm may actually work for you.  If you happen to be handy with a chalk set as well, this is the perfect way to diversify your current skillset.

If you live in an area that normally (sans COVID) has a lot of live events, you can introduce yourself to the planning team and make a modest offer in exchange for exposure.  Like I said, this is something that requires thought and a promotional plan for getting new clients.  However, if you find that you're good, don't be shy about showing off!

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