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February Artist of the Month...The Graceful Pen Studio

Meet our new Artist of the Month...Angenise Rawls. From a small city in Ohio, Angenise started The Graceful Pen Studio after being inspired to take up calligraphy after a long break. Read on to find out more...

What is your background and when did your passion for Calligraphy and Lettering begin?

I am a calligraphy artist residing in a small city in Ohio in the United States. My passion for calligraphy began before I even learnt it. My sixth grade English teacher taught me Italic calligraphy, but even before then I would practice beautiful letterforms when I saw them. I would notice them on billboards, trucks, in books and memorise them so I could practice when I got home. I started making cards for friends and family up until eighth grade. For some reason, I stopped and didn’t return to calligraphy until 2004, when my pastor gave me a set of pens she found in the historical church building she’d recently bought.


Who / Where do you take your inspiration from?

Oh, I am inspired by so many things: nature walks, murals, books, interior design and paintings. Some artists that I really admire are Anne Elser, Veronica Halim, Heather McKelvey, Younghae Chung, Erica McPhee, Melissa Esplin, Esther Peck, Malka Klein, Victoria Rothwell, and so many others. I love all things vintage, but I love modern as well. I’m smitten with anything metallic and with textures and patterns.

What in your opinion is the hardest and the most rewarding parts of working in a creative industry?

Wow. This is a tough question to answer. For me, the hardest part of being creative is finding balance between taking care of my family and growing my business. There seems to be a constant struggle in my mind - do the dishes, clean the house, wash the laundry, take the kids to school versus doing all the creative things that come to mind. The most rewarding part of working in a creative industry for me has been the sense of community I’ve found on Instagram and seeing so much variety in possibilities for using the gift of calligraphy. 


Do you have a favourite style?

 My current favourite styles are Copperplate and Spencerian.

What are the most exciting projects you have worked on and what are you working on at the moment?

My most exciting project was to create a 60x40 wedding program on a mirror. Currently, I am working on a myriad of things - honing my floral drawing skills, creating a collection of handmade cards, and preparing to teach a logo design course for an online calligraphy academy I’m a part of.

How does your work relate to your everyday life?

I feel like being creative has allowed me to see life from a different perspective, to be more open and to also be patient. I’ve learned to be more patient with myself - in my journey and when I make mistakes - through being an artist. I’ve also learned to see outside the box because I never saw myself using calligraphy beyond paper and ink years ago, and now I have been able to use my calligraphy for freehand engraving on glass, as well as creating glass and wood signage.


What are your favourite tools to use?

Don’t get me started here - I’m one of those people who love all the tools and doing all the things to the point where I have to tighten the reigns on myself! I have fallen in love with metallic inks, using my hot foiling pen and freehand engraving with an engraver.

What would your advice be to people new to the creative industry and any tips on how to get started?

My advice to new creatives would be to remember who you are along your journey, so that you don’t feel intimidated by others. Learn from as many people as possible, but never forget what drew you to become an artist. Use what you’ve learned to follow your own path and don’t be afraid to make mistakes, to go slow or to pivot if necessary. 

Getting started: just start! Don’t wait to have everything all together. I know people who have started and don’t have a website. Everyone doesn’t have to have an Etsy shop. Find what works for you. Test the waters, and if you don’t like something, it’s alright to go in a different direction. Definitely, most important, I advise getting your business name copyrighted. If you have a hard time coming up with a business name, do some research. Your business name doesn’t necessarily have to be your name. Be creative. If you do want to set up a website from the get-go, research different platforms to see what’s best for you. I currently use Squarespace because it gives me a lot of latitude to design it the way I like without having to know code. Also, I would say to keep things simple at first. There’s no need to try to design a ton of different things if you don’t feel led to do so. You can be successful with one product or service. Take business courses to learn the business side of things if you don’t have any business background. I highly recommend Heather O’Brien of Cultivated Creative or Victoria Rothwell of Design House of Moira.


To see more of Angenise's work you can follow her on Instagram. Remember to follow @manuscriptpenco on Social Media where we will be showcasing his work throughout the month.