What is your background and when did your passion for calligraphy begin?
I actually studied English and Information Design, calligraphy came into my life at a later time. I was always interested in words and language and admired lettering artists. I wanted to create works of art with words and soon realized that fonts just wouldn't cut it, so I had to start calligraphy. And I just never stopped!
Who / Where do you take your inspiration from?
Everyday life, mostly. I write down what I think and feel. That can be just a word that describes my mood, or a sentence relating to my current state of mind.
What, in your opinion, is the hardest and the most rewarding parts of working in a creative industry?
The hardest part is definitely getting your work out there and acquiring clients. There aren't that many people who need calligraphic services in a small country like Austria and finding them or getting them to find you is tough!
The most rewarding part is the work itself. I zone out when writing and enter a peaceful state of mind that I enjoy so much. It's also hugely rewarding to hear and read positive feedback. Since so much of creative work is pouring yourself into you work, that is so valuabe.
Do you have a favourite style?
Probably the more loose, less strict variations of Copperplate. I also love heavily flourished capitals you can find in ornamental penmanship and Gothic Italic as well as Fraktur. Oops, that was more than one.
What are the most exciting projects you have worked on and what are you working on at the moment?
One of the most exciting projects was the pitch (I won it) for the certificates for patrons of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra. That was amazing. Writing my books (book 2 is being published at the end of June 2020) and filming my online class was definitely among the more nerve-wrecking things. And on-site calligraphy is always exciting and rewarding, that's probably my favourite kind of client work.
At the moment (April 2020) I'm working on crisis management and how to keep my business alive during the COVID-pandemic.
How does your work relate to your everyday life?
I mostly work during "regular“ work hours since I'm a morning person, but there are some exceptions to that, for instance when I travel for classes or do on-site events.
In my spare time, I also do calligraphy. It can be confusing even for me – sometimes I'm uncertain if what I'm doing is for work or for fun. The line is very blurry. But as long as I'm enjoying it, I don't really care that much.
What are your favourite tools to use?
Pointed nibs in an oblique pen holder!
What would your advice be to people new to the creative industry and any tips on how to get started?
Start slowly and save money. Do not underestimate administrative tasks. Bookkeeping, taxes, writing invoices and all that takes a lot of time away from your actual work. Know what you're doing and what you are worth. Think of pricing and do not offer your services cheaper than others in your industry, because that will hurt everyone in the end. And don't forget why you're doing it – because you love it (at least I hope so)! :)
To see more of Sharifas work you can follow her on Instagram and remember to follow @manuscriptpenco on Social Media where we will be showcasing Natascha's work throughout the month.