Practice Makes Progress | My Calligraphy Journey

Practice Makes Progress | Allocco Design and Crafts

Just over three years ago I embarked on a year-long creative endeavor, Project 52 that honestly changed my life and career path. I teamed up with a handful of others and we challenged ourselves to each develop one creative project a week for one full year. One year. 52 separate visual projects. Lots of learning. Two friends focused on photography. A few others focused on art and mixed media. I dabbled in a few different visual mediums (including Harry Potter themed cupcakes), but by week 52 one thing was clear–I was hooked on letters and calligraphy. My “On This Day” Facebook memories reminded me of my first ever Project 52 piece, a black and white postcard from the Jersey Shore–what I believe is my first official hand lettering piece (we won’t count my elementary school chalkboard bubble letter doodles).

Hand Lettering Jersey Shore | Allocco Design and Crafts

In June I shot my first hand lettering tutorial (coming soon!). What the what? Three years ago, I never thought I’d been doing freelance work. I never thought I’d have my own little work space in Downtown Norfolk. I never thought I’d pick up a calligraphy pen every day.  I never thought I’d fly solo to attend a calligraphy convention (nerd alert!).

I didn’t know I could love a craft so much.

In this post I’m going to share a little more about my lettering progress and journey in hopes that it will encourage you. Maybe you’ve dipped a pen in ink for the first time or maybe you’re picking up a new career, hobby, craft, instrument, yoga pose (I’m working on my crow at the moment). Practice makes progress. I haven’t met perfect. But I’ve met progress. I’m definitely preaching to the choir right now because earlier this week I had a panic moment about whether I was good enough or strong enough and then progress slapped me in the face on my newsfeed. And progress has been a huge motivator.

Beginner Foundational Hand | Allocco Design and Crafts

Italic Calligraphy Progress | Allocco Design and Crafts

A few weeks into Project 52 I bought a Speedball calligraphy kit and used a calligraphy book to guide me as I tried to write in styles that have been perfected by the masters. I also attempted to learn Italian at the time, hence the “abbastanza benes”. Since then, I sat through 12 weeks of Italics classes, an Uncial class and a few months of private classes with the fabulous Betsy to study the broad edged pen and its capabilities. I’ve used these styles for inscriptions to accompany pictures, commissioned calligraphy client work and envelope exchanges. I still have not seen much progress in ink smudges, though…

Calligraphy Ink blots | Allocco Design and Crafts

In January of 2014 I discovered the pointed pen and all its glory. I was amazed at how the nib functioned and I’ve been hooked ever since. Here are a few practice pages from my very first attempts with the pointed pen compared to some work I did last month. I wanted to show you some practice pages I recently did with some stinking good ms and ns and ps as a better comparison, but alas, I lost them–such is life.

Over the past three years I’ve been practicing a lot, participating in forums, taking classes online, with Betsy and at a conference. I keep saying that if everything in my life changes–living locations, jobs, relationships–I know that calligraphy and hand lettering will stay for good. I’ve been humbled lately because I’m starting to learn a new style, Spencerian (in the first photo and photo above). It’s challenging, but I have to keep reminding myself that I’m at the beginning–progress is coming and I have a whole lifetime to improve.

Modern Calligraphy Progress | Allocco Design and Crafts

America Watercolor Calligraphy | Allocco Design and Crafts

In times of discouragement, plateaus, setbacks or poor confidence, keep at it. Passion takes time. Skill takes perseverance. Knowledge takes discipline. I did some artwork for The Prodigal Sister blog last month and the theme was “Stay the Course.” What a great reminder to persist with passion. See someone intimidating on Instagram? Stay the course. Day job prevent you from practicing your craft this week? Stay the course. Got a rave review on your work? Stay the course. Because soon enough, you’ll see progress. And progress is the surest sign you’re on the right track.

Stay the course | Allocco Design and CraftsHere’s to great work and practiced hands. Here’s to hustle!

If you’re interested in seeing my work from the Project 52, you can view it on this old blog of mine.