Thank you so much for joining me on this first ever post for my new blog. My sincere hope with this blog is to provide readers with a resource for starting your journey for calligraphy, as well as providing some insights into my life as a calligrapher. But before we tackle the larger topics, I wanted to introduce myself.
After high school, I went to Miami University in Oxford, Ohio where I was a Theatre Major with a Minor in Art History. However, I would not go on to graduate. Like many, I was dealing with severe depression, and it took its toll on my academic progress. I took a step back, and made sure that whatever my next steps would be, I would be mentally healthy enough to tackle it head on. I really started to miss acting, missing the community, and missing the outlet it gave me. So I began auditioning again, and one thing led to another, and I was offered a scholarship to the New York Conservatory of Dramatic Arts.
Hello! My name is Caroline, and I am the creative director and owner of Plume & Flourish. My story of calligraphy is not a straightforward one, because like many calligraphers I know, I arrived at this art form through a series of very fortunate events. Since I was a young child, I had wanted to pursue my first love, acting. For me, acting was a creative outlet that allowed me to express myself in a way that was so unlike anything most people could do. As a child, I tried to afford myself every opportunity to pursue acting, much to the chagrin of my parents who begrudgingly took me to auditions for anything and everything. But I loved the freedom acting brought, and I especially loved the sense of community when you are in a show.
I was thrilled to be leaving Ohio and to have the opportunity to study acting at a professional institution in New York City. And I was thriving in New York. In 2013, I graduated from the Conservatory with a certificate in Acting in Film and Television. Graduating was both thrilling and terrifying, because I was ready to find my place in the acting world, but terrifying because I did not have the first idea on how to create a stable income. So I auditioned, and started working temp jobs, mostly as in administrative roles at financial institutions. But the hustle was more than I had ever imagined. I am one of those people who finds it difficult to dedicate themselves to more than one activity at a time. It was hard to find time to audition or prepare monologues when I was exhausted from working 9-5 in an office.
And even when I was acting, I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I once had. So I decided to take another step back. Having not finished my undergraduate degree, I knew I wanted to have that under my belt to ensure that no matter what next steps I would take, I would at least have that to put on my resume. So I applied to New York University, and was accepted in the fall of 2014. I remembered how much I had enjoyed learning about Art History when I had been at Miami University all those years ago. So I decided to pursue my degree in Art History, and found so much love and new appreciation for so many different forms of art. I would later graduate from New York University in 2018, however, before then, as part of my degree requirements, I went on to find an internship at an art museum, which I had with the Whitney Museum of American Art in the Director’s Office in 2015. It was an administrative position, which I was qualified for thanks to working temp jobs in the financial institutions in the years previous.
My internship led to a temporary position with the Director’s Office, before leading to another temporary position in their Communications department, before leading to another temporary position in Rights and Reproductions, before I officially interviewed for a newly opened position in the Special Events department. And in 2016, I was an official employee of the Whitney Museum. While working in Special Events, that was the first time I had been introduced to proper calligraphy. Of course, studying art history, I was always in admiration of the illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages. But seeing calligraphy brought into the real world, brought into the 21st century, was something completely unexpected and beautiful. I loved seeing the reaction people had to calligraphy, and how having such simple calligraphic touches to an event gave it meaning and something just a little extra special.
So in 2016, I set out to teach myself calligraphy. I started with a modern style, because I didn’t see really anything else out there. It was incredibly frustrating in the beginning; there are many tips and tricks that I know now, but was missing when I first started. These tips and tricks I hope to share throughout this blog so that those who are starting out do not feel as though they cannot do it. But I continued to work through issues, and found more and more love for calligraphy through the doing. Unlike acting, I found calligraphy to be an art form that I could do on my own, practice on my own, but then share it with others. I have found so much joy with calligraphy, and I hope to share that joy with others.
The biggest piece I hope that you take away from this brief overview of the last 30 some odd years of my life, is that so many events in life feel as though they have no real purpose. It is only when taking a step back to see the larger picture does even the darkest periods of your life have meaning. Had I not been severely depressed in college, I wouldn’t have left. Had I not left, I wouldn’t have found my way to New York City. Had I not wanted to go back to school, I would not have landed at New York University and eventually at the Whitney Museum. And had I not landed a position in Special Events, I would not have discovered the beauty and power of calligraphy. So many things happen for specific reasons, reasons that I could not see while I was living through them.
The second biggest takeaway I hope you glean from this summary is that it is never, ever too late to change the course of your life. If you are looking to begin calligraphy as a new hobby, go for it! Even taking 10 minutes out of your day to practice will have a huge impact in the long term success of your calligraphic prowess.
The third takeaway is that calligraphy should be joyful. From the very first time I saw calligraphy being done by hand, I was completely enthralled. There is so much joy to be found in services that are rendered by hand, and I hope to share that joy with you. For those of you that just starting out with calligraphy, it can feel incredibly frustrating, because you assume since you have been holding a pen or pencil since the age of three surely you should be able to write with a slightly different tool. However, most styles and aspects of calligraphy, I have found, is more like painting that it is writing. But even in the difficult moments, know that if you keep pushing forward, you will be able to overcome this hurdle and see real change in your work.
I hope this gave you a little bit of insight into who I am, what I care about, and how I hope to teach calligraphy in the future. If you should ever need anything, please feel to reach out either by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or I would love to connect on social media (@plumeandflourish).
With love, Caroline