Crayligraphy For Lefties With Sarah Pearson
Have you ever wondered if you can learn calligraphy and excel in the art with as little as 2 years of experience? Along with the short turnaround period, how about tacking on the difficulties of being left handed?
Sarah Pearson of The Inky Hand is proof that aspirations can lead to success, regardless of constraints, by showing up every day and putting in the necessary work.
Never mind being a left-hander—though Sarah provides some great tips—
if you’re a novice calligrapher, keep reading the following interview!
Sarah has a particular style to her work that has become identifiable within her writing. She maintains structure while including a touch of whimsical bounce to her letterforms. Sarah is a perfect example of understanding the rules and breaking them responsibly.
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Tell Us A Little About Yourself
My name is Sarah Pearson and I'm a lefty letterer/calligrapher based on the Gulf Coast of Alabama. Learning this art form has been the single most life-changing thing I've ever done! I know it sounds hyperbolic, but it led to me starting an Etsy shop for calligraphy practice sheets and eventually starting a lettering subscription box that is now my full-time job. I've also made lots of friends along the way! The lettering and calligraphy community is so amazing and supportive that it's hard not to make friends!
When did you start your journey in calligraphy and did you find being left-handed added to your struggle when learning? If so, how did you tackle this obstacle?
I began learning calligraphy in January of 2016 with the #handletteredabcs challenge after going down an Instagram rabbit hole one night and watching a ton of lettering videos. I started with Tombow brush pens that I saw everyone using, and quickly got really frustrated with how difficult they were to use and how easily they began to fray.
Since I am a lefty, I was pushing the markers where righties were pulling, and it was destroying the tips! Then, I saw people using regular ol’ Crayola markers for calligraphy, and I was intrigued. Turns out, they are the perfect tool for lefties! The tips are super strong (they're made for kids, after all) and they write really smoothly. Now I recommend them to frustrated lefties all the time!
Most lettering tools and techniques are geared toward right-handed artists. Do you have any special tips or tricks you’ve learned over the years that might help your fellow lefty calligraphers?
Definitely! The number one lefty problem is smudging the ink as you're writing, and I've found that turning your paper at an angle (mine's usually around 45 degrees, but whatever works best for you) is the best way to combat it. Of course, I still smudge all the time (it's the basis for my business name!), but it cuts down on it a lot. Also, if you're looking to use real brush pens without the fraying, your best bet is the smaller-tipped, Tombow Fudenosuke style pens. They hold up much better to the abuse we put them through!
It looks like you are an underwriter (write with wrist under the baseline). Did this come naturally to you as a lefty or was it more of a learned technique?
I've always written as an underwriter, thank goodness! I don't know how they do it, but I've seen plenty of super skilled overwriter calligraphers, so it's definitely possible!
In addition to your skills with the magic marker, you’re also talented in many different lettering styles (even wood burning, watercolor, and embroidery). Do you often try to explore techniques outside of your comfort zone and why?
I saw people using regular ol’ markers for calligraphy, and I was intrigued. Turns out, they are the perfect tool for lefties!
First of all, thank you! I definitely try to explore new creative outlets whenever I can. It's easy to get stuck in a rut, and sometimes all it takes for me is walking away and trying something completely new. My newest love is hand embroidery. It's so therapeutic to me! Now that I'm a little better at it, I'm combining it with my lettering to bring the two worlds together. The end goal is to start making unique, hand-lettered patterns to sell in my Etsy shop!
You seem very disciplined when it comes to worksheet practice and you even offer your own for sale. What would you say are the benefits of using worksheets, especially for people just starting out?
I think repetition is the key to learning calligraphy, and practice sheets really help with that. Muscle memory is everything, and the only way to build it is to do it over and over again. That's why the answer you're almost always going to get when you ask a calligrapher, “How can I write like you?” is “Practice every day!”
You’ve recently taken on the challenge of lettering every day for 100 days and posting on your IG page. Tell us why you decided to tackle this. Do you think setting these types of goals can help calligraphers get out of the dreaded “creative rut”?
Muscle memory is everything, and the only way to build it is to do it over and over again.
I took on #TheInkyHandAnd100Bands because I have trouble posting to Instagram consistently. It's really hard to come up with something to letter on a daily basis that hasn't been done a million times! I tried to think of a theme that had lots of content for me to draw from, and bands and song lyrics came to mind. It's way harder than you'd think to come up with 100 artists and bands you love, by the way...
What makes Crayligraphy and magic markers so unique compared to other tools and styles?
In addition to being great for lefties, I think the coolest thing about Crayligraphy is that you can make beautiful lettering pieces with a $3 box of markers. Art supplies can be super expensive, but kid’s markers are accessible to everyone! I also love the color variety, and that you can blend them together to create really awesome effects!