May Artist of the Month...Stacy Oakley

Meet our latest Artist of the Month...Stacy Oakley, the face behind Stacy Oakley Calligraphy. After attending a calligraphy course in 2016 she fell in love and hasn't stopped practising calligraphy since! Read on to find out more about Stacy...

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

I have always had nice handwriting and been quite obsessed with letterforms and fonts. In 2016, a year after the death of my Father, my mental health was at an all-time low. I was also a new Mum and was struggling to get any time to myself to relax and unwind. A friend suggested I try a calligraphy workshop and it sounded interesting so I went along and was immediately hooked. As they say, the rest is history!

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Who / Where do you take your inspiration from?

I get inspiration from everywhere! I am constantly analysing any lettering I see - on ads, TV shows, book covers etc. I am also always on the lookout for new colour combinations as I love using bright colours in my stationery designs (I am currently working on a custom invitation design where the colour combinations were taken from an underwear set I saw on Facebook!).

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

The hardest part is also the most rewarding - doing something I completely love every day. I never dreamed I could have a career doing something creative, and seeing my clients admire my work is hugely satisfying and quite an emotional experience. However, doing something you love also makes you very open to being taken advantage of. I often get asked to do jobs that sound amazing but clients expect the same prices as mass produced items they might see on some of the big shopping sites out there (mentioning no names). I have had to work hard to value my work, and will now only work with clients who value the expertise and time that goes into handwritten stationery.

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Do you have a favourite style?

Although I do a fair bit of brush calligraphy, my heart belongs to nib and ink. The flow of the ink down the tines, and the fact that it’s a slow craft helps with mindfulness and switching off. Although I started learning copperplate, I have moved onto a more modern calligraphy style, where I can add my own flair.

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

I have done some brand calligraphy at live events for brands like Diptyque and Pip & Nut which was really exciting and I am hoping to do more of this now the world is opening up again. The general public find calligraphy fascinating, so lettering in a live environment is hugely satisfying. At the moment, I am working on wedding stationery for this summer which, after 2020, is totally awesome. I packed up my first big wedding stationery job in over a year last weekend, it felt like a huge moment.

How does your work relate to your everyday life?

My calligraphy work couldn’t get further away from everyday life, where I am a Mum to two very messy little girls. Luckily, my studio is separate from the house, and is strictly a no-kid zone!

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What are your favourite tools to use?

I have a Toms Studio nib holder which is my go-to nib holder. Sumi ink is my favourite kind of ink to use (although it takes an age to dry so I have to be very patient!). Smooth paper is a must (the manuscript calligraphy practice pad is great). I also use a chalk pencil and laser level for marking out and alignment which saves a lot of time.

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

There are always workshops going on (whether on zoom or hopefully soon in person). If you want to try something, it’s always worth investing a bit in quality instruction at the start - it ensures you don’t get into any bad habits and also prevents you spending a fortune on equipment that you don’t actually need. Follow people on Instagram and fill your feeds with inspiration but don’t compare your start point to their years of experience (comparison is a killer for progress). Lastly, have fun!

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To see more of Stacy's work you can follow her on Instagram or learn more about her and view her work or visit her website: www.socalligraphy.co.uk. Remember to follow @manuscriptpenco on Social Media where we will be showcasing her work throughout the month.