Lisa Mavian • Post Calligraphy
I don’t remember how I happened upon Lisa Mavian’s Post Calligraphy, but I am so happy I did! I immediately was drawn to her beautiful hand. Lisa’s lettering is modern, ethereal and for lack of a better descriptive-floaty. If Lisa’s lettering was a fabric it would be gossamer–light, delicate, diaphanous. I am so happy to be able to share this interview with you, because I know many of you are fans too and there is so much great information shared. Without further ado…
Where are you located?
I am located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada (I am, however, born and bred in Detroit).
How did you get started in lettering?
My start in lettering I think, followed a love for the written word; poetry specifically. As a teenager I practiced calligraphy in my own way- really just trying to make words look beautiful. I am “besotted” (good word) with words and letterforms and numbers. My education is as a graphic designer and I think my calligraphy is influenced greatly by my design “eye”.
What are some of your favorite supplies?
My favourite go-to nib is the Nikko G. It is a workhorse, very dependable. And there is nothing like a fresh, crisp nib when starting out on a new project. I also use Hunt, Principal and Gillott 1950’s. I hoard my used nibs. (Maybe that is an answer to the question below: what is a random thing people don’t know about you – haha!) My favourite black ink is Sumi. I especially like the one that comes in the brown bottle with the all-Japanese label. It is on Paper and Ink’s website and you can also get it at a great paper shop here in Toronto called The Paper Place. I use a cheap, plastic oblique pen holder. Nothing fancy. For brushwork I pick up lots of teensy pointed watercolour brushes. They don’t last and I am pretty hard on them. Rhodia blank paper always. For practice and for final scans. Super smooth and your hairlines look beautiful on it. With lots of warm up, I like to use handmade paper and watercolour paper, depending on the task at hand. Sometimes I like to use a nice watery ink like J. Herbin or the drop-dead gorgeous Shin-kai iroshizuku ink from Pilot, which I totally buy for the bottle. I love to experiment with folded pens and the old ruling pen from my father’s drafting supplies.
Can you name some of your inspirations?
I am inspired by many and various things…Art. I just saw the Basquiat show here in Toronto and am inspired by his art on so many levels. Twombly, Rauschenberg, Jurgen Lehl, wire sculpture, the sublime calligraphy of Yves Leterme. So many. Music. Vivaldi, Miles Davis, Dustin O’Halloran, Puccini, Michael Stipe, Nina Simone, the poetry of Ryan Adams and Elliott Smith, Patti Smith (her music as much as her devotion to her craft). Words chosen and used profoundly by Didion, Plath, Woolf. Ballet. Architecture. I could go on.
Can you go a little into your process of how you work on a project?
When I start a project I take some time to open up to influences from absolutely everywhere and do research. Then I hone in on what resonates with the particular piece that I am working on and narrow down the visual mood board that is in my head. I take into consideration colour, size, materials, media etc. If I am collaborating with someone, this is a fun time, with ideas flying fast and furious. I like to do some pencil sketches until I come up with a design that I feel works. Warming up is key. There are some days where all I do is warm up!
Any tips for newbies on how to develop their own style?
Developing your own style is a process and an exercise in patience. Don’t rush it. Like any art form, I believe it is necessary to study and learn the basics and the classics and develop a groundwork that you will base your own style on. Practice and practice. Eventually you will take the leap and have confidence in your own hand.
Any recommendations of books or classes for lettering enthusiasts to further their studies?
There are so many different venues these days to learn calligraphy from. Take a workshop from someone whose work you admire. There are so many forums online to ask questions and learn tips and tricks from the pros! Your very own Besotted website has such a vast and useful assemblage of books, supplies, videos and workshops to recommend. I also found Dr. Joe Vitolo’s videos to be helpful. Eleanor Winters' Mastering Copperplate Calligraphy is a great basic resource.
Do you have some favorite projects you would like me to mention?
My favourite projects have been the ones where the client has approached me simply because they really like what I do. Those are the most fun and satisfying projects. The ones where I get to be “me”.
Any advice on what ‘not’ to do?
My only advice on what not to do is probably not to copy anyone else’s work. In the end, it can’t be satisfying and the beauty of creating is to grow, evolve and to experience the joy of doing your best work! Oh and never shortchange yourself. Have confidence! Believe in your work!
Name one random talent you have that people may not know?
I remember all my dreams. Every word, every sound, every image. It’s nice.
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Photography via PostCalligraphy.com