Stephanie Fishwick — Part I
This interview has been a long time coming and I have unfortunately (and unfairly) been sitting on it for way too long. How could I? I will blame it on sleep deprivation, I hope both you and the talented Stephanie Fishwick will take that as a legitimate excuse and forgive me the long wait. I must preface this interview by saying that Stephanie’s work is a Besotted fave, we are uber fans, so much so that we tapped Stephanie to work on illustrations for our top secret project, that hopefully will not take as long to launch as this here interview.
If you are not familiar with her work I think you will be pleasantly surprised to discover such an amazingly, fresh, talented original artist. Stephanie’s interview is as thorough and detailed as her work, I think as a fellow lettering enthusiasts you will love it. So without further ado…
Where are you located?
Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
How did you get started in lettering?
I was drawing and painting as soon as I could hold a pen. My paternal Grandmother was an accomplished painter and illustrator. My maternal Grandfather was also an artist, and I inherited his drafting table at a young age. I would spend hours mulling over their enormous, leather portfolios in our basement; staring at their work on reams of gorgeous, thick watercolor papers and drawing pads. The pivotal moment came when I was about 7, and it was decided that I, the burgeoning artist in the family, would inherit her supplies: a large, metal art bin. Inside: super high-quality materials like paints, brushes, writing tools, charcoals and an abundance of calligraphy tools! I used them on and off through the years, even to address my own wedding envelopes. Although I considered the fine arts a career, I ultimately graduated from VCU art school with a degree in graphic design, and worked in the field for 8 years. I continued to create with pen and ink in my spare time. But there was always a frustrating lack of fundamental training that held me back from taking it to the next level. In 2009 I got a bit closer to my calling on a trip to Paris with my husband. We stumbled upon Melodies Grafiques in Le Marais; I just about cried over the beauty in that little shop. The process of calligraphy is what has brought me back to this medium over and over. It’s incredibly relaxing; a release from the world’s false urgency and technological fetishism. The feel of the inks and paper, the sound of the nib scratching across the page: all of that came together by the Seine, as I sat testing out my new purchases. In 2012 I had some time to devote to learning the fundamentals and finally pursue it more seriously. I found a calligrapher in my town who studied under Sheila Waters, and took private lessons in Italics. I also joined the Washington Calligraphers’ Guild and signed up for workshops. The big one: A Copperplate intensive with Pat Blair the White House Chief Calligrapher. After that weekend I felt that I had a handle on copperplate fundamentals, I felt more confident in the style my hand naturally creates. I loved doing this so much that I transitioned away from graphic design to full-time lettering and design.
Can you go a little into your process of how you work on a project?
My process is hard to describe. I had to ask my husband about his observations before I could put this into words! I write down ideas in lists a lot and mull things over in my head for a bit before drawing it out. I may spend two days thinking about an idea and then I’ll put it to paper in lots of different versions. Other times I’ll just want to do calligraphy without any goal in mind and come up with something I love. Many days I will sketch or write like 30 pages worth of quotes or words before I come up with the final piece that I like…or nothing good at all. Sometimes after writing a word 50 times I realize one of the first ones was my favorite. For client work I am way more scheduled and organized.