Quarantining as a Calligrapher - Reflecting on the Past 6 Months
It has been wayyy too long since I wrote a blog post. The last one I wrote was in June, about how Calligraphers can help the Black Lives Matter movement, and then since then, I've been busy with my online kids' calligraphy courses and kind of abandoned our blog. Anyway, now that the lockdown period is almost certainly over, with most things opening up again, I wanted to take this chance to reflect over what I've done in the last 6 months, both in my business and in terms of my own art and calligraphy.
At the end of each month, I've summarised my main takeaway from it.
In March, when everything 'closed down', I took advantage of the free classes Brit& Co were offering and did about 5 of their courses. It was the floral illustration course by Peggy Dean that really sparked my love for drawing florals - I've done a few of The Happy Ever Crafter's tutorials now, and even did some with my Level 2 calligraphy course students, which was definitely one of the best lessons we had!
In terms of our business, I used March and April to really update our website - I made a workshops page, put in a 'get to know us' (finally showing our faces on the website lol) and did a few blog post tutorials too, which was good, because I hadn't made any updates to our website since the very basic pages I did back in August *last year*.
March/ April takeaway: Better late than never! Even though I felt like I'd wasted half a year having posted nothing on my website for so long, finally updating it has increased traffic on it and has really helped with promoting my kids' online calligraphy classes!
In April we also had fun with friends from Instagram all over the world- working on a few fun collabs with other amazing calligraphers!
In May it was Ramadan so we were very busy with our Eid card orders and raised over £100 for charity (thank you everyone who ordered!). We had 4 different designs with both Arabic and English calligraphy which were all lots of fun to make and we did lots of foiling too, which was fun experimenting with, with different types of foils and card (foiling tutorial coming soon!) We sent out lots of cards to family and friends who we wouldn't see for Eid this year too, which reminded us of why it's always so special to be to share something handmade with someone!
At the end of May I also started Dina Calligraphy's Calligraphy Business Accelerator programme, group coaching programme which went on for 12 weeks which has taught me a lot about growing Crescent Calligraphy, from registering, to networking with other small businesses - I would definitely recommend / Dina if you're looking to grow your creative/ calligraphy business and because it was a group programme, it was great to connect with other like-minded calligraphers :)
May takeaway: Keep learning new things! I was quite apprehensive about the group coaching programme, especially as it was a big investment, but even from the first lessons when I learnt about setting up my business I felt like I'd learnt so much, especially things that I'd just missed out when setting up, like managing accounts, niching down etc
In June, I learnt SO much about the Black Lives Matter movement, racial history and anti-racism There was so much history I hadn't learn from school, so much I didn't realise was wrong and so much new information I'd never come across. June was a month of such important learning that I - and I imagine many others - had never come across before. Perhaps one of the most important things we learnt then is that Black lives Matter is a movement, not a moment - we need to continue to raise awareness of injustice around the world, educate ourselves and those around us, and stand up for justice.
June takeaway: Keep educating yourself, there is so much important information you didn't learn about. I wrote this article for The Grass Route about the Civil Rights Movement in the UK which you can check out!
Throughout June, July and August I've been quite busy with teaching online workshops, teaching around 9 hours a week which I've really enjoyed. I've been busy putting together kits, putting together a curriculum, and teaching kids calligraphy from around the world - I've had groups of kids from the UAE, Qatar and of course across the UK. It's such an honour to be teaching so many amazing creative kids calligraphy and I've been so impressed by their work throughout the lessons. You can see their work on my Level 1 and 2 workshop pages!
July takeaway: Try new things! I wasn't expecting to teach online, but I'm so grateful I did. I'm really enjoying it and so many people have been interested in the classes (if you're interested in the classes add your name here!)
Aside from my workshops, I've really been enjoying improving my art. I've done a lot more watercolour painting following YouTube tutorials and have been practising lots of Copperplate too. We've started Arabic calligraphy lessons again after 2 years with our teacher who first got us into calligraphy two years ago which has been really good too - if you've seen our Instagram, you'll know it's mostly Sumayyah who does the Arabic calligraphy, so now that we're all doing more it's been much more fun doing it together! I've also experimented with a few new mediums including foiling on leather and engraving - you'll see why soon hopefully!
August takeaway: Practise makes progress. The only way you can get better is practise - some of my early (and even now), watercolour and calligraphy attempts are TERRIBLE, but it's so good to be able to compare my work from earlier to now! (For example these floral paintings - from left to right, they are from now, March and then April 2019 - the last one especially, makes me *cringe*)
Well, now I've reached September - where we are currently! I'm taking a break from online classes and have kind of slowed down from what I've been doing, which is why I've finally gotten down to writing this! I'm so grateful for all the opportunities we've had over the past few months, which to be honest were completely unexpected! I'm hoping to get into a routine of writing weekly blog posts and hopefully keep updating our website and working on SEO (if anyone's got any tips for SEO, I| would love to know because I am struggling lol - thank you in advance!)
September takeaway - it's good to take some time to stop and reflect! I've really enjoyed writing this and hope you have enjoyed reading it too! The last 6 months have been challenging for us all so stop and reflect on how well you've got through it and all the lessons you've picked up along the way.
I guess my main takeaway from the past 6 months is that opportunities can come out of seemingly nowhere and that it's been so nice for me to be able to slow down from everything else and focus on practising calligraphy and learning more watercolour, which I'm so grateful for. I've also realised how grateful I am for this hobby and business, which has kept me nice and busy throughout the last 6 months when we've been at home :)
I know this article might also make it seem like I've been amazingly productive, but remember, these are really just the *absolute* highlights - I've also had days where I've done none of this too, of course (which is why it's taken my three months to write another blog post!)
I really hope you've enjoyed reading this and that maybe it's inspired you to go and check out some of the links I've shared - if you've got any feedback or suggestions for the next article, please feel free to comment or let me know on Instagram @crescentcalligraphy !