This year, I want to keep up the good work I started last year developing my own calligraphy skills. It’s about the only resolution* I’ve made!

So when the European Pointed Pen Collective (EPPC) gave members the opportunity to pair up with a calligrabuddy in 2021, I jumped at the chance – and was delighted to be matched with an existing calligrafriend.

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A selection of cards by Joanne Taylor Calligraphy

Joanne Taylor and I have been friends on Instagram for a while. We messaged each other as soon as we found out we were officially calligrabuddies!

So, allow me to introduce the woman who’s going to be keeping me on the straight and narrow when it comes to getting my pens out for myself and refining my copperplate skills this year.

Tell me a bit about yourself and how you were introduced to calligraphy.

I’m Joanne Taylor and I live in Warwickshire with my husband and two daughters. They will probably tell you that I am obsessed with writing and I’m at my happiest when I’m surrounded by my pens, paper and lots of colourful inks.

It was 2018 that I fell in love with copperplate after seeing a short video of Calligraphy Masters writing this beautiful script. I really wanted to learn how to do this so took my first lesson with the lovely Joy Daniels at the Birmingham Pen Museum. From then on I was hooked! 

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A decorated envelope by Joanne Taylor Calligraphy

Do you have a favorite style of calligraphy and if so, what is it and why do you love it?

I have taken classes in Italic, Uncial and Modern Calligraphy but Copperplate and all it’s beautiful flourishes is my favourite of all. It is such an elegant and rhythmical script and very relaxing to practice.

What are your favourite tools to use and why?

My favourite pens are from Tom’s Studio. I have both oblique and straight holders, I love both but tend to use the straight more for drawing and other scripts. At the moment my favourite nib is the Leonardt Principal EF, for me it produces the loveliest fine hairlines. I tend to prefer the smaller nibs too like the Gillott 303 and 404. 

I’ve been currently working on Daler Rowney Hot Pressed watercolour paper which is smooth and beautiful to write on but for practice I always use the Rhodia plain and graph pads. 

As for inks, my favourite black is Brian Walkers Copperplate Ink, definitely the best for fine hairlines in my opinion. I love Schminke Gouache and the Finetec watercolours are gorgeous to add that sparkle, they are also a pleasure to write with. 

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Calligraphy is just ‘magic’ isn’t it? (Image: Joanne Taylor Calligraphy)

What do you enjoy most about calligraphy?

Well for me, to sit and try to create something beautiful that I can give someone is not only enjoyable and rewarding, but also very relaxing. It has definitely been the perfect hobby since this pandemic began.

I’ve taken a few zoom classes which have been fantastic and [EPPC founders] Kate [Watson] and Cecilia [Boschi] have done a fabulous job building up this wonderful community of calligraphers, all the interviews and classes and now pairing us up with a calligrabuddy. A perfect way to socialise from home!

Who inspires you when it comes to calligraphy?

Watching my favourite calligraphers is all the inspiration I need to get my pen out and start practising and I see so much beautiful work on Instagram too. I think that has opened up a whole new world for artists.

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Christmas card by Joanne Taylor Calligraphy

What advice would you give to someone trying calligraphy for the first time?

For anyone beginning calligraphy, you are learning a new skill and it takes time and LOTS of practice. But it should also be enjoyable so don’t be too critical, and instead of comparing your work with others, be inspired by it and look how it can help with your own improvement. Also what works for one person may not be suitable for you (for example, the angle you have your paper when you write or finding your favourite nib). This all comes with experience!

Instead of comparing your work with others, be inspired by it and look how it can help with your own improvement.

Joanne Taylor

When you start something new, you never know where it may take you. I have made so many friends through the envelope exchange groups, which I absolutely love. I was honoured to participate in the tribute for the new Brian Walker website.

I am a volunteer at the Birmingham Pen Museum and help with the calligraphy classes and I have personalised many different things from christening plaques, memory books, photo frames and even a snowboard. 

What a rewarding job us calligraphers have!

You can follow Joanne on Instagram: @jotaylorcalligraphy

*My second resolution is to meet up with Joanne at the Birmingham Pen Museum and get her to give me a tour!

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