Calligraphy is an art that I’ve always wanted to learn, and a few years ago I first discovered calligrapher, Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls. When you see her work on Instagram where she also shares photos of her workshops/travels and all the amazing finds she makes along the way, you can’t help but be inspired. She’s created her own font (available through Rare Bird Fonts) and will be releasing her second book in September which is currently available for pre-order. Her work has also been featured in such notable publications as Martha Stewart Weddings and Better Homes and Gardens.
I recently had the honor of asking her some of the questions that I’ve always wanted to know about the art of calligraphy and her creative process. I hope you will find yourself as inspired by her words as I am.
When did you first become interested in calligraphy?
My husband gave me the gift of calligraphy lessons after I was furloughed from my job as a flight attendant after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. I found the practice to be meditative and wanted to start doing work that was related to my degree in graphic design, I started incorporating my calligraphy work into my designs. This gift gave me the title for my book. Calligraphy is a gift that was given to me. As I teach it, I find that it allows me to connect with others in ways that I have never expected. It is a gift that keeps giving, and it also allows me to spread love and kindness around in unexpected ways.
What are the essentials that are needed to learn the art of calligraphy?
Mindset. Anyone can do it, if you allow it. All you need is the right pen, paper and ink harmony, and most of all, patience.
You use both pens and brushes for your calligraphy. Do you have a particular brand that you prefer or recommend?
I love mapping pens (Brause) for the rough quality it gives. Brushes for me vary, I love Kuretake brush pens, out of habit I tend to dip them into ink… I also like round brushes are great for pointed brush calligraphy.
Last year you created your own font. (Available through Rare Bird Fonts) What was the most exciting and/or rewarding part of the process?
To see how it can easily be used by artists for their own work, logos, and wedding invitations. I have found that using my own font has helped me speed up the design process in creating layouts that eventually get hand-lettered.
You teach at workshops around the World. Has there been a particular workshop (or location) that has been your favorite?
I love teaching in Australia, I have been there five years in a row now, that it seems like my home away from home. I have even run into some of my Australian students on the streets of New York!
I so enjoy following the Insta-Stories you share about your amazing travels. What is one of the most spectacular finds that you’ve made while traveling?
While I was in India I discovered an antique brass inkwell at my hotel gift shop, of all places. It wasn’t just any typical gift shop, but a boutique hotel with selected antique treasures. The hotel is called Jobner Bagh Guest House. I highly recommend this place if you are visiting Jaipur, Rajasthan.
Is there a particular city or cities that have inspired you the most?
I am always inspired anywhere and everywhere, but mostly: Tokyo, Kyoto, Jaipur, New Delhi, Bangkok, Paris, London, Frankfurt, New York, and San Francisco!
I loved seeing all the array of colors from your visit to Pigment Tokyo. Is there a particular pigment that you prefer…
Oh my goodness. I love BLACK. If you ask my kids what my favorite color is, they will tell you… its always just black.
You collaborated with Thuss + Farrell on your 2nd book that comes out in September, what was your favorite part of the process in creating the book?
My publisher, Watson Guptill (an imprint of Random House) first approached me with the idea of my book. At the time I was just finishing “Belle Calligraphy Kit” with Chronicle Books. My friends Rebecca and Patrick were visiting the Bay area and asked me when I was going to write a book. They are such a dynamic duo and I was so honored when they proposed to photograph, style and design my book. All of a sudden, I could instantly visualize my book! The actual book has turned out to be better than anything that I could have ever imagined. During the process of creating “The Gift of Calligraphy” I was involved in every aspect of the design and photography. This visual storytelling was just as important if not more than the text in the manuscript. Creating the spreads in the book did not feel like work at all to me. This is when you know that what you are doing is what you are supposed to be doing in that given moment. It’s remarkable really. I feel so lucky.
Do have a favorite place or thing that you turn to when you need a little inspiration?
My kids inspire me so much.If I am ever feeling stuck, I just turn to them and they have an incredible way of getting me to feel “ un-stuck”. Children dive in without a voice inside their head telling them that it is not possible. They attend a school that’s located in a Redwood Forest and every morning, their class goes out for a walk in the woods. Spending time in nature like this allows me to focus and clear my mind.
As a parent do you plan on passing your love for calligraphy down to your children?
Yes! I volunteer at their school whenever possible to teach art and calligraphy classes. To keep kids interested, I like to make quills using feathers that we find on our walk in the woods. Turkey feathers make great quills.
Thank you so much for sharing with us Maybelle!
You can pre-order her latest book, The Gift of Calligraphy: A Modern Approach to Hand Lettering with 25 Projects to Give and to Keep here.