Carrie Lam, a Toronto-based, self-taught wedding calligrapher, and founder of Carrie Letters.
When it comes to inspiration for creative ideas, my go-to words are ones I occasionally borrow from Nike — Just Do It. Sometimes, you just have to do it, whether you are sure or unsure. Just Do It, and obsess later about followers or the money you’ll make. Just Do It, and strategize later. Just (f******) Do It, and let go.
Or… take it easy, and end up having a thriving calligraphy business like Carrie Lam. Dreamer, believer, and a hopeless romantic, Lam is the founder of Carrie Letters, a business venture launched after some “random online browsing”, one where she creates memorable work for important occasions, such as weddings.
Before we dive into her wonderful story, here’s my question to you: When was the last time you put away your phone or whatever it was that you were doing and just wrote or doodled on a piece of paper? The end result doesn’t have to rival Picasso, but did you know that writing things down, your goals or ideas, for instance, makes them 42% more likely to be achieved?
I guess then, that a pen is indeed mightier than the
sword phone. Without any further ado, here’s how you can teach yourself the beautiful art of calligraphy.
Q1. Why do you do what you do and how much do you love doing it?
Through the power of random social media browsing, I was introduced to modern calligraphy. I’ve always loved the look of it, but never thought could do it myself!
I researched some recommended lettering tools, and off to the art stores I went. I started practising modern calligraphy using various types of brush pens and it was more difficult than I had thought.
Nevertheless, I persisted.
Last year, in March, I started Carrie Letters to track my progress. Three months into practice, I felt confident enough to officially launch Carrie Letters as a business. I created an Etsy account and advertised my calligraphy services on Facebook. Fast forward to now, I teach Brush Lettering Workshops for Beginners, I’ve created a digital workbook that can be found on my page, and have sold several Lettering Kits for Beginners. Besides teaching, I also create wedding calligraphy — from seating chairs to welcome signs to addressing envelopes — for several lovely clients! I am very passionate about calligraphy and I love how each piece is unique in its own way. Carrie Letters has helped unleash my inner creativity in ways that I never expected!
Q2. Apart from creating stunning pieces of artwork, what keeps you busy?
Asides from calligraphy, I am a Special Education Teacher in Ontario, Canada. I am grateful that I get to do two things that I love — calligraphy and teaching. In my free time, I like to travel! I haven’t traveled much lately, since I’ve been too busy but I worked and traveled abroad extensively from 2011 to 2016; I was teaching in South Korea and England.
Although I do a lot of commissioned work for weddings, I am not yet married, but I have found my Mr. Right (hehe).
In my spare time, I enjoy working out sometimes (okay, once a month or so), and baking.
Q3. How do you keep yourself inspired and disciplined?
As a young girl, I was never artistic. I only started learning calligraphy in my adulthood, and it goes to show that you can learn anything at any age.
I am a self-taught calligrapher who was inspired by amazing calligraphers out there! If I had to do it over again, I would’ve taken a course or a workshop though. I highly recommend it! I keep myself inspired and disciplined by making time to create something each and every day. Even if I only have ten minutes during my lunch break or a few hours in the evening, you will find me with a brush, paper, and a surface to letter on. I also enjoy taking videos of my lettering. For anyone who wants to begin a new craft or start lettering, I encourage you to find lettering challenges on social media. It is also important to document your journey, to have something concrete to look back on to visually see your progress.
Q4. What is the best part of your job?
The best part about my job is receiving feedback from my clients; the gratitude and excitement warms my heart. I am also a hopeless romantic, so I love creating art for weddings, in particular. The best part about teaching workshops is seeing my students’ amazement when they realize how much progress they’ve made in under two hours.
Q5. What kind of support and meaningful encouragement helped you to never quit?
In the beginning, my Instagram followers encouraged me to create more (and continue to do so).
It is amazing that a big part of my success and inspiration comes from people I haven’t met face-to-face.
My personal support network also believes in me and are always interested in what I do. And that is very encouraging.
Born and raised in India, Anisha Dhiman moved to Toronto to study Publishing and then Lifestyle Media at Centennial College. Writer, social media strategist and content creator, Anisha is the founder of Five Question Series, where she profiles people… you guessed it, by asking five questions. In her free time, she enjoys reading and trolling people with puppy GIFs and memes. Her only phobia? Losing her sight, but staring at the screen all day long doesn’t help much.