As life becomes more and more digitized, people bemoan the loss of good ol’ fashioned, handwritten work. What was once grilled into you, has now become a talent that few people have been able to perfect. Modern Calligraphy is taking over social media. For a select few, it is an actual expression of art and passion. For the rest of us, it’s simply an addiction to watch the elegant flow of pens and markers on the papers.
Shelly Kim, the artist behind LettersByShells, and author of “Learn to Create Art Deco Lettering,” and “Learn to Create Modern Calligraphy Lettering,” has been exploring this path since 2015. After completing her undergrad, Kim was introduced to Modern Calligraphy. Kim was able to find solace in the beauty of the work she could create.
Coming to Calgary on Sunday August 5th, Kim will be leading two different workshops for those interested in learning more about Modern Calligraphy: Modern Brush Lettering and Watercolour Brush Lettering. We wanted to take this chance to speak with Kim and learn more about what inspired her work, and the desire to teach those around her.
What first got you started in Modern Calligraphy?
After my undergrad, I found myself burnt out, exhausted, and very lonely. I started to look up positive affirmations on social media, and that was where I was exposed to the beauty of Modern Calligraphy! My life changed in that moment because I have always loved different types of typography. Earlier in my life, I used to write various types of block lettering and art deco lettering styles, so naturally, when I saw calligraphy, this creative soul inside of me exploded with joy and happiness.
I wanted to learn everything about it, understand the different mediums, and basically master it to the best of my ability. Wanting to get through my own difficult days, I wanted to write messages of self-love and spread positive vibes to others.
Seeking some sort of escape from reality, I wanted a chance to focus solely on myself and my outlook on life. I also wanted to share this positivity on bigger platforms such as social media – Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, you name it. I told myself, I know I am not the only one who is exhausted, stressed out, and feeling alone. There was a desire to connect with others and let them know how amazing, beautiful, strong, and worthy they were. They all deserved to know that they could pursue anything and everything they wanted to!
Who are your biggest influences?
My biggest influences are my amazing followers and this awesome lettering community that I found on Instagram. The people I have met during this journey have been so supportive and all of the love that I have received has been so amazing. I am truly grateful for everyone!
My other biggest influence has been my fiancé and business partner, Richard. His love and support, continues to inspire me to keep creating and keep the momentum going.
What do you do when you feel uninspired?
When I feel uninspired, I typically take a moment to pause, take a break and just reflect on life. I love to visit coffee shops to gain inspiration and will just start creating when a thought comes to mind. I also love to try new things when I’m feeling uninspired as well.
What’s the end goal for you? Where would you like to see your artwork take you?
I do not have a specific end goal because lettering has taken me to so many places and has opened so many doors for me. I like to focus on being present and just go where I am needed, as my main goal has always been to spread positivity and uplift those around me through lettering. As long as I am doing that, I am fulfilling my purpose.
What did it look like for you to build up your Instagram following?
When I was building my Instagram, oh my – it was a long journey! Instagram is literally like a full-time job. Always making sure you are up-to-date, responding to comments and messages and posting consistently. In the beginning it was tough to keep up because I was not used to it. But at the same time, it was also very exciting. I was always on Instagram and meeting other inspiring artists. Even after 3 years, it’s the same and I love all the people that I have been able to meet. Now however, I am able to maintain a happy balance. I try to only going on Instagram for a few minutes throughout the day during my breaks.
What is one self imposed rule that you live by, that has helped you on this journey?
To continuously spread positivity and letter daily positive reminders to myself, friends, family, and everyone I meet.
Wanting to participate in one of Kim’s workshops? Check to see when the next closest one to you will be happening here.