Hello Calligraphy Peeps!

I have had several questions from people wondering what I am up to over here on the forum. Am I really giving away tutorials for free? Do I plan to charge for membership to the forum? Why am I not charging people?

The honest answer is, “I don’t really know.” I have a plan in terms of what my next steps are for myself in Calligraphy Land (to be revealed soon). But I don’t yet know how that will play into the forum. I thought long and hard for many months about starting this forum. It has been months of work just getting it ready and then many, many hours adding content. Truth be told, I love every minute of it. So here is my best answer (and probably way more than anyone wants to know) about the “why’s.”

Ever see that movie, “Field of Dreams?”

It’s the one with Kevin Costner where a voice tells him to build a baseball field and “they will come.” Well, I heard that little voice. While it didn’t say those exact words, it went something like this …

The past 16 years of my life have been filled with joy, heartache, and challenges I never imagined I would face. My baby boy was diagnosed with autism, my darling daughter was paralyzed from the neck down with a bleeding disorder, facing an uncertain future, and my sweet third was one of the tiny fraction of a percentage of this generation to develop rheumatic fever at age 5. (My family will *never* play the odds.) And there have been other serious challenges without a public face or mention. But everyone faces challenges and many way worse than mine! And with every challenge we have been blessed. And with every blessing we have grown and flourished.

I have reached a point in my life where I am finally good with who I am. I know what makes me happy. It’s time for me to be me. I tell my children, “find your thing.” My thing has always been calligraphy. For thirty-five years my heart has gone pitter patter every time I see beautiful letters. I have spent almost my entire life working on my lettering and learning everything I can. However, if I die tomorrow and I haven’t shared that skill with anyone, I can’t take it with me.

So here we are…

I wondered if other calligraphers (instructors) would feel I shouldn’t give it away for free. But here’s the way I see it… there are many, many, many calligraphy instructors out there. Some are charging $20 bucks for a quick video class and getting thousands of students. Some charge $150 for a 3 hour workshop and filling the room. Some make just enough to cover the expenses for giving a class at the library or craft store. Then you have your pros that are teaching at conferences and traveling to guilds for workshops, etc.

I am flattered that anyone might think my little videos would somehow degrade the market for other calligraphy classes! I don’t think by providing my videos for free, I am devaluing anything. I’ve never heard anyone ask, “Why does IAMPETH share all those videos for free?” or “Why are there over 50,000 calligraphy tutorial videos for free on YouTube?” Think of it this way, if I charged for those lessons, would it stop anyone else from making lessons? Absolutely not! So why should me not charging for them change that?

If anything, it should prompt people to want to take other classes with other calligraphers! If I stopped after my first class I would never be where I am today! I am obviously not the end all, be all in terms of teaching calligraphy. Every teacher has something valuable to offer. And no one teacher has bought the rights to teaching any one subject exclusively. We all have a different view to share.

I hope my lessons will also help bridge the gap that seems to be developing between “traditional” and “modern” calligraphers. Yes, I said it. It is my hope that all those looking to learn calligraphy will see how learning the fundamentals will greatly improve your skill. Whether you want to do traditional copperplate or your own personal style, learning good letterforms will ALWAYS be of benefit.

Calligraphy is experiencing a popularity I have never seen. We need to come together, help each other, and recognize the beauty of all that is lettering. I adore contemporary/modern calligraphy but I also do not want to see the tradition of beautiful Copperplate, Engrosser’s Script, Round Hand, or whatever you want to call it, disappear. My hope is the flourish forum will be one of the places people come to learn about and share calligraphy. At the very least, it will always be a welcoming community for anyone who loves lettering of any kind.

Final question… will I eventually charge for membership to the forum?

I have considered making a paid section for members in which I (and other calligraphers) would elaborate and/or offer additional tutorials. However, at this time, I have no intention of charging for membership. I’m not selling, I’m sharing. I have committed myself to offering a full series on pointed pen calligraphy and it would not be fair for me to half way through say, “OK, folks, hope you like it so far, now pay up.” That will not happen.

In the far off future, if it seems feasible, I may offer advertising on the home page or sidebar. I just don’t know … I’m kind of flying by the seat of my pants and taking it one day at a time.

I do know this… I have been given many gifts in life. And I feel at this time in my life I want to share what I know with anyone who wants to hear it. I look at these tutorials as an introduction to lettering. People from all over who have no access to calligraphy or maybe don’t have the funds to pay for it, can now see how I do it. It may lead them to a further love and who knows, some day they may be conference and workshop attendees because they saw these little videos for free on line. It’s all good. And it all contributes to growing the calligraphy community which is my ultimate goal.

Be brave. Love life.