I’ve always had an artistic inclination. My favourite subjects at school were Art, English and Technical Drawing. After my O-Levels, I went to the local Further Education college in Sheffield to study Graphics. I then moved to London and landed a job in the art department of a publishing company producing puzzle magazines. The work was a bit repetitive and not particularly creative but there were three advantages: I was well paid, I had fantastic colleagues and, as I finished at 5.30pm, I had time in the evenings to indulge my creative urges.
Over the years, I’ve dabbled in oil painting, life drawing and watercolours and whilst struggling with the latter I came across a piece of calligraphy by Georgia Deaver. Her beautiful italic writing, along with a botanical illustration of irises, had been used to promote the Cleveland Opera House. I loved the elegance of Georgia’s lettering and this led me to enrol onto my first calligraphy course. A year later I met the person who would have the biggest influence on my calligraphic career: Margaret Daubney.
I met Margaret in 1992 whilst visiting the Roehampton diploma show and she invited me to join her Wednesday evening calligraphy class. Her approach to teaching was totally different to my experience before; she was pragmatic rather than dogmatic. In my previous class we just copied script after script after script which seemed pointless to me. In Margaret’s class, we learnt a script and then we made an artefact. This was a much more satisfying way to learn about calligraphy because the letterforms now had context.
In order to improve my skills, I set myself goals and challenges: in 2003 I gained a first- class honours degree in calligraphy and bookbinding, and in 2010 I became a Fellow of the Society of Scribes and Illuminators.
I am now sharing my calligraphy and lettering knowledge at City Lit in central London. Learning how to create letterforms does require a lot of dedicated practice - just like any other skill - but the real key to success is when you: Enjoy the process, Explore possibilities and Embrace imperfections.