I was hesitant to write this post because I know so many creative people, and I discover new artists/calligraphers/makers almost daily. The post’s title implies that I only know of eight people who are worthy of note, when the reality is that there are hundreds. Still, I decided to go ahead because I think that you’ll find every person on this list just as interesting as I do! So, here they are, in alphabetical order:
1. Tona Bell
Tona Bell is the proprietress of The Paper Seahorse, a shop that stocks all things creative in Tampa, Florida. From vintage typewriters to Flow Magazine to art and calligraphy supplies, The Paper Seahorse has a myriad of goodies to stoke your creative flame.
Tona inspires me because she left the corporate world to pursue her love for creativity. For fifteen years, she was working herself to the point of poor health as co-owner of a marketing agency. Finally, she decided enough was enough, and she created the magical place that is The Paper Seahorse in order to explore her love of art, lettering, and paper. When you walk into the store, you’re immediately struck by the carefully curated, artistic displays and a certain calmness that makes you want to stay all day! Tona also organizes and hosts several classes at The Paper Seahorse, all of which help to spread creative knowledge and confidence. For more information about Tona and her philosophy, you can read this interview at The Boss Babe Club!
2. Mayi Carles
When I first started The Postman’s Knock in 2012, I was looking for guidance and inspiration. It’s tough to be an entrepreneur, especially at the beginning, and Mayi’s Heartmade Blog gave me some much-needed confidence and practical advice. An artist herself, Mayi makes time to design everything from custom portraits to cookbooks — all in addition to advising budding creative entrepreneurs via her online courses.
Mayi is an inspiration for a few reasons. First of all, I enjoy her quirky and playful illustration style. Second, it’s been fun and interesting to watch her evolution over the years. When I initially discovered her blog, she mainly focused on writing about running a creative business. Then, she branched into writing about her activities in the kitchen (which she dovetailed with illustrations). Next, I watched her become a mother to — seriously — the most precious little girl. As someone who is about to become a mother myself, it’s been very heartening to watch Mayi gracefully balance parenthood and having a creative business!
3. Jess Greenleaf
Along with her husband, Matt, Jess owns the popular handmade watercolor business Greenleaf & Blueberry. Before syncing up with Jess on the topic, I sort of blindly used whatever watercolors were at hand. I had no idea that the quality of your paints can make a difference (which Jess explains in this blog post)! I love G&B watercolors because they’re high-quality and unique. For example, to make turquoise watercolor, Jess actually grinds up turquoise stones. The presentation of her watercolors as magnetic pans in little tins is innovative and impeccable.
While Jess is known for making art supplies, she also uses them with an amazing adeptness. She has an eye for color and detail that shines through in her Instagram posts. I think what inspires me most about Jess, though, is her ability to research and experiment with unending patience and optimism. Whether she’s working with a new art technique, trying to develop a new watercolor, or carving a paintbrush, Jess always puts 100% of her effort into what she’s working on until it meets her (high) standards.
4. Phyllis Macaluso
While you could describe Phyllis Macaluso as a calligrapher, she’s really more of an expert envelope artist. You can’t help but stare at every envelope that she makes, and it’s difficult not to gawk at her Instagram feed. She is willing to take on commissions, though her waiting list is always quite long!
Phyllis inspires me because of her willingness to tackle a variety of mediums from egg tempura to metallic watercolor. Truthfully, she could probably use any liquid — coffee, blueberry juice, you name it — to turn an envelope into a beautiful work of art. Her artistic vision is that well honed. Additionally, she’s a big cheerleader in the creative/calligraphy community. I can’t tell you how many encouraging emails she’s sent me that encourage me to keep blogging because she likes what I’m doing. (And I’m going “You like what I’m doing?? I’m obsessed with your work!”) She’s definitely someone to follow if you want calligraphy, lettering, or art inspiration!
5. Rodger Mayeda
After retiring from his job as an engineer in the Bay Area, Rodger Mayeda moved to Albuquerque with his wife. He planned to enjoy the quiet change of pace in his life, so he took up calligraphy as a hobby. After a while, Rodger found himself dissatisfied with commercially-available oblique pens, and he decided to design his own pens. An adept woodworker, Rodger crafts each of his pens by hand, and secures a cleverly-designed brass flange to them. Today, Rodger can’t keep his pens in stock at his Etsy shop — so much for a quiet retirement!
Rodger inspires me with his determination to improve things that others may not necessarily think to improve. I, for example, had accepted commercial oblique calligraphy pens as my go-to before trying one of Rodger’s pens. Rodger also possesses a wide range of calligraphy knowledge (and skills!), as it’s a topic that he’s curious and passionate about. When I first started the TPK blog, Rodger taught me a lot about calligraphy that still shapes my work today! If you have the good luck to purchase a pen from him, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by Rodger’s friendliness and his willingness to help you improve your own calligraphy.
6. Anne Schuster
Anne Schuster is an impressive business consultant turned quilter/fabric designer and the owner of Miss Chiff Designs. Now, admittedly, I am intimidated by fabrics (I can’t sew to save my life, despite my fondness for fabric invitations), but I love Anne’s designs! She doesn’t have a set style — instead, she freely experiments with any design concept that comes to her mind.
While I appreciate Anne’s designs, it’s her attitude that inspires me, and I think we can all glean a lot from how she sees the world. Nothing really intimidates her, and she always powers through roadblocks instead of giving up. For example, when I met Anne, she wanted to learn how to use Adobe Illustrator to make her fabric designs. Many people won’t touch Illustrator because it’s pretty intimidating if you haven’t gone to design school, but Anne didn’t let that stop her. A couple of months of experimentation (and YouTube tutorials) later, she knew the software inside and out! In the three years that I’ve known her, she’s mastered calligraphy, watercolor, artisan chocolate truffle making, and quilting. She is self-taught in all of her skills, which just goes to show: some research, practice, and the right attitude can take you far!
7. Molly Suber Thorpe
Molly Suber Thorpe literally wrote the book on Modern Calligraphy (you can find it — and its rave reviews — on Amazon.com). Her hand-lettering and design skills are sought after by businesses, publishers, and brides/grooms alike! Every piece she makes has a certain recognizable flair.
Molly is an inspiration because she was one of the first people to protest the constraints of traditional calligraphy in a public way. Where traditionalists say that rules must be strictly observed, Molly encourages joyful experimentation. In her first book, Modern Calligraphy, Molly shows a lot of examples of how you can incorporate calligraphy with art to make beautiful (and useful) projects. Her second book, The Calligrapher’s Business Handbook, provides invaluable information to hobbyist calligraphers who want to go full-time with their passion. In short, Molly has been — and remains — an invaluable part of the calligraphy community!
The driving force behind this blog is you: the person reading it. I can’t tell you how much encouragement and positive feedback I’ve received from readers, and that keeps me going! If it weren’t for you, this website wouldn’t exist.
Every social media post I see that was inspired by a TPK tutorial, every comment on this blog, and every kind email propels me forward and gives me inspiration. You dedicate your time and patience to learning calligraphy, completing tutorial projects, and reading articles like this one … so thank you, really. I appreciate you more than you can imagine!
I hope that you enjoyed this list of eight of my favorite creative people, though it’s far from comprehensive. If you know of someone who deserves to be on it, please contribute their information in the comments section! Thanks again for reading TPK, and enjoy the rest of your week.