Hi, everyone! It’s Ana — writing to you from gorgeous Paris, France! I’m at the tail end of a long European trek with my family, and I want to share how I’ve used art and calligraphy to enhance my voyage. I hope that you can learn from my packing mistakes (and triumphs), find inspiration from…
Ana here saying hello from Paris, everyone! If you’re subscribed to the TPK newsletter or you have been keeping up with the TPK Instagram, you’ll know that I’ve been in Spain and France for the past few weeks. As my vacation comes to a close, I’d like to summarize my experience doing calligraphy on the go! I’ll cover what I did right, where I went wrong, and hopefully share some wisdom that you, too, can keep in mind for your next adventure.
In terms of packing art + calligraphy supplies for my trek around Europe, I think I did a decent job. My essentials have remained in mint condition from Boulder to Madrid to Barcelona to Lyon to Paris! Here’s a list of what I brought:
1. Canvas Supply Roll
I packed all of my writing instruments into a brush roll. These are wonderful contraptions because they provide instant organization for each item you bring! They pack away neatly into your suitcase to protect your tools.
I brought a mixed media sketchbook on this trip. When you travel, make sure you bring a high-quality sketchbook that can tolerate the media you expect to use! This supply is important because it sets the stage for your practice; if you don’t like the materials you’re using, you’re a lot less likely to use them.
My G&B watercolors have been a saving grace on this trip! They are so portable, versatile, and easy to use. I love that they travel dry so you don’t have to worry about ink spillage or bulky packaging. When you need them for a project, you just whip ’em out and wet them with your handy watercolor brush! Side note: I brought four brushes, which I do not recommend doing considering I only used one!
4. Calligraphy Pens
I brought an oblique calligraphy pen and a straight pen on this trip with me, but I wish I would have just brought the oblique! My advice? if you think you’re bringing something extra for the sake of feeling “prepared”, just leave it behind!
For this trip I brought a couple of Nikko G nibs, Brause EF66s, and a few Brause 513 nibs. (I only used the Brause EF66 the whole trip, though.) I stored them in a nib tin when they weren’t in use! At home, it’s okay to store nibs in your pen, but when you’re on the go, it’s best if your nibs have their own little case.
6. Pens + Pencils
There is no destination that doesn’t call for Blackwing Palomino pencils. They’re simply amazing. (You know what I didn’t need? Two of them.) And don’t forget your pencil sharpener! I also brought two really fine brush pens: a black Tombow Fudenosuke and a grey Pentel Touch. These brush pens are great, and I highly recommend them.
7. Cleaning Cloth
When traveling, it’s imperative to have a square of tightly-woven cotton cloth on hand to clean up the calligraphy mess you’re surely going to make. This is helpful because using your Airbnb’s towels to clean up any ink of any sort will ruin them … and also may ruin your guest rating!
8. An iPad and the Apple Pencil
If you’re the digital-guru-type or appreciate the minimalistic packing approach, the iPad will be a lifesaver for you. I ended up doing a lot of calligraphy on the plane and train with it; it was so fun and convenient! The key here is to download the TPK exemplar of your choice, convert it to a .jpg image, and then get crackin’.
9. TPK Procreate Files
We haven’t released them yet, but the calligraphy exemplars we’re designing for specifically for Procreate are awesome. I practiced Janet Style calligraphy and Amy Style Calligraphy on my iPad, and it was such a fun way to refresh my memory on the loops and curves of each exemplar. I feel like there’s so much flexibility with practicing calligraphy on the iPad. It gives you the freedom to fool around with your own calligraphy style, and you can reverse mistakes with the tap of the screen!
Practice Makes … Leisure!
When you’re on vacation with your immediate family of six, it can get interesting. At times we are all smiles, waiting for the Fuller House theme music to play in the background. At other times, a stray side-eye triggers hyena-like instincts that cause full, familial chaos! It just becomes difficult to find alone time when traveling and constantly sharing the same space. So calligraphy has become my precious time of solitude and reflection.
An early morning on the balcony or a sunset with headphones in, scribbling in my sketchpad, is currently my lifeline. I know that Lindsey says in her workshops and the Beginner’s Modern Calligraphy Online Course to relax and enjoy the work you’re doing, but it didn’t really click until I sat down on that ten hour flight to Madrid. On that flight, I reached for my pen, took a deep breath, and made a few strokes — which set the tone for my whole trip.
Where’s Waldo (Ana)?
Thank you so much to everyone who kept up with my various stories on Instagram! Your input was so helpful, and my family sends their thanks, too! It was great to chat with some of you while moving around, and share the beautiful places I’ve been visiting. We started in Madrid, hopped over to Barcelona, then took a train to Lyon, where we watched The Women’s World Cup!
My mom and I enjoyed celebrating the big win!
I am currently in Paris, and I’m writing to you from the most gorgeous flat. Wooden beams cast shadows on the ceiling, and an amber light is spilling onto the tiled floor, washing white walls in an amber glow.
The air is still except for the hum of the streets below and my family rustling on the balcony on the roof. The bread is always fresh, the Seine always flows, and the architecture pierces the skyline for miles and miles. This place is magical, and I can assure you (in a less menacing way than The Terminator): I will be back. And when I come back, I will absolutely visit L’Ecritoire — the most fabulous little paperie I’ve ever been in — again.
What I’ve Learned from This Trip
I can’t stress it enough: practicing calligraphy on the go isn’t something to be done intensely. I suggest you use it as a way to wind down at the end of a day of exploration!
I actually found the most value in the connection aspect of calligraphy. The moments I practiced with the dip pen brought my little sister, my dad, and my aunt to the table, curious about what I was creating. These are special memories I spent sharing a passion with the people most important to me. It brought me peace of mind and a feeling of closeness with my family. It also reminded me of how excited I am to further explore the world, using art as a way to process, reset, and recharge!
Thanks for reading! Whether you’re at home or traveling, I wish you a beautiful week full of new creative ventures.