03 Jun Ink & Inspiration: A Conversation with Jenni Liandu, Founder of the Calligraphy Subscription Box
Have you ever admired beautiful scripts from afar – wondering whether you’d be able to re-create some of those mesmerising masterpieces?
This month we’re excited to announce that Teapro’s Long Jing Green Tea is included inside The Calligraphy Box – a monthly subscription with everything you need to learn & practice calligraphy. Combining the calming powers of tea and the mindful practice of calligraphy, this box promises the ultimate relaxing experience.
Join us for an exclusive chat with the extraordinari Jenni Liandu – the founder of The Calligraphy Box, as we uncover the inspiration behind her subscription box and discover the magic it brings to aspiring calligraphers worldwide.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into calligraphy?
Hi! Yes of course, my name is Jenni and I live on the East Coast of Scotland in a small town called Tayport, just outside Dundee. I live with my husband Mo and 4 month old son Chayah. We also have a two year old goldendoodle called Quill who features on our Instagram quite a lot!
I’ve always been quite arty, so when I heard of the opportunity to go to a calligraphy workshop, I thought that would be fun to try. That was back in 2014 and I’ve been addicted ever since.
What do you enjoy most about calligraphy?
Calligraphy takes me to a place of calm and peace where I forget about everything else and zone out to the world around me. I love the rhythm of the strokes and the detail that you can create with the nib.
There is also so much to learn, I consider myself a lifelong student of calligraphy because it brings me so much joy. There is also a great community of people learning and I love to see others discover their own amazement at what they can create with ink and paper!
Do you have a favourite tool?
I do. A few years ago I had the privilege of being taught by Master Penman Michael Sull. He is an incredible calligrapher with 60+ years experience and I was able to purchase a pen that he made. It’s my most treasured tool, so comfortable in my hand and holds great memories of learning from his profound instruction.
Do you have a favourite script?
When I first started learning calligraphy I was drawn to modern styles and loved jumping in to learning this. However, when I first tried Copperplate, a traditional script that originated in the 16th century, I was completely won over. It is more difficult because of its precise 55 degree slant and squared strokes, but it’s incredible how elegant it is to look at.
How has calligraphy affected you personally?
Calligraphy gives me a place of peace and escape in my day to day life. I love using writing to meditate on scripture or to pray and this has really helped my mind find rest away from distractions, screens and busy social media.
What made you start your calligraphy subscription box?
By 2019 I had held many calligraphy workshops around Scotland, teaching over 500 people. I found that many students fell in love with calligraphy, but struggled to know how to continue their practice when they got home.
I designed The Calligraphy Box as an answer to this problem. Each box has everything you need to find it easy to sit down, practice and improve. It’s also a lovely surprise through your letterbox each month which gives you a boost of motivation to pick up your pen.
How do you curate your monthly boxes?
Each box is designed around the lesson that it includes and we have over 28 different lesson topics e.g. connections and spacing, lowercase and capital Copperplate, flourishing, calligraphic drawing, envelope calligraphy, artwork layouts etc.
When I start a lesson, I create the written examples and strokes and then scan and digitise these and add them into the workbook design that takes subscribers through the content step by step.
We then include a practice sheet bundle and 2 hour video lesson to go along with this. Our boxes and ink colours are also designed on a different colour theme every month!
To me calligraphy seems rather intimidating. If you’re a complete beginner, how quickly can you master the art of calligraphy?
It depends what you think mastering the art is. It may take someone 30+ years to gain a Master Penman accreditation for example, which is certainly something to be celebrated.
However, I think that it is possible to find joy in calligraphy from the very first stroke. Our beginner’s box includes a full beginners lesson, teaching the fundamentals and taking our subscribers through everything they need to get started and write letters and words.
It’s impressive to see the practice sheets after subscribers have finished this first lesson. In two hours of calligraphy practice, you can create beautiful writing, so I think calligraphy is very approachable. It doesn’t matter if you are right or left handed, young or old, or if you feel like you don’t have a creative bone in your body, calligraphy is possible. I’ve even taught children as young as nine years old and after one lesson, they are writing words and enjoying what they are creating on paper.
What’s your favourite part about running a subscription box business?
I love seeing how our students progress. We have a private facebook group and in there our subscribers post photos of their practice sheets and artwork and it’s amazing seeing what they create and how quickly they improve.
As our business has grown, I have been able to hire a team of people and my husband has also joined the company. It’s been so much fun working together in our small Dundee studio.
Lastly, what would be your advice to calligraphy newbies?
Often the biggest difficulty can be trying to find time to practice. I would recommend starting small and setting aside twenty minutes to start with.
This could be once or twice a week, for example in the evenings right after dinner, in the morning before setting off to work or on your lunch hour. 20 minutes doesn’t seem a lot but it’s amazing what that can do for you. It can be the perfect ‘me time’, helping you slow down and relax.