Are you struggling to find your own unique calligraphy style? If you answered yes, you’re not alone! As with anything, as you start learning new calligraphy techniques and defining your style, there’s a chance your calligraphy will look like someone else’s (especially if you learned from the same person or learned a specific “hand”). So, the question is this: How can we discern when we’re being true to ourselves and actually cultivating our own style? That’s exactly what our guest, Dyonna of Availa and Co. is coming on the show to answer today! Listen in as she uncovers how she learned new techniques while also adding her own flair and cultivating her own standout calligraphy style!
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When did you fall in love with the art of calligraphy? Tell us how you got to where you are today!
I started availa and co very intentionally and didn’t just like start a calling a few page. I started it as availa and co immediately offering services in 2018. And I didn’t know anything about calligraphy services, but I just put a thing, but I was doing that, but it’s been a few years now. I just came across hashtags on Instagram.
And at the time I was a single mom and I was looking for like, you know, something to supplement my income. And after going through the logistics, I was like, this is the most feasible thing is something that gets better over time, and it’s really easy to start. So it’s been a great journey since then.
When you were first starting out, what were your go-to calligraphy resources?
It’s really interesting. When I first started. I was like, okay, like you said, at the beginning, this is an intentional decision. So I immediately thought like what I should do to, you know, make some income.
I know it’s kind of like, we don’t really talk about it a lot. Yes. I love calligraphy. But the purpose behind it was to help me take care of my kids. So when I started it, I was like, I see all these people on Instagram and Skillshare was the first place that I started going to. And I came across one of Peggy’s pigeon letters on Instagram.
She did a summit about imposter syndrome and she used to say a lot to my following that that was like, it was kismet because if I hadn’t watched that, I probably would have went through that phase where we all go through imposter syndrome and we might try to copy, or we might try to, you know, do things that we’re seeing.
But after watching that summit on Skillshare, I immediately was like, She talked about not following people. If it’s taking away from your creativity, that there’s nothing wrong, you know, there’s a safe space for you, sentences distance yourself so that you’re not,copying so to speak, right? So you have your own identity.
So I was really, really lucky to come across that summit first way in the beginning. ’cause it really stopped me from having to overcome that hill that we all do. I feel like as calligraphers, we all go through it where we’re seeing what other people are doing. We’re seeing their style or seeing things they participate in.
And we just, we get that FOMO, you know, like we want to do that. So she was one of the first ones that I started Ali on Skillshare. I didn’t even follow her on Instagram. At first. I just watched a lot of her videos and she wasn’t even talking about calligraphy or lettering. She was just talking about your identity as a creative entrepreneur.
So I’m really glad I came across that. But other than that, the only other person that I really looked up to was the salvaging. Jess she’s pivoted in the past year, but her branding really, really spoke to me which I think that’s why that really gave me a push because my skill wasn’t there in the beginning.
Right. So I needed something to kind of make it appealing to the audience I felt. So that really gave me a push and encouraged me to really focus on my brand and how I’m seeing and what people feel when they look at my photos.
As with anything, there’s definitely a chance your calligraphy will look like someone else’s (especially if you learned from the same person or learned a specific “hand”). How can we discern when we are being true to our own style.
I definitely went through that as I started taking these courses. what I have to do when I was going through these courses is really look at a lot of my old work and what really set me up for.
And I know that there are some classes now, like for modern calligraphy, they probably touch on this a little bit, but it’s like, maybe you like the way you do your descender on your why, you know, and it’s not common, you know, you, you want to keep that, you know what I mean? It’s looking at your letters and what you really like about your letters.
And then as you start learning technique, trying to really, I mean, I’m fighting to hang on to them because I like it’s so easy when you start taking technical classes, start looking. I don’t want to say monotone. That’s not the word, but comparably is copper plate. You know, I don’t feel like there’s a way to make that look.
You know, because they won’t be comparably anyway, you know, but when you’re doing your own style, you can take those techniques and apply it to your own style.
Where have you found your clients during your calligraphy journey? Etsy, your website, Instagram, or something else?
You need a website like today, if there’s any, if there’s any like thing that I wish I could go back and do, I wish I would’ve started a website, even if it was crappy. And the reason being is because there’s so many calligraphers and when you Google calligraphy, all types of things come up and you need a website.
So the creepy crawly, I call them the creepy car. But the technical term is like SEO and you know, the crawlers
to work while you’re working on your skill and trying to get your brand and get sales, you need to let Google do what it’s doing, even if it’s just one. Even if it’s just a home page, I really wish I would have just set up a home page about me with keywords. Based out of XYZ area, specializing in XYZ things contacting me here, you know, it works on the back end for you when people are searching for things and over time, and I’ve seen it work now, I’ve had my website for two years and it’s just now, you know, I’m on the first page.
Number two, I use. I know there’s a lot of discourse about Etsy, but it works for me. You know, I’ve had it since I started in 2018, a couple of my place card listings have made it to like the Etsy, you know, Etsy does like a grouping of what they want to promote.
They’ve done it a couple of times. Sometimes I might turn on the ads if I, you know, Need some extra money and wants to be honest, it gets those months where we need the extra income. So I might turn on some ads, you know, it’s a one-stop shop. So at the end, it’s really, really a big deal for me when I have quarterly projects.
So a Valentine’s day, I have a table runners. That’s a big time for me. And the first quarter and a force Christmas. So I’m wedding season in the summer. So those two places are the main, my website and Etsy,
You run Availa & Co. as a side hustle, and from what I’ve seen on stories it seems like it’s a very intentional decision to keep it that way! We have a lot of followers who are super inspired and empowered when they see others make that decision. Can you tell us a little more about why you made that choice and it’s the best fit for you?
you know, I still have two little ones. I have an 11 year olds and a four year olds and I’m a type five Enneagram. So I’m all about the logistics and like what it looks like, you know, on. And for me, it was like, okay, COVID happened.
And prior to COVID, I will say in 2019, I was set on making this like a full-time business, you know, but I was really thankful. I’ve been blessed to still have been employed working from home for the pandemic and just for how old my kids are and where we are family wise. It just makes sense for me to hang on to.
That type of stress versus treating it, at least with this stress, the money is there, you know, you have your own business, you have to go out and make the money, you know, and I feel like we don’t talk about that enough. Some of us want to go full time, but we don’t have a handle on pricing. So we’re starting full-time and we’re burning out.
We’re keeping our hands in so many different pots over this past three years, I’ve really learned like less is more, it’s not bad that I’m only focusing on one thing or one niche with them, the calligraphy industry, there’s nothing wrong with it. You know, it’s okay to be part-time it’s based off of your needs.
And. Your family needs or whatever the situation is, it’s a case by case basis. But I do believe that there comes a time in your journey as an entrepreneur where you do, you are faced with that decision, like what that needs to be, where your training dollars to go to your employer. Not, you know what I mean?
You need to be at that point first and. I’m not quite at that point, you know, because they’re not willing to pay my prices. So I’m not at that point,
but yes, it’s okay to be part-time. It is an intentional decision for me now. I don’t have any end in sight of when I’ll go full time when I’ll stop working corporate right now, it works for me.
Tell us about your intentions for 2022! What do you hope to accomplish this year?
I’m ending this year. I don’t have any plans to like, be really busy during the Christmas season. So just being really intentional with my time in 2022, really honing in on my niche offers, I’m going to really be focusing on place cards for that time and paper goods.
So like I said, my Etsy shop, I sell all paper goods. That are handmade. So I’m really just going to turn it up a notch on that. Totally. The world is opening back up, so it’ll be allowed busierv and just being really intentional with my time. I never want to get back to that place where the hustle was like.
So like when I think back on 2019, like I was just running on fumes all the time and I just, I don’t want to do that. So resting is going to be really important for me. Practicing resting so that I can have sustainable energy.