How to make a living from handwriting

Beautiful handwriting is everywhere: on your candle label, inspirational quote wall hangings, wedding invitations and all over your Instagram and Pinterest feed.

“Penmanship and handwriting are very on-trend at the moment, and new technology, particularly social media, is helping to make the art of handwriting popular again,” explains Scott Thornton, managing director of Pilot Pen Australia.

But can you make bank doing something that used to give you cramps at your high school end of year exams?

Brisbane-based Louise Mulhall is a professional handwriter, and her clients have included luxury brands such as Moët & Chandon and Louis Vuitton. According to her, you can.

“I’d like to think that beautiful handwriting will be highly valued and appreciated again. Digital communication is an integral part of most of our lives, however writing by hand can never be replaced,” she says.

She has been working full-time with calligraphy and hand lettering since 2013. Here she shares her top tips on how to pursue handwriting as a profession if that’s your passion!

Learn the trade

“I used to be a full time wedding florist, but when I had my first child, I needed to find something I could do from the comfort of my home. I’ve always loved handwriting, so I decided to focus my creative attention on honing my handwriting and calligraphy skills. I watched online classes and videos, I attended an intensive calligraphy class in Sydney, read up on the art of handwriting and practiced, practiced and practiced. I’m still learning now! I had the pleasure of working with Vietnamese calligrapher Dao Huy Hoang in 2016 and he has many videos on Youtube which would benefit anyone wanting to learn more about calligraphy and handwriting.”

Photography by Trudi Le Brese

 

Get the tools

“Perfecting your penmanship is much easier if you have the right tools. There are specialty pen shops in most metro cities, so why not visit one and try some different calligraphy pens and fountain pens to see which one is the right fit for you. Also, check out other calligraphers and handwriting artists online to see what they use and recommend!”

Set up a website

“Set up a professional website with beautiful images of your work – this way people can find you and contact you.”

Embrace social media

“Be sure to share your work with beautiful, high-res quality imagery and videos on social media, especially Instagram and Pinterest. I would say 90 percent of my clients reach out to me after seeing me on Instagram. The best part about social media is that it’s free and it has the potential to make your business global – I’ve worked with clients from all over the world. However, it might be worth investing in a styled product shoot or enlisting a friend who is a professional photographer – to ensure that your images really stand out.”

Network

“Networking is not only for social media! Hand out business cards and ask friends and family to refer you. My very first paid job was writing place cards for a friend of my sister!”

Think outside the box

“Although a client might contact me for my handwriting skills, they often ask for ideas to create something unique. For instance, many brides request place cards to be written on materials other than paper such as leaves or oyster shells! So being creative and being prepared to go that extra mile is really important in this industry.”

Expand your offering

“Although the majority of my work is client based, I also teach modern calligraphy and host classes in Brisbane and across Australia. I’m grateful that the demand for my classes is pretty high and the workshops tend to book out, which I take as a sign that more and more people are falling in love with handwriting! I didn’t set out to teach handwriting classes but if you’re thinking of taking up handwriting as a profession you should always think of different ways that you might be able to grow your business and expand your offering.”

Be supportive of other handwriters

“A lot of my work has come about through Instagram networking, however some jobs have been due to personal references from other calligraphers. I’m lucky enough to be part of a supportive, online community of calligraphers and we refer work to each other as often as possible. We all have our own styles of writing and we’re all about promoting community over competition.”

Follow Louise on Instagram

Main image photography by Trudi Le Brese

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