TV PROMOTION BY DAY. MOONLIGHTING CALLIGRAPHY, BY NIGHT, MY PATH TO SUCCESS WITH PENS & BRUSHES


At ten years in, I had done a number of brush-lettering jobs after my introduction to steel lettering pens at Oklahoma State University in 1961. This project was my drawing board chair pad in a small, carpeted bedroom, converted to my lettering studio in 1971. I used a flat brush and a rainbow of paint colors for TWELVE RULES FOR SUCCESS that I lettered on the large piece of particle board. It racked up countless 'chair miles' before I trashed it a few years later.

I was moonlighting Calligraphy and had developed quite a steady business at home while working at my 'real job' in promotion and production at WFAA TV, the ABC network affiliate in Dallas, TX. Three years after starting in television, my moonlighting Calligraphy was generating more income that my day job, so I checked out, hung out my shingle as a full-time professional Calligrapher, and gave up weekly paychecks.

The pens and brushes I used...and, much later, markers...had chisel-edged tips that were positioned at a forty-five degree angle to the horizontal lines on legal pads or exercise sheets. Those lines were the baselines of the letters. In that never-changing pen/brush tip position, the strokes were alternating thick and thin; that gave the letters their graceful, calligraphic appearance. And it still does!

My 'addiction' to beautiful letters began early. That love was seeded by an utter disgust for them in the third grade! I remember vividly, the last day of school before a two-week 1947 Christmas break when our teacher, Miss Baines, had the gall to give us a thick tablet, about 6" x 9", filled with blank spaces for all the upper and lower case letters in the alphabet. WE HAD TO FILL UP THE PAD DURING CHRISTMAS VACATION!

Every page had examples of letters and how to make them. The tablet had miles of blank lines and spaces for us to fill with letters using a soft pencil. I was not happy about the assignment. Thought it was cruel! But...I filled up the tablet over the holidays; it was the start of my appreciation and love affair with letters. Thanks Miss Baines!

NEXT: HOW I GREW THE SKILL...AND THE INCOME.


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