Finding mindfullness through calligraphy

By Natali Trivuncic
Staff Writer

Self-care is often categorized under the likes of facial treatments or a massage, but for Jessica Marissen, 32, calligraphy is the best way to clear her head.

As a busy mom of two young children, Marissen said practicing calligraphy and creating is something she makes a priority, to de-stress and unwind for the day. Marissen said she practices for eight to ten hours a week.

“It’s something that relaxes me. Many calligraphers get into it specifically for that reason, because you cannot do it without breathing,” Marissen said. “When you put your breath into it, and you do the upstrokes and downstrokes with your breathing, it just calms your nervous system, and it relaxes you and calms your mind.”

Marissen credits her sixth grade art class as the catalyst to her love of calligraphy.

“My teacher bought some sharpies that had a straight edge and taught us some of the basics of calligraphy and that was my introduction and I loved it,” Marissen said. “I did some more in the years following and then I kind of dropped it and life got busy and I did other things.”

Calligraphy has made a big comeback in recent years with close-up videos of people doing modern calligraphy, making waves across social media platforms.

Marissen said last winter she was browsing Instagram and came across some of those videos, which made her feel calm and relaxed. They inspired her to take another stab at calligraphy.

“It was a different style than I had learned but I was really drawn to it, and I wanted to get into that again and learn how to do different styles. So I got the equipment that I needed, the pens and ink and I just started practicing,” Marissen said.

While the bouncy and whimsical nature of modern calligraphy may be the most popular, Marissen’s work is that of traditional calligraphy. Marissen does pointed pen calligraphy which requires the use of an old-fashioned quill and ink.

She adds that it is different than using a pen because it is all about pressure. Marissen said it took her a few weeks to get comfortable with it.

“I could see myself improving. But it’s not a thing where you ever can say I’ve mastered it. You always can improve, and you have to stay consistent with it,” Marissen said.

Marissen said the traditional style of calligraphy is done at a 55-degree angle and the letters are more oval. She adds that it is pleasing to the eye but difficult because all the letters have to be the same size, be preciously spaced out and follow an oval shape.

Marissen started taking requests for custom orders this spring on her Instagram. The Mother’s Day cards Marissen made were the first works she put out for sale. She sold 25 of them and then started receiving requests for custom orders.

“Just to write out a quote on a piece of paper or a Bible verse that somebody could frame. And then I did Father’s Day cards as well. Cards are something that was an easy thing to start out with,” Marissen said.

While Marissen does enjoy creating cards, she said she would like to explore other types of calligraphy commissioned work.

“I want to take our wedding vows and write them out on a larger fancier piece of paper that I can frame for either side of our bed over our night table. And that would be something that others could get done as well,” Marissen said.

Marissen said the custom orders are very personalized and she likes to get creative with them but that she will not copy other people’s work. Depending on what the order entails, it takes Marissen around an hour to make one card.

As calligraphy has not only become a creative outlet and business but also a form of self-care, Marissen said she is looking into offering calligraphy classes in the fall.

“Even if people don’t really want to do it long term, a class is something fun to do with a bunch of girlfriends or just as a way to relax and slow down,” Marissen said.

In the meantime, Marissen said she is enjoying creating custom orders and improving her craft. Those interested in putting in an order can message her at tipofthequill on Instagram.