Birds of a Feather: Hooked Calligraphy

MARCH 2015


You can’t find someone much sweeter than Calir Daley. She runs Hooked Calligraphy, a hand-lettering and modern calligraphy studio, and we have had the supreme pleasure of working with her on several different projects in the last year. Most recently, she was one of our makers at the Makers Unite event we co-hosted with Spark Letterpress {keep your eyes peeled for photos and a film from that event, coming soon!}, where she had a table set up showing off her gorgeous work and showing our guests some modern calligraphy technique. Because not only does she hand-letter placecards and envelopes for special events, as well as custom work {remember this window display??} but she also teaches modern calligraphy workshops to share her love of this unique art!

Clair is kind and incredibly talented, and we’re so excited to share an interview with her today, where she talks about how she got started with calligraphy, her life-long love for hand-lettering, and her inspiring belief that she was not made to do one single thing. Keep scrolling and check it out!

White Peacock: When did you first start practicing calligraphy?

Clair: Growing up, I was always a “doodler” and lover of writing by hand (passing 5-page notes in class, anyone!?), but I seriously started diving into calligraphy in 2013 when I needed a creative break from my day job. And my addiction to hand-lettering has only grown since then!

WP: When did you launch Hooked, and what was your inspiration for pursuing hand-lettering as a career?

C: After graduating from art school, I was working in event planning for and handful of years and enjoyed it—but found myself not being satisfied by working just one 8-5 job. I started thinking about what it might be like to instead cobble together a few different sources of income, including something more creative like hand-lettering. But I admit, I was nervous. After a few months of flying under the radar with a “soft launch” on family and friends, I finally went all-in and made Hooked a reality in the spring of 2014!

WP: What did the process of starting your own business look like?

C: think the first step is always to simply take that chance . . . to jump off the dock into the lake, even though it looks freezing cold. You have to take the first step and worry about the details later! After taking my plunge, I was just constantly practicing my craft, doing a lot of cold-calling by sending out sample packets, and putting a good effort into building a social media presence. With hand-lettering being such a visual art, it has been super important to have those in-hand (or on-screen!) samples of my work available to get it off the ground. And I also had quite a bit of luck by landing right away with some really talented Twin Cities vendors, like White Peacock! 

WP: What are the different types of projects that you work on?

C: I do of course create the more standard calligraphy items, like envelope addressing, placecards, and event signage—but I also like to say that I will literally write on ANYTHING! One of the things that I love bout modern calligraphy is ow creative he movement is right now; calligraphers today are always pushing the boundaries by testing new materials and using the basics in new ways. Lately, I’ve been riting placecards on geodes, greetings on balloons, r even inner menus on sheet metal! I especially love taking on custom project, ike arge-scale installations an store-ron window—and it’s been so special to have clients trust me to create some very personal work, like tattoo designs. (It still blows my mind that there are people walking around with my handwriting on their bodies!)

WP: What have been the biggest challenges and rewards of running your own business?

C: It’s an exciting time to se hand-lettering wor grow in the technology-driven times we live i, so it’s been especially rewarding for me to see how happily people respond to my work simply because it is hand-written. But, it’s not without the occasional lient demands nd business challenges that come with any design work . . . figuring ou busines taxes is currently my least favorite part!

WP: How do you maintain a healthy work/life balance?

C: Personally, diversification of my work is important, as I’ve realized I’m not meant to do just one thing—so I do have another job working in digital media, along with my client work for Hooked, teaching modern calligraphy workshops locally with the lovely ladies over at LAB MPLS, plus the occasional event planning contract work as well—and I love it all! The flexibility between my different jobs allows me to build my own schedule and that has been so great, to pick up work when I need it and turn down projects when I need a little more personal time . . . being your own boss is so empowering!

WP: Where does the name “Hooked” come from?

C: fter avering on choosing a name for my hand-lettering business for weeks, I caught myself describing my hand-lettering efforts to family and friends as “being so hooked on calligraphy.” And I knew it was perfect!

WP: Do you have a dream client you’d like to work with? If so, who?

C: don’t have a particular client in mind, but some of my 2015 goals are to get more national wedding clients and to e published on a national wedding/event blog, like Style Me Pretty! So dreamy!