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Author Topic: Complimentary skills


Beginnerthisrestle-
ssness
Posts: 44
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Complimentary skills
on: November 19, 2013, 23:27
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What skills do you bring to your calligraphy business that you feel have been most helpful?

I've been very thankful for my photography and software skills (Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.), but I sure wish I was a halfway decent illustrator or painter. I'm so jealous of calligraphers that are able to create invitations with beautiful illustrations complimenting their lovely calligraphy. I've been trying to design a holiday card and am like, "Hmm... I can draw a snowman...?" (but I'd rather take a picture of one)

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Newbieschin
Posts: 24
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Re: Complimentary skills
on: November 20, 2013, 01:43
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I am thankful for graphic design skills.. it is handy to tap into existing knowledge of composition and design for calligraphy. But I don't have good business skills and don't know how to say no.. I tend to want to please everybody and shoot my foot in the process. Still working on that 🙁

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Newbiemelissaphe-
r
Posts: 4
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Re: Complimentary skills
on: November 20, 2013, 19:06
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I second @Schin! It's so important to learn how to say no. I LOVE calligraphy, I want to do it all day, every day. I've got to value my time somewhere, though.

ALSO - it drives me BATTY when people don't value their work. By under-charging your work (not saying that you need to bleed people dry for $$, but know what you're worth), you're undermining the entire community. The lovely Jessica Hische talks about that often. Her blog is a great resource for business/design/lettering advice:

http://jessicahische.is/thinkingthoughts



Beginnerthisrestle-
ssness
Posts: 44
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Re: Complimentary skills
on: November 20, 2013, 22:37
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Business and communication skills are tough. And pricing! Are there any guidelines at all on how to price calligraphy jobs, and if not, is that maybe something we should all begin a discussion about? I've been thinking of buying the Graphic Artist's Guild Handbook of Pricing and Ethical Guidelines to see how graphic design work is priced, but I don't know if it will cover any of the jobs that are pretty unique to calligraphers (addressing envelopes, etc.).

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BeginnerLinda Y
Posts: 32
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Re: Complimentary skills
on: November 20, 2013, 23:44
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This is such a great topic, Erin, thank you!

I am thankful for my Photoshop/Illustrator/graphic design skills (went to school for that and then worked for many years doing design work) so doing layouts as well as vectorizing and digitizing calligraphy is fairly easy. However! I suck at drawing/painting and wish I had paid more attention/done more fine art-related stuff when I was in school.

I too second Schin's sentiment regarding business skills - it's like my left brain has to fight with my right. As I'm getting older, I am learning to value my time and learning to say no. Or sometimes I would refer other calligraphers if they are willing to or have the time.

Melissa, thanks for sharing Jessica Hische's post - I had read it back when she published it but it's always good to be reminded to value our own work. I do have to say, though, it is difficult to price your work at X amount on shops such as Etsy, when another vendor is asking half the amount. And many clients can't tell the difference between "great" and "okay" (totally subjective) calligraphy so they (understandably) go the cheaper route to stay within their budget. It's totally different when you are more established and in-demand, but for folks who are starting out - we have to start somewhere, right? It's a double-edged sword...

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Newbiezemof
Posts: 21
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Re: Complimentary skills
on: November 24, 2013, 02:59
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I think I’m still fine handing the business aspect, since I come from a design background—where my eye for typography, layout and balance comes into play—but no, the business model is not a perfect fit to calligraphy. I explain the best that I could, defend/protect myself firmly without being rude; tone is important, it shows your professionalism. Keep your dignity and pride in your work without undermining yourself guys…!

For pricing, it was a struggle too; I compared the pricing of fellow (some of you here!) calligraphers online, judge my skills against them, and other variables such as the local market/demand. Mine is a little high (compared to @Schin and @thefozzybook) but also due to the availability locally, and I do hope to sustain this prices for a couple of years actually without having to mark up once in a while. Agree with @Linda Y, clients can’t tell. Some over-expect and expect a perfect piece, losing the organic handwritten field and blame you for your lack of skills. It’s bizarre.

My issue, is the same question, when to say no. I could be receiving the stationery a week in advance, and names only 2 days before. Not to say that it couldn’t be done (for a mere 100 names or so), but they tend not to take into consideration the job queue/status. I know @schin has her google calendar out for all, but I do have other job commitments and my organiser is kinda private, with personal activities and other miscellaneous works within as well so I’m not that keen on sharing…

So with rushed/tight deadlines and overlapping projects, how do we gauge yes/no? And after the surcharge for weekend or rushed work, they would add names at the eleventh hour. I love calligraphy and I’m fortunate to let it contribute to my salary, but all these late nights after work or late names has somehow taken a toil on my body; I’ve been sick a handful of times in these couple of months. Any suggestions/advice?

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