Calligrapher’s Corner:Consulting with the Experts, Volume 11: Kathy Milici
Describe how you began your love of lettering and how you started your career in calligraphy.
My love of lettering first sprang from my love of reading as a child, I think. My mother and grandmother used to take us (me, my brother and sister) to the local library often, as children. We loved borrowing and reading books! I remember my Mom would read us bedtime stories every night. It was a ritual that I will never forget. I also remember loving to write letters from early childhood. My mom claims that I knew how to write all of my letters and numbers by the age of two! There’s a note on my second grade report card (I still have it!) from my mother to the teacher. It reads, “Kathy really loves to write her letters and numbers. Is it okay if I teach her to write script?” Wow.
What would you consider to be your area of greatest expertise?
Ornamental pen flourishing and wedding work. I love both the doing and the teaching of both on the national level. I feel so lucky and blessed to love what I do, and I never take it for granted. How many people get to write all day, every day, PLUS get paid for it? Somebody pinch me!
With whom did you study, and who were/are your biggest influences?
I started out self-taught, like so many of us. As a teenager, I was a tried and true broad-pen girl. In the early 1980’s, I found the Society of Scribes in NYC (my local guild), and I began formal classes. Trying to unlearn bad habits was very challenging for me. Then I found Sheila Waters…thank goodness! She helped me to “see” letterforms in a completely different way. Over the years, I discovered the pointed pen. Eleanor Holland and Pat Blair were among my first teachers. Now I love to learn from just about everyone, including the IAMPETH Master Penman. I feel so grateful for their willingness to share their talent with the world!
What products can you not live without?
There are so many great products on the market that make life easier these days, and allow for a higher daily volume/production rate in my studio. Nikko G nibs, Sumi Moon Palace ink, Fons and Porter White Mechanical Pencil, Dr. Martin’s Bleed-proof White and Clairfontaine paper. ..and, of course, the Phantom Liner! “The Zanerian Manual” and Sheila Water’s “The Foundations of Calligraphy” are my most used books for reference and inspiration.
What advice would you give a new calligrapher?
Never write on your husband’s face while he’s sleeping.
Seriously, be gentle with yourself and don’t compare yourself to others. Instead, use the work of others to inspire you and propel you forward. The world of calligraphy can be a lifetime of joyful learning. Every artist is on their own individual path and develops at their own speed. Just keep moving forward, even if it’s baby steps. Find great teachers along the way to guide and mentor you. Be willing to do the work. And educate yourself about running a small business, learn to love it, apply it, and reap the benefits of your success!
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I’ve been a library clerk, cosmetic buyer, retail manager, and window dresser. I’ve worked on cruise ships. I owned a window display company for jewelry stores for over 25 years before coming to calligraphy full time in 2001. I love cats, coffee, chocolate, classical music, and a good eggplant parmesan. Oh, and I cry at parades. I wonder why?
When you are not lettering, what do you enjoy doing?
Teaching lettering, reading books on lettering, talking about lettering, writing about lettering, dreaming about lettering, and studying lettering online and in historic documents. Did I ever tell you that I love lettering? 🙂