Customer Showcase: Joy Deneen

I first met Joy Deneen at a Letters California Style conference, and I immediately loved her sweet personality. Not only is she warm and kind, but she’s also incredibly talented. Though she’s no longer residing in southern California, she still shares her work on Instagram and Facebook, and it’s been fun to see how she’s sharing her love for calligraphy and her amazing talent in Montreal. Enjoy learning a little more about her!

Joy Deneen (Photo by Emilie Iggiotti)
Joy Deneen (Photo by Emilie Iggiotti)

Chalkboards (Joy Deneen)

What Paper and Ink product(s) can you not live without? I can’t live without Nikko G nibs, my screw top Dinky Dip and the Fons & Porter mechanical pencil.

Essential Tools (Lisa Renault Photographie)

What makes this product great? Have you tried similar products and found this one to be superior? I love the Nikko G because it’s a more rigid nib (perfect for my heavy hand) and gives nice hairlines.  The Dinky Dips are fantastic, especially with the new, easy to remove screw tops.  It allows me to keep several colours readily available and safe from drying out.  And my Fons & Porter mechanical pencil (and its many refills) is an essential tool.  I’ve tried several different kinds of white pencils and this brand is the best by far.  I’m able to draw guidelines on dark cardstock and remove them easily with a paper towel or cloth, without leaving a trace behind.  When I work with paint pens on chalkboard panels, I typically use the Fons & Porter pencil first to lightly sketch out my design. You can also use the pencil in lieu of chalk, if you want super fine details.

Essential Tools - Student Supply Kit (Joy Deneen)
Essential Tools – Student Supply Kit (Joy Deneen)

Why do you choose to shop at Paper and Ink Arts? The customer service is exceptional (there’s something special about that Southern hospitality), and I love the rewards program.  Big chain art stores rarely carry quality calligraphy tools, and it’s often hard to find certain speciality items in Montreal.  Paper & Ink has everything I need!

Quote (UPPERCASE magazine)
Quote by Joy Deneen from Uppercase magazine feature

How did you get started in calligraphy? Tell us a little about your story! My entry into the world of lettering began with a Christmas gift.  I flew home for the holidays with a bargain-bin calligraphy kit I had found a few weeks earlier, thinking I would take up a new hobby during vacation.   My brother clearly noticed me struggling with a cheap fountain pen, because on Christmas morning I pulled back wrapping paper to find a clear box of shiny nibs, a bottle of ink and a copy of Modern Mark Making by Lisa Engelbrecht.  I found myself swept up in the colorful Quote - Restless (Joy Deneen)pages, amazed to find details on everything from traditional Roman capitals to vintage pointed pen styles to funky scripts and even graffiti inspired lettering.  When I turned to the Resources page at the back of the book, I had to blink twice.  Lisa had included a website link for the Society for Calligraphy, her guild in Southern California.  At this time, I was living in Los Angeles and had no idea that calligraphy guilds even existed, much less in my own neighborhood. When I returned back to LA after the Christmas vacation, I dove in head first.  I showed up at an annual general meeting for the society, bright-eyed and eager, not knowing a single soul in the room.  Little did I know, a whole new world was revealing itself to me. I haven’t looked back since!

Envelope - Breeze (Lisa Renault Photographie)
Envelope – Breeze (Lisa Renault Photographie)

What is the primary type of calligraphy that you do? My speciality is pointed pen calligraphy and hand lettering for weddings and special events.  I also teach beginner calligraphy classes and private lessons in Montreal.

Enveloped – Folded Pen (Lisa Renault Photographie)

For personal projects, I love experimenting with my folded pen.  (You can play along and follow #foldedpenfriday on Instagram, if you are so inclined!)

Paper Suite (Joy Deneen)

What recommendations would you make to someone just starting out with calligraphy? Find a local class! I strongly encourage beginners to seek out face-to-face instruction.  A teacher can correct how you hold your pen, watch while you form your letters and demonstrate right in front of you.  Online courses can supplement your studies, but nothing holds a candle to a real, live class or workshop experience.  And a big tip:  Google the words “calligraphy guild” plus your state or province.  Nearly all calligraphy societies are open to anyone with a love of lettering arts.  While you will find many seasoned artists and professional calligraphers, guilds are full of hobbyists and students as well.  Through the Society for Calligraphy, La Société des calligraphes and IAMPETH, I’ve been able to study with some phenomenal teachers.

Quote - Secrets (Joy Deneen)Also, I like to compare learning calligraphy to learning how to play an instrument: consistent practice is key!  If you aren’t able to practice on a daily basis, choose three days each week where you can have at least an hour without interruptions.  And be sure to keep all of your practice sheets, dating each page.  Learning calligraphy is a wonderful journey and it’s amazing to look back and see your progress!

Where can our customers see your work?

Invitation B&W (Lisa Renault Photographie)
Invitation B&W (Lisa Renault Photographie)


  1. Joy is such a talented and inspiring artist….so nice that you highlighted her with this article!
    Shari Denfeld

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