Sarah Richardson is a Little Rock, Arkansas-based artist and has been practicing calligraphy for over seven years. Sarah is the author of Copperplate Calligraphy from A to Z: A Step-By-Step Workbook for Mastering Elegant Pointed Pen Lettering and has taught over 200 students the copperplate style of calligraphy. She is a member of The International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers, and Teachers of Handwriting. In addition, she has studied calligraphy with Harvest Crittenden (Master Penman), Nina Tran, and Heather Held. Sarah has also has done on-site calligraphy for Goop, Tiffany and Co., and has recently been exploring the world of NFTs with her mosaics and other collaborations in digital spaces.
How did you begin your artistic journey as a Calligrapher, and did you find you were a natural from the beginning or did it take time to discover and develop the skill for this very specific medium?
In 2014, I was working as an administrative assistant at a private wealth management firm, and in my free time after work, I’d pursue creative projects like painting or taking acting classes. One of my friends from college had started practicing calligraphy and sent me a quote he had penned in the mail. In the age of texting and Twitter, a calligraphed snail-mailed work of art was pretty novel. I expressed my interest in learning how to do calligraphy, and he sent me pens and started teaching me over the phone. At the time, I was using a broad edge pilot parallel pen and enjoyed it, but soon after, I took my first pointed pen class in person, and I knew that was it. I practiced every day. I don’t think I was a natural, but I enjoyed being able to express myself through quotes, so I kept with it. I took a few more classes and studied from books, and applied myself every day. Before I knew it, I was going to the annual calligraphy conference (It’s a thing! www.iampeth.com) and writing a book on the subject.
I would imagine Calligraphy to be a very meditative art form. Could you speak to your process and the state you step into when you are creating and writing?
Calligraphy can be very meditative, and there’s a physical process to it as well with warming up your hand and arm and having a correct posture. If it’s a quote or I’m filming a calligraphy video, I like to work in silence or have classical music playing in the background (I know, very cheesy, but it helps!) However, if I’m working on a large envelope order for a wedding, I’ll have Schitt’s Creek or a podcast playing in the background.
Can you speak to the sacredness of your calligraphy practice, and do you feel a connection to its history, specifically your influences?
The messiness of my desk would beg to differ about any sacredness, but I’m trying to be better about this! I do have a sort of reverence for the work of Master Penmen in the past, though. My favourite books to study are those with specimens from the late 1800s and early 1900s, sometimes referred to as the Golden Age of American penmanship. This includes The Zanerian Manual, F.W. Tamblyn’s Home Instructor in Penmanship, and editions of The Business Educator. I think they are our best instructors.
Do you find inspiration outside of calligraphy? Are there other art forms that you want to explore that you haven’t?
I’m inspired by architecture, history, and music, but I think the thing that really lights my creative fire is human rights. I’m often told I should keep my politics out of calligraphy. Calligraphy rides that line between craft and art. I’d love to explore painting portraits.
Coming from a very traditional background as a Calligrapher with an extensive and rich history, what are your thoughts about your work existing as an NFT on a digital platform?
I love it! Instagram helped bring calligraphy to so many people that hadn’t come across it before, and the art form experienced a kind of renaissance. With NFT technology, we have a way to mark the provenance of these images and videos and have more assurance that this art won’t be lost to history. While texting, speech to text, voice messaging, etc., is amazing and helpful in so many ways, it’s important that the written word with the human hand does not disappear.
Could you talk about the inspiration behind your NFT mosaic works and how this project began?
I had seen other designers create digital mosaics and decided to learn by taking a class on Skillshare from Molly Suber-Thorpe (who is also a calligrapher). Not only do I love the way they look, but I also love the tedious and meditative nature of creating them. I love that, like calligraphy, they can simply be decorative, but they also are a medium through which you could say more. When I learned about NFTs in February, I was so excited because these projects were purely digital. I think the decorative arts have a place in the NFT world and like to say that I’m designing floors for your home in the metaverse.
Are there any new projects, collaborations, or NFT drops you are currently working on?
I am currently working on completing my alphabet “fauxsaic” collection on Bitski.com/sarahscript. I first loved their site design and had heard good things about their team from a friend, so I applied. At the time I was onboarding to Bitski as an artist, I was getting nervous about being in the crypto world, and Bitski provided a kind of bridge to crypto while still getting paid in FIAT.
You’ve worked commercially with luxury companies like Goop and Tiffany & Co. while creating an artistic practice in the NFT space. Do you differentiate between the two? If so, what is the difference in your mindset?
On the one hand, calligraphy is the stable side of my work, while the NFT side is a little riskier. I’m careful not to put all of my eggs into the NFT basket, not only because of the risks associated with cryptocurrency but also because I still just love putting pen to paper.
To learn more about Sarah, check out her NFTs on Foundation, visit her website and follow her online:
Website: sarahscript.com https://www.sarahscript.com/
Instagram: @sarahscript https://www.instagram.com/sarahscript/
Twitter: @sarah_script https://twitter.com/sarah_script