PRO Spotlight: Paula Lee Calligraphy

Happy Thursday, Partners!

We welcome Paula Lee Calligraphy to the Spotlight this week! Paula Lee Calligraphy is a design studio that specializes in fine art custom stationery for weddings and special events. Paula is also a Creative Community Member and the oh so talented artist behind our Eucalyptus & Little One designs! Without further ado…

Introduction

Hello! My name is Paula and I live in Toronto, Canada with my husband Bryan and 10-month old baby girl, Norah. Shout out to all my fellow Canadians!

Tell us about your business? What is your background? What is your craft? How did you start?

My calligraphy journey started out simply as a creative outlet. In 2014, I found myself at a cross roads, trying to figure out what was next for me. At the time, a few friends of mine encouraged me to try calligraphy as a hobby. I had always loved penmanship so I gave it a shot and I instantly fell in love! During the day, I would be at my full-time day job and in the evenings, I was scribbling away doing practice drills and exploring new calligraphy styles. My poor husband would come home from work to our little condo sprinkled in ink-covered sheets! From there, it was a very organic process of growth and I eventually turned this little hobby into a business! Looking back, I’m amazed at the journey and the unexpected turns life can throw at you!

Tell us three fun facts about you!

  • I had considered becoming a florist before pursuing calligraphy! I actually used to work part-time at a flower shop and still miss it so much sometimes
  • My go-to binge tv show is The Office. I actually once met Jenna Fischer! She asked me where the bathroom was. It was a great moment 😉
  • Baked goods are my weakness. I love croissants, pretzels, doughnuts… mmm!

Spill The Tea

What has been your biggest struggle or challenge to date? And how did you overcome it?

I would say that the biggest challenge is playing the comparison game. It’s easy to look left and right and think “if only I was that successful” – but I’m so thankful for my life cheerleaders who keep me on track! One piece of advice that was passed onto me that I’ve never let go of is this: just because someone else is succeeding, doesn’t mean I’m losing. There is room for everyone! And so with this, I’ve learned (and still learning!) to replace that “if only” attitude with “how awesome for them!” attitude. I definitely think it’s so important to cheer each other on when we see people around us reach their goals and dreams! We’re a community, after all!

What was the pivotal moment when you decided to start your own business?

I was working a day job and doing calligraphy on the side for friends’ weddings. Then the circles started to get wider from friends of friends to people I didn’t know who found me on Instagram or Google! I worked my day job for as long as I could until I found myself thinking about calligraphy at my job and was taking on enough business to run full-time. I’m totally a risk-averse person so quitting my job and diving in was 100% terrifying but 100% exciting! There are definitely no regrets 🙂

A Day In The Life

How do you maintain a work/life balance?

Two words: Block Scheduling! For the longest time, I found myself overworked, overwhelmed, and completely burnt out. Only just recently, I came across “block scheduling” (YouTube it!) and it completely changed my approach to work/life balance! Long story short, you divide your day into different blocks of time devoted to only doing the tasks assigned to that block (ie. a workblock, a rest block, etc). You are essentially helping yourself to be 100% focused on the tasks at hand for a specific amount of time and protecting yourself against unfocused work (doing spurts of work throughout the day) or overwhelming work (always working, never resting and everything else in life falls by the wayside). 
 
I’ve been doing block scheduling for a year now and it has been so incredibly helpful and has kept me organized and focused and most of all – helps me rest! I used to check my email at every minute of the day but that robbed me of true rest and I felt I was working all. the. time. But now, I have a specific block to answer all work emails and a specific block for rest. I should say that I’m not super strict about it – life is of course unpredictable – but it provides helpful windows for productivity and rest. Sounds simple but it’s been completely life-changing for me!

If you could give one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?

Don’t get caught up with Instagram likes and followers. Personally, I found it more stressful than anything, especially in the beginning! The moment you let go of measuring your success against your likes and followers (which isn’t even a helpful metric!), you feel so much freer and have the brain space to actually create good, honest work.

#GOALS

What do you love most about your job?

I love that my commute is 1 minute 🙂 But in all honesty, I just love weddings and I always get teary-eyed and all the feels when I receive my clients’ wedding photos or get feedback when they receive their stationery. It’s moments like that where I’m reminded that I get the huge privilege of creating such important work in one of the biggest moments in someone else’s life. Gives me goosebumps!

What is one project you worked on that you are still swooning over? (if you have pictures, feel free to share them!)

One of my most favourite projects I’ve ever done is actually these super simple place cards. I feel like everything about them speaks about me as a person and my values as a business. They encapsulate my love for simplicity, my constant chase for understated elegance, and one of my life mottos – “less is more”.

Teach Us Something!

I’m going to assume that most calligraphers already do this but the Smooth tool in Illustrator is AMAZING! For way too long, I was smoothing my calligraphy by adjusting every single anchor point which we all know takes forever. With the smooth tool, you literally drag our cursor over the curve(s) you want to smooth and it does the work for you. I can smooth calligraphed names in seconds. Talk about a time and life saver! 

Thank You, Paula!

A very big thank you to Paula for taking on the PRO Spotlight this week. We love learning more about you and your journey into stationery. We are looking forward to Part Two! Make sure you follow Paula on Instagram here.

XoXo,

The Artisaire PRO Team

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