An Interview with Vanessa Li

Vanessa is a Sydney based pointed pen calligrapher who spent the past three years learning a number of classical scripts by herself. She practises diligently and dives deep into every script she learns to understand the script from every movement to its historical origins.

I discovered Vanessa’s profile a few months after my calligraphy journey on Instagram started and I have been following her work since. Out of the multitude of works I have seen over the past few years, Vanessa’s hand has definitely stood out to me, and I wanted an opportunity to conduct a small interview with her to learn about her progress in Classical pointed pen Calligraphy. Some of the scripts Vanessa practises include Engrosser script, Roundhand, Spencerian script (Ornamental) and Madarasz script.

Interview with Vanessa Li:

1. Where are you from?

I am from China and I have been living in Australia for 10 years.

2. How long have you been doing calligraphy?

I started self-learning calligraphy from March 2015. This is the third year of my calligraphy journey.  My first year was focused on Engrosser script then Ornamental Penmanship. The second year I majorly worked on English roundhand style in 18 century and Madarasz script. Also start my online teaching of copperplate. The third year I started Chinese penmanship and now I restart the Ornamental penmanship study again.

3. What inspired you to start calligraphy?

At the beginning I was interested on planner design. I saw someone’s works on Instagram with calligraphy and I fell in love this at the first sign. The ink movement, nib, graceful hairline design and the copperplate script, are so beautiful.

I wish I can write like this. So I start to search the videos, materials, lessons online and started my self-leaning journey.

It is a long story how did I learn, who I met and what did I learn in these years. But I can tell you, the more I learn, the more I become addicted to this art. Calligraphy is an art combined with history, writing tools, and the letting arts research and learning.  Calligraphy opens a brand-new world before me.

4. What do you love about the scripts you have learnt? (Engrosser, Madarasz, Spencerian)

At the beginning I love the presentation for this art. The flourishing, the uniformed letters. But now I am more interested at the background, history of this art, the stories of those past master penman, the technique of arm movement and how can I achieve the golden age master penman’s works.

5. What are some struggles you came across and how did you overcome them?

The struggles are always the same. How can I write closer to master penman’s script? To achieve the finest and the most graceful hair line, and the accuracy of the form. The more I learn the more I struggled.

This can be very frustrating, but the little improvements will cheer me up. I learned how to face to myself and enjoy the progress. Now I am more confident, not only in calligraphy, but also in my normal life. I am proud of what I achieved and the years I can insist on.

6. What do you believe are the most important things when learning a script? (What advice would you give)

Firstly, Enjoy! Enjoy your work and your progress. This is very important to keep yourself stick on this journey for long time.

Secondly, practice regularly and efficiently.  Practice every day if you can. Calligraphy is a slow progress learning. You need to keep your hand and pen work smoothly through out the year. If you drop the pen for weeks and pick it up again, you will see the difference.  Study the form and analyse it. Set up a goal when you practise. Stop and check your strokes regularly and fix the problems.

Thirdly, making calligraphy friends is essential!  Join in a club or interest group, share knowledge and experiences with someone who has the same interests. Encourage, study and practise together.


Watch Vanessa’s graceful hand in action!

Share your thoughts

Beginner's Kits Restocked! Flat Rate Shipping USD15 on international orders. AUD11 for AUS Orders. New Worksheets: Capital letter flourishing Set! Dismiss