The Calligraphy Journey ( + Travel Updates!)

Happy (late) New Year! I’m not sure who still reads my website, but hello to you :)

I was partially writing this from Analog, a relatively new cafe I discovered on Instagram some time ago but only managed to visit recently. I regret not doing so earlier because this was the place for me to sit down and do my work. People rarely come to this side of Subang Jaya, hence the slow traffic of customers. I shall savour these few quieter moments before they get flooded with cafe hoppers (hopefully not).

It’s been interestingly crazy towards the end of 2015. I’d usually have too much time to spare during this time of the year but it seems activities are around the clock – not that I’m complaining. Here’s to sum up my last quarter of the year:

What's up, Bali! 🇲🇨 #documentingSEA

A photo posted by Emily Choong 钟艺琴 (@emilychoong_) on

Early October was spent in Bali for a company retreat where I got to try surfing for the first time (and failed). It was also the first time I tried Bossman Burgers and Mamasan (which recently opened in KLCC) and hiked up Mount Batur for about 3 hours to watch the sunrise (and almost died, but I made it!).

There was then a trip to Melbourne at the end of November (booked my flight tickets in March) where I spent a week attempting to complete unfinished business, only to come home with a list of more unfinished businesses (!!). The city is full of hidden gems, most which I have yet to discover. Well, at least caffeine and brunch fixes were checked off the list.


I made it back in time for my graduation which most people thought was held in Melbourne.

After about a day in KL, it was time to head to Singapore once again for work for a couple of days. My flight back to KL was on an ungodly hour on that Saturday morning because I was rushing back for a lovely afternoon wedding.

Thankfully, there were a couple of days to rest for the week as I prepared for yet another wedding the following weekend which involved a road trip up to Janda Baik, a beautiful and popular wedding location. Almost immediately after this second and last wedding of the quarter, it was back to work right up till barely a few days before Christmas Eve where my family and I got to experience home-cooked American-style salmon and about 500g/serving of sirloin steak for a hearty dinner, courtesy of my American cousin.

The 1st day of 2016 was spent deservedly at home to hibernate like a bear and recharge the empty battery.

* * * *

31st October 2015 – The day I went for a copperplate calligraphy workshop for beginners held by Joy and Sharon at Stickerrific, a stationery heaven and nightmare for my bank account. I took interest in this style of modern calligraphy after seeing it a lot on social media and also got inspired by Sharon’s gorgeous works. Plus, I decided to get in touch with my artistic side once again. Can’t help to feel that it’s somehow a part of me, as if one of my Chinese names does not enhance it enough.

I purchased a “starter kit” of a straight holder, black ink and Nikko G nibs a few months ago from Alceestore and have had a bit of a head start. Of course, my strokes were absolutely terrible back then. Here’s a picture of it to give you some encouragement.

calligraphy first strokes

My absolute first strokes!

Paper from Rhodia Pad (Purchased at Haneda Airport in Japan thinking it was just a regular notebook I could use. As Joy mentioned, my earlier self already knew I was getting into calligraphy!). You can tell I had no clue how to work this pen and I was trying to figure it out all by myself. No sense of control of the ink nor consistency of strokes – but that’s the beauty of it.

Going on YouTube did not help too much but there were samples online I attempted to copy from.

Yes, those were the old days!

Now look what difference the workshop made:

For the next 2 weeks, before my Melbourne trip, I was doing drills every day again and again. Yes, I got obsessed with my new hobby (there, I’ve said it).

Hairline strokes are beautiful when you can get them right (getting there!).

A combination of underturn and overturn strokes.

And this particular one…

… has got to be my favourite. The compound curve drill is such a pleasure doing!

And of course, mistakes are made when you don’t focus.

As of this entry, there are less than 10 clean sheets of my 80-paged Rhodia pad left. That is how much I’ve been using it for the past 2 months. I normally practice with quotes so here are a few:

Inspired by my tiny traveler friend, Bea.

Murakami has always been one of the first places I’d look for quotes. Those are coffee stains by the way.

Sometimes you get something off Google.

Or on a popular Facebook page like berlin-artparasites that never ceases to use words to hit you in the face.

Maybe from a book that has impacted you.

Or even some lines from a film you’ve just watched.

I genuinely enjoy this therapeutic form of art, pretty much like the yoga of writing. Time seems to go by so slowly as you craft every word (and get frustrated at how some strokes don’t turn out well or if the ink overflows) but when you look at the clock, you realise you’ve been mistaken.

There have been a good handful of those days where you don’t feel like writing. Something like a bad hair day except it applies to calligraphy. The rhythm isn’t there, you don’t feel the drive to devote time to write that one short line, and so many more negativities. Here’s the thing: That’s how life works. Put the pen down, don’t destroy it, start over tomorrow. It goes on.

I wouldn’t say that this hobby has helped me manage my patience entirely, but it certainly has helped me to breathe a little more. I take deep breaths before I write to calm the nerves and try to not drink anything too caffeinated before writing because my hands shake a little too much for writing under influence. There’s a lot more to this art than just being visually pleasing and I’m more than glad I have this in my life now.

Not too long ago, I got into the Traveler’s Notebook hobby to start organising all my tickets and receipts from travels (because I’m such a hoarder). That’s another story for another day. Follow my Instagram here for more frequent updates!

Rest in peace, Alan Rickman.