Today on Behind the Chair, I'm so thrilled to introduce you to a VERY talented friend of mine, Paula Lee! She's the boss lady behind Paula Lee Calligraphy! We met almost three years ago at church, where I had just moved to, and during that time we were both just starting out in the freelance world. I'm SO thankful to be doing this freelance journey with my very close friend. It's great to have a friend who you can talk to, cry with, bounce ideas off of and understands the struggles and victories of freelance!
Paula's work has been featured on so many beautiful blogs and publications, such as Style Me Pretty, Wedding Sparrow, Vale and Vine, and the list goes on! We also worked on a styled wedding shoot last year! (Take a look here, here and here) I've been lucky to see her business grow and take part in one of her first workshops--that's right, she is now offering workshops!! It was so much fun to learn the different styles of calligraphy, some techniques and I TRIED my best to do some writing--let's just say I'll leave it to the pros haha!
A little bio of yourself:
My name is Paula and I am a calligrapher & wedding stationery designer. Growing up, I was always the "artsy-fartsy" type. As a kindergartener, I would illustrate the interesting characters that were on my worksheet instead of practising my spelling (oops). In high school, I filled my schedule with vocal, photography and musical theatre courses. I went on to pursue a Fine Art degree in Film Studies at Ryerson University which is when I fell in love with Toronto and is where I now live with my ever supportive and amazing husband. Once of my favourite things about Toronto is the huge and awesome creative community we have. It's such a bustling community of makers, designers, and creatives - I just love it!
What inspired you start your calligraphy business?
I had dreams of becoming a production designer but after graduating, I quickly learned that I no longer had any passion for film - at least not enough to throw myself into the world. And so with that, I worked a handful of jobs while I took the time to rediscover what I loved. I was introduced to calligraphy by my graphic designer sister-in-law (Belinda Lee - be sure to check her out!) while I was working a full-time job at the time. I've always loved penmanship so calligraphy very easily and quickly intrigued me. I took an online course and instantly fell in love. I would spend my evenings practising - exploring different ways to write letters, playing with different styles, doing calligraphy drills over and over and over again. I was becoming wildly inspired! After some time, I started doing calligraphy for a few of my friend's weddings and shortly after I started getting inquiries from couples I didn't know! This was the start of something exciting because this next move combined some of absolute favourite things - calligraphy, paper and weddings. There was a clear demand for modern calligraphy in the Toronto wedding industry so I took the plunge in 2015 and started my business. It's been the most challenging but the most exhilarating 2 years. When you're starting a new business you definitely need to surround yourself with good group of cheerleaders so I'm thankful for my husband who let me pursue this crazy job and ultra ladyboss Aylin here who's been there to celebrate my milestones and help me through tough times. I can't wait to see what's in store for the years to come!
Where do you find your inspiration for a project or look?
Pinterest is usually my first resource for inspiration, not only when it comes to stationery but I also find great inspiration in interiors, fashion, and event decor. Instagram is another favourite of mine. There's a ton of incredible talent and it's super fun to be inspired and learn from other creatives. The other great thing about Instagram is that you can "travel" to other parts of the world and be inspired by Japanese stationery or a Dubai wedding. I also love find walking into stationery shops or vintage stores and finding unique stationery pieces. I could easily spend hours in a paper shop. It's like a candy shop for me!
What have been some of your favourite collaborations?
I recently hosted my first workshop with the insanely talented Tellie Hunt of Hunt & Gather where we did a two-part workshop with an introduction to floral arranging and modern calligraphy. It was a super fun collaboration for sure!
Which calligraphers do you look up to the most?
The first calligrapher that constantly made my jaw drop was Written Word Calligraphy. Her style just exudes elegance and beauty. She was a huge inspiration to me in the beginning and continues to be! I also adore Tara Spencer. I feel like she introduced a new wave of fine art, old world, loose and organic calligraphy. She has such a specific style and everything she touches is gold. A few of my other favourites are: Plume Calligraphy, Linen & Leaf and Wildfield Paper Co.
How long did it take you to nail down your 'look'?
I get asked this question a lot and have answered it in a number of different ways over the years. As of right now, I tend to say that it was a journey and always will be ever-evolving. Just like how a musician's sound may change from album to album, their overall style tends to stay the same. In the earlier years, when I feel like I had "my style" I would find a new style that I loved and then once I loved that, I would explore something else and so on and so forth! However, I do feel like the core of my work has stayed the same. I love all things beautiful, soft, minimal and a touch of old world. So even if my style changes in 10 years, I hope to be exuding the same "look" and having that same thread in all of my work.
I enjoy knowing and have to ask, what is your favorite way to wear your hair?
I just love simple, soft, big curls. They amp up any outfit I put on and they look better with every day that passes. It also makes me feel dressed up even if I'm in comfy clothes (or even pajamas!) all day. *Secret's out!*
Well, there you have it, I can't stress enough how insanely talented Paula is, and I'm just so proud to see how much her business has grown and keeps growing! If you'd like to get in contact with Paula go here. Also, do yourself a huge favor and follow her on social media, (instagram & facebook) there's always some beautiful to double tap on her page ;)
As always, have a great hair day! xo