George Gillam, Developing

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Your name(s) and title/business name? City and country location?

Hi! My name is George Gillam and I am an amateur calligrapher in Ottawa, Canada. Calligraphy is my hobby and you can find my work on Instagram @MajusculeG.

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How would you describe your lettering work?

Developing.

I am very new to calligraphy and am trying to expose myself to many different styles and scripts. Currently I focus on broadedge calligraphy and am playing with different uses of colour and layouts in my pieces. There are quite a few calligraphers whose calligraphy I can identify just by their individual style, and one day I hope my hand develops to the point where people can identify my calligraphy by my style.

Preferred tool(s) and medium?

I primarily use Brause broad edge nibs and gouache. I like to keep my holders simple so my nibs are just attached to a oak dowel with a piece of plastic tubing. This way I can have a holder for each of my nibs and I don’t have to switch them out when I want to write at a different size. I am only just starting to explore using different tools like ruling pens and flat brushes.

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What’s your educational background, i.e., college, professional school, high school, apprenticeship, etc.?

My educational background is probably as far away as you can get from an art background. I studied economics at the Royal Military College of Canada and am currently pursuing a MSc in Epidemiology. In fact, I always hated taking art classes in elementary and high school.

It is only through the Calligraphy Society of Ottawa (CSO) that I have taken any calligraphy training. I have been a member of the CSO since September 2015 and have completed two courses with them and am currently taking my third! I am very fortunate to have such an active calligraphy society in my city because in person instruction has been invaluable to my development. Before I joined the society I was making marks on paper for a few months without a clue what I was doing and making very little progress.

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Where or how do you “recharge your creative battery,” i.e., books, blogs, music, art, exercise, meditation, prayer, hobbies, interests, etc.?

One of my favourite things to do when I just don’t feel like practicing is to flip through old manuscripts on the British Library website. It is fascinating to look at works that were written hundreds of years ago to see how the scripts were written, how medieval and renaissance scribes tackled layout problems, how scribes dealt with certain letter combinations, and how scribes fixed mistakes.

The other thing I’ll do when I just can’t get in the mood to practice is to write a simple note to my wife. Nothing fancy. Just a few words on a piece of paper, but seeing her smile when she finds it on her pillow makes me want to keep writing.

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Tell us something about you that might surprise or delight us.

My stock answer to this question is always “I do calligraphy”, but since you already know that about me I will share with you my creative goal for this year. This year I want to create a work of calligraphy completely by hand. By that I mean I want to procure, prepare, and cut my own quills to write with; find, grind, and prepare my own pigments; and make my own parchment to write on. The quills and pigments are going to be relatively easy, but making the parchment is going to be much tougher. I’ll be sure to share my results!

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