In this edition of the Artist's Interview Series, I would like to introduce you to Lisa Engelbrecht, Calligraphic Artist. Lisa is an award winning, published lettering artist. Enjoy getting to know Lisa.
Please share your Artistic Journey and how you have managed creative setbacks:
How did I get where I am today as an artist? I kept my dream alive.
I started to hear my real artist’s voice when I was beginning calligraphy lessons. Lettering was something I had always loved to do but while in college I took a class from a teacher that really discouraged me. This caused me to withdraw from calligraphy and art work for quite a while. But then I remembered Mrs. Rudholm!
I was a Navy brat and traveled the world. The downside is I was always the new kid and had zero self-confidence. I admit this shy little girl visits me still! I took an art class in middle school and I LOVED my teacher, Mrs. Rudholm, while based in the Philippines. The memories of her are still strong. She was kooky and decidedly different from all my other teachers. I wanted to dress like her and do what she did. I didn't know then that she was what an artist might look like.
I kept my art dream alive in the back of my head and always loved to do some kind of craft. I remember making feather earrings and selling them at the swap meet! Even while waitressing at the Velvet Turtle, I painted names on baby shirts and started a gift basket delivery service. Looking back, I now know that this was my artist-self trying to express herself. But I still didn’t feel like real artist.
I still loved lettering and found that the best lettering teachers in the world lived and taught only a couple miles from me! It’s an incredible coincidence that what I was reading about in the book The Outliers by Malclom Gladwell, was so fortuitous at this time.
Marsha and Larry Brady were my mentors and after a few years they asked me to take over their lettering program at Cerritos College. It is pretty incredible how my unique art unfolded. Truly it was laziness. I didn’t want to write on a big piece of paper for a project so I asked Marsha if I could write on fabric instead. Well there I went, off on my own path. When I wrote on fabric it felt like time stood still. I loved it! Then friends asked me to teach them how to write on fabric and it snowballed. Before I knew it I was teaching at the International Lettering conference!
Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way was really instrumental to my journey. I now live by the phrase Leap and the Net Will Appear!
It took a certain bravery to apply to teach at an international conference but I got another lucky break. The faculty selection chair decided to take a chance with me. Faced with the daunting challenge of teaching at the international conference, I decided that I did not want to conform to what other teachers had done. I chose to talk in my class about our creative insecurities and what to do about them. I also wanted to do things in my own way, even if people thought it strange. THIS WAS A BREAKTHROUGH, a shining light over my head, it was the moment I accepted that I was different from others in my field and it was OK!
I didn’t like the rigid rules of calligraphy. Once I learned the process of lettering I realized I hated lining the paper, I even hated the precision of having to write on the line! But I still loved lettering! My friends remained supportive and I feel colleagues in my field have been pretty accepting of the mixed media work that I do. I’m sure there are still some folks that cringe when I state that “anyone can do calligraphy”!
I decided that when I got the opportunity to write a book it would be for everyone that has tried calligraphy and decided it was too hard or that it would take years to get good at. The result is Modern Mark Making from Quayside! Now in paperback it has been re-titled Modern Calligraphy and Hand Lettering.
Marching to my own drummer has increased my confidence to try new things. When I face a new challenge, I always ask myself “Why don’t I try this?” or “What if I...?” And when people tell me I can’t do something I take it as a challenge. I am constantly casting my mind and thoughts about for new ways of doing things. I’m pretty obnoxious at meetings because I am always questioning the status quo and asking why can’t we try it this way?
I decided to take a sabbatical from teaching because being so busy I felt I was chasing my tail. I was traveling at least twice a month to places all over the country and Canada to teach classes. I want to become a gallery artist and I need time to work. Then I unfortunately discovered I needed major surgery at Christmas time. I was laid up for a month or so, but what a gift it was and how prescient of me to take off the year! I had A LOT of time to think, review my path, and to consider where I am going. This became quite a process. Now I do the things that make me happy and only those things. I’ve really learned to say no to trivial things and be open to where my art is leading me. I can’t believe how the universe opens up to you when you are on the right path. I want to combine letters and paint and collage and the words that I want people to hear about the things I am passionate about.
I started a graffiti diversion program in my town, teaching young offenders the wonders of lettering and positive creative possibilities. I am also writing another book on really easy Watercolor Flowers and Calligraphy. More importantly I am exploring new avenues in my work, becoming the real artist I know I am. Most importantly of all I am doing it in my own unique way, regardless of the torpedoes or conventional wisdom!
by deborah stanley: http://deborahstanleyinspirations.blogspot.com/