Brighton Journal recently spoke with Amy Goble, founder of local calligraphy business, The Amyverse. We learned about her business’s sustainability efforts, charitable donations, what impact coronavirus has had, where her love for calligraphy began, and plenty more. Get ready to dive head first into The Amyverse!
How did you first get into calligraphy?
I had my first calligraphy lesson in September 2018. I’d always loved to draw and paint. Calligraphy was something I had admired for a few years, so I finally decided to take a class and I loved it so much and I haven’t looked back since. Lots of people think that you need to have beautiful handwriting to do calligraphy, but my handwriting is scribbly, calligraphy is a lot more like drawing or painting.
What benefits have you found from practicing calligraphy?
Calligraphy has had such a positive impact on my mental health and well-being. When I am anxious, I find myself doodling letters, it calms me and focuses me. That’s one of my favourite things about calligraphy, you have to shut the world out for a little while during your practise. It is quite slow and steady, you have to focus on each stroke of the pen, how you are holding it, the pressure you are applying, your breathing, posture, where it is joining the next letter – there isn’t time at that point to worry about the outside world. Calligraphy takes a lot of concentration and I find that when I am working, I zone out from everything else for a little while you can forget about everything that is worrying me.
Calligraphy improves with practise, since that first lesson, I’ve done a little bit of calligraphy every day. On all my orders I add calligraphy to the envelopes, so I am ALWAYS getting a little practise. It’s all about building that muscle memory, after a while you don’t have to worry so much about all the different aspects, it becomes more natural and easier. As a modern calligrapher, I combine the traditional principles of calligraphy with a looser and freer style which has become very popular over the last few years. You can be more playful with modern calligraphy and this element of fun is one of the reasons I love modern calligraphy. It is so important to have a creative outlet and a way to express yourself. It is important to create for the joy of creating. I like that modern calligraphy is not ‘perfect’, it gives you space to put your own stamp on things and develop your own style.
In a world where we spend so much of our lives using technology and looking at screens, it is important to take a break. Additionally, we spend a lot of time connecting with others virtually, more now so than ever. I really feel calligraphy encourages a different type of connection. It is so lovely to create something for someone. You can’t beat a hand-lettered note or card in the post. It’s a more personal way to tell someone you are thinking of them, you miss them, you love them or you just wanted to say hello, than a message. This deeper connection is one of the reasons that I add calligraphy to all my postal boxes and envelopes. We love getting pretty post in the mail and I like to make all my orders a treat and exciting.
What inspired you to start The Amyverse?
Art and creating has always been part of who I am. I decided to name my business The Amyverse because calligraphy and illustration is my universe. I spent all my time as a child drawing. I went to The University of Arts, London for my foundation year studying fine art. However, I decided to do what I thought at the time was sensible and studied psychology at university. I moved down to Portslade after finishing my degree. Being from London, I loved the slower pace of life and how creative it was. I found myself drawing again.
It was a meal with friends which made me start The Amyverse, they said I should try selling my drawings and cards. I’ve always made cards for people because I loved making them, I hadn’t really thought about selling them. I created my Instagram and I nervously started selling via social media in January 2018. A couple of friends were getting married the following year and they asked me to create their wedding stationery and I absolutely loved it. I had made all the details for my own wedding, but it was wonderful to create something so special for others. This was the push I needed, and I decided at that point, this is what I wanted to do forever. After a year, I made a website and I decided to start selling on Etsy too. By the March, I started a new part-time job, so that I would have more time to focus on the business.
How has the pandemic interfered with your business?
It has been a really strange time to run the business. Within a week of lockdown being announced, I had my first email confirming a postponed wedding. I was so worried about what this would mean for The Amyverse, as wedding stationery is a huge part of the business.
All my summer weddings are now postponed and there is a lot of uncertainty around the autumn and winter weddings.
It is really heartbreaking for the couples, as I know how excited they were for their wedding day. To help make this as easy as possible, I am offering my couples free change the dates so that they can easily tell their guests there has been a change of plan. I am also supporting them with adapting their ideas for new times of year.
My online shop is the other side of my business, and the lockdown meant more people were turning online to send cards and gifts to loved ones that they were missing, so my online shop has been a lot busier than usual. I have been so grateful for every order. I decided to offer free gift messages inside my cards so that I could post straight to people’s friends and families and make it easier for them to stay at home. I included my walk to the postbox in my daily exercise and it gave me a bit of much needed structure and routine.
What are your future plans for The Amyverse?
My goal this year was to start teaching calligraphy and running workshops. I have worked in education since 2014, and I have always loved helping and teaching people. I am very passionate about calligraphy and the importance of being creative and doing things that you love. However, the pandemic meant I needed to think about what I could do differently. Now, more than ever, people need something to help them relax and zone out and I think calligraphy is perfect for this. I hope that teaching workshops face-to-face is something I will be able to do soon.
How can people get involved with calligraphy and support The Amyverse?
I have designed a modern calligraphy set for beginners and improvers to help people fall in love with calligraphy and learn from the comfort of their homes. I want to help develop a new skill and hobby and do something that helps them to feel happy.
The kit includes everything they will need to get started such as my favourite brush pen, a huge workbook of activities and prompts and postcards to design. As calligraphy would normally be taught in a workshop, I have also added tutorial videos to help people learn a new skill and I am also offering one-to-one lessons via zoom.
I am taking bookings for wedding stationery and for couples that are postponing that will include a free change the date if needed.
I sell cards, prints, illustrations and personalised gifts in my Etsy shop.
As a small business, I am doing all I can to reduce waste and to be as sustainable as possible. Eco friendly gifts are something I feel very passionate about so all my cards and prints are printed on beautiful card made from 100% recycled materials! I love knowing that something that was once waste can be turned into paper for me to make into something beautiful. I am proud to sell ‘naked cards’ which are sold without single-use plastic wrapping. In fact, all items are sent plastic free. My lovely boxes and envelopes are made from recycled paper and the packing tape is even made from recycled paper too!
Amy’s Charitable Donations
Black Lives Matter
I understand that for a lot of people Father’s Day is a really difficult time so I am donating 10% of every father’s day card sale to Winston’s Wish. This is a charity that support children and young people after the loss of a parent or sibling. By celebrating with one of my cards, you can help people get the support that they need.
You can find the Father’s Day collection here.
All Images: © Amy Goble