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Jobs 101: Calligrapher

Andrea Oh


Published: 15 May 2015, 7:04 PM

Find out what it takes to turn text into a beautiful work of art.

There is good handwriting, and then there is calligraphy. We caught up with Clarence Wee, owner of craft company CraftVaries, to find out more about his work as a calligrapher, an art form in its own right.

Who: Clarence Valerius Wee, 28

Occupation: Calligrapher

Studied: Visual Communications Design at Temasek Polytechnic

CLARENCE FREQUENTLY UPDATES HIS INSTAGRAM AND FACEBOOK PAGE WITH CALLIGRAPHY-RELATED POSTS. PHOTO CREDIT: STEFANIE DJIE

Tell us more about yourself.

I am interested in typography, and that is how I got started as a calligrapher. To understand the basics of typography, I picked up calligraphy. From there, it just spiraled into a career.

How and why did you become a calligrapher?

My interest in typography led me to try and understand letter forms. The creation of the little details of each character and typeface really fascinates me, and calligraphy gives you the fundamental understanding of that creation. Ancient handwritten scripts carry so much history to the present; our typefaces today developed from them.

AN EXAMPLE OF CLARENCE’S WORK, WHICH FEATURES DIFFERENT TYPEFACES. PHOTO CREDIT: INSTAGRAM.COM/CVWQL

It never was my plan to become a calligrapher for a living. I started my company CraftVaries simply to do what I enjoy. I just did what I wanted to do and it snowballed into what it is today.

Describe a typical day at work.

I wake up. I practise calligraphy. I eat, I chill, I practise, I work out, I chill again, I practise some more (laughs).

You could call it freelance work, but I do have regular clients. My work depends on the orders I receive from my clients. Besides calligraphy, I do sign-painting and engraving too – anything type-centric.

THIS BOARD IS WHERE CLARENCE DOES SIGN-PAINTING.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Seeing satisfied clients. It is also a blessing to be able to enjoy what I do. It feels good.

What is your job’s biggest challenge?

Practising calligraphy. I think executing the work is part of the job, but dedicating time to practice is another thing.

Without practice, you would not be able to do as good a job as you could. I do not think of it as disciplining myself – I try to think of practice as a natural thing, and not a chore.

How long have you been in this business and how have you seen the industry change?

I have been doing calligraphy for about seven and a half years, but the studio has been around for two to three years. I have seen a good growth in interest in calligraphy. It is still a niche area, but it is slowly being well-received by more people. I hope as the interest in calligraphy grows, more people will begin to appreciate it.

What advice do you have for youths who are interested in this career?

Do first, think later. It is not just for this career – I think that in everything, the more you spend time thinking about your decision, the more you might reconsider what you want to do.

CLARENCE’S ADVICE TO YOUTHS IS TO FOLLOW THEIR DREAMS. PHOTO CREDIT: INSTAGRAM.COM/CVWQL
Educational requirements: None, just passion for calligraphy and other type-centric works

Qualities required: Patience

Starting pay: Varies, it is project-based

Working hours: Flexible, it depends on how long you take to complete your client’s order


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