Jennifer Maton, Calligrapher, If So INKLined


“They’re normal hands,” says Maton. “The pen I use is fairly smooth, so it doesn’t rub my fingers raw at any points.”

Typical workday?
I usually start around 8:30am with warmup exercises for the hands, then I’ll begin one of the projects I have for the day, whether it’s wedding invitations or designs, or whatever’s on the calendar.

I use a variety of pens, but mainly what are called nibs. They’re pretty sharp, and there are thousands of different kinds. I use a copperplate nib for script-type fonts, but I might also use a flat nib for something like italic text. For ink, I use gouache, a mixture of pigment and water, which you can mix to different consistencies. And there are hundreds of papers you can use.

How did you learn your craft?

I actually started when I was 12, when my parents gave me a Sheaffer pen set and little ink cartridges for my birthday. I actually went to college for graphic design and fine arts. From there, I worked for the art department in an advertising center.

Tell us about a time you’ve made a mistake.

Recently, I was doing a large order of wedding vows, and the nib was so sharp that it caught in the paper and got a couple drops of ink on the paper. But there’s a tool that you can use to scratch it off very carefully.

Do you ever get cramps in your hands?
Not anymore. My hands have basically gotten used to the work.

How is calligraphy different from your ordinary writing process, like when you’re writing a grocery list?
There’s a huge difference. My actual everyday writing is horrible.