When she was a kid, Sara Laking liked to pour over her friends' notebooks.
It wasn't so much the content of them, but rather the personality that would shine through in the handwriting.
"(There are) people who are perfectionists and some who whip it off and it's still beautiful," she says. "Apparently there are a bunch of underlying meanings (in how you handwrite)."
That led Laking—known around Whistler by her photographer name Sara Spectrum—to first experiment with calligraphy when she was 12. "The first time I played around with a calligraphy pen ..., it blew my mind. It's the most beautiful art form," she says. "I started by dipping ink on the side of this traditional-style pen. Then it's a style of writing in cursive."
As she began to delve more deeply into the local wedding industry as a photographer, she started to encounter demand for calligraphy—from wedding invitations to table numbers and signs. "Big quotes are my favourite," she adds. "Then the couple can frame it for their wedding and have the keepsake."
Her talent also translated into more permanent ink when she began tattooing—almost exclusively in calligraphy style. "When I first started tattooing, that's all I was going to do," Laking says. "My first two tattoos are writing tattoos. I wanted them to use handwriting, but every artist types it up and prints out a font; it made me itchy. I was like, 'I'm going to offer this one day.' It's such an honour to have my script on people's skin."
Tattooing aside, Laking will be returning to Whistler—she recently moved to Ucluelet, but returns to Whistler often for work and to visit her twin brother—to teach a calligraphy class at Gather Creatives on Sunday, July 15 from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. Participants will learn the basics of calligraphy, including techniques and strokes.
"I'll have the traditional style alphabet and I'll have my alphabet," she says. "I have my own flare. I'll get them to do the traditional and then make their own stylized alphabet."
Similar to when she leads photography workshops, "I'm not going to teach you exactly how I take the photo, but I'll teach you to get excited about taking this photo—it's the same idea," she adds. "There will be some tips on how to hold the pen, how to dip properly, offer some materials that are easier to work with above others, and some more of these kind of parts that help gather a more free-flow feel when writing."
The class will cost $80 with materials included. And don't worry if you haven't been parsing handwriting since you were a kid or don't have perfect cursive. "I think the messier the handwriting, the better," Laking says.
To sign up, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.