The Herald is this week profiling people who have made a living by turning a hobby into a job.

It's calligraphy but without the ink, blotters or reams of paper that end up in the bin.

Software developer Karin Newport loves her day job and has no plans to give it up.

But the 44-year-old also relishes the chance to express her artistic side after work.


She always been interested in calligraphy but doesn't have room in her small Auckland apartment for the associated clutter. Thanks to technology she can now do it all online, and make money in the process.

"iPad lettering", as Newport has dubbed it, is created used an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil.

Newport's tech-geek husband was an early adopter of the Apple Pencil when it came out in 2015. She started playing around with the pencil, using an app called Procreate.

"The minute I started I was obsessed. I spent hours every day after work practising."

Then Newport discovered she could create custom-made brushes which created different lettering effects, and posted her efforts on Instagram.

Her followers were intrigued, so she shared a link to download the brushes through Dropbox.

"I thought if 100 people download these brushes there might be something in this," she said. "Within a week I had 100 downloads."

Newport sells
Newport sells "brushes" and practice sheets to iPad calligraphy fans all over the world. Photo / Supplied

Newport began selling her brushes in April last year to calligraphy fans around the world.

Now she's making "a surprising amount" of money selling brushes and practice sheets to help people perfect their own lettering. She is also preparing to shoot a series of video tutorials with a fellow hand lettering enthusiast in Canada. The online course is expected to be available in early 2018.

"It's funded my shoe addiction," she said. "My main job pays the mortgage and for food and things and this little side thing pays for stuff like a new phone."

Newport nabbed the "iPad lettering" Facebook page, Instagram handle, Pinterest account and web address early on, and setting up the website was a cinch with her tech skills.

"I'm lucky in that I have a master in business administration - that helps with things like accounting, tax, dealing with overseas customers. And I've studied startups a lot."

Despite the hobby taking up a big chunk of time, Newport doesn't regret keeping her day job.

"When I get home over work I'm very focused on getting everything done because I only have a few hours. If I didn't work [a day job] I would just spread the work out over the whole week."

Her advice to others looking to pursue a side hustle? "I'm very driven - I don't think too hard about each thing, I just do it. It's not what if, what if - I'm not scared. The worst that can happen is that people don't download these brushes."