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

Writing - it is a skill many take for granted.

But for others, being able to write beautifully - with cursives, swirls and intricate details is an art.

Emma Pearce-Hagen has been practising calligraphy for the past 30 years after she started to go to a night class while on maternity leave.

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"I wanted to do a hobby from home...so my dad suggested I go and do a calligraphy course because he knew that I loved books, literature, words and poetry.

"My grandfather was an artist and my mother was an artist, so he knew I was creative.''

Inkberry Calligraphy: Some of Emma Inkberry Pearce-Hagen's work. Photo / Levien & Lens Photography
Inkberry Calligraphy: Some of Emma Inkberry Pearce-Hagen's work. Photo / Levien & Lens Photography

After attending her first calligraphy class, she fell in love with it. She continued to develop her skills over the years; learning new fonts and other modern calligraphy styles.

Emma Pearce-Hagen, of Inkberry Calligraphy, has been doing calligraphy for more than 30 years. Photo / John Hagen Productions
Emma Pearce-Hagen, of Inkberry Calligraphy, has been doing calligraphy for more than 30 years. Photo / John Hagen Productions

She has been offering her services mostly as a freelancer, creating work for wedding invitations, place cards, custom-designed letters, envelopes and menus, as well as feature wall art.

"It's really been a bit of a lost art and a bit rare," she says.

"People ask: 'Oh, what do you do?' I say: 'I'm a calligrapher'. They're like: 'Oh, gosh. What's that'?"

Recently, she decided to re-brand herself by setting up her new business: Inkberry Calligraphy.

In the last few years, there seems to have been a resurgence in calligraphy or modern calligraphy - which involves using different pens. Traditional calligraphy uses dip-style pens, which have a steel nib.

There is a particular new interest among today's generation, creating all kinds of designs and fonts via iPad technology and sharing them on social media.

"Before I start any work, I do drills in the morning, to warm up. It warms up my shoulders and arms.

"I do loops and Os, ups and downs and twirls just to warm up my shoulder and also the nib - because I use the old steel nibs.

"With your lettering, I'm still learning and I'm still practising and I'm doing more fonts and trying to perfect my lettering and that takes a lot of practice and you need to develop the mind muscle connection, like memory with the letters so you become natural."

Pearce-Hagen said her passion for art and words meant this really was her dream job. Before this, she worked as a tutor in literature.

She acknowledged the support of her family and husband, who pushed her to follow and pursue her dreams.

"People say: 'Oh why don't you use the computer font?'

"But it's like they've sort of missed the point. It's that real ancient art of writing beautifully that has kind of been lost, I think.

"I think there's something so personal, memorable and beautiful about a handwritten object. I like to think that it's not just thrown away - it's a keepsake.''

Inkberry Calligraphy: Some of Emma Inkberry Pearce-Hagen's work. Photo / Levien & Lens Photography
Inkberry Calligraphy: Some of Emma Inkberry Pearce-Hagen's work. Photo / Levien & Lens Photography