Indie Oxford Interview: Illy Boo Designs
Today we catch up with Illyahna from Illy Boo Designs, an Oxfordshire indie offering calligraphy and brush lettering workshops. Illyahna talks weddings, branding and finding wellbeing in creativity. >>
Tell me about IllyBooDesigns and how it came about?
IllyBooDesigns launched back in November 2018, but it wasn’t until February 2019 that I hosted my very first workshop.
My business idea grew purely from my passion for lettering. I trained and worked within the fashion industry and always loved playing around with designing different writing styles and fonts. It wasn’t until I designed my own wedding stationery that I thought about turning what was a hobby into a business. I decided to start with workshops, as a way to meet others with similar interests, develop a creative community and to teach others all about this beautiful skill.
How did you get into calligraphy & brush lettering?
I was inspired to start calligraphy after taking a workshop in London in 2016. Calligraphy was starting to become more popular and I was lured in by all the amazing calligraphy on YouTube and social media at the time. It wasn’t easy, but at that first workshop, I was in awe of my teacher’s style and was determined to write like her. Once I had learnt the basic structures and shapes for calligraphy, I began to master my own unique style.
How would you describe your style?
My style has a modern elegance. I practice the more traditional styles of calligraphy seen with Copperplate and Spencerian script, which has helped me to form the basic structures and techniques required for calligraphy. The ‘modern’ aspect of my style allows for my own expression, variation and freedom with how I write.
Tell me about the people that come to your workshops?
The people who come to my workshops are wide ranging. I have a lot of interest from soon to be brides planning weddings, wanting to create their own wedding stationery, such as wedding invitations or name cards and menus to decorate their wedding tables. I’ve had graphic designers, florists and letterpress printers who’ve wanted to incorporate a more personal touch into their businesses and branding. Others are simply interested in trying out a new creative skill or want to take some time out and have a fun experience with friends.
Describe your workshops?
I teach two different styles of calligraphy, modern dip pen, which is done with a traditional metal nib dipped in black ink and brush pen, which uses a specialist pen that has a brush tip. When you arrive for a workshop, you will receive a personalised kit, which includes a workbook, the tools needed for the class and stationery items that are yours to keep. I will guide each person through a structured session, where I teach basic strokes, letter shapes and how to join letters and words. I run my workshops at different venues across Oxford.
What do people take away from your classes?
My calligraphy and brush pen classes help you to develop fantastic handwriting. It’s a skill that will stay with you for a lifetime and can be used to create unique gifts. It’s helped people who lack confidence in their own writing style as the techniques are very different, more thoughtful and considered, compared to how we ordinarily write. The classes also have a relaxing effect, helping people to focus on something for themselves. Almost everyone who’s been to a workshop so far has said how calming it was and that it has helped them to be more mindful.
Tell me about some of the workshops you are hosting this year?
You can join me on Friday 6th March 10 am to midday at the Mill Arts Centre Banbury. I have teamed up with the International Women’s Day Team for this event and will be among many other creatives hosting workshops and talks in celebration of the day.
What would be your advice for anyone starting their creative business journey?
Make sure to take time out for yourself, recharge and give back to your own creative enjoyment. Come and join one of my workshops!
Lastly, tell us about your favourite indie businesses in Oxford?
We love having Illyahna as part of our indie community, helping people to tap into their creativity and making space to find peace and balance. In fact, she even provided brush lettering at our February Indie Oxford Meet Up last night to help business owners explore wellbeing in the workplace.
If you are interested in talking to Illyahna about organising a private event, whether it be for a work away day or a special hen or birthday party, do get in touch.