Kelly was born and raised in Edmonton, Canada, where winters are long and cold and summers are beautiful. She’s always been a teacher at heart and after getting her education degree at university, she went on to teach high school English and ESL before raising her family, working in their family business and tutoring part time.
The family still lives in Edmonton, but Kelly travels far and wide to teach calligraphy and lettering workshops around the world. When she’s at home, she loves spending time with family and friends, walking her dog Finn, drinking Earl Grey tea and painting with watercolours.
How did your career in crafting start?
My mother was a scrapbooker, and I cherish the vintage scrapbooks of hers that I still have. She always helped me keep memorabilia and photos in scrapbooks. Because of her, I have a lifetime of memories in photo albums. Ever since I could hold a pair of scissors, I’ve always been crafty and enjoyed using my hands to make things. I learned everything from cross-stitch embroidery to knitting, and grew up practising Ukrainian handicrafts too, like pysanky (egg decorating with beeswax and dyes). Scrapbooking became a big part of my life when my kids were little and I began to teach scrapbooking and cardmaking classes locally.
When I picked up a brush pen about four years ago, I fell in love with the art form of calligraphy, taught myself, and then started sharing on social media. My calligraphy videos went viral, and my Instagram account became very popular. American Crafts contacted me two years ago and asked if I would be interested in developing an educational line of lettering products. Here I am today using Kelly Creates pens and paper pads and feeling so blessed.
What is it that you love about crafting?
Arts and crafts transcend boundaries and bring people around the world together. I find this incredibly inspiring and heartwarming and try to promote our global crafting community wherever I go, telling people in different countries that there are others like them on the other side of the world doing exactly the same thing… sharing a love of art, lettering, and crafting. My Facebook group is a gathering place for creatives around the world who share a love of letters.
What’s your favourite crafty technique?
In terms of lettering, I really enjoy using watercolour and paintbrushes right now. I am expanding my set of skills beyond pens and watercolour lettering brings me a lot of joy.
This alphabet heart is one of my favourite projects because I think it symbolises my love for lettering and calligraphy. The blending turned out beautifully with so many pretty colours.
Calligraphy and brush lettering is huge right now, why do you think this is?
I think all handicrafts are seeing a big surge right now because people are stepping away from digital and technology to enjoy the rewarding experience of making something with your own hands. Leaving your mark on paper with pens is very satisfying. The wedding industry has also generated this trend with many people hiring calligraphers for custom invitations, envelopes and wedding décor instead of using computer fonts.
“I live for teaching in-person workshops. That is the best way to learn, and it is so rewarding to share my love of letters and see people get excited about calligraphy”
Your following on YouTube is amazing. Why is it important to offer these videos to your followers?
YouTube is accessible to everyone of any age. I started a YouTube channel many years ago before I was doing calligraphy. For me, it is an educational tool. Since I’m all about teaching, YouTube is the perfect platform for me to share ideas and techniques and hopefully inspire others.
What are your favourite craft supplies?
I use mostly American Crafts supplies to make my cards, home décor signs, etc. The We R Memory Keepers line has all the tools I need and there are so many fantastic designers for scrapbooking papers too. The pretty 12×12” scrapbook papers are perfect for lettering quotes. I’m pretty excited about the new WRMK Foil Quill, which is like a heat drawing tool for any digital cutting machine. There is a Kelly Creates USB Design Drive with my lettering that can be foiled!
I am committed to developing lettering products with American Crafts that people will love using. I like all my brush pens, and I believe my Learn Brush Lettering workbooks are the best way to help people learn if they can’t attend my workshops. Probably the Deluxe Lettering kit is my favourite because it has everything you need for lettering and calligraphy, plus it’s a cute canvas pen roll that is travel friendly too.
How did your book, The Art of Brush Lettering, come about?
A couple of years ago, when my Instagram calligraphy videos were going viral, a publisher from New York contacted me out of the blue and asked if I was interested in writing an instructional book about calligraphy. Honestly, this was such a thrilling moment because I’ve always thought of myself as a writer and have started writing about five novels over the years, but not finished them. I said yes and worked very hard to write the book in just a few months. The writing was actually the easy part…. the 400+ photos that I took and edited myself was the tough part! I’m happy to say that it has been translated into five languages: French, Dutch, Finnish, Swedish, and German.
Are there any companies you’d love to partner up with?
I worked with Coach and filmed a calligraphy video to promote their brand. That was exciting! And I’ve partnered with Boohoo.com a number of times as well, which was fun. I would love to do more calligraphy and lettering in the fashion or cosmetics industry. For example, a lettering artist has a line of handbags with Burberry, which I think is incredible. I would also love to teach brush lettering workshops at corporate events, like Google, Facebook etc.
What advice would you give to a crafter who wants to start a blog or YouTube channel?
You have to be fearless, jump in and just do it. I have said ‘Yes’ to so many opportunities that I wasn’t ready for, but courage and hard work will take you far. Fear is the enemy of creativity and will limit your adventures in life.
What’s next for you?
For 2019, I’ve decided to focus on organising my life in terms of journals and planners, and there are so many options out there. I have a bullet journal with a dot grid (Kelly Creates Creative Journal) where I can be artistic with my spreads. But I’m also enjoying the more traditional structured planners with stickers etc. Of course using my pens in all these planners is so much fun!
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT KELLY…
Kelly’s book, The Art of Lettering, is available from www.amazon.co.uk