Welcome to our latest author interview with the person behind the Copperplate Calligraphy Practice BookThis book will help you practice and perfect copperplate handwriting with its perforated, easy-to-use beginner-friendly collection of exercises and drills for the modern calligrapher! Let’s learn more about the author, Christen Alloco Turney, and the inspiration behind this book!

Christen Allocco Turney: Author of Copperplate Calligraphy Practice Book

Introduce Yourself!

I love all things letters. After graduating from college, I wanted to find a way to stay connected to my creative network and challenge myself to make more art. Along with my college pals, I worked on one visual art project a week for a year and used this time as a way to discover my own creative passions. I tried everything from cake decorating, to photography, to hand lettering.

About halfway through the year, I pulled out a calligraphy book and picked up a pen and ink. The marks on the paper were far from perfect, but I was smitten. I immediately connected with the methodical and creative rhythm of dipping a pen and ink. I loved watching the stroke change from thick to thin with the manipulation of the nib. From there, almost all of my remaining projects were in calligraphy, and it’s a craft I have been honing ever since. I’ve studied many scripts over the years, but Copperplate is my very favorite and it’s true joy to be able to share it with you. Learning calligraphy is a journey, and my hope is that my book will help you get your start.

A little more about me – I run a calligraphy business, Allocco Design, in southeastern Virginia and am a member of the Washington Calligrapher’s Guild. I’m on the executive board of the International Association for Master Penmen, Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting (IAMPETH). Along with my “calligra-bestie” Ajab, I co-host The Calligraphy Podcast as a way to cultivate calligraphy community.

Copperplate Calligraphy Practice Book Cover

Why did you want to write a book about Calligraphy?

I love to teach calligraphy and wanted to write a book to share the art and make Copperplate calligraphy more accessible to more people. A lot of books have fantastic instructions, but leave the reader without next steps (I learned the letter H, but now what?) I wanted to make it easy for readers to put pen to paper – we can spend so much time getting the guidelines just right, or thinking through what to write or study, that we end up wasting quality practice time. The book has a few exemplars that can also be torn out, perfect for pinning to a cork board or taping to a wall near your desk – a great way to keep inspiration close!

My hope is that when you pick up this book, it will feel like back to school season. You’ll have a fresh book and new supplies (I love a good number 2 pencil and squeaky clean eraser!), but as you work through the book, you’ll have documentation of all the hard work you’ve put in towards learning something new. It’s so important to keep practice pages to show where you started and how far you’ve come. This book does just that. I also think back to my very first strokes and how I felt laying ink on the page. I had an immediate connection to the art and it’s a true joy and honor for me to share calligraphy with you.

What was your biggest challenge with writing the Calligraphy Practice book?

Most books require the author to write one main text, the manuscript. This book was double duty–I wrote the manuscript in a computer document, then wrote many, many letters by hand with pen and ink. Of course, the latter is arguably the most fun! I wrote pages and pages of letters, making sure to show you the very best examples to study from!Sample book page from Copperplate Calligraphy Practice Book

What is your writing process like?

I sat in a lot of coffee shops to write this book. I love the mood of a bustling shop, it always helps the creative juices flow. Since I teach calligraphy classes, I used my existing teaching materials to guide the content in the book. With the teaching outline as a starting point, I fleshed out the book outline first, then wrote the manuscript.

One of my favorite sections to write was the section of what not to do. It can be hard to notice that an oval looks like a lemon until someone points it out. I touch on the idiosyncrasies of each letter– the hairlines at the tops and bottoms of a capital W, the precise point at which an oval and a descending stroke kiss to form a letter g, the placement of a shade in the lower two-thirds of an oval shape. Studying these details will help improve your script and I felt it was important to include this in the book.

What is the most difficult part of the writing process?

The most difficult part of the process was the proofreading stage. I kept my editor on her toes as I followed up with “just one more thing to add!” I wanted to make sure I included as much detail as possible, so I took time to think back to my early days of writing and the challenges that many beginners face, I wanted to address any possible hurdles in the book so that you can easily overcome any setbacks.

A great example is I talk about how calligraphy nibs have a shelf life. I didn’t know this when I started, and if I had, I would have saved myself a lot of frustration! I’m happy to pass this knowledge on to you! A special shout out to my calligraphy friends, Meagan and Amy who reviewed the book through a technical calligraphy lens. Meagan reviewed the whole book to make sure my instruction was clear and would make sense to readers who are picking up a pen for the first time. Amy is a left handed calligrapher who took a look at the section for lefties.

Sample book page from Copperplate Calligraphy Practice BookWhat advice would you give to a writer working on their first book?

My biggest advice for some one writing a book is to just say yes and don’t doubt yourself! Imposter syndrome can set it in and tell you that you are not the person to write this book. I’m here to tell you that you are! You have a unique view on your topic that is valuable and worth reading. Also, embed your personality in the pages. Sure, readers want to learn about a topic, but it’s extra special to get to know the author at the same time.

What are you currently reading?

I’m currently on an Office authors spree. I’m reading Rainn Wilson’s Soul Boom and The Office BFFs by Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey. I also love a good cookbook and just finished Alison Roman’s Sweet Enough (and immediately baked her chocolate tart).

We can’t thank Christen Alloco Turney enough for this wonderful interview! Make sure to grab her book, Copperplate Calligraphy Practice Bookand check out her website for more calligraphy content.

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