Wine & Candle-Making Workshop in Montreal

If you follow me on Instagram or know me in real life, you know that I really love staying home. I love a full, matching flannel pajama set and I cannot think of anywhere I would rather be than wrapped in the four arms of my 60 pound lapdog, Teddy. So the fact that I left my house - I repeat: I, Jodi Tellier, Professional Art Hermit & Netflix-Binge-Watcher left my house on a Tuesday night - is pretty significant, and what I’m about to tell you about is something pretty damn special.

What could get me out of my canine-cuddling cocoon and out into the world, you ask?

Wine!

(…Are you surprised?)

Actually, it was a combination of wine, candles, and the fact that my friends Tricia & Cindy at T.Lees have created an absolutely beautiful space with their new boutique, that I am more than happy to spend time in (the fact that it’s full of plants like my house, coupled with the fact that I got to drink wine the whole time, certainly helped me feel at home). Their gorgeous, Pinterest-worthy shop opened recently in my old neighbourhood (#southbest) but T.Lees has actually been in business for a few years now, making my favourite candles and being my go-to source for Christmas & birthday gifts that are a little extra special and unique. So when I heard they were hosting a wine-tasting and candle-making workshop - hence combining my love of wine and scented candles (am I basic? I don’t even care) - I just had to be there.

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The workshop consisted of two parts: Part 1 was a wine-tasting led by the ridiculously well-spoken, annoyingly gorgeous and extremely well-dressed Maude Gendron (I coveted her jumpsuit).

She led us through a tasting featuring a selection of organic wines, and encouraged us to talk about what kinds of smells & tastes we could identify, as well as take notes about each one. We tried two white wines (the first was German, the second Austrian) and two reds (one from France and the other from Italy) and finished the evening with a glass of Cava (from Spain obviously - and side note, it came in the prettiest bottle).

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In Part 2, my friend, fellow girlboss and partner-in-wine Tricia showed us how to mix our own custom scent, and then we learned how to make our very own candle! (And yes, I called mine “Hot Mess” - appropriate, no?) The fragrance is a mix of leather, smoke, and linden flower and I think it’s pretty fabulous.

This was a much more science-y process than I ever would have imagined and I have a whole new appreciation for the candle-making process! It was super interesting to see how much goes into it, and how much time and experimentation it must take to get the perfect combination of scents.

While we waited for our candles to go from piping hot liquid in a jar to gorgeous little home decor item, we had the opportunity to socialize and check out all the treasures in the main boutique.

All in all, this workshop was a wonderful, productive and enriching way to spend an evening and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a relaxing and fun evening out of their pajamas! Head on over to the T.Lees website to sign up for their newsletter and be notified when the next workshops are posted!

Disclaimer: Nothing in this post is sponsored, I just loved this workshop and wanted to share the experience with you darlings!

How to Find Your Calligraphy Style (And Why It Matters)

Let’s talk about Style: Why exactly should you have one? Why do I care so much about encouraging other artists to find their unique style? Does it really matter?

Well, it matters a lot to me because I’m a Type 4 on the Enneagram which means that I would rather die than be unoriginal. I also value individuality and artistry both in my business and life, and have for as long as I can remember. I believe that it should matter to other calligraphers too, because your style - along with your creative voice and unique perspective - is what has the power to set you apart, and elevate your brand above the crowd.

A little back story: I first learned calligraphy by taking an in-person class, once a week for several weeks. Over the course of that Fall “semester” and afterwards, I noticed that my fellow students started having a very similar look to their work. Of course, that’s fine when you’re first learning - your work is bound to resemble the example you’re learning from. But for me, it was very important to avoid - partly because I’m an Enneagram 4 and that means that all I want in life is to be seen as a unique individual, and partly because I knew right away that I wanted to turn this new skill into a business. I was intent on developing my own style.

Even with determination on my side, it took a long time - about 2.5 years - of practice & experimentation to really get there. Mostly due to a ton of self-doubt...and honestly, because I was just trying to make things that I thought people would buy! For the first year or so, I made the mistake of looking at what was out there already & thought “okay, that’s what people like, so that’s what I’ll do”. And I really lost myself for a little while there.

At a certain point I got fed up, and then I got re-inspired. I started looking within myself. I analyzed my practice sheets & past projects, tried to pinpoint what made them look like mine versus. anything else you could find on Pinterest. Finally, after much soul-searching, I started looking at my work & feeling like it was truly mine.

Ever since then, there’s been a serious shift in the kind of work I’ve been getting hired for. Some of it comes from learning about business-y things (hello, SEO!), but I truly believe that it’s mainly because I’ve put the work into creating art that stands out, and I’ve finally started to focus on what I do best. I’m sure that my style and the confidence it gives me is the reason for the incredible projects I’ve been fortunate enough to have booked for the past few years, and the financial stability and creative recognition that has come with that. I truly don’t think that my path would have lead this way if I hadn’t taken the time to develop a mindful practice instead of an aimless one, and finally find my creative voice.


For people who are starting out, the idea of having a truly unique style might feel impossible, because the number of letterers out there these days seems to be exponential. But there is always room to innovate, to stand out, to make work that others can clock from a mile away as yours and no one else’s. It doesn’t happen overnight, it takes practice, experimentation, and patience. But you can totally get there, and it is absolutely worth the effort. Style is part inherent, and part intentional. It’s already in you, you just have to care enough to manifest it.

I believe in learning the rules before you can break them. I believe in honing your skills. I believe in striving for a high level of artistry. But I also believe that all of that is meaningless if you’re not also expressing yourself inside your work.

TL/DR - Here are the primary steps to finding your own unique calligraphy style:

  1. (Mindful) Practice.

    What I mean by “Mindful” Practice is making sure that instead of just ploughing through calligraphy practice sheets, you focus on practicing with intention. You can do this in a few ways; I usually suggest turning your calligraphy practice time into a gorgeous little self-care moment -

  2. Analyze.

    If you know me at all, you know I’m not exactly the most analytical person. I approach almost everything coming from an emotional place instead of a logical one. But one thing I try to look at with a critical eye, at least a little, is my artwork. This goes back to the whole mindfulness concept - yes, repetitive & consistent practice is a great way to hone a skill - but taking the time to pause and look at the strengths & weaknesses in your work will be exponentially more effective.

  3. Experiment.

    The only way to discover your untapped talents & passions is to step outside of your comfort zone and experiment! Nobody can become an expert without first just experimenting and seeing where it takes them. Experimentation is a way of reaching a new level of artistry and unlocking our potential with new techniques . By adding new mediums, colours, and textures to your repertoire, you increase your chances of finding what truly resonates within you and inspires you to create your best work yet.

So. All of that to say, if developing your style is important to you and you want to go on a big emotional creative style discovery journey with me, where we basically listen to Lana del Rey & cry into glasses of red wine but then come out the other end as fabulous, successful calligraphers...I made a class for you!

In addition to the course itself which is full of video & audio instruction plus over 50 pages of practice sheets & style development exercises, anyone who purchases during the sale will gain access to the following (crazy) bonuses:

The Calligrapher’s Template Handbook (An E-Book full of all the e-mail templates & policies I personally use in my business, and then some!) ($19 Value)

  • The Calligraphy Prompt E-Book, so you never have to ask the question “What Should I Write?” again

  • The digital version of my Calligraphy Workbook & Teaching Materials that I use for Workshops & Private Lessons (“Intro to Modern Calligraphy” Workbook, Set of Blank Guidelines, and a Booklet of Warmup Exercises) ($100 Value) PLUS A License to use these materials to teach calligraphy to others (Because who wants to spend a billion hours putting together a workbook? It’s a hell of a lot of work, my friend) ($300+ Value)

  • A Set of Instagram Highlight Covers for Wedding & Event Pros ($19 Value)

  • A Behind-The Scenes Tutorial on how I plan my Instagram aesthetic & colour scheme (Priceless)(Just kidding) (I mean, kind of, I don’t sell this anywhere so there’s literally no price, l-o-l)

 

Designing Your Own Brand

Authentic Branding & Strong Design are two things I feel pretty strongly about. It’s come to my attention recently that many creatives - despite being able to design for others with their eyes closed - struggle with achieving their own perfect brand design. So here are my thoughts about what brand design really is, why it’s important, and how you can take your own brand design to the next level.

What is Brand Design?

I think the best way to explain this is by offering myself up as an example. When I first designed my very own branding back in 2016, I did it all backwards. I started with the logo - the icing on the cake, if you will - without first focusing on my brand identity (which, in this scenario, is the cake itself). I designed a logo for myself thinking only of what I wanted it to look like, instead of thinking about what I wanted my brand to be. Earlier this year when I re-designed my logo, I did the opposite: I started from the ground up, and my logo was the last thing that I designed, once I had fully evaluated my brand, and re-designed it to reflect who I am as an artist. Your brand identity is the foundation, and your brand visuals are there to convey it. The process of establishing your brand identity and then creating corresponding aesthetic elements (logo, colour palette, pattern, icons, etc) is Brand Design!

Left; my original logo design (who is she?!) Right; my new logo! (She’s dark, intricate, a little melancholy, and she’s serving up a romantic art nouveau aesthetic with a modern twist)

Left; my original logo design (who is she?!) Right; my new logo! (She’s dark, intricate, a little melancholy, and she’s serving up a romantic art nouveau aesthetic with a modern twist)

So… it’s not just about the logo?

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Say it with me - it’s not just about the logo. If nothing else, I would hope your biggest takeaway from reading this is that branding is about so much more than a pretty logo. Am I much, much happier with my newly redesigned logo above? YES. But would I have been able to design something that so perfectly reflects my brand, my personality and my artistic soul without first putting in the work to re-discover my brand identity? NO.

Having gorgeous brand visuals is great, but without a complete, cohesive brand design and clear brand identity, they will fall flat. Just like with everything else I yammer on about incessantly (finding your calligraphy style, creating original content, etc) I believe that the path to success is built from individuality. Those little quirks, obscure interests and unique qualities are what make you different, and they are also what will make your brand stand out.

Why does Branding matter?

First things first, strong branding means having both a solid understanding of your business, and having a killer aesthetic to match. This combination can take your business from just fine (cue exaggerated shrug) to flourishing. Not only that, making sure your brand is on point will only serve to attract your dream clients and communicate your value to them.

I was inspired to revisit my own branding while co-writing the course content for The Badass Brand Academy with my fabulous work-wife Sylvia Wong of Via Calligraphy. Syl is a fountain of marketing & branding knowledge, and after many long text exchanges, phone calls and one fabulous in-person wine & pizza date (we live in different cities so we’ve only been able to hang out in person twice!), my eyes were opened to everything that a personal brand really could be. As a testament to how much I believe in our course, I revisit the content regularly to ensure that I’m staying true to my brand, and myself.

What steps are involved in Brand Design?

It depends on whether you are hiring a Brand Designer, or going the DIY route.

If you are working with a Brand Designer: You will usually just have to do a questionnaire that will help them get to know you, your business, your personal tastes, and your goals. Then, they will do most of the legwork for you - creating a mood board, crafting a cohesive identity, assembling a colour palette, designing corresponding graphics, etc! Meanwhile, you get to sit back with a glass of wine and a box of chicken nuggets and choose from the beautiful things they present you with! A word of advice: If you hire someone to design your brand, it should be someone you trust, someone whose work you covet, and someone that you click with and feel comfortable giving your honest feedback to. It’s super important to have complete confidence in an artist when you hire them, so that they are free to do their best work and you are free to trust the process, and know you’ll be getting the results you deserve.

If you are an artist or designer yourself and want to DIY: To design your own brand, you need the following 3 things: Self-Awareness, An Eye for Aesthetics, and A Deadline. Self-Awareness, because you have to be intimately acquainted with your brand’s mission, values and purpose. An Eye for Aesthetics, because as much as building a strong brand behind the scenes is all-important, the aesthetics are the first thing that potential clients will see, so they have to be impactful. And A Deadline, because since you’re already a creative, you might be prone to Shiny Object Syndrome (I know I am!). Designing for yourself is usually much more difficult than designing for someone else, so you have to be disciplined, and give yourself deadlines (that you can actually stick to!). If you can master all three, you should be able to DIY a killer brand design without changing your colour palette and font pairing 45 times.

Because I know the struggle of designing for yourself all too well, I created a DIY Brand Design Self Questionnaire to get you off on the right foot if you’re getting ready to design your own branding. Just enter your e-mail below to download it and get acquainted (or re-acquainted) with yourself and you brand!

 
 

Thank you so much for reading! If you found value in this blog post, it would mean the world to me if you would share it on Pinterest by pinning the image below!

 

Looking to DIY your Brand Design, but don’t know where to start?

Book a Branding Brainstorm Sesh and I’ll help you design a brand you can be proud of!


PSSST…Speaking of Branding & Business - if you’re in the market for a way to majorly streamline and organize your biz, I happen to have a gorgeous little 50% off discount for Honeybook! Give it a try for free and if you love it (I promise you will) the discount is all yours.

3 Calligraphy Practice Exercises Every Calligrapher Should Try

Okay, wow, hi - where exactly has the time gone? I didn’t post a single blog in March, and I literally have no idea how it came to be April 9th. Is it just me, or is 2019 flying by?

Anyway! For the past little while, I’ve been working hard on a project that is near and dear to my heart - a Calligraphy Prompt e-book! I often see that new calligraphers & lettering artists struggling to come up with words or phrases to write when they are learning and practicing calligraphy. I think this kind of “writer’s block” stems from social media and the constant flow of new content being thrust in front of our eyeballs every minute of every hour of every day. There is no shortage of new artwork seemingly being churned out by everyone around us. That can be inspiring, but it can also be overwhelming, especially when you’re having an off-day or are stuck in a creative rut.

Thankfully, there are lots of great prompts available on Instagram - like Goodtype’s weekly #GoodtypeTuesday challenge and Lauren Hom’s #Homwork prompts. I’ve participated in both many times, and these kinds of challenges can really help to get the creative juices flowing. The only thing is that they are somewhat time sensitive (though Lauren Hom’s prompts are all available in an archive, so you can go back and complete any of the challenges at any time!) and I personally struggle to get them done before the deadlines.

So, I wanted to make something that you can download, keep forever and refer back to any time you’re feeling stuck. I also wanted to make one that was full of the kinds of prompts that I believe will help people tap into their personal artistic style - something I am super passionate about helping other artists do.

So, what are the 3 Calligraphy Practice Exercises that every every calligrapher should try? These babies right here:

1) The Alphabet Exercise - You probably know this one because I’ve talked about it a million times. Basically, you pick a theme - for example, Cities - and letter one word for each letter of the alphabet, keeping with that theme (Athens, Barcelona, Chicago, etc!)

2) The High Fidelity Exercise (Yes I named this exercise after a John Cusack movie) - Okay I totally made this one up, and it’s all about making lists of your all time, top 5 favourite things in different categories and then using those lists to inspire other calligraphy & lettering practice pieces.

3) The Talk to Yourself Exercise - This one is all about having a kind & positive dialogue with yourself, and lettering advice/reminders/messages that you need to hear.

In the workbook, I go over these three exercises in detail, aaaaand provide you with over 50 prompts & ideas for your next calligraphy practice session or content creation day. The workbook is 20 pages long, it’s super pretty, PLUS it’s suitable for both beginner calligraphers and weathered old calligraphy bats like me!

You can download it (for free!) right here!


PS. I recently I did an interview with Becca of The Happy Ever Crafter all about one of my favourite topics - how to find your own unique calligraphy style. In this interview, I go into detail about different calligraphy practice exercises, how to turn your practice into a self care exercise and how to start working towards honing your own unique lettering style. If you’re interested in watching the interview, you can check it out here. Or, if you want the Cliffs Notes version - check out the corresponding blog post here.