This year marked the 68th year since IAMPETH was founded. IAMPETH, or the International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting, started as a small group of highly passionate penmen (and women, of course) who wanted to preserve the art of writing by hand – call it calligraphy, penmanship, hand lettering.
I learned about IAMPETH last year when I was searching for guidelines to practice on. As soon as I came across their website, and the history, I knew I had to be a part of this special group of individuals who got together, every year, to celebrate the art of calligraphy and lettering. After waiting a few months, registration for the 2017 conference finally opened up! I think it barely took me a few minutes before I submitted my resignation and became a member.
And when I realized that I was now a part of something much bigger than me, something much more generous and empowering that I am today, it made me feel alive in more ways than one.
The first thing I said to myself was, “You are now a part of this history. What is your contribution going to be?” And that’s the question I asked myself every day at the conference.
While I was headed back home (it was a long, six hour drive), my thoughts went back to the memorable week I had just spent in Louisville. I was honored to have finally achieved my dream of attending my first conference. I was also humbled when I met the immensely talented artists. The kinds that you only see a few times in your lifetime. And that made me think about my question. 🙂
Anyways, as I was driving, I tried to think of my biggest takeaways from the conference. Although there were quite a few, the five below are the ones that mattered most. I hope they help you. I hope they open up a new path in your calligraphy journey.
- Be scared, but do it anyway
I’ll admit. I was super anxious as I was gearing up for the conference. Tons of questions ran through my mind. And these were questions that Google couldn’t answer either (well, most of them). What’s my roommate gonna be like? What’s the hotel gonna be like? Will I find parking easily? Or will it be a nightmare? Who is gonna help carry my stuff to my room? What will I eat for breakfast? What if I don’t make any new friends? What are my classes gonna be like? You get the idea. Full of anxiety.
I decided to tackle this anxiety head on. I told myself (this is literally the conversation I had with myself) – What is the worst that will happen? When I answered that, I then asked- What is the best that can happen? Turns out, the pros outweighed the cons. As long as I learnt from some of today’s best penmen in the world, who cares whether I ate my breakfast or ironed my clothes? Simple, right?
I realized that all the unanswered questions and imagined scenarios were making me anxious, but I decided to go for it anyways. I decided to answer the questions for myself. In the end, like I had guessed, the pros far outweighed all those silly imaginary scenarios I was playing in my head before I left.
2. Say Hi
I’m an ambivert. This means that I am both an introvert and an extrovert. I don’t believe in making friends with everyone at a conference, but I believe in making friends with a few and getting to know them deeply. Even so, it can sometimes get hard for me to be the first to say hi and introduce myself.
Being incredibly self-aware, I could see the moments when I should have probably gone up and introduced myself, but my introvert self would hold me back. That’s when I knew that I absolutely had to do it. And guess what, I did. I’ll admit, it was uncomfortable at first. But with the incredibly helpful community that IAMPETH is, I was always met with friendly smiles and genuine interest.
Which is why, when you find yourself in unfamiliar situations, surrounded by new people – swallow your shyness and just go say hi. Try it. You know what, just try it once and see how it feels. What’s the worse that could happen?
3. Be Yourself
This follows ‘Say Hi’ for a reason. People can sniff a fake person from miles away. But if you’re being true to yourself, people will appreciate you for that way more. If you’re shy when you introduce yourself, tell them so. Tell them who you are and where you’re from. You don’t have to lie about yourself. Just be who you are. You’re the best at being you, after all. 🙂
4. Community over competition, always
Read that again. Community over competition. This goes against all the stuff we’ve been taught since we were younger. Thanks to Natalie Franke of The Rising Tide Society, I’m so glad that more people are realizing the value of community over competition.
When the community grows, you grow. Everyone grows. Which is why when the whole community comes together at such an incredible platform, it is imperative to nurture each other. Learn from the experienced calligraphers and guide the new ones. Remember how you were when you started? Clueless about nearly everything? And how someone helped you? Yes, pay it forward. Its important to support and guide the future generation of calligraphers while we respect and cherish the generation before us.
5. Learn from the best
After all, that’s what took me to IAMPETH in the first place. It amazed me to realize the wealth of knowledge and experience around me. And the talent, yes. Incredible. Every person there had knowledge of something that I didn’t. The best part was when they were more than willing to share their knowledge! Amazing, right? I ended up learning from the best in the business while having the best time of my life.
My point is, when you head to IAMPETH next, learn from everyone. Each person there has something unique to teach you. Learn from them, and be humble about it. 🙂
Have you ever been to a large conference? Or a get-together that made you anxious at first, but you ended up having the best time of your life? I’d love to know your story and the things you learnt. Please share below (so that others can also relate to you) or shoot me an email at email@example.com
Talk to you soon!