Kelly Creates: Meet Kelly Klapstein!
Meet the face behind Kelly Creates: the fabulously creative Kelly Klapstein! We caught up with Kelly to discover exactly what goes on behind the scenes of her successful business, to find out her top tips for brush lettering newbies, and to learn where she gets her inspiration from!
Kelly first picked up a brush pen four years ago; read exactly how that moment led to the inception of Kelly Creates and what’s in store for the future, as Kelly reveals all, below…
When did you first discover you had a passion for creativity?
I think I was born with scissors and glue in hand! I’ve always been making things and doing crafts, and my mum always encouraged me to do so. I remember making scrapbooks with her when I was little, and I was always writing and reading, letting my imagination loose on paper.
You are now a fantastic teacher – but how did you first learn to create the gorgeous artwork you do?
I have an Education degree and taught high school English before I stayed home to raise my children. In the past 10 years, I have been in love with scrapbooking and cardmaking. Almost 4 years ago, I picked up a brush pen and spent time online, mostly Instagram, learning how to use the pen. I immediately fell in love with the art of writing beautiful letters and words. Dedicated daily practice helped my calligraphy skills improve, but it took at least 4 months before my letters started to look good and my technique was consistent.
In an age where the world seems to be becoming ever-more digital, what was it about traditional brush lettering that drew you in?
Like any craft and art form, working with our hands and expressing ourselves with paper and pen, or paint, is incredibly satisfying and relaxing. Leaving my mark on paper with a pen and ink is deeply rewarding.
When did you decide to build a business – Kelly Creates – around the thing you loved?
As soon as I started to learn brush lettering and calligraphy, I began to think about how I would teach others. I have a ‘teacher brain’ ha ha! I had been teaching scrapbooking, cardmaking and paper crafting in local stores and knew I wanted to teach brush lettering. So I developed a set of ‘trace and learn’ worksheets and taught my first class of brush lettering in a scrapbook store in the city where I live. I realized that I could sell these worksheets as digital downloads and a year later, I opened up an online shop on my website/blog. People all over the world began buying my tracing worksheets and learning brush lettering. I also had been sharing calligraphy videos on Instagram, and they went viral and attracted a lot of attention online. A NYC publisher contacted me and asked me to write an instructional book. (The Art of Brush Lettering was published in December 2017, and now has been translated into 5 languages) Around the same time, American Crafts contacted me and asked if I would like to develop a line of hand lettering products. My digital worksheets became physical workbooks, and we developed a variety of Kelly Creates brush pens that are now sold all over the world.
Where do you find inspiration for all the gorgeous quotes and designs you create?
Sometimes I just write one word that is simply pretty, and looks lovely when written in brush script. Or I will find a phrase or poem that speaks to me from an author, well-known public figure, philosopher, or poet. Sometimes I write an original phrase or quote that I thought of myself. Often, things to write just pop into my head, or I see something I like while I’m online.
What’s your favourite word or quote to commit to paper?
Early on, I wrote “Dream. Believe. Create.” which has become my motto, or mantra, for living a creative life!
What do you do when you hit a creative brick wall… any tips for conquering writer’s/artist’s block?
Luckily, I haven’t experienced too many blocks. If I do, I go offline, get outside and walk my dog, and let nature inspire me. I also put aside calligraphy and play with other mediums, like watercolour. I’ve also been very fortunate to be able to travel and teach workshops around the world, and these journeys are always a big boost for my creativity. Seeing the sights, sounds, and people of other cultures is incredibly enriching.
Have your children inherited the creative gene too?
We always did crafts when they were little, and they have done scrapbooking too. As they have grown into young adults, they haven’t spent much time creating, except for my youngest daughter… she seems to have that ‘maker’ gene! But I do believe that everyone is creative, even if they think they aren’t. And I’m proud to say that they know to ask me for ‘adhesive’ and not ‘glue,’ ha ha!
When it comes to teaching others the art of brush lettering, what do you find the most rewarding?
I think it’s most rewarding, as a teacher, to see someone in class have that ‘aha’ moment, and figure out how to make that brush pen write thick and thin lines. Since brush lettering is a skill set that takes a lot of time, it’s a good feeling to see progress in someone’s lettering by the end of the workshop, and watch them walk away with a new passion for this artform.
How many lefties have you taught the art of brush lettering to over the years – do you have to take a different approach?
I’ve taught left-handed people in almost every workshop, and I reassure them that I’ve met so many successful and talented lefty lettering artists and calligraphers online! The calligraphy skill set is challenging for right-handed people too, and with a few adjustments, lefties can learn brush lettering and achieve beautiful pen strokes just as well.
If you could give three pieces of advice to someone who’s just purchased their very first set of brush tip pens, what would they be?
1. Have patience. Brush lettering technique takes a while to learn and master.
2. We all progress at different rates. Try not to compare yourself to others, and just enjoy the process!
3. Hold the pen at the correct angle, use smooth paper, and practice the basic strokes every day.
What’s next for you and Kelly Creates in 2019 and beyond?
I’m excited about 2019! There will be more travel and teaching workshops, plus I would like to make time for watercolour and exploring other hand-lettering mediums and tools. Developing more Kelly Creates products with American Crafts is a big part of my creative adventures. I might be writing another book… wink wink. I get bored easily, so I always have something in the works!
If you’re a papercrafting enthusiast, you can check out the rest of our papercraft articles and tutorials right here on the blog!