MANILA, Philippines—Jane Adriano sits at her desk, picks an oblique nib holder and dips the nib into black ink. She pauses, takes a deep breath and lets ink come into contact with cream-colored paper, writing calligraphy. She stares at her finished work then feels a sense of fulfillment after meditating on what she just wrote.
It has been six years since Adriano started her calligraphy journey, feeling relief and satisfaction at every work of art that required focus and patience to create.
Adriano’s journey in the craft started in 2015 when she won a raffle for a slot in a modern calligraphy workshop. She didn’t think at that time that it would be the beginning of her pursuit for a new-found passion and for a startup business in the middle of a pandemic.
“Bata pa lang ako, mahilig na ako sa arts. People say na may talent ako sa lettering, although lettering is different from calligraphy. So art-inclined na talaga ako bata pa lang,” she said in an interview with INQUIRER.net.
(I’ve really loved arts since I was young. People say I have a talent in lettering, although lettering is different from calligraphy. So I was really art-inclined even when I was young.)
Adriano immediately fell in love with calligraphy during her first workshop, which led her to invest in materials for artistic writing and to attend “pen meets” where calligraphers and other artists gather.
Since then, she started to take side jobs, like working on wedding invitations and signboards. Later, she was able to teach calligraphy herself.
“After that, nasundan din ‘yung workshops, and I was so happy kasi ‘yung mga ginagawa mo nagbibigay siya ng income, at the same time, nagagawa mo talaga ‘yung passion mo,” she said.
(After that, I held more workshops, and I was so happy because what I was doing provides me income and at the same time lets me pursue my passion.)
Writing in calligraphy has taught Adriano a bunch of things, from learning how to focus to practicing patience.
To achieve perfect strokes, she needs to concentrate on what she is writing, allowing her to first meditate on the words she pens before her clients do.
“Calligraphy needs focus kasi when you are doing it kasi it is slow writing,” Adriano said. “So na-i-immerse ako mismo doon sa pinaka-activity. At the same time, namemeditate ko ‘yung mga sinusulat ko. Sobrang therapeutic niya for me, ‘yung art na ‘yun, kaya nakatulong talaga siya sa akin na ma-clear ‘yung mind ko, mafocus ako sa ibang bagay.”
(Calligraphy needs focus when you do it because it is slow writing… So I get immersed with the activity itself. At the same time, I am able to meditate what I am writing. It is really therapeutic for me, that art, because it helps me clear my mind and focus.)
“Dahil slow writing siya, mas nababasa mo ‘yung words, mas napapaulit-ulit mo siya sa utak mo hanggang sa namemeditate mo na siya, pumapasok na siya sayo, na-e-encourage ka niya,” she said.
(Because it is slow writing, you can read it better and repeat it in your mind until you are able to meditate on it. It slowly gets inside your mind and encourages you.)
Starting a calligraphy business
Just a year after Adriano attended a calligraphy workshop for the first time, Ink Scripture was born, although it did not originally kick off as a business.
Instead, it started as a collaboration with some of her “calligra-friends,” with shortened Bible verses in calligraphy being uploaded online using the hashtag #InkScriptureChallenge.
After a stint of sharing her work on the web, Adriano decided to launch a business aligned with her newly-discovered passion. One of her friends suggested calling her enterprise “Ink Scripture”, in reference to inking or writing verses from the Bible.
But pursuing the business didn’t come easy, as Adriano also had to go through stages of hiatus as she fulfilled her other responsibilities in corporate work and other commitments.
In the first stages of accepting commissions for works while maintaining her full-time job, she sold her products only to reimburse the cost of materials she used.
“Wala talagang profit na bumabalik sa akin noon pero it’s okay kasi when I do it, it makes me really feel alive, kasi alam mo yun, ‘yung passion mo, tapos connected doon sa purpose mo. It’s such a beautiful thing,” she said.
(There was no profit coming back to me back then but it’s okay because when I do it, it really makes me feel alive since my passion is connected with my purpose. It’s such a beautiful thing.)
Adriano, however, knew that office work was not her sweet spot. As she said: “I am just there surviving, but not thriving.”
And so during the quarantine period triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, Adriano, who was laid off from her company before the pandemic began, started pursuing her business full-time, with a purpose far greater than just earning income.
“Ang pinaka-purpose ng Ink Scripture talaga is to house every home with the word of God. Gusto ko na bawat bahay, meron silang scripture art na naka-display,” Adriano said. “I want every home to really be founded with the word of God, and hindi lang siya literal na home, pero home meaning our hearts.”
(The ultimate purpose of Ink Scripture is to house every home with the word of God. I want every home to have a scripture art… I want every home to be founded with the word of God, and I am not just literally talking about homes but hearts.)
Ink Scripture currently offers framed, custom-made calligraphy artworks of inspirational quotes. She also accepts commissions for other calligraphy services, where clients tell her the size and style of the output and other requirements they want for the product.
Adriano, who started her calligraphy journey from scratch and initially had limited resources to buy artist-grade materials, has some advice for those who want to start their own business in calligraphy.
“For those who want to start a business in calligraphy, I would advise na you invest first in yourself,” she said. But for those who lack resources, she said that there are video tutorials available online and mini workshops being offered for free.
Adriano also has a simple yet practical advice for those who want to start a business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“For those who want to start a business not just in calligraphy but also in general in this pandemic, my advice is to just start. Don’t wait na mafigure out mo muna lahat ng bagay before ka magsimula, kasi you will always make mistakes din naman along the way,” she said.
(Don’t wait to figure out all things before you start, because you will still make mistakes along the way.)
It is okay to explore, said Adriano, and this is the same principle she wants to practice as she plans to incorporate other colors and styles in her future work.
“It’s okay to have a slow pace. It’s okay to change also your style,” she said. “It’s okay, you will find your market, but the most important thing is to start and know your purpose.”
“So even though you encounter hurdles along the way, nandoon pa rin ‘yung fire in you na, ‘Hindi, itutuloy ko ‘to no matter what.’ So magstart ka lang talaga and know your purpose,” she added.
(So even though you encounter hurdles along the way, you will still have the fire in you that you can say, “No, I will continue this no matter what.” So just start and know your purpose.)