I’m honored to introduce you to a calligrapher from San Jose, California, whom I find ever-encouraging and full of helpful advice and beautiful inspiration. You may know her as @GinkgoArts…Jane Matsumoto.

To start our interview today, I want to give you a quote Jane shared with me:

“The ripples of kindness begin with you. A smile or a kind word or a thoughtful gesture could mean the world to someone. You just never know what someone is dealing with or is up against or the weight of his or her burden. Let’s build each other up. Cheer one another on.” – Jane Matsumoto

I have personally experienced Jane’s cheering me on, and she is just the sort of encourager we all need more of in our lives. I’m happy to share her interview responses with you.  All of the artwork in today’s article are Jane’s original works.

pin-meet the calligraphers jane matsumoto

First of all, Jane, tell me about your family.

 I have two teenage boys, 14 and 16. They are the one thing I am most proud of. 

Oh, I totally relate! My children are the same ages! Is calligraphy your “day job”, or do you have another career?

I taught preschool for 13 years and now I work as an instructor’s aide in kindergarten. This will be my 18th year in education with young children. I am hoping to extend my teaching career into the world of calligraphy. I was certified to teach American Cursive this past October in Denver and I am looking forward to teaching American Cursive next year. 

That is truly exciting. What a legacy you are leaving of passing along your skillset. What types of calligraphy/lettering do you do?

Traditional calligraphy, both pointed pen and broad edge nib.

Jane Izumi Matsumoto 1How long have you been doing calligraphy?

Since April of 2017

How did you get started? What brought you to calligraphy?

I was going through a very stressful period in my life with my job. I needed something to help with the anxieties.

Calligraphy has a way of doing that. So how did you learn?

I was self-taught my first year and spent most of my second year taking many in person and online courses.

And the question everyone always wants to know: have you always had beautiful handwriting?

No

Jane Izumi Matsumoto 3🙂 I’m still waiting to meet a calligrapher that has. How would you classify your calligraphy (Hobby, Obsession, Side job, Full-time business)?

Obsession

What is your favorite type of calligraphy work to do?

One of a kind projects

What calligraphy or lettering organizations are you a member of?

The International Association of Master Penman, Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting (IAMPETH), Friends of Calligraphy (SF), Society for Calligraphy (LA)

Jane Izumi Matsumoto 6Besides the basics, what is one supply/tool you can’t live without?

The Spencer Black Walnut Ink made by Irene @SpencerianLove

Ooh, I’m going to have to try that. I love Walnut Ink as well. Does calligraphy have any special meaning or purpose to you? Describe this.

It helps me with being more centered and focused. And there are so many scripts and techniques to learn and so many supplies to collect, that the Gemini in me stays preoccupied and interested.

With so many scripts out there, what is your favorite script/style to write?

American Cursive, Spencerian, Engrosser’s Script, Italian Hand, and Bone Script – all just about even across the board. But if I had to select only one, then I suppose it would be Spencerian.

Jane Izumi Matsumoto 8Favorite Nib

It’s a tie between the Leonardt Principal EF and Esterbrook 128 / 956

Favorite Ink

The Spencer Black Walnut Ink

Favorite Practice Paper

Tie between Rhodia and Mmemosyne

What are you learning now?

Italic

What is your favorite quote or scripture?

“What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson and “Be present in all things and thankful for all things.” – Maya Angelou

Have you ever had any calligraphy disasters you would be willing to share?

I have learned to use a holder for my inks… either a dinky dip in a holder or an inkwell. I kept knocking ink bottles over for a few months when I first started. I also learned to keep my ink to the right of me (I am right-handed) so that I am not reaching over to my left. I used to smear my work by reaching over to my left.

Jane Izumi Matsumoto 5Oh, the ink spills. Yes, thank goodness for holders and inkwells! So tell us about your workspace.

It is in my bedroom. Most of the supplies (inks, pens, nibs, paintbrushes, etc.) are on a long folding table that is up against the back wall with the window above it for natural lighting. I have a large table to my left that holds all of my extra supplies such as envelopes, papers, watercolors and palettes. My slant table is on there as well.

Wow! You have quite a collection of supplies! Every calligrapher’s dream! How do you set the atmosphere for doing calligraphy?

I always start with stretching, meditation, and warm up drills. Hot tea, messy bun, yoga pants and t-shirt, no music, sometimes a movie or TV show on my laptop that I have watched before so that I’m not really paying attention to it…more for background noise.

Give us your top tips for budding calligraphers:

Have fun and be kind to yourself
Practice in small amounts of time and take breaks
Stretch!
Taking time off of social media is healthy
Did I mention BE KIND TO YOURSELF?
Having the best supplies does not make you a better calligrapher (I just happen to have an obsession with all things calligraphy so I could, in theory, open up a store in my bedroom.)
My favorite accounts belong to those who are not only talented and inspiring, but kind, encouraging, and supportive of others.

Jane Izumi Matsumoto 9Jane, you are always such an encouragement. I love this about you. What are your other hobbies?

I love to drop spin yarn, make cards, watercolor, hula dance, shoot pool, play the piano, and collect lots of calligraphy and watercoloring supplies.

You are certainly multi-talented! What are some random facts you think we would like to know?

I ran away to Hollywood when I was 18, I have a fear of flying (so if I have flown out for anything, it must have been pretty darn important), I have lived with chronic pain for as long as I can remember (since I was 5 years old) and I am turning 50 in 2021! 🎉 I am a Gemini in every way possible… except for all the negative traits, of course. 😉

You are such an inspiration and a picture of both perseverance and kindness. Do you have a personal story or advice you would like to share?

Try not to look at the numbers. You don’t know how much time someone has invested in their account or their progress. You only know you. So believe in yourself. You’ve got this! Build a village for yourself of other like-minded creatives who will support, encourage, and inspire you. But most importantly, be kind to yourself. Talk to yourself the way you would to any of your loved ones or to that child you once were. And always know that everything will work out for what is best for you.

Jane, it has truly been a pleasure. Thank you for sharing so openly and offering an inside peek at your life and work.


Please visit Jane at her Instagram account @ginkgoarts or her Facebook page, and let her know you saw her interview on my website. I know she has some awesome things in the works coming up very soon, so you’ll definitely want to follow her. Stay tuned for our next Meet the Calligrapher article next Friday!

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