Excerpt from article by MALISSA LARA in guardian.co.tt … Read full article here …
The intimacy of a handwritten letter with a turkey quill and taking the time to create beautiful handwriting is rare.
Yet, this centuries-old tradition is kept alive by Paul Antonio Attong. In this age of high technology where a large portion of the world no longer writes but types, Trinidad-born Attong has made an international name for himself and his craft.
Do you have a large clientele?
I have a huge client list—some of my fashion clients include Asprey, De Beers, Chopard, Louis Vuitton. We do a ton of weddings and have just stared a stationery company. Our tag line for the stationery is ‘We Only Print What We Write’ so we don’t use any typefaces in our work—all of it is done by hand first then digitised then printed in one of a few high-quality print processes. Some of our corporate clients include RBS, London Business School (for invitations and certificates). Numerous party planners include the Admirable Crichton, Atom Events, Freud Communications.
Would you advise others to make a career of calligraphy?
It is very difficult to become a professional calligrapher. It requires years of dedication, and not making any money while you come to terms with your skill. It is also not easy to train as there are so few courses running. Getting a good hand is one thing but it is getting it consistent all the time that is the trick. You not only need to know what you do inside out—as you will get asked to write on all kinds of things, but you need to be able to deal with people and convince them that you are what they need! Invariably it is either you are good at art or good at business but you have to be good at both if you want to make a decent living. It is not something that happens easily. It takes time, patience, dedication, application and research.
Is it lucrative?
It is only in the past three years I have been earning a decent living. But what is lucrative? It is not only about making money—it is also about the standing amongst your peers on an international stage. It is about contributing to the corpus of knowledge in one’s field of expertise. But then there is personal wealth. Making money comes with much stress and sometimes you need to make a decision if you actually want the added stress. That is a tricky question to answer. A lot of the time making money and earning a living is to the exclusion of research—but one is financially lucrative and one is personally lucrative.