Text by Claire Peeler | Photos courtesy of Beth Hunt
While the keyboard has become today’s tool of choice for communication, Beth Hunt prefers an older and more artistic means of making her point. She came to appreciate the beauty of calligraphy while living abroad and quickly discovered her own knack for embellished penmanship. The hobby eventually became a business that allows Hunt to channel her creativity and teach others the exceptional skill of calligraphy.
Hunt was born and raised in Montgomery, AL, and attended the University of Mississippi, where she earned a business degree with a minor in French. With no career path in mind after graduation she followed advice from one of her professors who encouraged her to move to France and pursue truly mastering the language. Hunt recalls, “I moved right outside of Paris after college, and I taught junior high students English. I honestly had no idea what I was doing.”
While in Paris Hunt came to appreciate the beautiful penmanship and paper favored by the French. When she returned to the United States, she began lettering wedding invitations for friends, but it wasn’t until 2009 that she decided to make a business out of calligraphy. She now offers beautiful calligraphy through invitations, envelopes, monograms and signage.
The business has truly taken off in the past four years. Hunt credits the prevalence of visual and social media platforms like Pinterest and Instagram for the surge in interest in the art form.
Hunt has expanded her business to include online and in-person workshops. She says it is both an honor and a responsibility to teach calligraphy. “I am so fortunate to be able to share it with people. That’s the only way to keep an art form alive, especially something that, if you think about it, is somewhat antiquated. Now we have computers and smartphones, and typing has more emphasis than handwriting,” she explains.
In fact, Hunt says the workshops are her favorite part of her job. She loves to see the surprise in her students’ faces when they realize that they are capable of calligraphy and the confidence they gain when they realize they can do something they never thought they could accomplish. “They think, ‘That looks so hard, so I couldn’t do that.’ Then they leave a workshop an hour and a half later and they can do it,” says Hunt. “I’ve never had anyone leave who couldn’t do it. You might not be a master at it, but you have the wherewithal to go home and enjoy it.”
Hunt will host a calligraphy workshop in Memphis in the fall. For more information on classes, visit www.bethhuntcalligraphy.com/attend-a-workshop.
In addition to calligraphy Hunt offers illustrations of churches and wedding venues that her clients can include on their wedding stationery. She has recently added to her collection a modern take on a classic silhouette, hand drawn and available in a variety of colors and gold foil. Visit Hunt’s website at www.bethhuntcalligraphy.com/shop for more information.