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Calligraphy, Lettering & Growing with Instagram

An interview with
Ian Barnard


Ian Barnard, started his career as a generalist graphic designer. But after learning calligraphy for fun, and documenting his progress on Instagram, he attracted big name clients allowing him to specialise as a hand lettering artist. The growth and success of his Instagram feed has also allowed him to develop digital products, courses and more to generate a passive income too, meaning he no longer needs to work with clients.

In this episode we discover how Ian got into calligraphy and hand lettering, the books he used to reference and self critique his lettering work. We also discuss how he used Instragram to grow his business, as well as tips and advice for posting on the platform to attract opportunities.

Ian Barnard Interview Transcription

Ian Paget: Here today you’re a hand lettering artist and I know that’s quite a specialist thing and I can imagine that in the beginning you didn’t start that way. So just to give some background, how did you get into hand lettering?

Ian Barnard: So, originally I was a graphic designer. I went through college courses, got a job in graphic design doing quite simple stuff. And then, worked seven years at my first job, left there, then I got a part time job working for a magazine. So I was able to work two days for myself, over a seven year period, build up a small bank of clients, and then leave to go full time freelance. It’s quite a scary thing to go from five days, with employment to five days of “you’ve got to get all of this work in”.

I decided to leave the magazine I was working on, because I was really stressed with deadlines, and it was actually on the day I left that my second child was born. I literally got the magazine to bed, sent it to the printers and came home, picked up my wife, went to hospital, then two hours later my son was born. So, that was an interesting day. If I’d moved house at the same time, that would have been three of the biggest events that you normally do in a lifetime.

But the reason why I got into lettering… Firstly I got into calligraphy. For those who don’t know what the term calligraphy means, it’s derived from beautiful writing.

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