#NoFilter Interview w/ SC artist: Aubrey Ilarde

Aubrey writing for Hugo Boss live event '17

Aubrey writing for Hugo Boss live event '17

Aubrey (@aubrey.writes) is our next member for this #NoFilter interview series. Currently based in Singapore, Aubrey is one of our few members that joined us early on when Scribblers was seeking our the first batch of calligraphers. Her script has grown tremendously over the past year and she's our go-to member whenever we need an Engrossers' exemplar for our students at our calligraphy workshops! Read on to learn a little more about Aubrey!

Tell us a little bit about yourself

It only came to me halfway through my Calligraphy journey, maybe about a year after I started learning, that I had already been into Handlettering/Calligraphy since I was in school, which was many years ago by the way! While my teachers were discussing lessons, I was busy doodling people’s (mostly, my crushes’ ) names artistically at the back of my books and notebooks in grade school, which I carried until I was in college. I used to write class notes on my hand outs in faux calligraphy using colorful metallic pens and some marble gel pens. I had a ‘song book’, a compilation of song lyrics written in my normal, unruly handwriting but with hand lettered titles (time when karaoke or videoke weren’t a thing yet so had to resort to handwritten lyrics and minus one!)

A couple years after, my nature of wanting to do more led me to do Calligraphy. More than 2 years ago, I was in between jobs and was getting bored with my life and I just wanted to do something. I saw this Modern Calligraphy workshop online, which revived my fondness of letters and writing. Since I was free, I decided to go for that 3-hour workshop. No progress for me on the first year as I didn’t practice much. But on the second year, I decided to really take it seriously. I was inspired and motivated to work on the craft seeing those beautiful handwritten words and letters on YouTube and Instagram!

Is (or are) there any artist(s) that you admire, or may have influenced the work that you do today? 

There are so many calligraphers that I admire. But I’m very much inspired by Jake Weidmann’s commitment and dedication to his art. It was when I saw his Master Penman video and his TED Talk that made me go and pick up my oblique pen holder again and practice writing. His story was actually my nudge to continue what I have started! (I only got my nudge a year after I went to the Modern Calligraphy workshop!) So I tried to teach myself Engrosser’s script by studying the fundamentals from Dr. Joseph M. Vitolo’s Script in the Copperplate Style. I haven’t finished reading this handout but l watched his short video tutorials. I can say he’s really a great instructor. Given a chance, I would really love to attend his classes! 

Aside from the 2 master penmen, I got hooked watching and learning from process videos and demos of my favourites in Instagram - Suzanne Cunningham (@suzcunningham), David Grimes (@masgrimes), Nina Tran (@anintran) and Stephanie Crisostomo (@stfnie.ink). They are actually the people who taught me Engrosser’s script without them knowing.

Display piece for #WorkInProgress exhibition at Singapore library@orchard held from the 1st - 10th Nov in 2017. 

Display piece for #WorkInProgress exhibition at Singapore library@orchard held from the 1st - 10th Nov in 2017. 

Describe a typical practice session? 

I consider my practice sessions as therapy. It’s the time of the day when I can just slow down, be quiet and be at peace with myself. I am sure a lot doing calligraphy can relate to me on this! So to complete the mood, I listen to relaxing music - classical, jazz, brazilian (your usual coffeehouse jam). Sometimes I listen to classic movies (yes, I don’t watch but I listen to movies). I also listen to stand up comedy shows but not when I’m doing a project, of course. 

I start with the basic strokes - oval, over turn, under turn, compound stroke, universal line of beauty. I love doing drills but I don’t do them as often as I need to! After drills, I continue to write the alphabet. Then I proceed to do proper words -  poems, love letters, movie lines, positive and inspirational quotes or song lyrics (yes, and this time with a more sophisticated pen!)


What is the hardest aspect about learning lettering/calligraphy?

When I found calligraphy, I thought to myself “Finally, I have found my passion!” But at the same time, I feared that I would lose interest in this beautiful art. Not many of you know, I’m the kind of person who gets tired with things after some time, especially when discouraged. Like, I would start a hobby or project very eagerly and then after a few months, sometimes only weeks, if I couldn’t have the desired output, the flame would just die out. 

With calligraphy, to achieve that perfect loop for example, you have to stick to the fundamentals and keep repeating and repeating and repeating. And sometimes you still wouldn’t have the perfect loop. You get exhausted. But then you remind yourself, this is your passion, this is what you love, you have to make it work, you have to perfect that loop (yeah, yeah, okay, you don’t always have to). 

It is important that you master self-motivation, you have to fan your own flame, not only in this art but in everything. It also helps to have a support group that can inspire and encourage you to just continue and assure you that you are not alone in your journey. And I’m glad that after almost 3 years, I’m still writing!


Tell us one (or a few) unknown fact about yourself

I don’t comb my hair because it has more volume when it dries up.
I love french fries dipped in hot fudge sundae - the ironies in your mouth: hot and cold, hard and soft, sweet and salty (Try it!)
I talk less in real life (serious)

Find out more about Aubrey and our team's works during our Open Sessions held at library@Orchard held in tandem with our Art Residency here or our upcoming calligraphy workshops over at workshops.sc.sg

Nichole Tin