With our current world dominated by digital communication, it is truly refreshing to see calligraphy making a comeback in the arts and craft scene. Meet Sheils Torralba - a crafter / calligrapher who continues to inspire us with her elegant calligraphy work.. Sheils' journey spans almost a decade in calligraphy and over six years in engraving. This December, let's get to know the woman behind this timeless art and her story.
“Don’t let anyone dictate your limits. Do what makes you happy! If it sparks joy, go for it! Don’t let anyone say otherwise.” - Sheils Torralba
Discovering the Art: A Personal Odyssey
Sheils embarked on her calligraphy journey after receiving The Speedball textbook, nibs and Higgins Ink as a gift during her younger years. A few years later, she acquired another tool, the Rotring ArtPen. However, due to a lack of other materials, resources, and no proper guidance, her interest eventually shifted to lettering.
Many years later, Sheils would eventually find her way back to calligraphy. "It served as my outlet to relieve myself from stress after going through some painful and tough experiences in my personal life." This time, with her focus and determination, she started attending live events, free online classes of calligraphers here and abroad. She researched for tools and supplies both locally and abroad. "It was difficult during the first two years as I wanted to learn fast and I was frustrated for not being able to nail the output I saw from others."
Her frustration turned out to be a good thing, as it lead Sheils to practice calligraphy drills during evenings before bedtime. She would write random names, quotes, and song lyrics. "Sometimes, I barely noticed the time as I kept writing till past midnight. This was even more true when I knew there was no work the following day. The quieter evenings that I had, the more I got lost in my own little world of writing." Her experiments with different papers, nibs, and inks became enjoyable and therapeutic.
Her collection of calligraphy tools expanded, but a few remain close to her heart.. "My favorite are my oblique pen, nibs, an different forms of inks. I love using the Finetech/Coliro and my ultimate favorite are inks from Fox and Quills. My go to color is always gold. I love anything that translates to elegance and sophistication."
A few years after she went down the calligraphy rabbit hole, Sheils finally decided to enroll herself in a formal calligraphy class to set a personal standard for herself. "This way I can probably teach in the future and incorporate it in other things that can help generate funds for my family."
From Hobbyist to Professional: Nurturing Talent
Sheils initially did not want to charge for her work. "I love to give freely; especially to those that are really close to me and appreciate the value of my work. The compliments I’ve received were already good enough." However, it came to a point where she needed to buy tools and supplies for her craft. That's when she realized she could get paid for her work, which would in turn help her further expand her skills.
The opportunity to monetize her work came at just the right time, when a very close friend of hers asked for help with their wedding preparations. "The feedback I received from them gave me an opportunity to get more calligraphy jobs."
Memorable Moments and Future Aspirations
Her close friend's wedding preps was just the first of many calligraphy projects for Sheils. "Every project is memorable, especially when it's appreciated by the recipients." But more than the project, it's the feedback and appreciation that pushes Sheils to keep pursuing her craft. The best part of her work is when majority of her clients, mostly referrals and even luxury brands, get her services not just once, but on a repeat basis.
Advice for Aspiring Calligraphers
Sheils' has this to say not only for aspiring calligraphers, but for all crafters out there who find themselves frustrated and discouraged:
"The work I do can definitely be intimidating. It’s certainly challenging, but with enough patience, dedication and the right amount of passion, it will take you to heights you’d never expect to reach. Don’t get discouraged if you didn’t get it right the first time, because nobody gets better overnight, but take the time to learn and enjoy the process. Nothing comes easy towards any goal we have set in our minds, but with perseverance to exceed the standards we’ve set for ourselves, we can reach unimaginable places."