An affinity for handwritten notes:
It’s late autumn in London, the skies are a dull grey but Caroline Issa is a ray of enthusiasm. She’s sitting in her office, in front of a floor-to-ceiling wall of books and magazines piled up in all different directions. The scene depicts an appreciation of the analog. As the fashion director and publisher of the cult print magazine Tank, Caroline is no stranger to the importance of the lasting physicality of things. “I have a wall of handwritten notes at home, I have a notebook of handwritten notes in my office. I cherish handwritten notes. I think they show a commitment to time and effort and sincerity...they are collectable and timeless and precious.” She says, sitting at her desk. This holiday, Caroline wants to mirror that commitment to time and effort by writing her correspondence by hand and Montblanc is helping her to fulfill that wish. “I’ve always wanted to learn calligraphy because I want to personalize and imbue my notes to friends and loved ones with a little bit of me.”
“I cherish handwritten notes… they are collectable and timeless and precious.”
– Caroline Issa
In the calligraphy ‘studio’:
The morning takes Caroline to the sun-filled, private meeting rooms of Mortimer House in London’s Fitzrovia, where she meets calligraphy artist Alice Grabb. Alice greets Caroline with the warmest of hugs, like they’ve known each other for years. Caroline and Alice sit down at what could be described as Alice’s temporary studio space; a mahogany table is sprawled with Montblanc writing instruments, scented Elixir ink and hand crafted Premium Paper. Alice shows Caroline how to hold the writing instrument, how to shape the letters, how to dip the ink. They chat about who is ‘calligraphy-worthy’ in Caroline’s life. “My family lives in Canada, I went to university in the States, my family lives in Asia and the Middle East, so my network of loved ones is far flung…a text message just doesn’t do justice.” Caroline says.
“The way that I am going to disconnect is by handwriting notes with messages to my loved ones.”
– Caroline Issa
The joy of slowing down:
The conversation moves to the idea of slowing down these holidays. Alice talks about how calligraphy requires an enormous amount of patience and attention to detail, two things that simply can’t be achieved in a rush. In Alice’s commercial work, she draws everything by hand first, time and time again until it’s perfect. This level of perfectionism can only be done when one has the time and concentration to do so. This time for disconnection is inherent to Caroline’s work too. Especially working in print, the moments when she puts down her phone or closes her laptop are a simple necessity. “Disconnecting for a moment is so incredibly tough in this very fast paced on-to-the-next thing-world…but I think it’s so important” Caroline explains. Her weekends are committed to carving out time to sitting down and reading, enriching her life through creative input or information she finds interesting and fascinating. It’s a ritual that has positive repercussions throughout her workweek. “I think that once you’re able to find time to be in the moment and disconnect, it reverberates throughout your day.”
“Once you’re able to find time to be in the moment and disconnect, it reverberates throughout your day.”
– Caroline Issa
A more connected holiday period:
Caroline bids farewell to Alice armed with the technique and tools to write her Christmas correspondence to loved ones by hand this year. With the help of Montblanc, Caroline has fulfilled her wish to slow down and learn the art of calligraphy, setting the wheels in motion for a more connected and joyful holiday period. “The more we can reconnect with the physical world or spend a little bit more time learning, thinking and doing… that really helps and makes you much more efficient and much more joyful.” This holiday, Montblanc is helping other artists to fulfill their wishes, all the way from Florence, to New York and to the remote mountains of Kyrgyzstan. What’s on your list?