It started as a hobby, but Kelly Klapstein’s passion for hand lettering has made her an Instagram star.
The former teacher saw a calligraphy video a year-and-a-half ago and was inspired. She started trying out different techniques, like brush lettering and water colour, then began posting short videos on her Kellycreates Instagram account.
“The comment I get most often is: ‘This is soothing, this is satisfying, this is relaxing.’ I’ve had just beautiful messages sent to me about: ‘I’m anxious. I watch your videos and I feel calm.'”
Nearly every day, Klapstein shares a video of her drawing one or two words. However, it’s the art she creates out of words that’s earned her an Instagram following of over 370,000.
“I think people are kind of just overstimulated and stressed out in our world – filled with technology – it’s so fast paced,” Klapstein said.
“I think people are craving slowing down and what happens when you take up calligraphy or knitting or quilting or making cards, is it just calms a person and slows them down.”
She’s stunned so many people are interested in watching her letter-writing videos, but believes there’s a reason handmade activities are appealing.
“It’s meditative for me and it’s calming for me to draw the letters and maybe that translates in the video and people respond to that in that way,” Klapstein said. “But there definitely are people who see that and then they say: ‘Oh I want to do that as well’ and so they get the pens and start up themselves.”
As the popularity of her views grew, more and more people asked Klapstein for tips and lessons. She launched her company Kelly Creates and now offers hand-lettering worksheets and teaches workshops.
Klapstein’s work is part of a larger trend. She says we’re currently seeing a resurgence of the handmade arts: weaving, jewelry making, card making and printing. Social media plays a role too, fuelling this revival.
“It is kind of ironic,” Klapstein admitted. “I was toying with the idea of saying to people: ‘You know, Instagram is wonderful because you see so many visual arts and you share the joy of those arts, but there comes a time when you have to unplug and step away, stop watching the calligraphy video and pick up a pen or pencil and just spend some quiet time.'”
Still, both her art and the medium she shares it on have given Klapstein connections she never imagined she’d make.
“A mother (from the U.S.) sent me a private message on Instagram and it included a video. She has a daughter with cerebral palsy… She is about eight or 10. The prognosis wasn’t very good for her.
“The doctor said: ‘Oh, you’re not going to walk,’ and she did walk. ‘You’re not going to do this,’ and she did this.
“Apparently she found my videos and became really enchanted with them and spent so many hours watching them on the iPad and is determined that she’s going to learn how to write,” Klapstein said with a smile. “So that was pretty special.”