Calligraphy that Makes the Difference

In a day when taking the pen in hand has become metaphorical, it’s precisely what a certain Louisville woman does for a living.

A lifelong artist, Heather Brock operates a professional lettering service called Marcardin Calligraphy.

The Marcardin name comes from an estate in Shelbyville, Ky., built in the 1850s by one of Brock’s ancestors, Mark Hardin. In the attic, Brock found Hardin’s handwritten journals and drew inspiration from his penmanship.

DSC_0041Brock spends most of her time addressing envelopes for wedding invitations and sometimes designs the invitations themselves. She also designs escort cards, table numbers and signs.

Additionally, Brock does calligraphy for other events, like cocktail parties, Bat Mitzvahs and anniversary parties.

“It gives more personalization to an invite, and it looks like you’re really welcome to their event,” Brock says.

For her, the best part of it is when she finds out just how much her clients have loved her work, and that she has left an impact on their event. “Months after their event, they send me an email with pictures from their wedding photographer,” she says.

“They say that their wedding guests talk about it still. Months or a year after their wedding, they talk about the calligraphy.”

Heather Brock.

Heather Brock.

Brock also works three days a week as a nail technician at Joseph’s Salon & Spa in Louisville. On every day she isn’t at Joseph’s, the calligraphy business keeps her busy. “I write through the night,” she says. “I’m a night owl.”

About half of Brock’s wedding envelopes are for local weddings, and half for weddings in places like New York and Los Angeles – even in Canada. She’s cultivated a broad customer base by diligently promoting her work on Facebook, Instagram and Etsy.

Brock also collaborates with Louisville wedding planner Lauren Chitwood and Kristen Becker of Baubles & Bowties. “If I just get in with a good few people, the word spreads like wildfire,” Brock says.

Brock learned calligraphy by teaching herself with the help of books and online resources. “I picked up a pen and started,” she says. “(I) indulged in a lot of books in the middle of the night and just practiced, with every second I had.”

“When I learned that people actually pay to have this done, I thought – I can do this.”

In 2012, Marcardin Calligraphy was born. “It was challenging coming up with what to do first,” she says. “And really, there’s no one thing you should do first. You just dive in and do it.”

“I was terrified to complete my first order. But it actually was much easier than I expected,” she says.

“It just got easier and easier as time went on.”

DSC_0035But it isn’t always easy. Brock works with several pens and dozens of tips that fit on them, called nibs. Her tools have taught her patience.

“Sometimes I’ll have blowouts with my pen, and ink goes flying everywhere, and I mess up a couple of things,” she says. “So, then I have to gather myself, and regroup, and start over.”

Brock can’t remember not loving art. At the age of 8, she started taking classes at Preston Arts Center. As a teenager, she worked for the airbrushing shops at Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom.

“It was fun,” Brock says of her airbrushing days. “I ended up using it as an art medium in high school. It was my medium of choice then.”

Airbrushing led to calligraphy, and Brock hopes Marcardin will eventually become her full-time occupation. “I do feel like I work, but I enjoy doing it,” she says.

“It’s very therapeutic to me. When all goes well, it’s calming, and I feel balanced.” VT

For more information, or to request Brock’s calligraphy for your wedding or other event, call 502.240.8331, visit www.marcardin.com or email her at heather@marcardin.com.