Every week I highlight a local Upper Valley artist or maker. I give them a list of questions and they choose to answer as many of them however they'd like. I hope you enjoy meeting our local artists!
This week I'd like to introduce you to Laura Di Piazza, Calligrapher
Bio and History
Laura holds a MFA degree in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont. She is the founder of Here+Now Publishers. Laura teaches calligraphy workshops at AVA Gallery, Dartmouth College, Society of Scribes (NYC) and MAKE! Skilled Hands (Berlin, Germany).
Laura’s primary practice is calligraphy work for events and custom lettering design for reproduction and pattern making for art licensing. She works with businesses that are ethically and environmentally minded and engaged in fair-trade practices.
When did you first define yourself as an artist?
I first learned calligraphy in a Brooklyn middle school class when I was 12. The class was cut from the program after only one year, however it has stayed with me every since. I practiced it as a hobby until my 20’s when I learned about and joined Society of Scribes in NYC in the mid-90’s, for whom I now teach for.
Do you make art for a living? If so, for how long have you been about to do that? What jobs have you had other than being an artist? If you don't make your living doing art, what do you do in "real life"?
I’ve been a professional calligrapher for about 20 years and I’ve been teaching calligraphy workshops and classes for 10 years.
Before becoming a full-time calligrapher, I worked as a polysomnographer at 2 sleep laboratories and I was a public relations assistant for Screen Actors Guild.
In addition to being a professional calligrapher, I also curate 1 to 2 art exhibitions annually since receiving my MFA in 2012. I have also done fundraising work for local non-profit art organizations and recently started my own publishing company called Here + Now Publishers. Currently I have four publications in print; two of which are also ebooks. I’m also a social media administrator for Society of Scribes’ Facebook page and I also manage @leavingvictimhood and @laura_dipiazza on Instagram.
How much time do you spend doing art?
10 to 30 hours a week, depending on how many calligraphy commissions I’m working on.
Where do you work? What is your studio/space like?
I work in a sizeable multi-use room in my house, which is sparsely furnished. It serves as a dance room, martial arts space, craft space and art studio. I love looking up from my writing desk, which is right in front of large sliding doors, and taking in the beautiful view of the forest. I also enjoy seeing the beautiful birds that visit the garden.
What are your passions outside of art? What's something non-creative that you do to balance and recharge?
I love walking with people I care about and talking with them about deep and light issues and thoughts. Asking my children to play music that they really like or are curious about.
What medium/media do you use? Why do you like it/them?
Mainly sumi ink and sometimes watercolor or gouache. Acrylic paint for my abstract paintings.
What do you do with pieces you don't like?
Reuse the canvas or cut up the paper for collages.
Creation and Inspiration
Where do you get your ideas? How do you get started on a piece? How do you know when you're done?
Ideas come to me when I’m feeling relaxed, emotionally neutral and am present in the moment; so times when I’m driving, walking and falling asleep are common states for me to receive creative gifts.
What/who inspires you?
My children provide me with endless inspiration.
I value conceptual artists such as Kara Walker, Alfredo Jaar, Roni Horn and Camille Henrot.
How do you get past a creative block?
I’m fortunate to have an abundant wealth of ideas. I’m working on having an abundant amount of time.
What is your dream project?
Designing books and I’m working on another now.
What's the best piece of advice (or a quote) you've been given regarding art and creativity?
I actually received this advice about parenting, which I find a creative process in itself, and I think it is easily applicable to one’s art practice: “the days may seem long, but the years fly by.”
And another favorite:
“Whatever you’re meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.” – Doris Lessing.
About Art and Artists
What do people not realize about being an artist?
Some people don’t realize that we too need to get paid for our work. I’ve been asked way too many times to do free work.
What do you admire in other artists?
I admire the full dedication and hard work that I see my fellow artist friends commit to their practice.
Sharing Your Art
Do you accept commissions? What is the process for working with you to create a custom piece?
Yes. Usually clients email me the details of the commission and inquire about my availability and rates.
Recent commissions have included calligraphy work for Camille Henrot’s upcoming exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, France and also addressing envelopes for the local United States Marine Corps birthday ball benefiting disabled veterans.
Do you offer classes/workshops? If so, what kind and where?
Yes, I teach several workshops each year. My next workshop is The Elegant Pen at AVA Gallery, starting Oct. 26th. I’ll also be teaching a weekend workshop in NYC for Society of Scribes in mid-November. I just taught a workshop at POST. in WRJ. I also teach calligraphy workshops at Dartmouth College.
Where can we find you/your work? (Website, Facebook, Galleries, Instagram etc...)
- Website(s): Lauradipiazza.com and Calligraphyarts.com
- Facebook: @calligraphyartsvt
- Instagram: @laura_dipiazza and @calligraphyarts_vt
- Etsy: HereAndNowPublishers
Calligraphy workbook available through this link on Amazon
Would you like to be featured in "Meet the Local Artist"? Email Amy at RVCAmy at gmail dot com
Last Week's Interview - Elizabeth D'Amico, Multi-Media Artist
Next Week's Interview - TBD
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More about the author, Amy Fortier: Her Artist Interview