By channeling her creativity, Chandler Callahan fell into the business of custom calligraphy. The Corinth resident shares her talents with the world through her personalized signs, paintings and more.
By Emma Kent
When she picks up a paint pen or brush these days, Chandler Callahan makes writing in her whimsical script look easy. And I mean really, really easy. But she hasn’t always approached her calligraphy so confidently.
“It took a good year for me to be like, ‘OK, I’m good at this,’” Callahan said.
The ease with which she paints isn’t surprising, though, coming from someone who says she’s always been creative and fairly DIY-inclined.
“I’ve always been like that, like ‘I can just do it myself,’” she said.
That’s the spirit that got her into calligraphy and painting in the first place. She started do hand-lettering work in the summer of 2017.
“I really just wanted to find a hobby, and I got into watercolor,” she said.
Eventually, painting led to her trying her hand at calligraphy, and before she knew it, she was taking orders. When she first started experimenting with calligraphy, she posted her work on Instagram and Facebook. Her friends and family took notice, and started asking her to do projects for them.
“I was just saying ‘yes’ to everything,” she said.
Thus, her business, Callahan and Co., was born. Callahan now creates custom signs, chalkboard signs, hand-painted jackets, family portraits, hand-lettered wedding vows, custom door mats, wedding signs and more.
With a website, blog and workshops now part of the equation, Callahan stays busy working on new items for her online shop and custom orders. When she has the time, she loves to try new designs or look for ways to customize different items with her calligraphy.
“Every time I do something new, it’s my new favorite thing,” she said.
Just last year she got married and decided to paint her new last name on the back of her denim jacket to wear in some of her wedding photos. After sharing photos of it, the custom jackets started to take off. Customers mail her their jackets, which she then paints and returns to them. A lot of her custom items are purchased as wedding or housewarming gifts.
“I do a lot for newlyweds,” she said.
Her most popular item by far has been her last name signs.
“No matter what, I feel like I’ll be doing those for the rest of my life,” she said.
Her parents still live in Olive Branch, so a lot of her customers are friends and family in that area. She uses their porch as a drop-off and pick-up for orders, though she does ship if she needs to. Callahan also loves to attend craft shows and sell her work, not only because she loves the opportunity to meet her customers but also because meeting other artists keeps her inspired.
“It’s nice to meet other people doing creative things,” she said.
She’s recently started painting on canvases again. Right now, Callahan is working on a series of church paintings for the spring craft show and festival season. She also does smaller items like bookmarks and ornaments to take with her to shows.
“I’ve started to build a little collection of them,” she said.
Callahan’s church paintings are done in various sizes and in neutral color schemes. She uses caulk to create texture on the canvas before painting over it. The paintings reflect her Christian faith, as do many of her custom pieces of calligraphy work.
When she isn’t painting, Callahan stays busy studying and taking classes at Blue Mountain College. She’s currently in her last semester at BMC getting her degree in elementary education. Right now, Callahan plans to keep painting and doing custom pieces when she starts teaching full time. For her, it’s more of a creative outlet than a business.
She’s always been creative — whether it’s doodling, painting or crafting — and she always will be.
Callahan wants to help others, especially girls and women, tap into their creativity.
In February, she taught her first workshop and loved it. The workshop was called “Brunch and the Basics,” and of course, included brunch and lessons on basic hand-lettering skills as well as small business information.
Callahan hopes that through workshops like the February one, she can help equip young women to marry their creative interests with business knowledge to start their own small businesses or help them land a creative job.
“A lot of girls don’t realize that you can use that and have a job where you get to be creative,” she said. “If that’s something you like, then you need to explore it, whether it’s for money or just for yourself. It doesn’t have to turn into a small business. Everybody needs a creative outlet.”
The workshop is $40 and includes a workbook that helps guide participants through the process of learning how to create beautiful hand-lettered designs. Callahan said more workshops will be happening in the near future. When she started doing calligraphy, Callahan said she relied on watching YouTube videos and googling tutorials. She loves teaching other people those skills because she knows how difficult it was to learn those hand lettering techniques on her own.
“This isn’t something that you’re just good at or not — everyone is bad at first,” she said. “I really just had to start by watching others and then after that I could evolve into my own style.”