Business Archive

Business: Wedding vs. Commercial Calligraphy

When most people think of calligraphy, they think of wedding invitations, marriage certificates, and the declaration of independence. And to an extend, those assumptions are very correct. Calligraphy has deep roots in certificate artwork and original wedding paraphernalia.

But the outlets for using calligraphy have always extended past the wedding industry. In fact, our world extends far past that, into the commercial world. This has huge implications on what it means to be a calligrapher and what a calligrapher’s income and day-to-day will look like.

Throughout history, there has always been a place for calligraphy within the commercial world. These days, calligraphy can be categorized alongside commercial illustrations, and likewise, priced very similarly.

So what does that mean for you? Well, for starters, if you’re a calligrapher, it means that you have a variety of job sources outside of wedding calligraphy. The cool thing about being a calligrapher is that you’re not limited to one industry or another. Based on your work-flow and talents, you might find that you like one side of the industry better. You might find that you work well in both commercial and wedding, opening up a variety of job opportunities and clients. Let’s take a look at the differences between the two…


Photography by Heather Saunders


Wedding calligraphy is any and all hand made calligraphy for wedding purposes. For the sake of keeping things simple, I’m going to lump any sort of event calligraphy into this group. Wedding calligraphy usually consists of (but isn’t limited to) hand addressed envelopes, place cards, wedding invitation calligraphy (note, just the calligraphy, not the over all-graphic design), and marriage certificates. There are many other calligraphic elements that are used at a celebration but, for the most part, all calligraphy is used for one event and a good chunk of the calligraphy is one-off. In the wedding industry, calligraphers will often work directly with the bride or groom or they will work with a wedding planner or stationer. As a wedding calligrapher, the artist’s income is often based on the amount of calligraphy that he or she will produce for that specific wedding.

Photography by Heather Saunders

Photography by Heather Saunders


Commercial calligraphy is used for the intent of selling products at large scale. Commercial calligraphy consists of (but isn’t limited to) calligraphy for editorial purposes (magazines, books, etc.), ad campaigns, or products intended to be sold in mass quantities. In this commercial industry, the calligrapher will almost always be working collaboratively with a select group of highly trained individuals (usually based out of an advertising agency) appointed to bring a client’s project into being. As a commercial calligrapher, the artist’s income is based on a variety of things like the complexity of the calligraphy that is being created, the usage that the client needs for the artwork, and the type of company that will be using the artwork. As a commercial calligrapher, you’ll often have the ability to accept payment in the form of royalties, depending on the project.

Fiesta Movement Lettering by Molly Jacques for Ford @mollyjacques+commercial+calligraphy-1

I have extensive experience as a wedding calligrapher but I recently switched over to strictly commercial calligraphy (and lettering) about two years ago. Why? I found that I work best in collaboration with highly trained professionals when it comes to bringing an idea into being. It’s not that I don’t enjoy working on wedding related projects (I do!) but I’ve found that my personality and talents work better within the commercial industry.

So what type of calligraphy do you align yourself with and why? Maybe you dabble in both wedding and commercial art. Perhaps you didn’t know about commercial calligraphy until now. I’d love to hear about your experience and preferences in the comments below.




Business: Staying Motivated (w/ Post-it® Brand)


Hey friends! Molly Jacques Workshop has recently teamed up with Post-it® Brand to share the ways I stay motivated and keep on-track with running a business, being a self-employed artist, and managing it all. I’m excited to share my story a bit with you all and think it’s a helpful peek into what a day in my life often looks like… here goes…

Something that is important to me and keeps me motivated throughout the busy work day is keeping little reminder and motivational Post-it® Notes RIGHT in front of me, usually on my computer. A few things that are really important to me: staying mindful of WHY I work. Is it for money? For recognition? To help support my family? To help others? I think sometimes, it’s a variety of everything. Most importantly, to help others and to challenge myself as an artist to simply be better.

I’m guessing a lot of you folks keep notes in front of you while you’re working as well, right? What is something that is motivating you TODAY? Right now? Snap a photo and share it on social media with #postit and tag @mollyjacques so I can comment back!

#postit #makeitstick #MJW

Business: Traits of A Successful Freelancer
#MollyJacquesWorkshop Traits of A Successful Freelancer

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to work with no allegiance to one company? To work from home, on your own time, earning a wage that YOU set? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to get to work on a variety of projects each year with the ability to express your creative talents?

You’re not alone.

Every year, thousands of people take the plunge and dive full force into a creative freelance career with high expectations of freedom, financial stability, and emotional fulfillment. A freelance career is described as working for different companies at different times rather than being permanently employed by one company. Go take a peek at my website to see the type of work freelance calligraphers usually take on. See what I mean? A variety of companies, a variety of projects.


#mollyjacquesworkshop Molly's Modern Calligraphy Portfolio


While freedom, financial stability, and emotion fulfillment through a freelance career can absolutely be achieved by some, it’s so important to understand that these things aren’t always what freelancing looks like, and that freelancing is definitely not for everyone. Plainly, just because you’re a fantastic artist doesn’t mean that you will be a successful freelancer.

To become a successful freelancer, one must have a distinct set of characteristic attributes along with a specific type of work ethic, general outlook, and highly specialized skills.

Most of you tuning in here are coming to MJW to learn more about calligraphy, lettering, and how to make it as a freelance artist. Some of you are already proficient freelancers, but the majority of you are still learning what it takes and are still preparing for the leap into full-time freelancing. Wherever you’re at, I welcome you to continue following us here on MJW to learn more about all the skills needed to be a successful freelance commercial or wedding calligrapher. Want to really access your full potential? Sign up for a Molly Jacques Workshop membership to take our e-courses and be the first to take our Freelance 101 course when it launches!

Let’s start off the Business section of the MJW blog right and dive into what makes up the traits of a successful freelancer….


  • You must always be confident in whatever skill you’re offering or at least be able to imitate confidence.


  • You must be able to work well under pressure and be willing to take risks when necessary.


  • You’ve gotta work hard. Freelancing isn’t for the faint of heart. Sometimes it’s feast or famine and you need to be able to work hard in either circumstance. You need to be able to continue working hard even when you don’t feel like it.


  • You must take other people’s opinions seriously. Always assuming you’re right or that you’re opinion matters more than others could be the downfall of your career.


  • You must have sound communication skills and have an eagerness to engage in daily discussion with others.


  • You’ve gotta be extremely organized.


  • You’ve gotta have tough skin. Facing rejection can be a daily thing for even the most successful artists. If you can’t take rejection, you won’t make it. Period.


  • You have to have a vision. You need to be able to set your own goals and make real progress towards those goals without the motivation of others.


  • You must be honest with yourself. Know your strengths and weaknesses like the back of your hand and let them be a guide and motivation to become better.


  • You must be passionate about what you do and remain loyal even when you hate it. Freelancing is a lot like love… it’s easy when everything is clouded by roses but a truly fulfilling and honest career comes with dedication even through hard times.


  • You must be able to manage money. Again, even the most successful artists face feast or famine. The best freelancers know how to budget their time and money wisely.


  • You must understand business. Calligraphy and lettering as a job isn’t just about calligraphy and lettering. It’s about using your talents to earn a living. The only way you can actually earn a living is by fully understanding how to run your own business.



After taking the time to read through these traits – where do you feel you stand? Perhaps you were excited about a freelance career but now are unsure. Those are valid feelings. Running your own business is much different than working a regular job and it takes a lot of elbow grease and enthusiasm to make it sustainable.

#mollyjacquesworkshop Stay Hungry

A few words of encouragement: with dedication, you are capable of amazing things. I love how Steve Jobs put it: Stay hungry, stay foolish.

Just because you aren’t good at communicating with others doesn’t mean you can’t get better. Have a problem with organization (*cough, sounds like me!*)? You can work on it, and get better. The kicker is that you have to be truly, fully, and utterly dedicated to getting good at the things you’re bad at.

With patience, hard work, and an honest reflection of your downfalls and a willingness to change, you can work at becoming someone who would be good at freelancing. If you don’t possess all of the traits listed above and are not dedicated to getting better, then freelancing isn’t for you. …And there’s nothing wrong with that. Every human has their own uniqueness to offer the world and sometimes that has nothing to do with freelancing.

So today I encourage you to take a close look at this list and really reflect on your strengths and weaknesses. Share your freelance career goals in the comments below!

*Interested in taking one of our upcoming freelance e-courses? Remember: you can get 25% off any MJW membership until November 24th with coupon code FHKRZHEGH1 at checkout…. It’s the perfect holiday gift!*
Business: A Calligrapher’s Income


Have you ever wondered what a calligrapher actually makes as an average income? If you’re here, you probably have asked yourself that question at some point. If you’re thinking about jumping head first into a career as a modern calligrapher, it will be helpful to understand the average income you’ll be looking at and how you can adjust that income to meet your lifestyle and goals. Alright, let’s get to it…


A wedding calligrapher works within the wedding and stationery industry to create one-of-a-kind pieces of artwork for celebrations.

BEGINNER: $24,000 per year

INTERMEDIATE: $37,000 per year

ADVANCED: $50,000 per year

MASTER: $90,000+ per year

Note, that these numbers are generalized, as tracking the income of a calligrapher can get pretty tricky. The numbers here are based on the idea that the calligrapher will be working full time on roughly 10-15 weddings a year with appropriate pricing based on their skill level, experience, and demand of services. But your income as a calligraphy isn’t necessarily limited to the wedding industry. Working as a commercial calligrapher offers up an income that is comparable to a commercial Illustrator…


A commercial calligrapher is comparable to an illustrator. As a commercial illustrator, you create designs for the purpose of selling a product.

BEGINNER: $29,000 per year

INTERMEDIATE: $49,000 per year

ADVANCED: $70,000+ per year

As you might have guessed, like many professions, it takes a little time to work your way up the totem pole. That being said, because the skills of a calligrapher are currently highly sought after, you might find yourself working your way up the totem pole more quickly than you’d expect. In 2012 I had the income of a beginner calligrapher and within three years, it has hit the annual income of an advanced calligrapher. Unlike working for a larger company, being a self-employed artist opens up the opportunity to grow more quickly and progress your skills as you see fit. Want to know the cool thing? A calligrapher’s income isn’t set in stone based on these numbers. You have the opportunity to add on extra income on top of your billable hours. Let’s take a look…


Passive income can be made by creating products that can be bought and sold with little to no work on your end. This includes stock art, e-courses, fonts, artwork licensing, and more! We’ll talk more in depth about how you can use passive income to really create a career you’re excited about at a later date…

BEGINNER: $200-500 per month

INTERMEDIATE: $600-$1,000 per month

ADVANCED: $2,000-$3,000 per month

MASTER: $4,000-$10,000 per month


Depending on how much time you have and how proficient you are at your craft, you could consider teaching and personal tutoring. This is a great way to network with clients and peers, hone in on your skills, and gain valuable knowledge.

BEGINNER: $5,000-$10,000 per year

INTERMEDIATE: $11,000-$35,000 per year

ADVANCED: $40,000-$60,000 per year

MASTER: $70,000-$100,000

All in all, it’s good to understand that no one can do everything. As calligraphers, we take bits and pieces of what we love to do and move forward in a way that fits our own lives. For example, an advanced wedding calligrapher working full time will not have the time or resources to work full time teaching. There are only so many hours in the day! But an advanced calligrapher could work full time on calligraphy and throw in a workshop one weekend a month and make a really great living on that. She could also dedicate one month a year to work on passive income projects that help fuel her income throughout the entire year. Pretty cool, right?