You never run out of things to do in Seoul, but what is more productive use of time than picking up a new skill? Manon Thore, who goes by her nickname Meryl, is a calligraphy instructor in Seoul on Airbnb Experience. Scroll down to get to know her and learn about her classes and customized calligraphy services!
Whatakdrama: Tell us about yourself
Manon Thore: Hi, I am a 25-year-old French photographer and letter artist based in Seoul and Paris. I also read a lot and share booktube videos on YouTube. I have traveled to more than 20 countries so far and chronicle my trips on my blog, by meryl. Lastly, I have several ongoing photo documentaries that I hope to publish by 2020.
W: Where did you learn and how did you get to teach calligraphy?
MT: Calligraphy is such an original and noble way to give beauty to words, and I love how special it makes a letter, a card, a name tag. Knowing that my creations are a part of weddings, events, or a decorative piece for a home or an office is really a great feeling.
I had been obsessed with typography and calligraphy creations on Instagram. So one day I decided to try it myself! I learned on my own by practicing a lot and watching tutorial videos, starting with a brush pen. After a year, I took classic calligraphy classes in Paris and fell in love with it.
At one point, I realized I really wanted to share this passion with others beyond my Instagram, and I decided to try to teach. After my first class, I knew I wanted to keep teaching this beautiful art to people. I started doing my own workshops and working with Airbnb Experience as a brush lettering teacher in Seoul.
I practice almost every day even when I don’t have inquiries, always trying new techniques and materials. This is how I keep improving and learning.
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W: What is it like running your own business in Seoul, Korea?
MT: I am not going to lie: it is not easy. As with any business it requires a lot of hard work. I sometimes struggle to find new ways to advertise myself. It’s the most difficult part of the job but also the most important! I juggle every day between personal long-term projects, professional shootings, editing, calligraphy orders, classes, practice, planning, sharing on social media and … life!
South Korea and especially Seoul is full of opportunities if you are willing to work hard. I believe that with respect, hard work and passion, it is possible to run a successful business here. I started from the bottom with no connections and still managed to get jobs quite quickly. Maybe because Seoul is a vibrant, creative city with space for creators to bloom. As I am still a young entrepreneur, some months are more challenging than others. But I just keep working hard and creating to make it.
W: You are a calligraphy teacher and also a photographer. Do the two things–calligraphy and photography–inspire each other? Where do they converge and disintegrate?
MT: I started photography really young, and calligraphy at 22 so I have a very different relationship with these two forms of art. For a long time these passions were completely separated. Then about a year ago I started taking pictures of my calligraphy for myself and then for my shop, and I really liked it. They don’t actually inspire each other, but they can mix. As I am always experimenting, I started using calligraphy and typography as an element of decoration or as the main subject in some of my photography work. And I am currently working on ways to add calligraphy on some of my print photography. I definitely plan to connect calligraphy and photography more in the future.
Check out Meryl’s photography here
W: Give us a rundown of your calligraphy class
MT: My classes last 2 hours and starts at 40,000 won per person.I provide all the materials needed and the location. All you have to do is show up with words and quotes ideas and your smile!I offer classic calligraphy and brush lettering classes.
1. Learn the basic rules of brush or classic calligraphy
2. Alphabet: Write all the letters of the alphabet with the chosen technique
3. Ornaments: Improve your creation with simple lines and drawings
4. Let’s create! I will help you to write quotes based on what you’ve just learned
By the end of the session, you would have learned all the basics of brush or classic calligraphy and created something of your own to take home.
The most important thing for me is that you have a great, relaxing time, creating something beautiful with my help. Seeing how happy my students are at the end of the class is a great reward.
I also teach advanced classes for people willing to progress and already know the basics. My one hour starting rate is 20,000 won.
W: For those interested but do not live in Seoul, tell us about your personalized calligraphy services
MT: I can take personalized orders directly by email and through my Etsy shop. It can be anything from invitation or birthday cards, a poem you would like to be written, a love letter and a poster. Simply send me the words you want me to style with the size, colors and page orientation, and I will create it! I also can do calligraphy for workshops, showcases, windows and much more!
On Etsy, I also have original handmade classic calligraphy creations and printed cards with an original writing for sale. I mostly write English and French quotes from poetry, movies, songs and books.
W: Anything else you would like to add?
MT: As my activities are closely linked to the notions of practice and improvement, I will end by quoting Oprah. This quote drives my business and personal life every day: “Direction is more important than speed.”
Book a brush lettering class with Meryl on Airbnb Experience here.