Recently we had an interesting chat with the award-winning designer Jordan Jelev – Epixs, the Labelmaker of Factor R studio, based in Bulgaria. Jordan received the First Prize at the National Vine and Wine Chamber Contest for Graphic Design of Wine Labels. Jordan has many years of experience in the field of creating ultra-modern wine packaging and exquisite custom calligraphy.
• When and how did you get involved with calligraphy?
I think it was 10 or 12 years ago - I don’t remember well - my father surprised me with a simple set of automatic pens and I started almost instantly with them. Then my wife gave me another set of automatic pens as a birthday present - more complicated ones with double stroke nibs. I spent hours and hours (mostly night time) doing different calligraphic tests - I call them tests because I did not know where to start from and since then I continued experimenting. Then something like an inner calling made me start doing custom lettering and from this moment on everything I knew just “burst out” of my hands.
• Does calligraphy have rules? If yes, which rules do you prefer to ignore?
Certainly it does have many rules - from composition to simple mechanical skills and movements - everything in between. It took me several years to learn most of them and at least to understand what and how to do it… I’m still learning and discovering new methods. My major strategy though, not only in Calligraphy or Wine labels Design is to try to learn how everything works, to feel the sense of every rule, to keep all the rules and finally, when I feel ready, to break the rules. Breaking the rules does not necessarily make you a visual outlaw, breaking rules means going beyond and creating your own ones. It is a creative process, not a destructive one:-)
• What kind of materials do you use? (do you create your own brushes?)
I have a wide range of tools that I use, but to be honest I’m a great fan of copperplate nibs and extra wide nibs. For example my Arabic-style calligraphy is created with thick paper card or with wood nibs - both home made:-)
• What style of calligraphy is your favorite?
I’m dedicated to blacklettering which, to my opinion, has been completely influenced by oriental culture. If there was an empty room with a white sheet of paper and an automatic pen, I would immediately start doing blackletter calligraphy - this is what comes from deep within.
• What is your favorite part of doing calligraphy?
The whole process, understanding the whole process, planning every step, making a preview of my artwork in my mind - that is my favorite part. As a digital artist I’m addicted to unlimited undo software levels, but when I do traditional artwork I have no right to err, it can’t be undone:-) So this makes me concentrate more, makes me think and feel the energy of the creative process. Definitely this is the part of my work I enjoy the most. I’m definitely happy with every swash I make, but my favorite part is to figure out how to create the whole picture.
• Where do you get inspired from?
I get my inspiration from almost everything that surrounds me in life - from a single magazine, to a leaf on the street or another person’s creative work - everything. My latest creations, for example, are influenced by Julien Breton and Hassan Massoudy - both are really inspiring calligraphers and artists who I admire and follow their steps.
• Is it easy to create your own style and how difficult is it to achieve it?
I do not think that your personal style can be created - for me it can be discovered , unveiled - everyone has his own style, but not everyone knows how to find it and how to use it.
• What is your main work?
My specialty is Wine Labels Design and Custom lettering and Calligraphy on Wine Labels. I believe that in the silicone-plastic-digital-copy/paste era we should return to hand crafted artwork if we want to produce something worthy. I don’t underestimate the power of digital technology (remember - I am 100% digital artist too), but I want my pencils, my nibs and inks back. . . . and I think people want them too.
• What is the difference between Artistic calligraphy and a marketing project?
Haha - the difference is in the word marketing:-) The only reason to do an artistic calligraphy to me is to get rid of custom lettering, dedicated to a marketing research - the truth is that I love them both. If I lied, my portfolio would not exist.
• What advise would you give to somebody who wants to become a good calligrapher?
I would probably tell him that everything in our life repeats. Every beginner should know well what happened before him, should know the history of his work, his process, his creativity. If he knows this lesson well, he could be anything he wants to be - calligrapher, artist, president - everything:-)