- Jessie Chen
- Instagram: @inkerellacards
- Occupation: Speech-Language Pathologist and Calligrapher
- Age: 31
- Hometown: Arlington, MA
- Currently Living: Redwood City, CA
In May of 2015, I attended a training for speech-language pathologists in San Jose, California. This is where I met Jessie. Through the wonders of Instagram, I was shocked to find out that in addition to being an awesome pediatric therapist, she was also an amazing calligraphy artist! I’m sure many of her followers enjoy learning about her technique or the various tools that she uses. However, there is something simply mesmerizing about watching the creative process of this left-handed artist. I was thrilled to catch up with Jessie and find out more about this Boston-native.
Being from Boston, how did you end up moving to California?
My husband has always wanted to move out of New England (specifically to California) and when he got a job opportunity that offered to move us out to the Bay Area, we couldn’t say no to the opportunity. We said goodbye to our friends, family, and everything we’ve ever known and moved to sunny California in 2013.
I notice through your Instagram page that you travel a lot. Do you have a favorite city or country that you’ve been to? What did you enjoy about it?
Ah, this is so difficult to answer because every country/city and culture is so amazing. Florence, Italy holds a special place in my heart because well… the food! We only did basic research and ended up loving everything we ate and saw (I gained about 7 lbs on this trip, even with all the walking). The city itself is gorgeous and welcoming and we made sure to eat out 3 meals a day to really make the most of our time there.
What’s your favorite meal or place to eat at and why?
My favorite meal is probably seolleongtang, which is a Korean bone marrow broth soup. I like it with oxtail, brisket, and glass noodles. You season your own soup to your liking, which is great for me because I like things saltier than the average person. My mom used to make it for me all the time, which is a testament to how much she loves me because it takes forever to make! It’s nostalgic and delicious.
What are your favorite forms of self-care? Ways to de-stress?
I really don’t practice self-care as much as I should but to de-stress, I thoroughly enjoy tuning out and watching some low-key T.V., preferably reruns of Friends or Bob’s Burgers.
What is something that your followers would be surprised to know about you?
That I love to sing! My husband is a talented musician and we used to jam out from time to time. It’s been awhile since we last did this but we have recorded some covers (that we haven’t shared publicly, hah).
What population do you work with as a speech-language pathologist and what do you enjoy the most about it?
I currently work with school-aged students (elementary and middle) ranging from mild to severe needs. I love working with this population because it’s such a wide range of things to work on from articulation, expressive language, vocabulary, pragmatic social skills, etc. I always feel challenged and never bored.
How do you balance your time between being a speech-language pathologist, calligraphy artist, and posting content on social media?
It’s hard to find a balance at times because I spend so much of my day at work or doing work at home. What I try to do is brainstorm and create as much as I can on the weekends. That way, I have enough content to share during the week and I’m not scrambling to create something when I don’t have the time during the work week.
Where do you find inspiration for all of your art?
I pull my inspiration from everywhere–music, nature, my favorite T.V. shows, and podcasts. When something resonates with me, I try to express it through my art.
What has been your favorite project to work on so far?
I love wedding projects in general and I learn something valuable from every wedding project I’ve ever done. My favorite project was a large scale poster where I wrote a couple’s wedding vows in calligraphy for their one year anniversary. Wedding vows are so intimate and I felt so honored that they entrusted me to capture it in that way.
What’s your advice for someone interested in learning calligraphy?
I would say do it! Find someone in the area that is teaching calligraphy and learn the basics of it first. Even if you’re not interested in copperplate calligraphy, learning the foundational skills will take you very far in your calligraphy journey and will allow you to be flexible in style.
Do you have a favorite tool or medium that you like to work with?
Brush calligraphy is probably the medium I am the most comfortable with and feels the most natural to me. I love brush pens, especially the water brush. My favorite water brush is my Pentel Aquash Water Brush. I’ve had mine for 5 years and they still work like a dream.
Who do you like to follow on Instagram? What do you like about their content?
I love following watercolor artists! Especially because it’s a medium I like experimenting with but still find super challenging. I’m currently following a bunch of artists who do botanical illustrations like @inikeke and @estherpeck, and I also follow the hashtag #botanicalillustration. I love it because it gives me something to aspire to but there’s also an element of “how in the world did they recreate something so beautiful?!”
If you are interested in seeing more of Jessie’s beautiful calligraphy and works of art, check her out at:
- Instagram: @inkerellacards
- Youtube: www.youtube.com/inkerellacards
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/inkerellacards
Mahalo to Jessie for spending some time with me! Stay tuned for more interviews with “People I Follow on Instagram.”
*Note: all photos provided courtesy of Jessie. Where noted, pictures were taken by MC Morgan Photography