An ancient art form that involves ink and paper is seeing a resurgence, ironically, thanks to the internet. Calligraphy videos showing masterful strokes by lettering artists are garnering millions of views on Instagram reels, and netting orders for calligraphy supplies, tutorials, wedding invites and corporate notes.
Take the Bombay Letter Company, founded by Sanjana Chatlani which has over 50,000 followers on Instagram. Chatlani’s company was one of the first Indian entities to make a space for itself online. “There was nobody in India trying to build a business around calligraphy at the time. I know some of the best artists in the world who are one-man shows, but I loved the idea of building a brand and a company,” she says.
Chatlani’s company does ‘on-site calligraphy’ for luxury brand launches and weddings, personalising products and merchandise for customers and attendees. One of her most notable experiences includes Priyanka Chopra Jonas’ wedding. The wedding business provides ample opportunity for calligraphers to design invites.
Or take Inpreet Kaur, owner of Lettering Buff, who has seen massive engagement on Instagram. It all started when one of her Instagram reels went viral and reached 10 million people. “The orders we got after filled up our slots for four months,” she says. Kaur’s Instagram, with over 82,000 followers, plays a major role in her business growth, and she generates a six-figure revenue per month.
Apart from offering engraved luxury items, she has also worked with companies such as Swiggy and Google India. She says an increasing number of corporates are requesting hand-written notes and cards which are used to build employee relationships.
Achyut Palav, who became a full-time calligrapher in the 1980s, has witnessed the diversity of the art evolve. From Urdu script to Devanagari, he says, each part of India has unique ink to offer. Palav sees use cases for the artform in streams such as architecture, interior design and advertising. “Today, people are willing to spend money to personalise their experiences. Nameplates, paintings, slokas and even tattoos can be customised using calligraphy.”
“It’s definitely possible now for calligraphers to make it a full-time business,” says Inpreet Kaur. “If you get the networking and marketing on social media right, it’s an instant success,” she concludes.