Artist Feature - Illyahna, IllyBoo Designs

Artist Feature - Illyahna, IllyBoo Designs

Posted by Tom Gyr on

Illy Boo - Calligrapher writing


This month, i’m very happy to announce our seventh Artist Takeover, Illy Boo. Illy is an exceptional talent, her style is effortless yet controlled and really showcases the expressiveness of lettering. 

You can read all about Illy’s passion for transforming ordinary words into works of art and how perseverance is key…


Please can you give me an introduction about who you are and what you do?

Hi, I’m Illyahna of Illyboo Designs. I am a modern calligrapher and lettering artist, based in Oxfordshire. 


How and why did you start calligraphy?

Well, Calligraphy really began as a hobby for me. When I first started I had no expectations, just that I wanted to do something fun, as I could see it becoming a popular trend. I also wanted an excuse to go to a workshop at the acclaimed Quill store in London. Although I wasn’t very good initially - hard to believe I know - something inside me loved it.

Following this class I would practice here and there, but I only began to take my calligraphy more seriously after I got engaged. I set myself the challenge to create my wedding stationery and signage for my big day. To my surprise, this led to other people requesting commissions and artwork from me and that’s when I considered taking my passion further by starting a business. I knew early on that I wanted to give back the skills I had learnt to a community of like minded individuals and to keep the art of calligraphy and writing alive. 


What appeals to you most about what you do?

I love the idea of rekindling a traditional skill and turning it into something new. It ensures that part of history never really dies away. You carry it forward and bring a new lease of life to it. Writing is an essential skill that we all need, but more importantly for me it’s the beauty found in shaping and creating letters that most appeals to me. I love the creative expression seen with different writing styles, the ability to manipulate letter shapes to create beautiful lines and strokes and transforming ordinary words into works of art. 


If you had to start again, what advice would you give yourself?

Make mistakes, have patience and explore all styles of calligraphy. 

Please can you tell us where to find your beautiful work and if you have any courses etc? 

I currently sell two beginners brush style calligraphy kits, along with downloadable guides on my website at The latest thing to launch this month is a new take on my basic brush pen lettering guide, designed to be used with the Tom’s Studio Lumos pen. I am also developing a new online calligraphy course this year, accompanied by a range of online modern flourishing workbooks for both brush and dip pen styles, so keep an eye out! 

Who are the artists/individuals that inspire you most and where can we find them?

The two calligraphers who have inspired me over the years are Betty Soldi @bettysoldistudio and Younghae Chung of @logos_calligraphy. Betty has the most mesmerising free flowing approach to calligraphy, allowing for so much creative expression. Her technique helped me embrace a new modern energetic writing style. Younghae’s style taught me the fundamentals of traditional elegant script shaping, specifically for calligraphy flourishing, as her style harks back to more traditional forms of copperplate calligraphy. Her style gives me more technical control and structure and together with Betty’s, I feel provides a lovely blend of techniques that is important for every calligrapher to incorporate in their practice.


What is your favourite quote to write and why?

"You don't have to be great in order to start, but you have to start in order to be great!" By Zig Ziglar 

It was one of the first quotes that resonated with me when I started calligraphy. I needed something to remind me that I would get better, but I first had let go of my perfectionism and just start the process. I also used it as the inspirational quote in my first workshop workbook I designed in 2017, so it’s a nice reminder of what and where ‘starting’ has got me. 

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