Calligrapher Manisha Lalwani Writes Her Own Script

Aug/02/2020 / by KT Hall

Manisha Lalwani is a self-taught modern calligrapher based in NYC who creates stunning, hand-painted wedding and event signage through her company In the Detail. What started as a hobby for her is still an after-hours passion, but Lalwani (who is also a consultant) is hoping that being a calligrapher can soon become her full-time gig.

She recently sat down with SEEMA to tell us about her background, and her advice for other young women who would like to pursue a career in the creative industry.

CalligraperBriefly describe what you do professionally.

I’m a modern calligrapher who makes handmade signage for weddings and events! Calligraphy is also not my full-time job – I graduated from Baruch College with a degree in Mathematics and passed several actuarial exams over the last few years. Currently, I’m an actuarial consultant in financial risk management. While consulting may be my 9-5 (sometimes more like 8-8), I’ve always found a way to make room for my creative side!

How did you become interested in your career path?

I was always fascinated by calligraphy. I first discovered it in middle school, when I saw it displayed in school hallways. I remember thinking how beautiful it was! I came across it again a few years ago and it hit me – why haven’t I learnt this yet?! Things always come in the way but if there’s something you enjoy or want to learn, you should do it! That’s when I took it upon myself to learn calligraphy. I watched a LOT of YouTube videos, I followed artists who I admired and studied their techniques. Most importantly, I practiced whenever I could. That’s what ultimately helped me create my own unique style. My only regret now is that I didn’t start sooner!

calligrapherHas any aspect of Indian/South Asian culture influenced your journey or experience in a particular way?

Yes! My work has always been influenced by the bright and vibrant colors of South Asian culture. I grew up in a home full of Indian movies, cultures, and traditions. It’s always been a part of who I am and I love that I can share a small piece of me and my culture in my work and to the world.

How do you set professional goals? What is on your to-do plate professionally in the coming year?

It’s not always easy! Half the time, I get nothing done from my to-do list, and the other half, my list continues to grow! Balancing time between my family, friends, work, and side hustle is never easy. I find that having quarterly, monthly, weekly, or even daily goals is key for me.

My daily and weekly goals tend to be for short-term projects, while monthly and quarterly goals are for long-term projects. However you slice it, goals keep us motivated. They keep us going, help us overcome challenges and grow. One of my current goals is to add new ways that customers can further customize their signage — stay tuned!

CalligrapherWhat is your advice to young people, girls in particular, who might be interested in pursuing a career in your sector?

If you have a creative skill, own it! Personally, it was a challenge for me to start my own business because I had to keep it a secret from my colleagues at my full-time job. Doing anything other than consulting was almost looked down upon, so getting support from the people I worked with every day was close to impossible. Unfortunately, creativity is often perceived in a negative light in corporate America.

Eventually, I realized that I was only adding to the problem. So I finally opened up about In The Detail and it was the best feeling ever! Of course, some were more encouraging than others, but that was okay because I broke the norm. There are always going to be challenges and obstacles but if you have a creative skill that you are passionate about, you have to own it proudly. Power through, stay focused, and most importantly, have fun!

What inspires your career as a calligrapher today? What’s your mission or vision?

I would love for In The Detail to be my full time job! My mission is to work primarily in the wedding industry and add something unique to wedding details that many have considered insignificant in the past. Bringing signage to the spotlight, adding handmade details, and creating special moments for customers is what inspires me. That, and the fact that it’s so much fun!

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