Meet Alice Gabb, the Stationery Whizz

Alice Gabb is the girl who holds calligraphy masterclasses here at Pearl & Groove. They've being going down an absolute storm, so we thought we'd find out a little bit more about the master behind the class...

Can you give us a quick run through of the journey you’ve taken to get where you are now? What inspired you to get into hand lettering and calligraphy? I did my Art Foundation diploma at Wimbledon School of Art and then a Graphic Design and Illustration degree at Bath Spa University (then called Visual Communications I think). Hand rendered type when I graduated in 2009 was all the rage, I loved it. I then started designing and hand screen printing my own stationery and sold it at my stall on Broadway Market in Hackney. This opened the doors for lots of wedding commissions and through that I taught myself modern calligraphy in 2014.

What did you want to be when you were very little? To be quite honest I wanted to be a cat, and then a dog (I would proudly say this when asked), and then after the age of ten it was highly dependent on what TV show was big at the time….I wanted to be a vet after Animal Hospital, and a lawyer after Ally McBeal…..but after my GCSE’s it was obvious that I would go to art school when I finished Sixth Form, I didn’t know what I wanted to be necessarily, but everyone knew that that was where I belonged!

What do you find the most challenging about your job? And about running your own business?! Soooo mannnyyyyy challengggeeesss. Mostly that I was taught literally nothing about having my own business throughout my degree. I knew that I needed to get as much work experience in as possible so I did a lot of free labour in London for makers/designers that I loved. There’s a lot of challenges; working alone and having to make all these decisions without any advice or help. I am not a natural business person and I make A LOT of mistakes. But I count my lucky pencils every day, I am so, so lucky to do what I do.

What can’t you live without? BBC Radio 4. I made a solemn oath to myself aged 12 that I would NEVER listen to it when I was an adult, as my parents had (and still have) radios in every room in the house so that you didn't miss a second and I couldn’t stand it. I can’t remember when I caved but I can’t live without Desert Island Discs or Woman’s Hour.

On that note - what would your Desert Island Discs be? And your luxury item? 

Leslie Gore - Don't Tell Me What to Do

Hot 8 Brass Band - Sexual Healing

Frankie Valley and the Four Seasons - The Night

Orchestral Manoeuvers in the Dark - Enola Gay

The other three are not yet decided as I am only thirty and I reckon it will take me a few more decades for Kirsty to ask me. My favourite episode ever is Clarissa Dickson-Wright's. Glorious. 

Luxury Item - A solar powered radio so I had Radio 4 to keep me company. I could shout at the Archers about how I think it's a dairy farming piece of propaganda (what a coincidence that one of the most unlikeable characters is a vegan....)

Who or what do you find inspiring? Lettering and signs of all sorts. I went to the Women’s March while I was in America this year and I found the language of protest banners absolutely fascinating. I’m having an exhibition of textile banners in June based on my research over there.

Where would you go for breakfast, lunch and dinner (separate meals) if they were your last on earth? Breakfast: Towpath Cafe in Hackney

Lunch: Afternoon tea in the Shrigley room Sketch

Dinner (or supper as I call it and am often teased about): Mac & cheese and fries from Temple of Hackney eaten by the canal with a gin-in-a-tin, followed by a sing-along at the Palm Tree in Mile End. I’m a creature of East-London habit.

Talk us through what you’d do on a Pearl (truly virtuous) day and a Groove (really indulgent) day? Pearl: I would start with pilates as I am too tall for my own good and it really helps after I’ve been hunched over my calligraphy. Followed by some gallery visits; I don’t visit enough but I always feel so virtuous after making the effort. Followed by some life drawing. 

Groove: I am more than happy spending the day going from favourite cafe to favourite cafe drinking tea and eating treats. Towpath Cafe, down the canal and through London Fields toViolets, then to Palm Vaults…then working my way through the pubs past 6pm, followed by dancing in my living room to power ballads, if we are having a truly indulgent day. 

Finally - if you could learn one skill over night, what would it be? This is a very interesting question. All the tricks of the trade for sign painting and large scale murals I think. It’s next on my list to learn but I have too much work on for the moment, and it’s a trade and skill that will take a long time to master.

Alice's next class is on Tuesday 9th May, 7-9pm, here at Pearl & Groove. Click for tickets! 

Find out more about Alice and her wonderful work here