Too often, we make excuses to stay within our comfort zones. If you have ever thought, “I wish I could do that!” or, “if only I had the time to pick up a new hobby,” you might find Doris Fullgrabe’s story to be a positive inspiration. An expat working in New York City, Fullgrabe shifted her focus to mastering the art of calligraphy and lettering in 2015.
Cultural insights → Cultural fluidity
Born and raised in Germany, Fullgrabe has lived and worked in Scotland, England, Spain, the Canary Islands, Mexico and the United States in Texas and Manhattan before making a move to Brooklyn with her husband, who is a native of Spain.
Fullgrabe’s exposure to living in many places pairs with her well-rounded background in the workplace. She worked in human resources in London after graduating with a degree in Human Resources Management and Spanish in Scotland. Later, she moved to Barcelona to work as an executive assistant. Fullgrabe met her future husband through her job at the time, and the two made the next few moves together for work. Her cross-cultural experiences led her to work in leadership development and become an executive coach for expats to offer guidance during the expatriation and repatriation process. Fullgrabe has also been a Myers-Briggs Master Practitioner (ENFJ) for more than 10 years. Without a doubt, Fullgrabe has quite a bit of experience both culturally and professionally. In recent years, however, Fullgrabe picked up on something new. She thinks you should, too.
Q: What inspired you to make this transition?
A: “I went to school in Germany in the’80s, so we were taught how to write in cursive. I remember loving that since I was a child, but it never occurred to me until recently that this was something I could do professionally. I just picked it up as a hobby, and I haven’t looked back since.”
Q: What are the two most essential skills in your current profession?
A: “Patience and curiosity.”
Before launching her website and lettering services, Fullgrabe asked herself:
- Whom do I want to serve?
- What is it that I like to do and spend most of my time doing?
- How can I be of assistance to others?
The elegant website design features her work, services and plenty of information about workshops and online courses. Fullgrabe specializes in adding a sweet, personal touch to weddings, murals and other custom calligraphy requests. A teacher at heart, Fullgrabe has a passion for sharing what she knows with others, which is why she offers both online and group workshops for curious students.
The calligraphy workshops offered are full of video tutorials and vital skills to perfecting hand-lettering. Skillshare is an online platform used by many artistic creators, and Fullgrabe is offering two months of premium access for online tutorials. Fullgrabe will be launching #justpickupapen soon, a digital campaign that promotes a healthier balance of online and offline hobbies.
Q: What advice would you give to people interested in learning the art of calligraphy?
A: “Don’t hold back, don’t be scared, and most importantly, make time for it. You have to overcome the fear and just dive in.”
Haley Miller is an illustrator and designer who comments on hand-lettering skills: “It’s one of those things that definitely takes time to practice, but so satisfying when you see the results. I think we need to challenge ourselves more to try new things because we have so much potential to learn and grow!”
Most of Fullgrabe’s audience comes from social media activity on a variety of platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. She maximizes her reach by using hashtags and commenting on similar pages. When Fullgrabe moved from Manhattan to a neighborhood in Brooklyn, she walked around and handed out her business card to businesses in the area. With a talent like hers, word of mouth spreads quickly to boost potential business opportunities for the self-employed expat.
“Since I’m pretty new to the business, I have found it helpful being in a co-working space with other designers. I have already worked with some of them by making custom products for their clients,” Fullgrabe said. “I also would like to tap more into the bridal market because the demand is always high.”
Q: As an expat and global nomad, where or what is home for you?
A: “My husband. We just celebrated 12 years together this year. I am very happy and grateful that I have a healthy relationship with him after all these years.”
Q: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?
A: “Somewhere on a beach in New Zealand.”