Saturday, May 11, 2019

5 Questions with Jillian Joyce Tan, The Visionary Behind Everything Calligraphy and Vinta Inks

I have been using fountain pens for more than 10 years now, having done the shift to full fountain pen use in early 2008. Back then, most of us Pinoy fountain pen users had very limited local sellers of pen products to choose from. We considered ourselves lucky if we find fountain pen inks other than Quink, fountain pen friendly paper, or if we come across student pens in Recto.

Luckily for us, Jillian Joyce Tan, a fellow fountain pen user and member of our local group Fountain Pen Network Philippines started Everything Calligraphy, an online one-stop shop "happy place" for our local fountain pen community. Everything Calligraphy created their own products and brought in international brands such as Colorverse Inks, Field Notes, Franklin-Christoph, IWI Pens, Jinhao, Nemosine, Opus 88, and Robert Oster, among others. Today, EC, as we fondly call it, carries more than 50 local and international brands offering fountain pens, ink, paper, and accessories. Fountain pen enthusiasts await their annual anniversary sale where they offer products at discounted prices, and free demo lessons and ink buffet.

Last March, Jillian launched Vinta Inks, a brand of ink proudly produced in the Philippines using locally sourced pigments meant for fountain pens and calligraphy. Though I did not make it to the launch party, I chatted with Jillian a few weeks later and asked her a few questions, five of which are published here.

Jillian at the successful launch of Vinta Inks in March.

How did Everything Calligraphy start?

Jillian: Actually, the first brand I started was Elias Notebooks. Sometime around 2015, I was frustrated by the lack of good quality paper that would be compatible with fountain pens. So I searched for a good local source for fountain pen-friendly paper and that’s how Elias was created. Four years later, the brand expanded to carry notebooks, leather pen cases, pad papers, and so much more.

It was when I was working on Elias Notebooks that I decided to come up with an online store that would become a one-stop shop for all pen aficionados like myself, where they can purchase everything they would need from pen, paper, ink, to cleaning materials. I wanted to curate the products to feature quality materials from all over the world to be accessible to Filipinos whatever his or her budget is. And they don’t need to leave the house to find these items.

Elias pad papers are locally manufactured. Each pad has 80 sheets of acid-free 90 GSM paper and well-loved for the paper's tolerance to bleeding and feathering and ability to show the shading properties of fountain pen inks. These pad papers are available as blank, dot grid, or lined in small and large sizes at EverythingCalligraphy.Com

EC also offers Elias Notebook Inserts for Traveler's Notebook. Available in two sizes (regular and passport), the inserts have 40 pages of 90gsm acid-free paper that is suitable for fountain pens, calligraphy, and sketching. These inserts can be bought as one or as a set of three at EverythingCalligraphy.Com.

How big is Everything Calligraphy?

Jillian: Contrary to what some might think, the EC team is very small and we’re hoping to expand. In fact, we are looking for an operations manager, marketing manager, and custom relations officer. If anyone is interested in applying, they can email their CV to Currently, our team of six is very shorthanded and we’d love for more people to join us.

Everything Calligraphy joins craft festivals and shows. This was the EC table during the Craft Mania at Shangri-La Plaza in 2016.
Everything Calligraphy's Ink Buffet during their Anniversary Sale in September 2018. The famous Ink Buffet is on a long table covered with Elias Paper with sample vials of around 50 ink brands that EC offers from J. Herbin to Robert Oster. EC offers uninked Pilot Parallel pens so attendees can try the different inks on the table. They are also allowed to dip their uninked pens in the sample vials.

How do you select brands/products to include in Everything Calligraphy’s product line up?

Jillian: This is a great question! The primary selection of products stems mostly from the customers. Sometimes they introduce us to different brands as requests or specific ink colors they want to see more of. I also always read posts on social media and listen to what people look for. And personally, I love trying various products when I travel and if it passes quality control, then we decide to carry them.

Opus 88 Demonstrator pens were first offered in the Philippines by Everything Calligraphy. Get them from EverythingCalligraphy.Com.
IWI Pens Essential (top) and Handscript (bottom). Another brand that was introduced by EC to local fountain pen enthusiasts is IWI Pens from Taiwan. Get them from EverythingCalligraphy.Com.

You've been selling fountain pen inks from various brands at Everything Calligraphy for a while now. Why did you come up with the idea of creating your own fountain pen inks?

Jillian: Because people see the same team behind both Everything Calligraphy and Vinta, they tend to assume that they’re one and the same. I cannot emphasize enough how the two are separate brands. On one hand, EC’s goal is to curate the world’s best selection of writing materials into one store where Filipinos can purchase them. On the other hand, Vinta’s goal is to reach an international audience. Simply put, their trajectories are completely opposite each other. With Vinta Inks, I want to show the world that we can make world-class quality inks right here in the Philippines. And at the same time, I want to share a little bit of our history to the world and tell them more about this great, if sometimes, vexing country.

"Take a dip and write away." Proudly made in the Philippines, Vinta Inks are available in 10 beautiful and exciting colors. Get yours at VintaInks.Com.
Jillian with Dr. Jose Dalisay, Jr., founder of Fountain Pen Network Phillipines during the launch of 
Vinta Inks in the Philippines in March 2019.

How do you envision Everything Calligraphy in the next 10 years?

Jillian: Within the next ten years, I want Everything Calligraphy to have a bigger team. I hope to include more brands into the store, especially start-up brands both local and international. Hopefully, we can transfer to a bigger office as we’re pretty cramped right now. Our customers might even want to see us open a retail or pop-up store. 
Everything Calligraphy's ink table during their Anniversary Sale in September. 

Through the years, Everything Calligraphy has been true to its promise of building the most comprehensive writing paraphernalia store in the Philippines and continues to add new brands to their offering to make fountain pen use and collecting more interesting to Pinoy aficionados. To see their brand offerings, visit EverythingCalligraphy.Com.

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