Ink with Meaning: A Conversation with Calligraphy Artist Kimberly Shrack (COM’10)

Kimberly Shrack, founder of Manayunk Calligraphy, received her Masters in Public Relations from Boston University in 2010. Having held a successful PR career in both Boston and Philadelphia, Shrack has put her BU degree to good use. But it wasn’t until she began planning her wedding that Shrack realized her true passion.

What sparked your passion for public relations?

As an undergraduate I studied art history and minored in studio art at Indiana University. I always had a passion for art, but I knew that I needed to get another degree in order to land a stable job. During college I really enjoyed working as a PR intern at a museum, so this inspired me to pursue a Masters in PR at Boston University.

What inspired you to transition from PR to calligraphy?

After working in Boston for a few years, I moved to Philadelphia and applied my PR expertise to the healthcare industry.  I was an account executive for Feinstein Kean Healthcare and then managed PR and social media for Magee Rehabilitation. It wasn’t until I got married that I picked up calligraphy. I wanted to be able to find a cost-effective way to make invitations for my wedding. Finding no reasonably priced options, I decided to make my own invitations using calligraphy. When our wedding was over I started offering calligraphy to our neighborhood in Philly and then was invited to participate in a Philly art show. So I sold my first illustration using calligraphy!

What is one of your best-selling pieces?

My best-selling work is my cat piece that is built from a Mark Twain quote. That was my husband’s idea. I had made all these dog illustrations, but we have a cat at home. My husband said I don’t understand why you won’t make a cat and it ended up being my best-selling. I also get to do a lot of custom work for people. It’s really meaningful for them and its meaningful for me to work on. With weddings, people are trusting me to help make a first impression. I script up vows for people and first dance songs. Those are always really fun for me to work on. The biggest custom work I did was featured in Us Weekly this past November. I painted the nursery for one of the [former] Bachelorettes and got to fly out to Seattle and meet them. They were great to work with.

Where does your inspiration come from?

When you do it every single day for a job, you need to learn how to draw. So there’s not one inspiration (giant event). Its more like you’ll hear bits of a conversation and you say that would be a really good quote. Or I draw inspiration from things that are going on in the world. I also enjoy reading a lot of books. Which is why a lot of the things I include in my work are literary and have to be before a certain time period (for copyright).

Have you found your BU degree useful during this process?

I use my BU degree all the time. I think the biggest thing that has helped me is the media relations aspect of my degree. This aspect of my degree has taught me how to pitch, which led me to land some nice media mentions before I left my job. I knew how to work with people and media. In fact, my specialty at BU was social media, which got me hired right out of school. I learned how to reach out to influencers and manage social media, which allowed the right people to see my calligraphy work. Often stores will reach out to me because they saw my work on Instagram.

Anthropologie actually saw my work on Instagram and asked me if I would be interested in creating a few products for them. Right now all of my work has been licensed and if you walk into Anthropologie you will see two different versions of my stationary sets. Most people need to outsource media relations for their business, but I am lucky because I can manage this on my own.

 

Kaitlin Cronin, Staff Writer

Kaitlin is currently a junior at Boston University. She is studying Advertising with a minor in English. In her free time, Kaitlin enjoys playing tennis, writing poetry, traveling, and watching movies. She has always had a passion for writing, and believes there is great power in the written word and its ability to influence and bring people together. Kaitlin hopes that by writing for the COMmunicator she can create a sense of community for BU students as they read about incredible events, people, and causes associated with BU.

 

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