Elizabeth from The Letter Office sat down with us and shared a little history on her business and her mad calligraphy skills. Not only is her work beautiful, but she is too – doesn’t she rock that lipstick? Thanks, Elizabeth!
1. Tell us about your company and how you got started.
The Letter Office focuses on any project having to do with letters, so the work ranges from custom identities, lettering, calligraphy, type design, to full layout of books and magazines, and of course, wedding invitations! I started The Letter Office when my daughter was born. I’d always wanted to work for myself eventually, and while invitations obviously tricky to do with an infant, it seemed the right time because I could manage my own time and max out my days with her. Prior to starting my own studio I was the Senior Designer at Lincoln Center, BUST Magazine, and freelanced for a slew of awesome organizations both here in New York as well as in Melbourne, Australia, where I lived for 3 years.
Learn more about Elizabeth after the jump…
2. Other than invitations, envelopes and placecards, what else have you hand lettered?
I letter a lot of things — custom-lettered headlines, book jackets, logos, monograms, and most recently, a ketubah– a Jewish marriage contract.
3. What makes you different from other calligraphers?
My calligraphy is very centered around my own penmanship and variations of it, which I’d say is closest to Palmer script, but can vary widely depending on how swashy or edgy the client wants. I’m not a traditional calligrapher in the sense that I stick to the pointed pen and ink. A lot of the work I do, while always starting by hand, is digitized at some point and then printed. For envelopes, I’m usually commissioned because people want something that feels formal and fancy but more contemporary and personal than traditional Spencerian calligraphy. So I use a lot of brush markers, broad nib markers, and a standard fountain pen. I can work with a pointed pen quite nicely, but I’m not as quick with it, so it’s not something I offer for envelopes right now.
4. How much time should a couple reserve for calligraphy?
Since I am typically doing the whole suite — from design of the invitations, envelopes, RSVPs, menus, etc., and managing the printing, I always build in 2 weeks between getting everything back from the printer and the ideal mail-out date for calligraphy. It’s also good because it’s a nice window for last-minute additions to the guest list that always, always, always happen! My clients tend to be grateful that I’ve built in that window!
5. What tips or advice can you give to couples who are considering hiring a calligrapher?
Getting a hand-lettered envelope in the mail is so, so nice. Even a great font just isn’t going to be the same, and personally I think the mechanization of fonts really takes away from that sense of “I really want you to be at my wedding.” It’s such an intimate occasion, that it really deserves that touch. If I were going to choose between a 3-color invitation and calligraphy because I could only afford one, I’d go with a less expensive invitation and splurge on the calligraphy. The other side of it is, I’ve received gorgeous (and expensive!) 3 color letterpressed invitations that were then addressed by the bride or a relative in blue ballpoint pen and I just cringe–it doesn’t have the charm of DIY, it’s just cheapening something that was really classy.
6. What styles of calligraphy do you offer?
I can do a clean, thin-lined Palmer script that’s really nice and open and friendly, and I can also use thicker pens to achieve a beautiful, but more intimate look that isn’t so prescribed. I get more inquiries about the latter because it looks personal and effortless. Most of my clients don’t want their weddings to look stuffy and overly formal, so they opt for my more organic styles.
7. What is your favorite font?
I’m a type designer as well, so I don’t have an easy answer for that. But I do have all 26 letters tattooed in lowercase Garamond in random spots on my body!
8. Tell us about your favorite job so far.
My favorite wedding invitation suite was a recent one for a friend, who was great in helping me brainstorm ideas for her invitations. In the end I made a pattern out of the drawings the jeweler had done of her engagement ring, and had that as a blind impression to give the effect of lace in the background. Then we chose a super bright red for the text. The envelopes were lettered with my signature organic handwriting, really big and inviting on the envelopes.