I love great calligraphy.
There is nothing like the excitement of opening your mail and finding a beautifully lettered, personalized envelope and wondering what could possibly be inside.
As budgets tightened over the past couple of years, I noticed that a lot of my clients decided to forego professional calligraphy. The ones who did include it as a personal touch, though, even when it was "only" on something like a sign or a menu reflected so much of their individual personalities with such subtlety and elegance. It's a truly irresistible and surprisingly versatile artform.
I wanted to share calligraphy secrets and tips with our readers, and it occurred to me that there was no better source of information than the super-sweet, super-talented Jennifer Gillespie of Calligraphy by Jennifer who was gracious enough to allow me to interview her about her art. She also shared many beautiful photos (including all of the photos in this post) of her work which certainly have inspired me. Enjoy!
Meet Jennifer Gillespie of Calligraphy by Jennifer:
Jennifer: It is very important to book your calligrapher several months in advance. I get booked pretty far out like a lot of other vendors which I don't think brides realize and it also really helps too to avoid any rush fees. I would also say to do your research when hiring a calligrapher. Just like you would interview a photographer or wedding planner, you should interview your calligrapher. Quality of work is very important along with finding the right price for your budget. Consider how promptly they respond to you. I always try to respond to all my clients in an efficient time manner. Brides feel more comfortable shipping their items to you when communication is strong! Great communication along with quality work is my number one priority.
WA2W: How can a couple best prepare their lists and their products to ensure a successful transaction with their calligrapher?
Jennifer: It is always very important to check with your calligrapher to see what format they would like the guest list sent in. For me personally I like Word the best but will except any format that makes it easiest on the bride. As long as it's typed I am easy to work with!!!
WA2W: Other than invitations, envelopes and place cards, what other fun things do people have hand-lettered?
Jennifer: Oh gosh! I once had a guy have me hand letter his daughter's name in calligraphy so he could have it tattooed on his back! Then of course there are less extreme requests such as poems, love letters, writing around mats for a picture frame, designing letters/monograms for stationery, coasters, etc. The list could go on forever!!
WA2W: What do you feel is most misunderstood about professional calligraphy?
Jennifer: I think the thing that is most misunderstood is that everything is always going to look the same with every letter as the previous letter. Since everything is completely handwritten letters will vary slightly. I think this is actually what makes calligraphy so beautiful. If it was all the same there would be nothing interesting about it.
WA2W: When you hand letter something like an invitation or a menu, what is the (basic) process for reproducing that item? (I imagine there are enough people out there who think you hand letter all 200 invitations personally that the answer to this would be really enlightening).
Jennifer: Great question! I will hand letter the master copy and scan it in a high resolution file, then slight revisions/tweaks will be made before it is sent off to press for production. If the order is small I can hand letter each but it would take me months to do 200 by hand!! :)
Jennifer: I take much pride in my business and my passion for calligraphy hopefully shows in the work I produce. I try to follow the trends in the industry to best present what brides are looking for. I am always very open to creative jobs and suggestions of any sort to make each clients envision come to life through my lettering.
WA2W: What calligraphy trends are you looking forward to in 2010?
Jennifer: I am really loving that brides are opting for lots of color in their invitations. I hope to see more color in envelope addressing as well! I am also really looking forward to starting my own line of custom calligraphy invitations called Isabelle Lynne Designs. On top of that I am working with several different invitation artists to develop more lines this year which will be released soon!
WA2W: Is there anything else you'd love for people to understand about calligraphy or about you?
Jennifer: Calligraphy really takes a lot of patience which surprisingly is something I never had!! :) It has taken me five years to get to the point where I'm at. I feel truly blessed and thankful that I have found something I absolutely love! I feel as though I have the best job in the world. I get to do what I love and make others happy which is the most rewarding part!
I know you want to know more about Jennifer's services - her contact information is below. Thank you Jennifer for your time and generosity!
Owner, Williamsburg Wedding Design
How to Contact Jennifer Gillespie: