A Crane wedding invitation and calligraphy go together like Bogart and Bacall. Beautiful. Classic. Timeless. For a newly engaged couple, though, calligraphy is something they haven’t thought much about, let alone know how to make an educated decision about. Luckily, our guest post today comes from Laura Di Piazza, a professional calligrapher who creates beautiful flourishes for everything from weddings to workshops.
Perhaps one of the first comments many clients have made after contacting me is how difficult it was for them to research for calligraphers. Calligraphy work is low tech, in that we mainly work with paper, inks/paints and pens. So perhaps some of us do not have a strong online presence. However, I believe the main reason that it takes clients a bit of effort to find a calligrapher that suits their aesthetic preferences, timeframe and budget is simply because there are so few professional calligraphers out there.
So, how does one begin their search for a calligrapher?
- Locate the calligraphy guild closest to you. For a directory of national and international guilds visit Cynscribe.com.
- Ask the wedding stationer/printer/graphic designer you’re working with if they can recommend any calligraphers.
- Google your town/city name and state and ‘calligraphy’ or ‘calligrapher.’
Many calligraphy guilds, like my hometown guild The Society of Scribes in New York City, have a professional listings page on their website.
Some considerations when contacting a calligrapher:
- Time frame: Calligraphy is a very slow process. It is not uncommon for a calligrapher to address only 10 outer envelopes per hour, and that’s not including client contact time, penciling in and erasing guidelines or creating a guideline template (so the letters stay straight) and proof-reading. All of which can easily be an additional two to three hours. When contacting and booking a calligrapher, the sooner the better. Some calligraphers are booked weeks, or even months, in advance. If you’re getting your wedding/event stationery addressed or designed, expect a turnaround time of one to three weeks or longer.
- Expertise: When hiring a calligrapher, you are not only paying for their time but also for their expertise. It takes a calligrapher many years to hone their craft. Quality comes at a price. Professional calligraphers who produce high quality work tend to be more in demand and also charge more. The saying “You get what you pay for” really applies here. Remember to book early.
- Student calligraphers: If your budget for calligraphy services is small, then hiring a student calligrapher can be a good option. You’ll likely receive student-quality work, however you’ll probably get it at student “reduced” rates. When hiring a student calligrapher some questions you may want to ask are:
- Do you line your envelopes or use a guideline template? This is important in order to keep the lettering straight.
- Can you provide a lettering sample on the paper to be used? This is especially important when you are supplying the paper/stationery, as some papers are porous, coated or textured. All of which can make it difficult to write on. Professional calligraphers usually have many nib, ink and paint options that work on many different kinds of papers and surfaces.
Where does one find a student calligrapher? A good place to look is where they take classes or buy supplies: local calligraphy guilds, art centers, art supply stores or colleges/universities.
- Details: One thing I noticed early into my calligraphy freelancing practice is that brides, grooms mothers-of-the-bride and event planners have a lot of details to keep track of. It is important for both the client and calligrapher to have all the details in order. Before I begin a job I draw up a “letter of agreement,” which lists all the details of the job. This can also be done simply by numbering the details of the job in an email with the client replying that all of the information is correct. Some common details that I usually include in a letter of agreement, which I sign and have the client sign, are:
- Start and end date of the job.
- Lettering style.
- Color of the lettering ink or paint (gouache is a paint used by many calligraphers).
- Color, type and size of paper (if the calligrapher is supplying the paper).
- Shipping, drop-off and pick up details (when/where/carrier).
- Costs per piece (if envelopes, place cards, menus, etc.…), additional fees like for extra lines, color matching fee, rush fee, etc.
- Estimated volume (is it one document or 200 outer envelopes).
I hope this information helps you find the right calligrapher for you!
To contact Laura, please visit www.calligraphyarts.com.