Commissioning Calligraphy Part 2: How to Choose A Calligrapher
If you missed part 1 of this series on calligraphy, check it out here.
How to Choose A Calligrapher
With calligraphy on the rise today, more and more people from planners to brides are in search of talented lettering artists to work with. Choosing a calligrapher can be process, but no need to worry. I’m here for you! :)
If you’re not sure what you want or you have a hard time being decisive, navigating your options may seem difficult. There are thousands strewn all over Instagram, Pinterest, wedding blogs and magazines. But if in fact you desire something truly exquisite and unique, such as an illuminated wedding certificate, the most experienced calligraphers are likely not on social media at all! Honestly, the most experienced ones are well into their 50s and beyond and aren’t the best with digital marketing.
I know how overwhelming it can feel to face a sea of endless options, so here are my best tips for finding the right calligrapher for your event.
Check Out Calligraphy Guilds
Look for a local calligraphy guild and see if they can provide you with recommendations. This is the best way to find an experienced calligrapher with top notch skills. A few of them are listed below but there are many around the world that are easily found with a quick Google search.
- Society of Scribes, New York City
- Chicago Calligraphy Collective, Chicago
- MassScribes, Massachusetts
- Friends of Calligraphy, San Francisco
- Society for Calligraphy, Los Angeles
Ask Event Planners and Stationers
If you already have a stationer or wedding planner, they will be your next best bet. Stationers in particular are likely to have relationships with a few calligraphers already and either they can help you or they can recommend someone who is experienced with the style you want. Many will coordinate directly with the calligrapher on your behalf since the designs they create tie-in directly with the calligrapher’s work. Some stationers, like myself, provide both design and calligraphy services.
If you are getting custom stationery like wedding invitations made, it may actually be best to have the stationer choose a calligrapher for you, to ensure cohesion with all your custom pieces.
Know What You Want
When you’re seeking out a calligrapher, I recommend that you have a clear idea of the style you want so you don’t waste any time finding the right person for the job. You can either bring your own samples to show them an idea of what you’re looking for or ask to see samples of their work to make sure you are both on the same page. There are so many calligraphy styles (called hands or scripts) and not everyone can do everything. In fact, most modern day calligraphers are only proficient in one style—which may be their signature style!
Make sure they can do what you want
If you are considering a calligrapher who is just starting out, and want something more complex than place cards and envelopes, be sure to ask whether they have experience doing it. For example, if you need a huge 10ft x 5ft seating chart, a newbie may not be able to deliver on such a request.
Similarly, lettering can be done on wood, glass, mirrors, fabric, food, and pretty much any surface with the right tools. Again, not all calligraphers have experience with different types of surfaces so it’s best to know whether one has experience working with your preferred medium.
So, if you're picky don't expect that any calligrapher will be able to work with your exact specifications.
Find out about their pricing structure
Of course, know your budget and always ask about pricing. There are standard pricing structures for things like addressing envelopes, but we all have our own methods of doing this. The pricing methods may sound complicated, but they don’t have to be. The good news? In the next post of this series, we’ll break down pricing on the typical projects so you’ll have a good handle on it all.
Calligraphers come in all shapes and sizes in regard to style, skill and experience. If you want more than envelopes and place cards, I recommend looking beyond social media profiles because one size really does not fit all in this case. Since calligraphy is an “offline” discipline, many of the best calligraphers are not the ones who are very prominent online. It’s so worth it to take the time and get a clear idea of what you want so you can ask questions that are important to you and choose a calligrapher that truly fits your needs. It will make a big difference to your custom project!
Next up: Understanding Pricing