Commissioning Calligraphy Part 4: Working With Your Calligrapher

If you missed part 1 of this series on calligraphy, check it out here.


Working with a Calligrapher: Revel in the Details!


The way you work with your calligrapher will make all the difference in the world. It will be the difference between getting exactly what you want or getting something that looks beautiful but just misses the mark. Here are some important tips:


Plan in advance!

Nobody likes to rush to get things done so do everyone a favor and make sure your calligrapher has plenty of time to complete the task at hand. This way you can avoid anxiety about the project being done on time and you can also eliminate those hefty rush fees (which means you keep more money in your pocket). This doesn’t mean you need to start the project months in advance, but reach out to your vendors well before your deadline so you can schedule your project into their calendar.

Communicate, communicate, communicate.

Be clear with your requirements. Talk about the type of style and design you’re looking for, the special custom colors you want, the way it has to be aligned on the envelope, the quantity you need, etc. Leave no detail untouched. The more information the better! This will also eliminate the likelihood of any surprises on your final invoice as your calligrapher can discuss costs with you upfront. 

Calligraphy Blackletter ABC's by Chavelli |


Source your materials in advance

Yes, it would be lovely if your calligrapher could double as your personal stationery shopper, but unfortunately that’s not typically how it works. It’s standard practice that the client should provide the needed materials like envelopes, paper, etc. to complete the job. However, calligraphers that are also designers and stationers (like me!) are likely to be able to help with not just sourcing the right materials for you, but can make appropriate recommendations if you need some guidance. Don’t forget to leave enough time for this as materials need to be ordered in advance.

Keep in mind that calligraphers need to account for errors and spoilage so you should always provide a minimum of 10% additional pieces.

Provide everything in a timely fashion

Let’s talk about time again because it’s so important. Let’s say you planned well in advance to give the calligrapher enough time and you bought your own stationery for the job. But if that stationery is still sitting in a box on your dining room table on the day your calligrapher is supposed to start, that’s a problem.

Make sure all materials are delivered to the calligrapher prior to the start date you both agreed to, otherwise you may run into scheduling issues and/or those pesky rush fees. This obviously includes the text you expect the calligrapher to write, such as address lists (properly formatted as per his/her instructions)!


Last but not least, be the best proofreader you can be. Read over every name, date, address, etc. before passing it along to be written. It is your responsibility to make sure everything is spelled correctly and formatted the way you want before handing it off to your calligrapher to write. Adding anything last minute may interfere with their process and cause duplicates that you end up paying for.

So, if you don’t know your cousin John’s new girlfriend’s name or you don’t have your friend Stacey’s new address, get all of that information before sending your list to be written. Don't assume you can just give edits after the project has started. You will receive back exactly what you give!


It's not hard working with calligraphers and really it should be a pretty seamless process, but doing your part will save everyone a lot of time and hassle. Take the time to get all your ducks in a row and be timely, clear and organized! This will make the whole process a smooth and pleasant experience for you both.

I hope you've enjoyed this series on commissioning calligraphy and found it useful! Please drop in any questions or thoughts in the comments below!


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