Your Questions Answered By A Wedding Professional: Calligrapher

Photography by Cornerstone Designs

Today, we talked with Cassidy of Cornerstone Designs, a Wedding & Event Calligraphy studio based in Mobile, Alabama. Their motto is “modern calligraphy for life’s meaningful moments!”

Want to learn more about Cornerstone Designs? Then check out their website here. See below for our interview with Cassidy!

How long have you been doing calligraphy?

I’ve been doing calligraphy and hand lettering for around three years now. It started as just a hobby, so I’m completely self-taught. I’ve always loved creating and taking on artistic hobbies, so it first started as a way for me to enhance my bullet journaling and other pieces of personal art.

However, I began my calligraphy business this part November of 2019 offering hand painted signs. I have a degree in Hospitality Management with experience working in the wedding/events industry, and always wanted to come back around to that type of work eventually. After starting my calligraphy business, I realized that weddings were exactly where I wanted to go with my services, and I expanded my offerings for that.

What services do you offer?

One service I offer is event signage rentals where my clients can rent a variety of wood, chalkboard, or mirror signs. I customize the signs with the words and artwork of their choice.

Another main service of mine is envelope addressing where I offer two styles of calligraphy – a more classic style using a pointed dip pen and then a more modern brush lettering style. Then I create day-of details like place cards, table numbers, handwritten menus, etc. These can be paper, but I also really love writing on unique materials like marble tiles, oyster shells, and acrylic!

I also offer commission calligraphy work such as wedding vows and other types of gifts!

What is the average time it takes to complete one item?

This really depends on the item and the amount of words being written as well as the size. The medium being used to write with will also play into the amount it takes – some are a little harder to work with than others.

For an example, an order of 100 place cards would take approximately 2 hours.

Photography by Cornerstone Designs

What is the difference between hand-lettering and calligraphy?

This is a great question and something I think often gets confused!

To create the calligraphy effect, you need thin upstrokes and thick down-strokes on your letters. This is achieved by using special writing tools such as a pointed dip pen, a brush tip pen/marker, or a paint brush. These tools create different sized strokes depending on how much pressure is applied.

The tips of these pens are usually movable or adjustable in some way depending on how hard you press them. This means that you can achieve your different sized upstrokes and down-strokes the first time you write out your word as long as you’ve used the pen correctly.

Hand-lettering is a little different. I like to think of hand-lettering as “faux calligraphy.” Basically, you get the same end result as calligraphy – thin upstrokes, thick down-strokes – but it is done in a different way.

With hand-lettering, you can use really any writing tool. A ball point pen, a paint pen, a pencil, etc. Unlike the calligraphy pens, these tools have hard tips that don’t bend or adjust depending on the pressure applied. They don’t create those different sized lines that you need for the calligraphy effect. The line is always the same no matter how hard you press.

Because of this, the artist must first write out their letter or word, then go back and thicken each line that needs to be thickened (the down-strokes), unlike calligraphy which is achieved all in the first go around.

Hand-lettering is mostly used on large pieces like signs because there really isn’t a tool large enough to create authentic calligraphy on a large scale. However, whether you choose hand-lettering or calligraphy, you can get many of the same effects!

There are other categories of hand-lettering, and some people may differentiate hand-lettering from calligraphy a little differently than I did above. However, this has been my basic understanding of both practices over my time of learning each!

What are your favorite mediums to work with?

I love this question! When it comes to calligraphy pens, I’m finding myself leaning more toward pointed pens than brush pens lately. The Brause Steno (Blue Pumpkin) nib with an oblique nib holder is my favorite!

My favorite ink and envelope combo will forever be white ink (Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bleed Proof White is great) on a colored envelope.

And for signage, I really love chalkboard signs, I use Arteza chalk markers for their great color range which is great for doing floral art!

How do you charge by piece?

Envelopes, place cards, and other day-of details are a set price per piece (ex. $3 per envelope, $2 per place card, etc.)

Signage rentals are also a set price but differ based on the sized of the sign (all wording and artwork are included in rental price).

And any commission calligraphy pieces, like wedding vows for example, are determined by the sized of the paper and how many words are being written! So, each project varies.

When would you suggest clients reach out to you?

It’s never too early to get on my calendar! The earlier the better, because you’ll have the best chance of me being available for your wedding date, and we will also have plenty of time to work out all of those beautiful details that you’re dreaming of!

However, a good rule of thumb is to book your calligraphy when you book your stationer. If you’re not using a stationer for your invitations, aim for 3-6 months in advance.

Different projects take difference amounts of time, but the main thing is just making sure you book early enough to get on a calligrapher’s calendar so they will be available to have your pieces ready in time for your big day!

Do you have advice for any currently engaged couples?

As a currently engaged bride-to-be myself, my advice would be to focus on each other in the wedding planning season. Working in the wedding industry, I know there are a lot of decisions to be made, deadlines to keep up with, and opinions to cater to. However, at the end of the day this is about the two of you and your love for one another.

I encourage you to sit down with your significant other and each decide your top three must-have for your wedding (so 6 things total). Work together to make sure those things happen (if plausible), and then let everything else go.

If something is falling through or causing you too much stress, evaluate if it’s on either of your top three lists. If not, shake it off and remember what this time is all about – the love you have for each other. Wedding planning should bring you closer together, not tear you apart!

Do you have advice for newlyweds?

Choose each other every day! Love is a choice, not a feeling.

Be sure to check out Cornerstone Designs on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest!

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