Updated: Dec 2, 2019
I get it -- you're not an expert in calligraphy! And you shouldn't have to be. So how do you choose a calligrapher when you decide on that perfect gift for a loved one, or settle on your vision for your wedding?
There are a growing number of us out there, and I know that I'm certainly not a perfect fit for every single person's project, and I can't imagine anyone else is, either. So I'd like to help make things at least a tiny bit easier for you.
This week I'm sharing some helpful tips for what to look for when hiring a calligrapher! Scroll down and let's get started!
1) Look through their portfolio....do you like their style?
The biggest tip I have is this: do a bit of research as a first step. Take a look at the calligrapher's website and portfolio. Do you like their work? Do you like their style? Every calligrapher has a different area of expertise, and every artist has their own unique style.
One of my favorite parts of teaching beginning calligraphy classes is walking around and seeing everyone's unique style emerge. We're all learning the same script, the same techniques, and we all use my instructions to scribe. But despite all of that, everyone's work looks incredibly different.
Start narrowing the field by deciding who's work you like, and who specializes in the type of calligraphy you're looking for.
2) Have they had organized training of some sort?
While I fully support all the great DIY resources in the internet these days (there is so much great content out there!), having some structured instruction can make the different between good looking lettering and great looking lettering. I was very privileged to be able to learn from Anne Elser, a fabulous calligrapher and wonderful teacher, and I know with absolute certainty that I wouldn't be nearly as confident or competent without her instruction.
I'm not saying every calligrapher has to have a formal art degree (shoot, I'm a musician by trade!), but at least some sort of training from a mentor or teacher is a good thing.
3) Do they use quality materials?
This is one that's easy to miss! You don't want the ink to smear illegibly on your beautifully hand-addressed envelopes, or that commissioned artwork to fade in the sun after a year or two. If it isn't clear in their website/literature, be sure to ask them if they use "archival materials", or how they protect their work through the mail, etc.
4) Do you like their personality?
Similarly to finding a style you like, finding a calligrapher whose personality meshes well with your own can be a critical difference between a frustrating process or a great one. If you feel like you have a relaxed and amiable relationship with your calligrapher, you won't hesitate to ask questions or make adjustments as you go through the process!
5) What is the price?
Of course you need to decide on your own priorities and needs, so take this for what it's worth in each unique situation. But a word of caution -- If the price seems too good to be true, then it probably is! Quality calligraphy takes lots of study and practice, and it takes a while to complete an entire project. It's worth spending a bit more to get a better quality result.