In a word…

 

“Words is good.” 

Ha!  I love that saying, always gives me a giggle.  And gets the point across.  Words are important, the correct use of words makes a lovely impression, the wrong use, not so much. 

Of course, a nice presentation helps…says the calligrapher. 

Lately I’ve been thinking about the importance of the written word, specifically.

I attended a fantastic marketing seminar a few weeks ago which featured Kendra Scott as its key note speaker.  If you don’t know her, Ms. Scott is equal parts self-made successful entrepeneur, enthusiastic philanthropist, and engaging public speaker.  She also has great taste in shoes and is drop-dead gorgeous, but that’s beside the point.

Ms. Scott imparted to her audience her personal rules for living.  They are all worth noting but one struck me as particularly endearing, as well as inspiring.  She will delete an email as soon as it has been read, but never throws away a hand-written note.  And she sends hand-written notes, knowing what most people have forgotten: a hand-written note or card makes a person feel special.

Ms. Scott’s mention of this put me in mind of a recent Hallmark commercial.  In it a mother says good-bye to her daughter, goes back into her house with a card in her hand, and puts it into a box, giving us a glimpse of all the special objects she keeps there.  And as she re-reads her older cards, some signed with the scribbles of a young child, I cry like a baby. The tag line is ” This Mother’s Day, give her something she can hold onto”.  I dare you not to mist up a little at least.  Take a look at  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jz-ufxPvESQ

For you parents out there, you know the importance of being able to read your child’s old writings, hold their drawings, see them as little children again in your mind’s eye.  I don’t think I’m overstating this.  Holding these pieces of paper connects us in a way nothing else can, to our past, our memories.  How about old love letters,  the ones that remind you of the person you were before you met your spouse, visiting your first love, your friends of old? 

I lost a close friend a few years ago and am so grateful to have all of her postcards, little notes, and even a few quick drawings she’d just toss in the mail to let me know she was thinking of me.  It says alot about who she was, how thoughtful and considerate to make these gestures of friendship that mean so much to me.  Thank you, Beth, for leaving me so much of you.

I, myself, have recently started the impossible job of cleaning out our garage, and am finding scads of old letters, holiday cards, the records of my forty plus years as seen through others’ eyes.  I sit and read and laugh and cry in my own personal time capsule.  I will neaten them up, show them the respect they deserve, and I will pack them away.   As the years pass and my life changes in so many ways,  it will be comfort to know that those reminders are there, safely tucked away nearby.    

I found out recently that my great-grandfather made his living as a calligrapher.  He was self-taught as well, and we still have a lot of his work.  I am happy to say that we are in possession of a beautiful letter he wrote to my great-great grandparents asking for their daughter’s hand in marriage. 

An email as a family heirloom?  I think not.

And I doubt they’d have said yes.  Would you?

As I compose this blog to send out into the ether, I am well aware of the irony of my situation.  I am trying to impart the importance of a card vs. and email greeting, a personal note vs. a facebook response, etc, all the while typing my little digits off.  I think it important to strike a balance.  Don’t always take the quick and easy road to correspondence.  Tough it out!  Buy some stamps!  Remember someone’s birthday a week in advance and send a card!  Send your loved one a love letter! 

Make someone feel special with a written word.  There’s nothing like it. 

Those who don’t do, teach.  But I’m going to do better starting today.  Join me?

Posted in Calligraphy

Always Ask

 

At a recent bridal show here in Austin, something amazing happened.

As I stood behind my banquet table laid with elegantly framed samples of my work, speaking with glowing (yes, they actually glowed) newly engaged couples, I had an epiphany.

I was speaking to a lovely young woman who was openly admiring my work.  She said that she wished she could afford to hire me to address her envelopes but that she knew it was “too expensive”.  “But I haven’t told you the price”, I replied.  “How much do you think it costs?”

She stood there thinking for a moment, obviously trying to come up with a number, but unable to even guess.  “I don’t know” she laughed, ” I really don’t have any idea!”

She was amazed when I did tell her the price and vowed to stop making assumptions about the services she’d like for her wedding.

The epiphany for me was two-fold.

First, that my biggest obstacle in selling my services is not exposure or price.  It is the presumption that “elegant” or “beautiful” equals “expensive”.  This is simply not true.  I’m not saying that there isn’t expensive calligraphy out there, just that it doesn’t necessarily have to be. Just like you’ll try on gowns or suits in different price ranges until you find one you love that also fits your budget, so should you price several calligraphers until you find someone who fits your budget and gives you what you want.

Second, how many people, because of their assumptions about prices for services, simply give up what they want?  My advice to you?  Always ask for prices.  Shop around.  Ask for a discount.  If the vendor is having a slow month, you may just get a better price.  Offer to trade services if you have a skill.  Ask about setting up a payment plan.  In other words, if you really want something for your wedding, ask!

I offer gift certificates and wedding registry services, complete with cards you can enclose in wedding shower invitations.  Suggest that to any kind of vendor and they may implement a similar service for you. 

I know planning a wedding is a daunting task.  Just remember, vendors like me want your business.  And sometimes we have wiggle room.

You’ll never know unless you ask.

Posted in Calligraphy

The Love is in the Detail

 

Why should you hire a calligrapher for your wedding? I actually have an answer for that!!

Have you ever commissioned an artist to produce an original piece of art for you or for someone else?  Most of us would answer “no” without hesitation.

But hiring a calligrapher to hand-write your invitation, your vows, your seating chart, or even your menu or place cards, is just that.  And by having your envelopes addressed by a calligrapher you are commissioning an original work of art for each and every one of your invited guests.

A guest who receives this lovely gift from you will pay closer attention to the invitation within, and they will respond more quickly.  They are even more likely to attend, for two reasons.

First, they are simply flattered.  As well they should be.  You have paid good money to have the most personal thing about them, their name, made into a beautiful keepsake.  They don’t know it was inexpensive.  They just know from this lovely gesture that they are a valued witness to, and particpant in, the most special day of your life.

Second,  you have given them a glimpse of things to come should they respond “yes”. They know that it is your goal to treat this occasion as it should be treated.  The pleasure of your guests is important to you.  Details do not escape your attention.

Doubtful?   Think back to receiving a sloppy hand-written or machine-printed envelope, even with a beautiful invitation inside.  Did you want to attend?  Did you want to spend money on a gift, buy an outfit, don your killer shoes and schlep across the city, let alone across the continent or ocean, to attend this party?  Did it say to you, “Hey, this is going to be a fantastic party!  I’ve pulled out all the stops to make sure you have a memorable time”?

I’ve been working with engaged couples and talking to newlyweds for over fifteen years.  I’ve attended many weddings for which I’ve done the calligraphy, and I am delighted every time a client introduces me to guests as her or his calligrapher.  Even clients who are decade-long friends do this!  I love it.  I love the look of recognition from the guest, their inevitable compliment for my work (they always remember!), but most of all, I love the look of gratitude and pride on the the newleyweds’  lovely faces.

Believe me, it makes a difference.


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