The Hand Lettered Difference - Does it Matter?

In many of my workshops, I'm often asked on how I began my lettering journey (usually right after the question on why I left the big city for small town living - but that's another story). I began graduate school in 2012 at Pratt Institute and was submerged into a world that was quite foreign at the time - incredible designers, breathtaking work, professors who not only worked with the great but were the great as well. 

In my second year I began working closely with Tony Di Spigna who served as my thesis advisor. Tony was a ball buster – he pushed me past limits I didn't know were possible, I cried, he yelled at me when he thought I could do better. I took away phrases like "You can drive a truck through those characters!" and "Go for a walk! Get a beer! Go get laid!" as part of my everyday conversation with him. In the midst of my classes and thesis work, I was also running Handmade Darling, the studio apartment-sized business that featured handmade greeting cards and less than a year old. 

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Tony had worked for the Lubalin studios when Herb Lubalin was still alive, and created a vast amount of work that is recognizable and downright brilliant. Tony's hand work was something that was no longer seen as a young designer - I entered Pratt still wet behind the ears with a fancy computer and hoping for the best with a good eye for design. Although, my one strength was simple - drawing. What I lacked in Adobe knowledge I made up for in hand skills which got Tony on my side. I signed up for his hand lettering class and finally felt like I knew what I was doing. I dove head first into lettering and studied the designers that I had loved but never had a name for. Over the course of my time at Pratt I developed skills that allowed me to tackle this journey with visual hierarchy, negative space, correct line spacing, and the way a letter curves from a downstroke to a hairline. I was introduced to typography, traditional spencerian and copperplate alphabets, and the ability to see what worked and what didn't. 


Five years later, I've honed those skills and Handmade Darling is now a business that continually serves others on their special occasions. The best reward is the feedback and response from every happy couple, birthday girl, bride at her shower and more.

Many times, students will ask me about vinyl signs, cricut templates, pinterest "inspo" and the like - I do my best not to cringe and I'm sorry in advance if I do in conversation with you. There's absolutely nothing wrong if you're a crafter and enjoy adding pieces to your work. However, as someone who has apprenticed and is trained in this art form, I truly value the time, patience and skill behind each piece. Whether a custom sign or a new piece, each goes through an intense creative process. Multiple drafts are created, a variety of pencils and markers and inks are used, copy after copy, and then a final execution – making sure each letter, each character, each curve is where it should be. I still practice, even five years later, and it's a journey that is ever evolving. 

If you're new to hand lettering, I encourage you to go beyond pinterest, past the motivational quotes, past what you think is just good. Find inspiration in the tried and true artists who live and breathe typography, who see letters that form shapes and characters, who have studied this movement long before this craze took place. So the question, does hand lettering really make a difference? Yes, a million times yes.

Happy writing and learning. Looking for suggestions on typographers to check out? Let me know!

Bohemian Elegance in Upstate NY

A gypsy soul is the perfect way to describe myself... and this shoot. Full of rich colors with ambers and jewels, this bohemian shoot is quite the stunner. I may be biased because this is my style but I am just in awe of the collaboration that took place. 

Set in central New York amongst the hills and farms, Pretty Little Vintage Co. hosted this incredible shoot. Working along seasoned wedding vets was quite the honor and I became immersed into this beautiful world. From custom globes to banners, Handmade Darling had a little touch throughout and I couldn't be happier with the final photos. See below for rustic, bohemian inspiration:

 The most perfect dessert table!

The most perfect dessert table!

 You are my greatest adventure. Available on  etsy.

You are my greatest adventure. Available on etsy.

 Dream A Little Dream of Me.

Dream A Little Dream of Me.


Vendors included:

Vintage Rentals & Styling: Pretty Little Vintage Co.
Photographer: Jovial Photography
Hair & Makeup: Backwoods Beauty
Dress: Asher Bridal
Donuts Bar: Just Donuts
Macrame Backdrop: Tied by Loretta
Macrame Chair Swags & Plant Holders: Fig & Fiber
Linen: Party Crush Events
PhotoBus: Snapshots Photo Booth
Invitation suite: Louelle Designs
Calligraphy: Handmade Darling
Florals & Styling: C&A Event Planning
Jewelry: LaaLee Designs
Video: Horizon Aerial Media

Cold Barn, Warm Heart Wedding Styled Photoshoot

A few months ago I had the absolute pleasure of working with Bri of Pretty Little Vintage Co., the cutest vintage rental company in New York (actually anywhere!).  We met through instagram and she was kind enough to introduce herself and invite me to participate in my first styled shoot. 

I poured over pieces I could bring and embarked on my journey to NNY to the Iva Smith Memorial Gallery, a big ol' barn turned gallery turned venue. I did not dress nearly warm enough but had the best time hanging out with my new friends and being behind-the-scenes. Little did I know I would make a truly wonderful friend and then be asked to participate in even more shoots!

These photos are sure to make any barn-lover swoon, we had an incredible photographer, Anna Elizabeth Perkins, truly capture the moodiness of the venue. Candlelit, rustic, and oh so perfect... see below for the details of this incredible day.