Alyssa Steiner of Loveletterer
Alyssa totally has that calligraphy style I wish I had; perfectly balanced rhythm, graceful loops, a consistent slant, never overdoes her flourishing. It really is a work of beauty. I want to get married again (to the same guy of course ;) just so I can have her address my wedding envelopes!
I also attribute a lot of our hand-painted nib holder success to her, she was really one of the first one's to request a custom painted holder. That was a dream I was trying to bring to fruition and was unsure about whether it could happen or not, whether people would want it. I think her feed brought some people over to our shop that ended up being really instrumental to our success as well. I probably could never quantify or even fully realize what the effect of this has had on me and my dreams but I definitely know it's enough to necessitate sending her a 'Thank You' holder. So, Alyssa keep your eyes peeled, there may be a fun little package at your door any day now...
And she's launching her website today!! Being a web designer myself, I know all the work and heart you pour into your site and am a complete advocate for celebrating such an occasion! So make sure you check out loveletterer.co and leave her lots of love! Launching a website is a big deal, so Alyssa you should totally treat yourself to a celebratory ice cream cone today!
5 adjectives that describe Loveletterer:
organic, light-hearted, tangible, passionate, ethereal
How did you get started in calligraphy and how did you turn it into a thriving business?
Well I first started out about 3 years ago. I had taken an internship at a design studio focused on the wedding industry called Papellerie. I didn't know anything about stationery! But once I started interning for them I was opened up to this whole new world that I never knew existed. Beautiful paper, writing, inks, foils, letterpress, oh man I was hooked! After working with them for a while, I decided that I really wanted to learn calligraphy. I like to think that I'm an extremely driven person, so once I started I was committed. Of course everything at first was awful, and I never thought that I would get to be like my idols, I just kept practicing. Finally I was at the point where words were looking good enough to where they could be used as spot calligraphy on maps, or menus; little things you know? The second I saw my work professionally printed, it made me that much more in love. So I just kept up with it and I started working on invitations and then addressing and now I'm at the point today to where I get to do it full time. I love it. When I moved to San Francisco last November, I went out on my own and started Loveletterer. I still work predominantly for the Papellerie girls, but I'm now starting to get more work on my own.
Calligraphy tools you can't live without:
- Ah! there are sooo many! First off, my pen holder made by Heber. OH my lord, I cannot live without it! It was my first custom holder and so I have used it everyday since the magical day that I received it in the mail!
- Second, Gillot 1068A nibs. God send. I actually ordered them by mistake, and they sat in my drawer for months until I was low on nibs and I needed something. Now that is almost all that I use. It's really stiff, but I tend to have a heavy hand, so it helps forms stay fairly thin.
- Dr. Martins pen cleaner. I am the worst at cleaning my nibs, so this helps remove dried ink pretty well!
- All of the Dr. Martins spectralite colors for metallics, I think a lot of people use the Finetec palette for golds, so I am dying to try that!
- W&N designer gouache for custom ink colors.
- Rhodia paper pads.
You're known for your signature, unique take on modern copperplate calligraphy. How did you develop your personal calligraphy style?
It's so weird to think that I have finally developed a personal style, haha! I feel like it's something that artists are constantly striving for. It's such a hard thing to describe because I feel when you're first starting out you have this vision in your head about what you want your style to be. When I first started out, I saw calligraphers like Jenny Sanders (graceline) and Karla Lim (written word calligraphy), who have these great loose styles with just so much personality. I wanted to be more like that, but your hand seems to kind of do what it wants. When I realized that I couldn't force a style and stopped trying to, I think that's when my own style kind of emerged. I learning the basics of traditional calligraphy, like copperplate or spencerian definitely helped to create a successful style. I have taken copperplate lessons from a calligrapher up here in the Bay area, and I definitely think that has helped a lot. But practicing every single day has helped me get to the point I'm at right now. There is still so much room for improvement, so I can't wait to see where I'm at in a year or two!
What are your favorite Instagram accounts?
Sooo many! Instagram is such a great place to find inspiration.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
I'm definitely not a morning person, but man I try! I start off with my french press and then read/reply to emails for the first hour. Then I plan my day out in my schedule and get to work. Normally I am either working on illustrations, calligraphy for invitations or addressing. I definitely work better in the afternoon/evening so my mornings are usually spent doing errands and then I like to work late into the night!
What is your favorite type of client work to get?
I don't think I could decide!! I love doing invitation calligraphy and floral illustration. I really love everything that I get to do, so its hard to choose. I will say this... monograms are my least favorite!
What has been the biggest hurdle to overcome in regards to learning calligraphy & starting a business?
Learning to manage yourself by yourself. It takes so much self discipline to keep yourself on track and not procrastinate. I definitely still struggle with procrastination, I've done it my whole life so it works for me. But it's a bad habit that I have to constantly strive to overcome on a daily basis. Then there is the business side of client interaction, and accounting which is so important to stay on top of. Giving great customer service is one of THE most important things in our field, especially because most of the work is for weddings. A big part of business is word of mouth, so you have to be polite and easy to deal with otherwise, people are not going to want to work with you.
How have you utilized social media to grow your business?
Instagram is really the only form of social media that I use, and I LOVE it! It is a great platform to get your name out there, which for me has led to a small but dedicated following. I love having the ability to be able to interact with followers or fellow calligraphers!
Time saving tip for other calligraphers to try out:
I have been stuck on this question for a while! hah! I don't really have any tricks that I use to save time. I just found a way to do things that I like and I've stuck with that. I will say this, learn how to center your writing! In the beginning I blew through so many envelopes because the writing was not centered. I guess that's kind of a time saving tip after all!
What do you want your legacy for Loveletterer to be?
Man, that is a hard question! To be honest, I really don't know yet. Loveletterer is so new, I'm still trying to figure out what it is let alone what I want it to be. For me it would be hard to put an expectation on it because there are so many other things I want to pursue. It's what works for me right now, but who knows, it could fall apart in a year or flourish into something beyond my wildest dreams. I like the uncertainty of not knowing.
Lastly, I want to just say thank you to everyone who has inspired me in any way. I think surrounding yourself with a positive environment and people is extremely important. The Instagram community has really pushed me to be something that I never thought I could ever achieve. Everyone in our little community is so positive and I just really appreciate the people who choose to follow me, I cannot explain how motivating it is to see such sweet comments on my posts.
I don't want this to come off cheesy, but I truly do attribute much of my improvement to other calligraphers I follow. Seeing someone whose work is more advanced or experimental really just makes me strive to be that good! SO here are a few people I'd like to say thank you to. (Get ready for the sappy shoutouts!)
- @theblksmith, you are the essence of great design, I am so blessed to have you by my side.
- @suzcunningham, @bienfaitcalligraphy, @masgrimes - Y'all are constant stream of inspiration and motivation!
- @alicedang - You have commented on every photo I have posted! You are the best!
- @amyboyter, @rileyrules, @katyh629, @vanehern, @chrisineydotpop, @papellerie - Everything started with y'all and I am so grateful for that.
- And last but not least, Ashley Bush! Thank you so much for this interview! You are one of the sweetest people ever as well as insanely talented! Get it girl!!