March has come and gone and I am only just beginning to realise that going away from the studio, and out of London is probably to best way forward, when it comes to writing the blog! Much has happened this month but off the top of my head I cannot say what. There have been a few things of which I am not allowed to speak and a few things of which I can speak of but only until they are done and dusted and one major thing once the contract is signed – for which I am ecstatic!
February ended with the paper work going through for the setting up of ‘The Bespoke Stationery Company’ which is the stationery side of the business, so more complications for Sarah to deal with not to mention the technical issues of purchasing materials, and VAT registration! Can you believe – I am still in shock! Thankfully, Gary, my business manager at the Bank and Steve, the wonderful accountant, held my hand through it all, still don’t understand a word of what they said but hey! I had a film crew in the studio, once again, filming me writing for a documentary on what might be used for The Royal Wedding, to be aired in the US. Hope I don’t get into trouble for that!
We finished off Olivia Paton and Mark Townsend’s wedding invitations in style and the loved them. It was a real chance to embed written calligraphy in the printed calligraphy text to create something really special. Since then we have done two other invitation of a similar type. Look closely at the names ‘Jonathan & Kelly’ there is a slight colour variation due to the flash but in real life you could not tell what was written in!
End of Feb also saw us still sending out emails from contact from the DSW. So many enquiries but how many will turn into actual jobs? Really makes me think of streamlining our various pdfs of the many things which can be done, they do need to be image rich and that means a lot of writing and photography.
March saw me changing out tack a little. We had a really unpleasant situation where a bride became increasingly problematic making unreasonably demands. It got to the point where both Sarah and I was at the end of our rope with her and then she sent an email that stunned us both by asking if she was unhappy with the work what was the procedure. I told her that if our reputation and that level of work seen in the pdf was not good enough they it was better she went elsewhere. This was an unfortunate, but important decision, my management consultant friends said. I guess we cant please everyone and if you get the sense that it is not going to be worth it, walk away!
The first week also saw regular clients Polo Ralph Lauren come to us to get some calligraphy done. They have these invitations which need names, a contact and a number all centred, and centred address labels too. It is an EXTREMELY difficult job to do because of the centring. Then the invitations arrived and they were enormous but dealing with Anne-Charlotte is always fun. We also got to deal with a new guy called Amaury, lots of laughs.
A little mix up as well that drove us nuts – two clients same month – one called Amanda Henry and the other Annabel Hendry – well you could only imaging the confusion which ensued. Fortunately one was for stationery and the other only envelope addressing.
Emilia Wickstead’s invitations came up as well, and we opted for something like Olly Paton’s but with both sets of parents, no name written in. A slightly oversized invitation and we did the text and she sorted out the printing. This again was a learning curve – this type of invitation needs to be what it is – uncentred! If it needs to be centred then that is a completely different matter.
The final set of vids on Video Jug was posted – the one on Copperplate being the main one I was after. I was so happy with them. Not to get some full length DVDs done, when? I have no idea.
First week of March ended with a chat with Polly at Brides, Placecards for an upcoming shoot! A long chat with Laura at Atom about some white Small Caps on invitations and envelopes, and sorting out the Vows logo for Chelsea Bidwell. And seeing a friend, Armin, to do a logo for him. We got the sign off on the contributors card for the Matthew Williamson Trunk Show and will get it printed next week in time for the show – that pink is a nightmare to print! Dealing with the beautiful Fong at MW, such a joy.
The second week started the text for Joelle Rashti’s wedding invitations and finalising the design, talking with the die-stampers, letterpress printers and the litho printers about the job. Getting a definite fix on numbers and colours – I am so excite about this job. Joelle’s mother, Ava is an absolute scream! And the fuel for the design is as much Joelle as it is Ava (and her magical cheesecake, and food!). The final bit of the list for the Outset dinner at the V&A arrived. Plate menus blanks arrived from Cutture for Polly’s shoot at Brides. The Placecards were from Hello Lucky and were a dream to write on.
While all of this is going on we had to start working on the copy for the invitations for the Royal Academy’s Summer Event – mock-ups to be done! Not something we normally do as it would entail writing out all the text. I explained this to Bethan but then had a brainstorm!
End of last year, after much deliberation and soul searching (and I should add anguish and tears) I decided to make a font of one of our scripts. For the sole purpose of making something beautiful easy to use, especially for large blocks of text, and for menus and the like. I decided to use the Small Caps we have and worked very hard to originate something that is so subtle and honest. The font it not available on the market, and is only on one computer, but is has given us the flexibility to do many things, and more keep coming up. I must say, I did not envy the font designer, having to deal with me on something that was so much my own. In the end this is what we ended up with.
This then gave us the ability to produce the mock-ups needed for the Royal Academy. Every dark cloud eh? I guess one could never anticipate what life has in store down the road.
James Gillick’s vellum strips were prepared and written on with the text of the specific paintings and let me tell you, wow! Angelo had a chance to play with some of the tiny off cuts of vellum, once I had prepared the whole skin. ‘This is what writing should be about’ was his words when we tried writing on the vellum. Cant wait to sit him down with a quill and some iron gall ink and vellum. I have such a clear memory of what it was like for me.
In 1999 I won a scholarship to go to the University of Reading’s Typography and Graphic Communication’s Department to study letterform history under James Mosely and Michael Harvey. This week saw me going back to demonstrate the history of writing from the Greeks up to the present day, essentially doing what Michael did – it was such an emotional thing for me to do. To give back what they gave to me.
The week ended with me preparing to see a very good friend of mine about some business advice on the direction of the business – Sunday is going to be a tough one. It turned out Sunday was tough but mainly because my good friends Javier and Tony from By Appointment Only Design and I met for one drink the night before. Needless to say this turned into me getting home at an unreasonable hour. In hindsight, I think I really needed the alcohol to deal with what Stephan had in mind for me. What insight to the business he gave me. More on that much, much later on.
Sunday also saw us preparing for Photographer Cat Hepple and Annabel of Love My Dress to come stay with us to spend the Monday with Javier and Tony and the Tuesday in the studio with me and my team. This all began with Alistair coming home from visiting his parents in Derbyshire, on the Sunday and making a Banoffee Pie so it would set for dinner for Monday night!
The girls arrived at Kings Cross and were collected and taken to 38 Chiltern Street for a day at By Appointment Only Design. My day was a little broken up with little bits of jobs and wrapping up early to go collect them, take them home and start cooking. Dinner was for six, Annabel, Cat, Javier, Tony, Ali and myself. We talked shop, poor Ali!
Tuesday say us taking the tube to the studio and me spending time with them explaining how both the stationery and calligraphy businesses work individually and co-operatively. I particularly enjoyed hearing how they both started as well. Kindred spirits. We are all here to help each other! We ended the day with learning how to emboss, boy that was funny, for me! Took them home, then to the train. We were all so tired by the end of the two days but so much richer for it.
Rebecca Wilkins of TCS called about doing Daniel Mark’s invitations for a party. Mixing that deep blue is always tricky, but well worth it. He went for copperplate script to contrast the caps the invitations were printed in.
The weekend saw me spending time with Javier and Tony, up at 530am to head off the Stapleford for a little wedding show. The drive was a hoot and we had a great day out. It also gave me an interesting way to look at the way our colourful stationery works when tied into the stunning flowers produced by the boys!
Our invitation for the Luella’s Boudior Wedding Fair arrived from the beautiful Tiffany Grant-Reily. Sadly I missed it due to work. The week of the 21st saw me sleep in the studio on the Monday night to play catch-up. The rest of the week was 5 am starts and 10pm home. It was not fun, I am not as young as I used to be became so apparent. I felt like a zombie.
The week ended with some amazing news – Sarah and Michael got a puppy – Daisy and she is so cute! The week also ended to Sarah heading off to Sicily an d we know what that is like. Angelo is off to Paris with Liv for most of the last week so it is just me and Nicola, and the many couriers!
Joelle Rashti’s invitation are done and at the printers, thanks to the wonderful Rachel at Mount Street, and they are magnificent. Easily the most sumptuous invitations I have even designed, and that is on the screen. When they are printed they will be something else. The main invite is die-stamped gold on 700gsm vellum white (a beautiful blush pink) with vintage rose brushed edges. The other two invites are in the vintage rose on a greyish pink board. RSVP card is folded and printed in white on a light dark brown called Nubuck, RSVP envelopes are a lighter brown called Harvest, with the RSVP address printed in the darker Nubuck. Envelopes are the dark Nubuck with white hand lettered calligraphy on them in Spencerian Script!
What a way to end the month.
There is more but I cant show it at the moment!