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Seattle Wedding Vendor Q&A: Rachel Johnson Calligraphy Co.

Today's installment of Friendor Friday is featuring the uber talented Rachel of Rachel Johnson Calligraphy Co! This badass babe has the pretty handwriting you ever did see (obviously!) and has done some really killer paper goods for us in the past. Basically anything you can dream up, Rachel can do. Her signs are amazing and her day of paper goods are seriously to die for! Keep reading for a ton of calligraphy and paper goods FAQs and Rachel's thoughts on all of them.

What types of items do you typically create for a wedding day?

Place cards, escort cards (to help guests find their seat), all kinds of signage including menu, bar menu and welcome signs, favor tags etc! Basically anything on paper (or other medium) or that could be included as a sign I do!

What wedding day paper goods do you suggest couples have at their wedding?

If you don’t do any other signs, I love the look of a welcome sign, it’s a fun way to add details to your ceremony or reception. Other things I suggest are place cards if you have a seating chart and also a bar and menu sign so people know what they’re eating and drinking! There are of course lots of other options too.

What are your favorite items to create?

My favorite items to create are items that people have a little bit of vision for but need help coming up with the final product - that’s where I come in! I love full reign of creativity when coming up for pieces at a wedding.

What is the difference between printed and hand lettered calligraphy? Which is more cost effective and why? When should I use printed vs. hand lettered?

This is a great question!The answer kind of depends on the item and purpose. Lots of people don’t realize that a calligrapher/lettering artist does everything by hand no matter what. There are no premade “fonts” or templates - the calligraphy and lettering you see on items I’ve done involves my personal style every single time. But, there are a couple ways this can actually get onto a sign or paper good.

Something that is printed - is lettering that needs to be reproduced, such as a menu that goes on each guest’s plate. To do each by hand, would be very inefficient. So basically what I would do is do it by hand first, and then scan it and create a file that would then be printed. Items that are created this way involve a design fee - but it’s still cheaper than having me hand calligraph 150 menus etc.!

Items often done by hand, are items where each one is different - place cards for example. To have me print these would be adding an extra step when I could just do them by hand. Lots of wooden signs and chalkboards are done by hand, since it is only one sign. Other items that I do by hand are envelope calligraphy, escort cards, seating charts, single signs.

What are the different styles or "fonts" for both printed and hand lettered?

I love this question! The amazing thing about a calligrapher/ lettering artist, is that there is no such thing as a “font”. By definition, a font is something created by a computer and it is exactly perfect when you use it. A calligrapher may have different “styles” of their lettering, but they are all created by a human. The different style options depend on the artist and their personal style - which is what makes lettering art so unique!

Why do invites and paper goods cost so much?

Right?! I get this question a lot too. The reason they can be pricey, is because an artist is creating each piece for you by hand. They are spending 20-100 hours designing your pieces for either printing or lettered by hand. Even a piece that you think is “simple” can take a few hours JUST to prepare to send to a print vendor. There are very specific things that need to be in place for a piece to get printed out.The same is true for large signs. I never free hand a sign. There are 4-5 hours spent on the layout alone before I actually start lettering.

The good news is, I work with lots of different brides and budgets and I can help you work within your budget on paper goods/signage!

What is your typical production process and timeline?

It just depends on how large the order is and what pieces it includes. If you’re looking for day of signage only - I require 8 or so weeks to get everything done. If you need envelope addressing, then that’s a different story. Anything closer than 6 weeks out is considered a “rush” order and can influence prices - something to keep in mind when working with wedding professionals for sure.

What are your proofing policies? How many edits can be made?

Proofing is super important and I include it in my contract. Once a bride has given the stamp of approval, it goes to print. I always suggest having more than one person look at it for you so that we can be sure that a typo isn’t missed! I usually allow 1-2 edits on a printed good.

For place cards or other signs, people select a style from one of my place card options - so a proof is not usually necessary unless it is for a custom project!

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