When I began my invitation business in 2005 the typical stationer invested thousands in albums of stationery and invitation designs. I had shelves of albums to show clients and we would pick something and then work to creatively personalize it by tweaking a font or little motif from the various company offerings and printing options were limited to engraving, thermography or offset printing (similar to screen printing with each color printed separately). PRINTING TYPES
Big changes in digital technology for photography, graphic design and printing changed the look of invitations and also how people created and purchased invitations. Suddenly a world of invitations with photography printed on them changed the holiday and birth announcement market and online options also changed the way people purchased invitations. Online competition put many of the companies I once carried out of business. It paved the way for me to really take stock in what I loved about invitations and learn the design part from soup to nuts.
Paper is the ultimate foundation of a special invitation. With amazing software advances, I am able to create and have control over every detail of my design. The internet has opened direct contact with a world of suppliers of beautiful tactile feel papers and printers for each job whether it is the classic hand-craftsmanship of engraving and letterpress or technically detailed thermography and high-resolution digital.
The world of smartphones and online shopping and communication has changed things. I will work long distance with clients via email, however seeing colors and feeling papers can’t happen in a cyberspace. For long-distance clients, I sometimes end up mailing a sample of materials after they are narrowed down, but the ideal is to sit in person with a client in my design studio and have access to hundreds of samples of ribbons, printing types and paper colors, textures, patterns to choose from.
I often think what I do is akin to “paper architecture,” especially when multiple layers are involved and paper thickness and overall measurements are calculated. Artistry is involved to realize that eighth-inch border on the computer screen needs to be slightly wider at the sides than top to make the two-dimensional concept visually look correct when executed in three-dimension paper layers. And it is life experience utilized to create an original design conforming to postal standards.
My tagline is “created with timeless artistry” and I strive to live up to this with every job. Trends are always present, there have been eras of bling with lots of rhinestones and buckles which made postage a challenge, as well as eras of burlap and rustic chic. Regardless of any trend, I look at each design and image if it were framed would I still be happy with it 20 years or more from now? Weddings particularly invite trend because they have entire magazines and fashion devoted to the concept. This guiding principle was recently tested when a client recently showed me a picture of her own wedding invitation framed in the same frame alongside both her daughter’s invitations. I had worked with each of her daughters on their invitation design roughly a year apart. The shapes and style of each were both uniquely their own and fit the tone of the different wedding venues as well as all the other details which make weddings memorable. Importantly they each held their own side-by-side and looked beautiful together. Each invitation told a unique story.