Antiques. Art. Architecture. Artisans. Avenues. Books. Boutiques. Cafes. Collectibles. Concerts. Concept stores. Contemporary art. Culture. Curiosities. Design. Desserts. Details. Edge. Efficiency. Fashion. Food. Funk. Galleries. Grit. History. Humility. Integrity. Interiors. Magnificence. Marble. Markets. Masterpieces. Museums. Objects. Paper. Parks. Restaurants. Retro. Shops. Spaces. Stationery. Statues. Style. Systems. Tradition. Typography. Vintage. Wine. Wonder…
Vienna has it ALL. I totally fell in love…and hope the little photo ramble below captures at least part of it. If you haven’t been…do your creative soul a huge favor and go! I’ve included a few of my favorite spots at the end…but really I’d recommend you just let your feet wander and get lost in a ramble of your own…
A few of my favorites…
Antique prints and posters @ Irenaeskraus / Scandi design stuff @ Copenhagen Hus / Cool fashion and the coolest mannequins @ Park / Vintage fashion magic and cafe @ Burggasse24 / Lamps, rugs and other bits @ Pop Shop / Old school apothecary + clean beauty @ St Charles Apothecary / Amazing art books + catalogues at contemporary art museum Belvedere21 / Hipster cafe and bookstore @ Phil / And you must must eat and drink @ Ulrich and @ Figar
Vienna’s official tourist site is also pretty great for recommendations!
Of course I leave you with this…
It just dawned on me as I was dropping in these images, that one of my earliest memories of Paris is standing around at the Lancôme counter in the Galeries Lafayette waiting for my mom to buy her lipstick. I still remember the shade, No.68. I can still recall that overwhelming scent of countless perfumes meeting in the air...I can hear the salespeople chattering away in French...huge black, white and red shopping bags hang from every hand, with the Lafayette logo scrawled on them in messy, rockstaresque calligraphy. I somehow didn't think of this at all while I worked on these, but I guess that's the wonderful thing about memories, impressions and inspiration...always lurking somewhere in the background, ready to take shape in a new form. This collection is inspired by shades of lipstick, rockstar handwriting (quite similar to that old Lafayette logo in fact), and some bold monochrome options...because what else is Parisian style but a whole, lot, of black.
Of course these are semi-custom...so if shades of lipstick aren't your thing, we can change the color and do all kinds of other things to make them your own. Can't wait to hear your ideas and see these beauties in print. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for enquiries or more information. They start at $4.75/ea including white envelopes. And while you're here...do check out the Copenhagen and Amsterdam collections too.
Paris // 001
Paris // 002
Paris // 003
Paris // 004
Paris // 005
It's amazing how many people told me in the weeks leading up to this event that they're not a fan of Valentine's Day...don't celebrate it or believe in it, aren't into it..."don't do Valentine's"...or straight up HATE it. Really though? HATE? Seems like a rather strong emotion to harbour over something that's essentially an over-commercialised celebration of LOVE. I'm not a huge fan of the over-commercialised part either, I'm definitely allergic to the cliche aesthetics of all the mass-produced crap that gets put out in shop windows, and also glitter...I HATE glitter. But LOVE? I'm a huge fan of love. And for me, that's what this third edition of our pre-Valentine's Open Studio was all about. Everything I LOVE.
Paper, jazz, literature, stationery, humour, champagne. Political pencils (The Future is Female and Bring Barack Back!)...Sade song lyrics emblazoned on coasters...fun millenial note cards (Carpe #DM and unBAElieavable)...deep novelistic love notes by Tolstoy, Hugo, Hardy and co., and close to 1,000 origami butterflies fluttering the night away. We also launched our first ever notebook this year: 256 pages of premium Munken paper, thread-stitched and cloth bound (in Germany!) with the words LIMA OSCAR VICTOR ECHO debossed in gold foil on the front. Gah, just typing out those notebook specs gives me butterflies. There were also some brand new jazz-inspired prints I called "improvisations"...but I think those might deserve a post of their own which I'll do soon. In the meantime...hit play on the song below...scroll through...and whether you hate Valentine's or not...Let there be love.
All event photos by the incredibly talented John Healey.
There’s always a moment a few days before an Open Studio when I’m forking out hundreds of dollars for bubbly, catering, frames, shopping bags, pretty napkins…we’ve got to have pretty napkins!...and I think…wait, why am I doing this again? This money could very well go towards a little beach vacay and some yummy cocktails. But then about an hour into the event, the room is full, you can hardly hear the music above all the lively chatter, there’s a dashing waiter in my living room attentively topping up my glass of bubbly, and I think…omg…I should totally do this all the time! Not to mention that we also had a ball pit at this one, and the hour I spent in it after the event was worth every penny and more.
Jokes aside, this particular event turned out to be even more worthwhile because it was our most successful Open Studio yet! We've barely been able to keep up with the storm of post-show orders, and all the colourful walls and frames you're about to see in the photos below are pretty much empty! A big thank you to everyone who came, shopped, mingled and worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make it happen. And a special thank you to someone who came over the day before the show and asked me, "Wait, why is this for kids? I want this stuff for ME!" We all need a little reminder to never grow up...and this event was mine.
Photographs by Vince of Kreative Kingdom and my awesome intern Sana. I've inserted a few of my favourite jams from the day's playlist, in the hope that you'll get a more wholesome picture of what an absolute joy it was...and more importantly that it gets you excited for the next one, because I've got some bigger and better dreams now. In the words of Peter Pan...Second star to the right and straight on 'til morning!
PS. If you're local and missed it...we'll be at the Bump, Birth & Beyond market this Saturday 16th December from 10-4! Come and play!
[Ok, if you skipped all the previous musical interludes you have to HAVE to watch and listen to this one because it is the best, and I adore both of these men so so much.]
If you want to see a ridiculous Boomerang of me celebrating in the ball pit...and all the other awesome work we do...follow The Letterist on Instagram.
Whenever I find myself on an airplane about to take off for a long-haul flight...there'll be someone in the row in front of me whipping out their laptop and clicking away through what looks like a very serious, climate-change-solving Excel spreadsheet and a rather scarily full email inbox. I look at them and think yeah, go you, you Type-A demon-hero-unicorn, power on...I'll join you in a minute. But then of course I never do.
And its not that I don't have the tools. The me that packs my carry-on is super ambitious and prolific - she'll take a laptop, an iPad, a stylus, a sketchbook, various markers, pens and pencils, books to read, magazines to flick through, at least one Moleskine for genius epiphanies, and glasses of course, to fit the part. The me, however, that then lugs that shit around for two hours and finally sits down on the plane...really just wants to drink two dinky bottles of crappy red wine, watch eight movies, and reapply eye drops like an addict. And somehow, despite decades of long-haul travel, these two personalities have never quite managed to sit down and reconcile their differences. So yeah, let's just say I'm not quite living my best life on planes. (Although I suppose that depends on one's definition of this wonderful millennial term).
The bigger problem is, that when I get there...because I've been drinking crap wine for what seems like an eternity, all I really want is a really big glass, of really good wine. And a great meal. And then what basically ends up happening is I have about 82 of those and suddenly three weeks have gone by and I'm back on the plane headed home...reaching for the eye drops again and realizing the only time I opened my laptop was to check the weather in New York. Ok, I exaggerate a little. I worked. I had lunch with my clients, I visited my suppliers, I ordered some envelopes and inks and things, I went to museums and even edited photos to post on Instagram! I totally worked!Read More
If you read this blog often, you’ll remember that I promised a few months ago to try be regular at it, and as is fairly obvious, I’ve umm, failed. But let’s just agree that that makes me totally human and relatable in a cool, casual, Jennifer Lawrence kind of way. I mean, if you’re blogging about your life a little too regularly, it must mean that you’re not spending enough time living it. Right? No? Ok, far-fetched guilty rationalization over.
Let’s start again. If you read this blog often, you’ll know that I’m always somehow thinking about where ideas come from. When I’m not actively seeking inspiration, or putting it to paper…I am, almost always, trying to understand and explain it, to somehow capture its essence and own it, so that I’ll never again have to go without. Sort of like when you’re a kid at an amusement park, and you’re looking at the Candy Floss machine dreaming of having one, in your bedroom. So yeah, probably not going to happen. But a kid can dream!
The other thing I’m always trying to do is seek out other avenues, or alternative modes of inspiration. I’m totally over Pinterest, and I simply can’t look at wedding invitations if I’m about to start designing one. I prefer instead to put on Yo-Yo Ma playing Bach’s Cello Suites and listen to them on repeat as I sketch. I find trying to capture the absolute effortlessness of his playing a far more intriguing premise than trying to impersonate someone else’s calligraphy. Or I might look up fashion week invitations for Menswear shows. Or I might just crack open a bottle of rose. (Ok that last one is not a great example because what I’m trying to say is that the inspiration has to be a little less than obvious.).
And because no Letterist blog is every truly complete without a musical interlude, here he is for you, the incredible, the inimitable Yo-Yo Ma.
When its not music, its film and when its not that, it's interiors. I realized the other day as I was scrolling through Instagram that most of the people I follow, and most of the posts that catch my eye are interior design and styling. Call me simple-minded or predictable, but I’m a total sucker for a room full of natural light and palm leaves in minimal vases casting all the right shadows. I double-tap shit like that all day long. Though, double-tapping things in your feed is still fairly passive, there are a few such ‘grammers that I’ve actually turned on notifications for. As in, even when I’m in the middle of a meeting, gallery opening, or delicious dinner…I want to know they just posted something, and I’m going to put my pen or fork down and knowingly be rude just to see what it is. (If for similar reasons you’ve turned on notifications for @theletterist…you rock.) So what I really want to write about today is one of those people. An incredibly talented and insanely inspiring interior designer, who also happens to be a dear old friend of mine…Christine Alice.
Christine and I went to college together and it was a very liberal, hippy, anti-everything kind of place…so I’m pretty sure our first interaction was sort of a love-at-first-sight on the basis that we both washed and ironed our clothes. In a place where no one wore shoes, combed their hair, ate meat or consumed anything even remotely mass produced...meeting someone in pressed linen holding a Starbucks coffee cup definitely felt like it was meant to be. Needless to say, I didn't make a lot of friends...but the ones I did, I very much kept.
Many, many years later, I was working a tireless and uninspiring corporate job and would spend my evenings looking at motivational quotes on Pinterest – do more of what makes you happy! – and scrolling through my Facebook feed jealous of what basically everyone else was doing and where. And then one of her posts popped up. She had just quit her job at a think tank and decided to become a freelance Interior Designer. There was a link to her blog, which featured gorgeous photos of her and her husband’s home in DC, completely decorated by her. (He went to college with us too, ironed his clothes too, and is awesome too...but we'll have to talk about him another time.) Here are a just a few:
I was blown away. I knew we both had very liberal arts degrees from an institution that pretended vocational skills like design don't exist, so she didn't get any of this from college...and she had been working at a think tank so couldn't really have picked it up there. It was pure, raw, natural, inimitable talent. She obviously had not only a keen eye for design and a very distinctive style, but a passion that had even in her spare time turned her into an avid collector. The items in these photographs clearly weren't just off the shelf from Crate and Barrel or Restoration Hardware...some might have been, but others were inherited or found...in antique shops, estate sales, markets, bookstores, dark basements or hot attics...far and wide, and she knew exactly how to put them together. I've always loved her effortless ability to combine different eras, colors, textures and patterns into an uncluttered whole that makes it look like all those things asked to be brought together. In the same way, she blogged about her process, inspirations and finds in a natural, light, humble and funny way. And...she had the gumption to make that massive career jump. To think, so what if I didn't study this, so what if no one's taught me, so what if no one would hire me because its not on my CV. I want to...I can, and I will. I remember it clear as daylight, that night, that moment, seeing all that, thinking...hey, maybe I can do that.
I continued following Christine's projects, travels and blog with great interest and about a year later I did it. I made the jump. Following a couple of intensive graphic design courses at Parsons, I was hanging out in New York drawing, painting, lettering and dreaming up what you now know of as The Letterist, and starting to share a few things on Instagram. I didn't quite know what I was doing yet...but I had a big stack of aquarelle postcards and each day I'd paint a swash of watercolor and overlay it with a quote. One afternoon, Christine wrote that she was in New York and we decided to meet at Eataly for a glass of wine. Before she even sat down, I said tell me more about what you're doing! You're my hero! I love your work! And she turned around and said, what I'm doing?! Forget what I'm doing...I want to hear about what you're doing! I saw it on Instagram and I love it! In the time that has passed since, I've had many an encounter or project that has given me the praise, reward or encouragement to believe in what I'm doing and to continue doing it...but I still remember that one fondly. One of my favourite interior designers, and the person who inspired me to even consider this, loves my work. Forget Pinterest, Instagram, classical music and the rest. This. Is. Inspiration. (And its not just inspiration...because when I posted my first collection of Christmas cards on my online shop, the first sale came through in less than a day, and of course, it was from Christine.)
[For some silly reason, I at the time was going through an obsessive hot yoga phase, so when one glass turned into two and was about to turn into three, I said my goodbyes and ran towards the subway. And Christine – I gotta tell you, I still regret it! Trust that I have since then grown up and matured into a rational, sensible adult who picks cold wine, over hot yoga, any day.]
I still follow what she's up to...and hope that if you've read this far, you might too. She's moving to New York in the next couple of weeks so I'm also secretly praying that her magical inspiration might strike again and it wont be long before I end up there too. Ha. In the meantime...a couple of working photos from her latest and I believe most beloved project...their new weekend home in Maine. I've already said I'm coming to visit, and that I want to stay, in that bathroom. To see more of this project (together with some shocking before photos) and her other work, follow Christine on Instagram or visit her website here.
And...in whatever way you can...stay inspired.
If you follow me on Instagram...you'll know that the last few weeks have been filled with lots of fun custom prints for kids. If you don't follow me on Instagram...ummm, you should. Besides seeing all the stationery, invitations, prints and gifts that come out of the studio weekly...you get to see a little bit more about the behind-the-scenes process, the occasional Friday afternoon G&T...and of course, the totally-unrelated-but-I-can't-help-myself pictures of my adorable little puppy, Dante.
If you follow this blog regularly...you'll know that I recently went to Amsterdam...and I may not have mentioned it back then, but we stayed at this gorgeous Airbnb apartment with a huge open-plan kitchen...lots of palm trees in the living room, a giant jacuzzi tub and our very own little balcony (complete with giant sea shell to put cigarette butts in). It was one of those perfectly designed apartments...the ones that say, yeah, we happen to have such great taste that even the pile of magazines we casually left lying around is worthy of a photograph...not the ones that say we hired a professional interior designer to turn this into a severe and unrealistic living space made up of star design pieces straight out of Architectural Digest. You know what I mean?
Anyway...one of the things that struck me the most was the kids play room. Soft colours, gorgeous wooden Scandinavian toys (and not a lot of them), and some simple, classy prints on the walls. I love to imagine that one day, if or when I have kids...and someone randomly calls to say they're going to pop in, I won't be hectically running around, cleaning up and tripping over gawdy Fisher-Price objects that sing Old MacDonalds Farm on repeat if you push the wrong button. I'd rather believe that I'll walk casually past the simple, smoky blue and always-tidy kids room, smile proudly to myself, and head for the wine fridge to crack open a bottle of rose.Read More
For the most part, I think my friends know I like good wine, and my friends like good wine, and my friends also like me...so, when they come over, for drinks, dinner, or (as is most often the case) for wine...they bring a good bottle of wine. That's the friends. Then there's the acquaintances. The ones who think its a polite and culturally expected gesture to bring "a bottle of wine" to a party - and so that any old bottle will do. The ones who think "it's the thought that counts." For the record - and as a working professional in the gift industry I think I can say this with reasonable authority - if the thought is going to count...you actually have to put some thought into it.
Like...hmmm...I think I should go to The Wine Shop and find something she might like. Or at the very least, something she might consider drinking. This one's in a pretty bottle...that could work. Hey, this one has a copper foil letterpress label...she'd love that. Or, this one's got two gold stickers on it. Must be a winner. Whatever the grading rubric, whatever the occasion, "Natural Sweet Red" is not the answer. In fact, the thought of not getting Natural Sweet Red would count a hell of a lot more than the thought of getting it. If you're at a gas station or small corner shop that only has that kind of wine (the kind that's not really like wine at all)...then the thought should be, hey, this sucks...I'll just grab a box of chocolates or some flowers instead. Chocolates get eaten, flowers eventually die and get thrown out...but that bottle of sweet red? That stays. That stays forever.Read More
Apparently they say you go to Amsterdam twice. Once to see Amsterdam, and once to remind yourself of what you saw. So while my memory is a little hazy like everyone else's...I'm glad I have all these photos to remind me of my wonderful first visit. Its been a few weeks since I got back, but I'm still very much in an Amsterdam frame of mind. Here's a summary of it all in 15 pictures. Captions follow...and needless to say, I'm going back.
1. Handmade Japanese Paper from Vlieger Papier.
2. Van Gogh's handwriting from his infamous letters to his brother Theo...turned into a wallpaper at the Van Gogh museum. Did you know that he was only an artist for about 10 years and in that time produced over 2,000 works? He was a failed pastor who decided to start painting in his late 20s...so if you're thinking about a career change, or worrying that you'll never get good enough at it, think again. Its never too late to let the artist in you, out.
3. Stork. A fabulous seafood restaurant on the other side of the river. Yes, I dragged everyone on a ferry and somewhat uninspiring 20-minute walk through backyards and parking lots to get there, but then we sat down, ordered champagne and oysters and it was all very much worth it.
4. An elevator with a light show taking you to the top floor of the brand new A'DAM Tower. Great views, great cocktails, and totally the 'in' thing to do right now. As our Airbnb host told us on arrival...you won't find it in the guide books so the tourists don't even know about it yet.
5. Handwriting on the windows of Cafe de Paris. Large industrial-chic cafe that turns into quite the buzzy spot in the evenings...and happened to play a lot of old school hip hop jams the night we went in. Bonus. Dreamlover, come rescue me...
6. The city is full of interiors to write home about but this gorgeous copper-toned one was at De Vergulden Eenhorn...a farmhouse from 1702 (!) in the middle of the city that serves an awesome brunch.
7. Gorgeous shops and window displays in Amsterdam's very own "Brooklyn" - De Pijp.
8. We spotted our little Dantellino in a poster gallery! Missed the little guy while we were away so Picasso's one line dachshund made me feel like he was with us in spirit.
9. Tulips! Tulips! Everywhere.
10. Lots of minimal geometric design objects...did I mention I'm going back?
11. Biiii-cycles! Also everywhere. Had the Queen song in my head the entire time, but included that already in my Copenhagen post so if you haven't read that one...please do.
12. The best olives ever - served as an amuse bouche at The French Connection. Very cute little spot near the flower market that serves delicious French tapas. And also, champagne.
13. More cute little stores in De Pijp. (Went twice so a second photo seemed fair.)
14. Rembrandt's signature beneath his statue in Rembrandt Square.
15. Cheese. Love. Cheese.
Ok so, to be completely honest...I begin this blog post without really knowing what I'm going to write about...or any idea of how what I end up saying might relate to design or hand lettering, or how it might be of interest to any of my potential or existing clients that stumble onto this blog. What I do know is that I feel incredibly compelled to tell the world that Copenhagen's Little Mermaid, actually, is, little. [And also, that as we checked into our Copenhagen hotel...Cate Blanchett checked out. Incidentally, our hotel room also turned out to be actually, very, little...and all I could think during our luckily brief 3 nights there was...I bet her's wasn't. Of course I tried not to stare...and then that thing happened that happens when you try not to stare...I stared.]Read More
One of the most rewarding aspects of doing this work...this work of creating...is that you immediately become part of an incredible community of like-minded people. Writers, photographers, interior designers, letterpress printers, lampshade makers, entrepreneurs...who share both the joys and frustrations of starting up, of developing processes that work, of dealing with clients and deadlines...and many other things that may not come naturally or willingly to the creative spirit. And beyond this...its a community of people who are always trying to understand creativity itself...talent...magic...the spark...the hum...whatever you choose to call it. Here is a collection of TED talks I've watched in the last week all of which tackle this curious and as Elizabeth Gilbert calls it, "elusive" subject. What is our calling? Where do ideas come from? What are the good and bad habits that necessarily come with them? What does it all mean! Pour yourself a cup of tea, a glass of wine, a cold-pressed juice...whatever floats your boat, and hit play.Read More