WLE Meets: Calligrapher, Joy Fairclough, of Studio French Blue
Last week’s Calligraphy article saw us falling more in love with this trend than ever before. We couldn’t wait to find out some more, and luckily knew just the person!
Speaking to one of the incredibly talented Calligraphy Artists we’ve already worked with, Joy Fairclough, we got an insight into the world of this beautiful Art. We chatted about how to incorporate script into a Wedding as well as Joy’s own business (Studio French Blue), her inspirations and how she found working with the team here at Wedding Light Events. We hope you enjoy hearing from her just as much as we did!
– Hi Joy! For the benefit of our readers who don’t know you like we do, can you tell us a little about yourself ?
– I’m originally from Michigan but I came to France 10 years ago, instantly fell in love with the culture, and have been here ever since. I met and married my husband 6 years ago, and we are currently restoring an old silk farm in the South. I split my time between Paris and province.
– Your work is always so professionally finished, it looks like you’ve been doing this for a long time! When did you first get in to Calligraphy, has it always been a passion of yours ?
– I have to say calligraphy has always been a passion of mine. I was very close to my Grandmother when I was growing up, and she was a talented commercial artist, specializing in illustration, but also lettering. It was she who first let me play around with her stash of art school supplies, and showed me how to hold the pen and form the italic and blackletter alphabets.
– That’s such a lovely, personal story – thanks for sharing it with us! Can you pinpoint any ways your Grandmother especially influenced your art?
– Absolutely! I especially adored her regular, every-day Palmer Method handwriting, which was a graceful, flowing script taught in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Palmer method came out of Spencerian and Ornamental Penmanship, which are flourished, pointed pen script styles of extreme delicacy and beauty. Years of practice are required to execute these styles.
– Wow! We had no idea Calligraphy was such a complex, demanding process – talk about commitment! We particularly like the regal, vintage aspect of your Calligraphy style – where does the inspiration for such intricate designs come from?
– The study of the the script styles I talked about above inform everything I do, even when I’m asked to create unstructured, organic, “modern” letterforms.
– It all sounds very complicated! How do you manage to incorporate these personal inspirations with those of the Brides you design for ?
– When creating a wedding invitation, for example, I try to get an idea of the personality of the bride and groom, and of their vision for their wedding day. I work with wedding planners to get the details. A wedding ceremony in Provence, with lavender fields as the backdrop and a bride whose Pinterest board shows wedding-day hairstyles like loose braids with wildflowers weaved in them, is not going to be drawn to the same styles in wedding stationery as a bride getting married at the George V in Paris.
– We know how pedantic Brides can be about getting even the smallest details perfect for their Big Day. Do the people you work with always know exactly what style they want for their calligraphy when they come to you?
– Not always, but that’s where I come in. The messy-braid bride, even if she hasn’t yet thought about what calligraphy style will suit, usually prefers simplistic, imperfect, organic letterforms that communicate warmth and spontaneity. Hand-made papers, watercolor tones, and whimsy. The chic Parisian bride will more often be drawn to very luxurious stationery, engraved or Letterpress, and elegant Ornamental Penmanship script styles. So, there really are types and styles of calligraphy to suit different occasions. A messy organic script looks too informal and out of place in a Belle Époque palace ballroom, just as a gold-embossed and crested invitation suite does not suit a simple country wedding.
That’s easy enough, and beyond that, things get interesting! Sometimes I’m asked for something very chic but also a little rock-and-roll, or something very modern but also soft… I take inspiration from the couple and from the venue.
– It’s great that you take so much time in order to get things really perfect for each one of your Brides we believe it’s one of the things that makes your work that extra special. We think Calligraphy can add a real sparkle to a Wedding and are always looking for new ideas to incorporate it into the Weddings we plan. From your experience, how can script be used to enhance a Wedding?
– Most of my clients come to me knowing already that they want a custom made, bespoke wedding invitation set. They want something original, which will set the tone for their big day–and the stationery is so important. If you think about it, the wedding invitation (or Save-the-Date) is the first thing the guests see, and communicates so much about the event. There’s the basic information–what, where, when–but also the mood and atmosphere, based on the style. Guests also love receiving the invitation in a calligraphed envelope. Couples I’ve worked with often write to tell me that their friends and family raved about the calligraphy, plan to frame their envelopes, that kind of thing. Of course getting an email like that makes my day!
– It’s true that there’s nothing better to get you excited for a Wedding than a beautiful invitation coming through your postbox. We were surprised upon seeing the many ways calligraphy can be used to personalise a Wedding. Do you just specialise in invitations, or do you offer other services, too?
– Yes, of course! I often create a logo for the couple which we bring into other day-of calligraphy and signage, such as menus, thank you signs, welcome letters, gift bags, etc. Calligraphy and bespoke design can be used in so many ways to personalize an event.
– And the big question that’s on all of our lips: how much does incorporating calligraphy into a Wedding usually cost?
– As everything is bespoke, this can be a hard one to answer. As a rule, a couple can expect to budget around 500-600€ for a custom-designed invitation suite, and beyond that the costs are based on printing methods, and number of exemplaires. For a small elopement, I sometimes create a one-off wedding announcement that can be photographed and shared on social media, or printed and sent out to all friends and family!
– Are there any cheaper options, for brides who are dying to have some calligraphy on show but are a bit tight budget wise ?
– There are definitely ways around this. Something as simple as pretty place cards for an intimate wedding of just close friends and family doesn’t cost a lot, but is much appreciated by guests and adds a distinct touch. Wedding signage can be something as simple as a “Merci !” sign, or as elaborate as a hand-painted, gold-leafed welcome sign that takes an entire day to paint and calligraph. What the planner, the couple, and I come up with is always based on the client’s vision and budget.
– We loved the style shoot you did with us, how did you find working with the team here at Wedding Light Events?
– So much fun! I liked the feel of this shoot. Synie’s does the most amazing cakes and that gorgeous pink and gold leaf creation is one of my very favorites she’s ever done. The classic, pale-pink roses from Une fleur en liberté were perfect with the flowering heather, and Olivier’s photos of the bride and groom with that amazing Carolina Herrera gown and slick blue tux, rolling up in that fabulous classic car from Anciennes de Prestige, were fantastic. Soft pinks and whites were the inspiration but balanced so beautifully with the sophistication of the couple and the gorgeous backdrop of the Ritz.
– We’re so glad you liked working with us as much as we did you, Joy. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us!