My love of letters started at a young age. My mom was a freelance calligrapher and would often enlist the help of me and my sister in erasing the pencil lines from her finished projects. Her influence, coupled with that of my musician father kept me surrounded by art and creation and I knew that my life would ultimately have at least one foot in that world.
I studied theatre in high school and college - having just as much fun operating the light board and painting scenery as I did developing and portraying characters on stage. In 2007, I took a semester off of my NYC acting program and decided to seek out some additional hours in the art supply store where I worked weekends. The only full-time position available was in the custom stationery printing department. I had no experience whatsoever with graphic design, but something told me to take the opportunity. Trusting my mantra of “say ‘yes’ and the ‘how’ will appear” - I took the first of many leaps of faith that have landed me where I am today.
Custom stationery design taught me about the influence lettering can have on the mood of a piece of text. To me, the way the lettering style interacted with the color and paper choices spoke just as much about the event as did the words printed on the page. You can imagine, for instance, the ways in which the look of a child’s birthday invitation differs from a wedding invitation. But I found joy in even choosing a script which said “twilight garden wedding” without looking too “St. Patrick’s Cathedral”. I found that my theatre training served me well in creating pieces that suited the feel of each couple’s special day.
Seven years and a psychology degree later, I lettered my first chalkboard for the boutique where I was now the in-house stationery designer in Montclair, New Jersey. The owner of a coffee shop around the corner noticed it and asked if I could create something similar for their chalkboard walls and menu. Once, again, I just said “yes”. Turns out the ‘how’ in this case was five hours balancing on the top step of a 5’ ladder. But I didn’t mind, as I had finally found a way to put this obsession with letters to use! And, drawing by hand, I wasn’t even “limited” to the 1000+ fonts in a drop down menu. Hand lettering allowed me to put to use all the knowledge I had picked up about letterforms and have even more control over the ultimate flavor of a piece. I was hooked.
And thus, Stellabird Creative was born. My aesthetic blends old with new - traditional and modern calligraphy with the style of early 20th century advertisements and sign painting. Every bit of my past experience goes into each piece that I create. I draw from my knowledge of digital typography, letterpress and engraving. I incorporate some psychology when considering how perception will influence the piece’s message, and there’s even an element of theatre and its immersive nature in designing a piece that will complement and blend seamlessly into a space or event.
Just after my 29th birthday, I decided to take yet another leap of faith, transitioning out of my stationery design job to allow Stellabird Creative to blossom into its full potential. And now here I am, happily figuring out the “how”.