In an era where instant communication is at our fingertips, opening the mailbox to a handwritten letter has become especially meaningful. From artful invitations to kind words, these cards make sentiment tangible in a way that only paper can. We spoke with four local creatives who put pen, printer, quill, and paint brush to paper as they craft stationery and more through their local businesses. Read on to learn how their handiwork creates meaningful moments and champions paper’s place in a digital age.
Catharine Coll Creative
A lifelong affinity for creativity opened the door for Catharine Coll to create a business doing what she loves most. “After working as a designer for a few years, friends and family started asking for help with wedding-related work and that led me to start learning calligraphy and combine my love for design with hand-done touches like calligraphy and illustrations. Somewhere along the way, it became a side business!”
This business materialized as Catharine Coll Creative. From wedding and event stationery suites to custom home portraits and an annual Chattanooga watercolor calendar, Coll expertly puts her graphic design degree and illustrative skills to work. She is passionate about marrying hand-drawn art and digital design, saying, “I think there are a lot of ways for digital and print to live together in the same space.” She adds that paper goods aren’t going anywhere anytime soon: “There’s something that print has that digital never will, and that’s a physical, tangible presence that reinforces the experience.”
Weddings continue to be a large part of Coll’s work, as she observes that “more and more people are investing in the hand-done aspects of sending formal invitations or announcements.” She adds, “When you receive something that has clearly been made with care and customized to a particular event or loved one, I think there’s a definite sense of ‘this is special’ that one may not get from something digitally received or perhaps mass produced.”
While Coll is interested in one day growing her side business into a full-time gig, she enjoys investing in selective offerings. Her passion for the art of connection informs every part of her process and concludes as a vision brought to life on paper.
“I hope that my work continues to connect people. Whether it’s the first impression guests have of your wedding when they receive your custom invitations or completing a painting of a sentimental location that someone gives as a gift, at the end of the day, my job is to bring a spark of excitement or joy to whoever gets to see the end result of my work.”
(Top) Photo by Sarah Larae Photography; (Featured Image and Middle) Photo By Molly Smith Photography; (Bottom) Photo by Sara Bang Design
The Lost Art of Stationery
Charming designs and clever one-liners adorn the greeting cards that The Lost Art of Stationery is best known for. The stationery shop’s owner and designer, Chris Lykins, has been selling cards and sharing his love for letter writing since he began his business in 2015.
Lykins comes up with ideas for his cards by simply paying attention to the world around him. “I hear bits and pieces of conversations with friends, or I might see something visual that seems like it might make a humorous or sweet saying to someone,” he shares. Coupled with found art, an original sketch, or a fun typeface, the sayings take shape as greeting cards for sale.
These designs adorn other paper goods from gift wrap to notebooks, but The Lost Art of Stationery’s specialty is its monthly greeting card subscription. Lykins says this concept “was born from helping people act upon their thoughtfulness.” Each month, subscribers receive four greeting cards complete with stamps and free shipping. Tailored to frequent occasions – from “congratulations” to “happy birthday” to simply “thinking of you” – these deliveries equip recipients with a growing stationery collection and everything they need to write and send a handwritten note.
While penning a letter may be out of practice for many people today, Lykins points out that written correspondence is very much alive – just on a different, digital platform. He believes that the access, and often excess, of this virtual messaging has established letter writing as an authentic, intentional act, calling it the “ultimate signal of thoughtfulness.” He adds, “The further we move from the handwritten note, the more valuable each one becomes.”
“I hope that our creative work will bring a smile to someone’s face, not just because they received a card with a funny line on the outside or a beautiful design, but because they received something special from a dear person in their life.”
Photos by Mark McKnight
Laura Lines Calligraphy
For Laura Bosshardt, a creative hobby turned into a full-time career. “I never imagined I could have created a business from calligraphy alone!” says Bosshardt. “I began solely as a calligrapher, addressing envelopes upon envelopes. The repetition was key to developing my penmanship, but the monotony left me seeking more variety day to day.” This search for more fulfilling work ushered Bosshardt into the wedding industry, illustrating crests and penning stationery, place cards, and menus.
She now offers full stationery design and production for weddings and more through her business, Laura Lines Calligraphy. The creative process looks different for each of Bosshardt’s projects, but always revolves around her client’s vision and everyday inspiration. “Whether it’s a flower I’ve spotted on my daily walk or combing through vintage monogram archives, inspiration can be found almost anywhere,” she shares.
Creating custom paper products involves far more than simply putting words on paper, and Bosshardt is present in the details of this process, from the initial vision to the final product. She shares, “Thoughtful attention is given to every detail of the design, including how the finished product feels in the recipient’s hands. I think paper products give a tangibility to intention, and you simply don’t get that within the ‘digital age.’”
Bosshardt has noticed a recent rise in personal stationery requests, a trend that signals increased interest in letter writing. She desires to play a role in its prominence by creating products that make writing and sending letters as an enjoyable endeavor. “More and more, people are returning to the art of a handwritten letter … A whimsically designed set of stationery certainly makes penning a thank you note all the more fun! I hope to continue to create stationery that people look forward to pulling out and taking a few minutes to write a note of gratitude or encouragement.”
“I hope to create memorable moments on paper incorporating calligraphy and illustration to suit life’s celebrations big and small!”
Photos by Eric Kelley
A designer, illustrator, and paper enthusiast, Emily Johnson understands the importance of first impressions. Her business, Tickled Ink, has helped its clients make a lasting impression through elevated invitation suites and paper goods that “set the stage for your special occasion” for nearly 15 years. Tickled Ink products are “artfully created” and “thoughtfully designed,” and in every step, Johnson “works with you to help bring your personal vision to life.”
Illustrative work is also a large part of Tickled Ink. “Being an artist at heart, I absolutely love painting or illustrating crests, maps, monograms, and all things custom,” says Johnson. Crafting these emblems has allowed Johnson to both embrace her artistry and provide a meaningful symbol for couples. She notes that “Monograms make your event memorable and are a great way to incorporate every detail of your wedding for your guests.”
When it comes to customizing invitations, Johnson says that “The sky is the limit to what we can create for you!” The business boasts an extensive list of options, which include, “all kinds of printing and paper, including offset, letterpress, therm-ography, engraving, laser cutting, acrylic, vellum, and anything you can think of.” From font choice to paper size and weight, details do not get overlooked in her process. In addition to embellishments like boxes, pocket folders, and bands, “Tickled Ink can customize anything for your special occasion.”
Johnson is grateful for the success of Tickled Ink over the years and looks forward to new creative opportunities on the horizon. In this time of busy yet exciting transition, she plans to invest in limited custom work for high-end weddings. In doing so, she hopes to put future spouses at ease by taking care of invitations and bringing their visions to life. “Leave the design to me,” she says, adding that she wants to delight each client and “make your event more extraordinary than you imagined.”
From her time creating intricate invitations with Tickled Ink, to future endeavors in the works, it is evident that Johnson is, and will continue to be, “passionate about paper, painting, illustration, styling, and creating something beautiful and unique.”