published Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Hand lettering lends personal touch to documents

Calligrapher Kate Smith has been creating professionally hand-lettered documents for three years.
Calligrapher Kate Smith has been creating professionally hand-lettered documents for three years.
Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

• What: Calligraphy and hand-lettered documents

• Company: Kate Smith Letters

• Website:

• Telephone: 770-309-7888

• Owner: Kate Smith

• What's special: "Hand-written calligraphy lends a very personal specialness to whatever document, envelope or letter I write on," Kate Smith said. "I feel like too much stuff is done on computer these days. It used to be you got something printed by a laser printer, and that was special and unique, but now that's everything. People are starting to appreciate hand-written letters more and more as it becomes more and more scarce."

• The origin story: Now 40, Smith became interested in calligraphy at age 9 through a kit that was given to her for Christmas. She continued to practice calligraphy styles such as bubble and 3-D lettering in school. For her wedding invitations, she worked with master calligraphers in Atlanta who helped her improve her skills. She began professional lettering about three years ago.

• How long does it take to make: Smith works on a variety of lettering projects, including greeting cards, love letters and posters, but the bulk of her orders are for wedding invitation envelopes, which take about 10 hours for a batch of 100. "It's quite peaceful to me," she said. "The envelope is the very first thing someone sees that pertains to someone's wedding. That's kind of important."

• What it costs: $1.50-$4 per lettered envelope; custom orders start at $40

• Plans: Smith is developing a line of premade greeting cards and invitations.

• Lessons of the trade: "Act like a business, not like a best friend," Smith said. "Acting like a friend doesn't help the client or myself. Also, don't be afraid to suggest something a little eccentric or a little different. At first, I just assumed everyone would want something traditional, but that's not the case."

about Casey Phillips...

Casey Phillips has worked as a features reporter in the Life department since May 2007. He writes about entertainment, consumer technology, animals and news of the weird. Casey hails from Knoxville and earned a bachelor of science degree in journalism and a bachelor of arts in German from Middle Tennessee State University, where he worked as the features editor for the student newspaper, Sidelines. Casey's writing has earned numerous accolades, including first and second place ...

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