This story was originally published on Yahoo!'s Contributor Network
A Calligraphy Touchdown!
By Jenny Hayes
July 8, 2013
From July 2008 to July 2009, I wanted to take a little break from working full-time. So, I went part-time with my current company and started my own calligraphy business. I focused on wedding calligraphy, poems and other lettering projects. Just by word of mouth and general Internet marketing, I became the calligrapher of choice for some key clients in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Most of my calligraphy requests came via email, as people would find my website. On Sunday, February 15th @ 9:37 PM, I received the following request from someone named Elizabeth Barry (due date: February 20, 2009):
“I have about 150 place cards for my wedding that need to be addressed as well as table signs. I have the place cards … I am not sure about the material needed for the signs. Our table theme is movie titles so one side would have a dame and the other the table (movie title). I know this is short notice, but I would love to work with you. Please give me a call at your earliest convenience and let me know if this works for you. Thank you soooo much… Elizabeth”
The timetable was only 5 days to do 150 table cards and table signs. Table cards generally consist of a name or set of names and a table name or number. This is so much easier than writing a full address. Therefore, I decided to take on the project.
I called Elizabeth (she was still awake), and we planned to meet at Starbucks on West Capitol Expressway in San Jose, which is close to my house, the next day (Monday). I told her that I wanted to go over the scope of the project and would recommend a calligraphy style by giving her some samples to choose from. She indicated that she liked the Italic style from my website.
On Monday, I went to Starbucks and in comes Elizabeth – a model-looking woman with a HUGE diamond ring. She was very nice. She came in with her maid of honor. We sat down and went over her project. She gave me a list of names grouped by seat. She also gave me the names of the table signs. She had the blank table cards and gave me some small pre-cut poster board for the signs. I told her that it should work just fine.
While we were going over her project, I couldn’t help to wonder who in the world she was marrying!?! I figured it was probably a rich guy, given the size of her engagement ring! Anyhow, she grouped the couples together for me, and I did a live sample to get her approval on what an official table card would look like. She loved it! Her comment was “I wish I could write like that.” At the end, she decided that she wanted her own table card to read “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.” I thought, interesting, such a common last name.
I told her that I would email her if I had any questions, and the usual turnaround would be a day or two at the most. She was very happy, and we parted ways.
When I got home, I went over the list of names in which I was lettering. All of a sudden, I recognized the names as being San Francisco 49er football players (!). Then, I put two and two together: I just met Alex Smith’s fiancée! Wow! I needed to execute on this one like no other project I had ever worked on!
Since this was my own calligraphy business, I was the person who would be lettering these names. I used traditional black ink and a fountain calligraphy pen. I called upon my sister to double-check if I had any misspellings. One thing that Elizabeth forgot to do was identify if someone was male or female. For example, the name “Chris” could be short for Christine. So, I had to email Elizabeth a list of the more ambiguous names and get the gender correct. Fortunately, Elizabeth was very responsive, and I got this squirt away.
I was extremely careful and somewhat star struck, as I had to letter table cards for some very interesting sports celebrities!
By Tuesday night, I was ready. I called up Elizabeth and had her meet me at the same Starbucks on Wednesday. I gave her the grand total so that she could prepare a check. When I met her on Wednesday, it was probably even more intimidating, as now I knew this was Alex Smith’s fiancée! Still very nice and glamorous, she reviewed my work and was very impressed. She gave me a $20 tip and filled out a check pre-signed by none other than Mr. Alex Smith! All was well … so I thought!
On Thursday afternoon, I was on my way to Google for a meeting (remember, I still had a part-time job). Well, on my way to Mountain View, I received a call from a 408 number. I thought that maybe it was a new client. I picked up the phone, and the person on the other line asked: “Is this Jenny? This is Alex Smith. You had been working with my fiancée, Elizabeth, on table cards. Well, we are missing 2 more and would like to have you complete those if you have some time tonight.” Wow! I was so nervous on the phone. However, I somehow coherently was able to agree to meeting around 6 PM at the Starbucks on Capitol. He told me that he would be there to meet me (!). I had to cancel my meeting at Google (yes, my boss understood; it was Alex Smith, for Pete’s sake!).
I brought my sister with me to Starbucks, and we waited for Alex. He came in with a buddy of his. He sat next to me, and gave me the names (I had some blank table cards on hand). He sat and watched while I nervously completed the table cards in front of him. Alex’s friend asked if he wanted some cappuccino truffles, and my sister commented that the caffeine would “keep them up all night.” Alex laughed (!) all the while I am frantically trying to complete the 2 cards without having a heart attack.
I completed the cards, and Alex asked if I was paid. I told him that Elizabeth paid me and these 2 were on the house. I told him that I was honored for having them select me as their calligrapher. He smiled and then proceeded to order some coffee. My sister and I left, and that was the end of the project!! Definitely an experience I will never forget!