Post Script: Designer John Segal

His sketching table in the New York City Crane office wasn’t even warm before our new head designer, John Segal, was tasked with bringing four new collections for our boxed line to life. Flights of Fancy features two-pass engraved motifs inspired by all things that reach for the stars; Explorers, engraved in gold on ecru stock, pays homage to the 450th birthday of Galileo; the engraved and embossed Vintage Lace is presented in a palette of vibrant hues; and Tools of the Trade is letterpress printed on our coveted Lettra paper.

Here, the avid cyclist and 4 p.m. chocolate fiend talks to us about inspiration, the joy of being delighted and why he’s particularly excited about a recent delivery from China.

john segal

Describe the person who would love these collections.
The Crane customer, in my mind, is someone who loves to be delighted. It could be by an exquisitely engraved hummingbird or a lovely gold lined envelope.
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Post Script: Modern Day Snail Mail’s Cristina Vanko

cristina vankoAccording to her bio, Cristina Vanko is a “designer, idea person, visual storyteller, printer, letterer, illustrator, data visualizer and an aspiring art director.” For one week, she was the girl “texting” using ink. After discovering her father’s old calligraphy pen, Vanko fell in love with writing words that glided across the paper in lovely flourishes. So, she decided that for seven days she would only “text” her friends with hand-written messages. The result was visually and socially extraordinary. Here, Vanko talks about her snail mail experiment, correspondence as an artform and her father’s delightfully creative envelope addressing.

When did your interest in the epistolary world begin?
My dad would always send snail mail to me when I went off to college and decorate the envelope with silly stickers and interesting type, but it wasn’t until I was taking classes in all the different art areas at school until I got really interested in the epistolary world.

Although I had been interested in art at a very young age, at the beginning of my undergraduate career my understanding of art had not yet been developed to think that art could be more than a painting or drawing. But when I was at Indiana University—Bloomington, I came across some really inspiring printmaking graduate students who helped me fully understand what the definition of art is and what it could be.

Kristin Carlson’s MFA thesis, Large Letters, Small Signs, was when I truly fell in love with mail and mail art. It was then when I discovered how you could really push the boundary of surface, type and technique. I remember speaking with her when she was screen-printing this piece and she explained to me that in art school you spend so much time with your work that you miss out on relationships with people.

Not only did I see her thesis as an interesting way to send mail but also I saw her thesis as a good way to share her talent with people she cared about. After being introduced to mail art in such an extraordinary and beautiful way, I became more aware what I sent through the mail.

Tell me about your Modern Day Snail Mail project.
I resurrected my dad’s old calligraphy pen and I was immediately stunned with the range of line thickness that the pen could achieve. After texting some doodles to friends, I decided to send handwritten messages to people for that next week. I wanted to create my own modern day version of “snail mail.”

My rules for this type of experiment were simple: Create handwritten text messages for seven days, i.e. no using the keyboard on my phone to send a message. I wrote out my message on paper and then I snapped a photo to send as a text message. What started as an experiment to improve and learn more calligraphy quickly became an interesting social experiment all together. Not only did I learn a lot about calligraphy, I learned a lot about myself, my friends and technology.

modern day snail mail

modern day snail mail text messages

Why do you enjoy writing letters and/or correspondence?
I appreciate how it’s a more genuine and personal way of creating and/or maintaining conversation with a person. The physical pieces are elements to add to your shared story with a specific person, so it’s interesting to see how your relationship unfolds in a tangible way. Also, I’ve been working on more digital projects as a designer so it’s a nice way to revisit and maintain my analog roots.

What is your favorite step in the process of written correspondence?
I enjoy the final step of the process—constructing and embellishing what contains the message whether it be an envelope, box, etc. Since it’s the first thing you see, I want the recipient to know that this isn’t an ordinary piece of mail.

envelope mail art

If you could be pen pals with anyone in history, to whom would you write and what would you say?
I’d love to start conversations with my ancestors to ask about their stories and to see their handwriting. I have noticed similarities in handwriting among my family members and it’d be interesting to see if there was an evolution involving handwriting style.

To whom do you most often write?
I mostly write to my friends and family, and by write, I mean that I mostly send mail art. After graduating college, my friends are sprawled out all over the country, so I like to send mail art and postcards to friends every chance I have some free time.

Unfortunately, I have noticed it becomes a one-way street. Luckily, I have a couple of good friends from undergraduate with which we consistently send mail art back and forth. My one friend and I give each other challenges to push ourselves, so we try to master a new skill or learn something new when relaying our message.

mail art

Can you describe the most memorable letter or postcard you have ever received?
Besides from visually intriguing letters, simple handwritten letters that reveal your most genuine thoughts and feelings about someone make for some of the best letters I’ve ever received. There’s nothing more personal than handwriting when truly expressing yourself.

What makes a particular letter stand out from a stack of cards?
Knowing that someone wanted to fill a blank page with their a message versus picking out something reconstructed and/or only requires a signature. The extra effort of a physical letter is refreshing.

What makes your correspondence distinct?
My dad literally pushes the envelope with the address alone. Wherever I’ve lived, he’s always figured out a new way to construct an address by using city nicknames, spelling things out phonetically, etc. It surprises me every time I receive a letter that the post office figured out a way to decode the address. Naturally, I picked up the habit of crafting creative addresses and have been applying it to my mail.

What do you think classic correspondence will look like in a decade or two?
I think classic correspondence will continue to become rare, but I can only hope that it will evolve into something new—even if that means digitally. While today people are more connected than ever, receiving a personal email could seem like a rarity. Sometimes I know that I get tricked into thinking that liking, commenting or re-tweeting means that someone cares when really it takes little effort to do such things. I could only hope there will be a way to digitally differentiate correspondence and make it more personal.

Have a question for Cristina or know someone who should be featured in Post Script? Contact our Crane Concierge at concierge@crane.com.

Post Script: Stationery Trends Founder Sarah Schwartz

Next year, Stationery Trends magazine will celebrate its fifth anniversary, a statement to the perseverance of the people who cherish the art of handwritten correspondence. For the magazine’s founding editor, Sarah Schwartz, stationery and letters were a natural extension of a feisty, book-fueled imagination. Here, the former summer camp letter writer extraordinaire talks about pen pals, lunch box notes and why we should think of Abraham Lincoln the next time we’re angry with someone.

stationery trends founder sarah schwartz

When did your interest in the epistolary world begin?
To me, writing letters and corresponding is a natural extension to the world of reading. From the time I learned to read at age four, I have loved entering and creating imaginary or past worlds. A great letter is just that, really — a little glimpse into another very personal world.

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Post Script: Nancy Sharon Collins, Author of “The Complete Engraver”

Next month, graphic designer and engraving expert extraordinaire Nancy Sharon Collins will publish The Complete Engraver, an informative and elegant homage to the classic art. Seeing as how said classic art and our paper go together like Fred and Ginger, we thought Collins a perfect addition to our Post Script Q&A series. Here, the former New Yorker (and current Louisianan) shares stories of her parents’ notes, a New Orleans estate filled with paper and a small stack of treasured love letters.

When did your interest in social stationery engraving begin?
1976 during graduate school at the Hartford Art School. I was introduced to Lehman Brothers in New Haven and I fell in love with commercial engraving: going on press knocks my socks off; I love the smell of ink and paper and the sound of small presses (metal against metal, fly wheels, iron and steel.)

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Post Script: Calligrapher Ashantai Yungai

When it comes to projects of the epistolary variety, calligrapher Ashantai Yungai, founder of Distinctive Inscriptions, isn’t one to back down from a challenge. So, when a bride asked him to pen 1,000 envelopes for her Hawaiian wedding, he not only agreed, he blogged about the two-week-long endeavor. With a good nib, a little Joni Mitchell and a bag of flour, he proved victorious. Perhaps it’s Yungai’s science background (he’s a chemist by trade), but it seems as though he has found the formula for the perfect flourish.

distinctive inscriptions calligraphy founder ashantai yungai

Ashantai Yungai, born to flourish.

Of course, we would never ask him to share his ‘secret sauce,’ be he does share with us missives pertaining to pens, sisters and the future of the handwritten word.

When did your interest in calligraphy begin?
June 2008. I am a chemist by trade. A friend saw my handwriting in my lab notebook and asked, “Did you write that? Wow man, that’s pretty cool! You should do calligraphy. People do wedding invitations and envelopes using calligraphy.” I thought little of it at the time. I bought a calligraphy pen on a whim one day while shopping for art supplies for my son. I began writing with it. From there I was off to the races. 

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Post Script: Oh So Beautiful Paper’s Nole Garey

Whether stationery is your business or your pleasure (or, hopefully, both), Nole Garey’s blog, Oh So Beautiful Paper, is essential reading. Every day the Washington D.C. resident satisfies our appetite for stunning invitations, charming greeting cards, wonderfully unique personalized stationery and anything else fit to be inked. Here, the GW grad talks postage preferences, growing up with creative parents and why it’s important to write to the person you see every day.

Briefly describe your work and its connection with the post.
I am the editor and publisher of Oh So Beautiful Paper. I review submissions of work from independent artists and designers, choose my favorites, then create a post around the submitted work. I always include an introduction with my own thoughts about the work, but I also try to include something from the designer about the origin of the project, including the purpose of the project, inspiration sources, and printing specifications.

When did your interest in paper begin?
I’ve always been interested in design; my father worked as an advertising copywriter and my mother is an accomplished non-professional artist. As a kid, I was exposed to art and design and encouraged to explore creative outlets. Although I studied political science and international economics in college, I took a printmaking course that gave me some basic instruction in screen printing, letterpress, and etching. But it wasn’t until I became engaged to my husband and started to explore the world of wedding invitations that I truly fell in love with paper and the stationery industry.

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Post Script: Liz Richmond, owner of The Paper Bag

Fifteen years ago, Liz Richmond did what most stationery lovers only dream of doing: She bought a stationery boutique. Situated across from an amusement park in Allentown, PA, The Paper Bag has been in business since 1982 (30 years if you’re counting). Richmond joined its staff two years later and has been there ever since. Here, she talks with us about celebratory stamps, Old Money and why she thinks classic correspondence isn’t going anywhere.
Paper Bag owner Liz Richmond

 

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Post Script: Kelle Anne McCarter, Stationery Designer

In her bio, Kelle Anne McCarter says she grew up on a golf course. We’re glad she eventually traded sand traps (not that she saw many, ahem) for stationery design, as our collection now includes cards graced with her stunning calligraphy. Here, the proud Texan talks with us about her perfect pen pal, a comic book love story and the two things every Southern girl should have.

kelle anne mccarter

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Post Script: Bob Gregory, Crane & Co. Engraving Press Operator

Bob Gregory EngraverHow can you pick out the guy who loves what he does? He’s the one who smiles when you ask him about it. And then keeps smiling throughout the entire interview.

That’s Bob Gregory, a native of North Adams, Massachusetts (where our paper magic happens) who works an engraving press like no one’s business. He’s also a Red Sox fan and could never work at a job in which he was “just sitting there.”

That’s good news for us, and whoever has the pleasure of receiving a box of stationery created by Gregory’s skilled hands.

Here, he chats with us about being a “wedding man,” naming his engraving press and his one degree of separation from a certain blue-eyed crooner.

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