Sam Teich is a calligrapher and entrepreneur who stayed in New York City after receiving her degree in photography and design at NYU. With roots as a creative – originally as a photo editor and photographer for various digital publications – Sam eventually began pursuing calligraphy full-time, being commissioned for projects, teaching workshops, and even designing her own line of stationery/paper goods.
While the digital transmission of invitations is becoming increasingly pervasive, Sam shows us how the act of sending a physical note with beautiful, hand-drawn calligraphy cultivates an irreplaceable, meaningful experience – plus, she notes, the process of calligraphy can be therapeutic, rewarding, and learned by anyone.
Sam (wearing the Triple F.A.T. Goose Alistair II Charcoal) is a Greenwich Village-based calligraphy artist who employs her craft on just about any surface – from denim to flower petals, mason jars, and more. Drawing inspiration (pun intended) from her surroundings, Sam tells us, “I love art and architecture, and living and working in New York City; the buildings and architecture have so much in common with the art of calligraphy since it really is all based on lines.”
When you start shopping around for nibs, holders, and ink, remember that you don’t necessarily need the most high-end tools to create beautiful work. In Sam’s experience, the plastic pen holders work the exact same way as the expensive ones, and “you can emulate a calligraphic style with most types of pens if you know how.” Sam recommends Tom’s Studio for nicer calligraphy tools, as well as Blackwing classic pencils and Sakura Gelly Roll pens for everyday use.
While Sam has developed a unique and impressive calligraphic style, she is convinced that anyone, despite having particularly good or bad handwriting, can learn how to do calligraphy with patience and the right mindset.
She cautions that “ it’s not something you’re going to master in a single afternoon.” To the eager student, she stresses that slowing down is a crucial part of the practice. “Calligraphy is very different from normal handwriting,” Sam tells us. “It takes getting out of your own head a little bit to see that.”
“I think there is so much to be said for letting go of control,” Sam says. “Calligraphy is a very precise art form, but it is done by hand, so there is always going to be an element of unpredictability, and I think that’s something to be embraced. You want to be able to tell it is done by hand!”
Outside of slowing down, Sam encourages the new learner to focus more on the shapes than trying to emulate a font. To her, “half the fun of writing by hand is playing with the shapes of the letters. It’s a mental challenge to attempt to get out of the mindset of viewing them as language, and to see them as a series of basic shapes instead, as you would the characters of another language.”
While Sam does not think there are set rules for frequency of practice, she notes that it is “all about building muscle memory, so it’s going to take lots of repetition.” Sam also gives us her preferred take on the idiom: “practice makes perfect progress .” To help inspire repetition, Sam recommends finding words you enjoy writing, from favorite quotes to song lyrics or great lines from a movie.
“First impressions are key,” Sam says. “The envelope is so important!” The envelope is the first indication of the type of event you’re hosting – formal, monochromatic calligraphy can signal a more formal soiree, while loopy, modern lettering and colored ink (Sam personally loves neon!) can signal a fun, more relaxed affair.
If you’re willing to put in the time and effort, handmade invitations can not only save you a pretty penny, but the process can also be immensely meaningful. While it is easier to type something out than write it out, it can be nostalgically enticing to pen a note to someone, and it shows effort, creativity, and conveys emotion in a way that technology cannot.
While some consider it to be an outdated function , Sam notes that not only does writing by hand help with memory but “it promotes thinking about what you’re writing, rather than just dashing off a quick response you might regret later. Writing by hand may be more time consuming than typing for many people these days, but I definitely do not think it is being devalued.”
She appears here alongside Fidget, her Aussiedoodle, who is undoubtedly a source of energy and inspiration to any and all who meet him.