With its elegant swirls and starry touches, Chiara Perano's signature modern style of calligraphy can make even the ugliest of words appear heavenly. Since founding her design studio Lamplighter London in 2012, Chiara has worked with a host of big brands and independent clients to add a touch of hand lettered class to shops, weddings, and workshops.
With an exclusive collection of personalised invitations and greeting cards now available on Papier, we visited Chiara's studio to film her in action and find out, in her own beautifully written words, what makes Lamplighter London.
Watch The Words That Make Lamplighter below...
How did Lamplighter start?
I’ve always worked for myself doing creative work – illustration, design and lettering – and with Lamplighter I wanted to create a studio which would focus on bringing bespoke artistic paper goods to life for events. Calligraphy came with this, and I began mixing it with illustrations to create a unique look for my clients.
How did you learn calligraphy?
I am a self-taught calligrapher and I spent a long time intensely practising until I was confident with my abilities and could add it to our studio services. I have worked with nib and inks for many years but mastering the technique and developing my own style was something that took time and patience.
When did you realise that you could do this for a living?
My first official job as a calligrapher was writing the envelopes for a dinner party at the Tower of London, and they loved the results. I had created bespoke invitations in handmade paper in a gothic style with wax seals. I was so relieved that it all went well and I also learnt a lot. From then on I have been refining my technique and way of working. Thankfully I’m much quicker these days!
What’s a usual day in the studio like for you?
Our studio starts at 10am but I’ve probably been on email since 8. The work we create is so varied it’s amazing, and never dull. For instance, at the moment I’m creating lettering for a brand to use in their shop windows, overseeing various invitation and menu projects, and I’m hand lettering escort cards on paper dragonflies. We have to work to a strict schedule to fit it all in!
How would you describe your style?
Eclectic meets modern romantic.
What inspires you?
The stars and skies, old lettering, colour, patterns. Getting out of the studio and immersing myself in the natural world is incredibly inspiring for me. It sort of puts things into perspective too.
Where did your love of pen and paper start?
From as far back as I can remember. I made cards, wrote stories and illustrated them, and cherished my art tools from a young age. I started really loving ink on my art foundation course, mostly with a paintbrush.
What type of projects does the studio usually work on?
We work mostly on private events where we would create everything bespoke from a save the date to invitations, maps, menus, signage, placement, and finishing with thank you cards. And then we work with brands creating interesting things for events; for instance, hand lettering on a particular item such as glassware or leaves, or just writing thank you notes for their clients. Then there is the bulk of the calligraphy work which is mostly envelopes and place cards. Sometimes clients have had their invitations made elsewhere and just want us to do the finishing touches, a bespoke ink colour and special envelopes. It’s a fast paced studio, and there’s always lots of fun jobs going on!
What’s been your favourite commission?
I love creating maps and illustrated menus. It’s a fun challenge!
Why do you think interest in calligraphy has blossomed in recent years?
I think people value personal touches more than ever, and a handwritten note really goes a long way. If that note can be written in calligraphy it really gives that extra wow factor and shows personality and care. It’s all about setting the tone and creating something beautiful. It’s also so fun to learn and will definitely impress!
What’s the difference with modern calligraphy compared to traditional calligraphy?
Modern calligraphy blends traditional styles with your own hand, it embraces imperfections and each letter does not have to be the same. For me, it’s about mastering the pen and then letting your style shine through. There has to be consistency within the style for it to work overall but it’s much freeer and experimental.
Do you think good calligraphy adds to a wedding?
Most definitely – it sets the tone from the very first glimpse of the stationery, whether that's formal, fun or romantic. You can then carry the style through the whole day with names on menus, place cards and even thank you cards.
What are your tips for starting calligraphy?
Take your time, and master the basics. Holding the pen right, getting to grips with a nib that works for you. It will be easier to use and will produce better results. Don’t be afraid to let your own style come through and hold the pen lightly so you don’t get an achey hand. Then practice, practice, practice!
To see more of Chiara's modern calligraphy, take a look at the full Lamplighter London collection of wedding invitations and cards on her Papier designer page.