Baltimore-based graphic designer and self-taught calligrapher Lynn Cipollone has been known to hand letter everything from copper mugs to lollipops for the brides and grooms who are her clients. Here, she talks type and technique.
Q: Have you always been creative?
A: When I was 6 or 7 years old, I would make Christmas lists that were books. It was like a full magazine layout with table of contents and photos. I went to Salisbury University, where I majored in graphic design, and later transferred to Towson University. After college, I worked for a nonprofit doing their event planning. I also worked for a good friend, who was a wedding planner on the side. She would send me jobs here and there, and I was like, “Wow, this is fun.”
Q: And now you design invitation, menus, place cards and signs for your clients.
A: Yes, and other things. People come to me with crazy projects because they know I will do them. I’ve written on a lot of weird stuff. I work with The Otherside Creatives (Baltimore-based wedding planners), and I do a lot of style shoots with them. I’ve written on lollipops, huge pots, jars and all sorts of stuff. My latest collaboration with them is a space-themed seating chart design. This is one of my favorite pieces. In front of a black backdrop hang circles of different colors. I hand letter guests’ names on each circle, which represents a planet and table at the reception.
Q: What do you do when it’s not wedding season?
A: I design invitations for baby showers. I’ve hand-lettered Christmas ornaments, horns for a first birthday party. I’ve painted on walls inside restaurants.
Q: Where do you find your inspiration?
A: With the age of social media and Instagram, I’m just constantly looking at things. All of us designers take inspiration from everything around us. I look at typography everywhere I go. I study billboards, and I’m like, “That spacing is terrible.”
Q: What was it like to start a business on your own?
A: It wasn’t until 2013 that I decided to pursue graphic design full time. I realized that I wasn’t making much money at the nonprofit, but it was scary to leave a steady paycheck. [But] there is no time when it is right, you just have to make a choice. I taught myself calligraphy when a client asked me. It was sink or swim. That’s been my motto since then. I met my favorite couple ever after picking up moving boxes from a man on a Facebook neighborhood group. When he got engaged, he asked me to design some things for his wedding. I have been so fortunate; all my work has been through word of mouth like this. Personally, I am where I want to be, but I always want to keep growing for sure.