Sam Teich invites us into her Manhattan studio for a chat on maintaining the art of calligraphy and how to craft the perfect holiday letter this season.
Preserving and celebrating artistry is top of mind here at The House of Creed. Naturally, we’re drawn to individuals who are inspired by this very idea too. We're elated to start the holiday season off by introducing you to our friend, Sam Teich. The New York based calligraphy artist invites us into her cozy downtown studio and shares her tips and tricks on how to craft the perfect holiday note on our newly launched — and highly coveted — holiday sleeves that are the perfect memorable finishing touch to your gifts this season.
Please introduce yourself and your relationship to the arts.
I’m Sam Teich, a calligrapher in New York City. I do a lot of work with a pointed nib and ink on paper (place cards, menus, signage, etc.) but I usually say I will write on anything anyone will let me. In addition to working on private and corporate projects and custom pieces, I produce and execute live lettering events, and teach modern calligraphy workshops.
I was always interested in art and music from the time I was very young. I also traveled a lot while I was growing up, and that certainly helps inform how I interpret all visual language (and written word). I went to NYU and concentrated in photography, design, and global visual culture. I worked as a photo editor and photographer for a number of years at a variety of editorial publications before leaving desk nearly three years ago.
Tell us more about your foray into calligraphy. Why do you think it's especially important in the digital age?
I’ve always been drawn to calligraphy and lettering since the time I could hold a crayon. I taught myself how to write in cursive, and I loved drawing letters in all languages (copied hieroglyphics on a trip to Egypt when I was about 6 or 7, tried out brush lettering on a later trip to China). I was interested in different types of arts as a kid but preferred lettering to painting or ceramics.
I definitely think the renewed interest in calligraphy, lettering and beautiful packaging is a direct reaction to how much time we spend online these days. So much of our interactions with others are spent interfaced through a screen — we don’t view digital conversations as any less “real,” but when you received a hand-written note from someone it is much more significant because they put a few extra minutes of thought and care into it.
Why is it essential that we maintain the art of letter writing — especially around the holidays?
It’s nice to let people know you’re thinking of them, always, but especially at this time of year! I like an e-card as much as the next millennial, but taking the time to put even just a few extra words inside of a card sends an extra message in addition to the note itself — the message that you’re taking time and care to think about someone else. The term “letter writing” can be intimidating, but it shouldn’t be – it’s a personal touch that should feel true to who you are. A little thoughtfulness goes a long way.
What are your tips or tricks when it comes to writing a memorable letter?
Date it. It may seem trivial, but most people receive fewer actual letters than in years past, so it’s more likely they’ll hang on to it as a keepsake. It’s so valuable later in life to be able to pinpoint the time at which you received something.
Don’t use any old pen. This doesn’t mean you have to write with a calligraphy dip pen and ink or a fancy fountain pen but take care in choosing something more than a basic ballpoint pen. Try something like a fine felt-tip pen, which works well on most types of paper, or a smooth-rolling gel pen in a festive color.
Don’t let your handwriting stand in the way, if you focus on writing slowly while sitting at a proper table your penmanship will automatically be improved,
Don’t dismiss the sign-off. Stay away from the generic “Hope to see you soon!” and add something concrete. Consider “Looking forward to making more memories with you this holiday season” or something personal to your relationship.
Can you share a memory of receiving a beautifully-written holiday note?
People often think they need to send me exotic cards because of my work, but any hand-written note is appreciated! It’s so fun for me to get notes written on a card from my own stationery line in the mail from family and friends. Very special and gratifying for me!
As the holidays draw nearer, what are a few desk essentials that help create a more "festive" ambiance?
Candles are always a good choice! The scent helps create a cozy mood, but it’s also warms the light in any room especially in winter months Framed photos are also a nice touch to a desk or workspace. Framing a few photos of loved ones, or of moments for which you’re grateful is such a good idea. The holidays are a perfect time to do that with the general feelings of reflection and gratitude. Swap out some of the pens in your desk pencil cup for festive colors or metallics!
What drew you to collaborating with House of Creed and why do you believe that fragrance is an artful form of self-expression?
I am so fascinated with the history behind the House of Creed. When I first learned about the brand, I had no idea that it dated back centuries. They do such a brilliant job of telling a story through something intangible and carrying it through every detail, right up to the bottle design and packaging. Scent is so powerfully associated with memory, time, place, and experience. That artistry and history inspires me; they are things I try to put into my work each day.
Do you have a go-to Creed scent for the holidays?
I’m in love with the scent Sublime Vanille. It’s a warm and spicy vanilla, citrus, musky scent that’s super light and inviting, with a little kick. The vanilla reminds me of cozy winter scenes, but you’re not going out smelling like a sugar cookie. Which may not be the worst thing in the world? Plus, the packaging is beyond! Another favorite is the Silver Mountain Water— super crisp in a refreshing ski-lodge way. It’s a great choice for winter.
If you were to write a holiday letter to the Creed community what would it say?
Talk kindly to yourself, don’t forget to tell others you love and appreciate them, and eat the dessert!