Inside The Studio

After years of living in tiny apartments and working at tiny office desks, this studio is pretty much heaven to me. Granted, it's just a room with tables, art supplies, and printers, but it's my room with tables, art supplies, and printers.

Here's a snapshot into my little corner of the world --

Pacha disregarding my attempt to have a photoshoot.

Pacha disregarding my attempt to have a photoshoot.

Pacha disregarding my attempts to make him love me.

Pacha disregarding my attempts to make him love me.

I love the way this file rack looks -- although I can't say it actually helps me much with organization as I tend to pile things in haphazardly!

I love the way this file rack looks -- although I can't say it actually helps me much with organization as I tend to pile things in haphazardly!

Two laptops because I still haven't finished transferring all of my old things to the new one....

Two laptops because I still haven't finished transferring all of my old things to the new one....

My Second City Chicago mug, filled with favorite pens and brushes.

My Second City Chicago mug, filled with favorite pens and brushes.

The corner utility table I use for all messy endeavors in art-making.

The corner utility table I use for all messy endeavors in art-making.

(Pacha has usurped the table's upper right corner)

(Pacha has usurped the table's upper right corner)

Laziest cat, ever.

Laziest cat, ever.

Piles of Crane's Lettra and envelopes for tests and samples.

Piles of Crane's Lettra and envelopes for tests and samples.

A old souvenir from Japan gracing the window.

A old souvenir from Japan gracing the window.

Little baby fake succulent. 

Little baby fake succulent. 

Inks in every color! Shout out to Finetec for making sweet gold palettes.

Inks in every color! Shout out to Finetec for making sweet gold palettes.

I love the soft light that comes in the evening.

I love the soft light that comes in the evening.

Spring 2016 Update

It's been awhile since I've posted anything here. I'll admit, my life has been crazier than it's ever been. I feel like a hamster running on a wheel in an obstacle course in the pouring rain. I'm not complaining, but man... do I want to complain. I'm emotionally and physically exhausted from everything going on. It seems like it's one HUGE LIFE-ALTERING DECISION after another these days. 

I'm an extremely cautious person by nature, so as exciting as it may sound, I'm mostly just stressed. I'm in the process of planning a forreal studio space(!!), making some serious investments, and trying to etch out exactly what I want to achieve in the next 5, 10, 15 years. And that's just the career stuff, don't get me started on personal aspirations. So March has been a rollercoaster of emotions to say the least.

So if I seem to be pretty out of pocket these days, I kind of totally am. But in a good way.

-Eliza

Compare Our Quality

The whole wedding invitation selection/design process is extremely confusing. As it should be - because it's not likely that you shop for them on a regular basis, right? And with so many sites offering letterpress these days, it's hard to know the difference.

Well, you're in the right place. We chose the two most popular online wedding invitation vendors out there, Minted and Wedding Paper Divas, and compared their letterpress quality with ours.

Standard Papers

People tend to gravitate towards the design first and leave paper quality as an afterthought. While we love design and think it's super important, we actually think the paper is equally important; an invitation's beauty is ~50% visual, 50% tactile. A beautiful invitation design tends to fall flat on a bad canvas.

Our standard (with foil edging upgrade) vs. Minted Standard

Our standard (with foil edging upgrade) vs. Minted Standard

Our ulrathick (with foil edging upgrade) vs. Wedding Paper Divas Signature Premiere White

Our ulrathick (with foil edging upgrade) vs. Wedding Paper Divas Signature Premiere White

Our ultrathick (with foil edging upgrade) vs. Wedding Paper Divas Luxe Cotton White

Our ultrathick (with foil edging upgrade) vs. Wedding Paper Divas Luxe Cotton White

Standard Paper's Impression Depth

Letterpress invitations are coveted for their tactile quality. If the impressions are barely making a dent in the paper, you might as well be printing digitally. Paper quality makes all the difference here - the spongier and thicker the paper, the deeper the impressions. 

These textures are hard to capture on camera, but we hope you can get an idea. Overall, Minted Standard's and WPD Luxe Cotton White's impressions were present though subtle. WPD Signature Premiere White's impressions were virtually nonexistent.

Our standard impressions vs. Minted Standard impressions

Our standard impressions vs. Minted Standard impressions

Our standard impressions vs. Wedding Paper Divas Signature Premiere White impressions

Our standard impressions vs. Wedding Paper Divas Signature Premiere White impressions

Upgraded Paper

Both Minted and WPD offer thicker paper at an additional cost. WPD's thicker paper is definitely thick. However, it is more cardboard-like than soft/rich and gives medium impressions. Their paper shade is also a bit more on the cold/fluorescent side. (We haven't gotten my hands on Minted's thicker paper yet, but will update as soon as we do!)

Our standard (with foil edging upgrade) vs. Wedding Paper Divas Ultra Luxe Cotton White

Our standard (with foil edging upgrade) vs. Wedding Paper Divas Ultra Luxe Cotton White

Upgraded Paper's Impression Depth

Our standard impressions

Our standard impressions

Wedding Paper Divas Ultra Luxe Cotton White impressions

Wedding Paper Divas Ultra Luxe Cotton White impressions

From as objective of a stance that we could possibly have, here's what we feel is the "low-down" of all three invitation vendors: Minted and Wedding Paper Divas both have an extremely broad selection and have live, on-site customization tools where you can see how color/font changes look on a suite even before you get the digital proof, which is definitely cool. WPD carries the cheapest letterpress invitations we have seen, but they are also the worst letterpress quality we have ever seen (at $2.99 for their Signature Premiere White, you get a barely-there impression that's printed crooked on some flimsy paper). Minted loves to make their paper sound absolutely amazing in their descriptions, but their paper is actually pretty average by all calculable measures. For Eliza Tran, it unfortunately isn't possible to mess around with different colors/fonts live on our site.

In conclusion: It's like going to Subway (Minted/WPD) for a meatball sandwich versus going to an Italian deli (us). Go for Minted/WPD if having hundreds of options readily and quickly available is the most important thing to you. Their inventory is vast and processing time is around 5 business days quicker. Go for Eliza Tran if you're looking for significantly better quality at similar or better prices. Definitely go for us if you're looking for some serious letterpress. Our inventory is tightly curated and we work with true old-fashioned letterpress artisans.

Modern Calligraphy Supply List

The first time I ever saw wedding envelopes addressed in calligraphy (somewhere within the Pinterest Black Hole of Wedding Planning‚ĄĘ), I instantly thought "Yup. I want that. I'm doing it."

Little did I know I had just pushed myself down a rabbit hole... I had no idea what supplies I needed, what brands were respected, and how the hell dip pens actually worked. And the calligraphy "starter kits", like most artist starter kits, were overpriced, borderline patronizing, garbage. Thankfully one of my character flaws is stubbornness, so I trudged on. Today, I'm a huge calligraphy nerd and consider this lost art one of my joys, hobbies, and part of my profession!

Here's what you need to get started:

  • a quality, flexible nib - Brause Extra Fine 66
  • an ink formulated specifically for calligraphy - Yasutomo Sumi Ink
  • a comfortable holder that the nib will fit into - Tachikawa Comic Pen Nib Holder T-40

After attempting calligraphy with a cheap Manuscript cartridge calligraphy pen with horrible results, I knew I had to treat myself to the real deal - I mean, I couldn't suck THAT much, it had to be my pen's fault, right?! Thankfully, it IS your pen's fault (mostly). Excellent nibs push ink in beautiful ways that cheap ones simply cannot. Brause EF66 came highly recommended by the calligraphy nerd community, and I can totally see why. It's crazy flexible and easily makes super thicks and super thins that make calligraphy such a beauty. It's not the end-all-be-all of nibs, but if you're trying to buy yourself one decent nib just to get started, this one's solid.

Before I bought the Sumi ink, I broke open some cheap cartridge pen inks and made do with it. Learn from me and never do that. My god what a DIFFERENCE it makes to have decent ink. You gotta get it - it just flows better, dries better, sits on paper better... you just gotta.

The Tachikawa Comic Pen Nib Holder is marketed primarily towards manga artists, but I love love LOVE this holder. First off, it's cute as hell and ergonomically designed (i.e. wide and has a squishy part) and that was already enough for me to buy it, but it ALSO HAS A CAP! WHAT!

You may be wondering why I'm sharing this information - hiring a calligrapher should be the equivalent of dining at a nice restaurant - i.e. even if you kind pf know what ingredients are in the dish and have a general idea of how to prepare it, why not pay a professional to do it? Ultimately way easier, with more predictable results and less time/energy consumed. But it's always nice to know how they did it :)

-Eliza