The Letterettes

Fiona Killackey
Thursday 9th March 2017

In the spirit of International Women’s Day (which was yesterday, but we’re intent on making it a week-long festival!), today we introduce Melbourne’s all-female creative quartet, The Letterettes.

From fulfilling client briefs, to running live lettering workshops, the talented foursome has come a long way since launching just 12 months ago. United by a shared skill set, The Letterettes exemplify the magic that can come when women join forces. Though each artist is immensely talented in her own right, The Letterettes represents something even greater than the sum of its parts.

Fiona Killackey caught up with the lettering ladies, to discuss four-way communication, those pink jackets, and how the business began.

The Letterettes know good branding. Even their name immediately conjures up images of the coolest girl gang. From their inception in January, 2016, the four artists and friends – Wanissa Somsuphangsri, Eliza Svikulis, Carla Hackett and Kate Pullen – have created a distinctive and considered aesthetic that’s present in everything they do, from client commissioned work, to their website and social media posts, through to their lettering classes and pop-ups.

Sharing a love of letterforms, four-legged creatures and, most importantly, matching embroidered jackets, The Letterettes deliver on-the-spot customised items. There are gift tags, cards, mugs, baubles, sneakers and hats, as well as signage and advertising campaigns, plus live lettering workshops, where they teach the basics of brush pen lettering for beginners. The group came to life after the women met while individually employed to work on a large job. Identifying a gap in the market for a go-to group, Eliza pitched the idea of an official ‘sisterhood of travelling pens’. ‘By the end of that shift we were “The Letterettes”,’ says Eliza, ‘brainstorming rates and uniform ideas all the way home.’

In addition to working together, the four also work as solo artists, something that can make communication challenging at times. ‘It can be tricky as we all work very different hours,’ says Wanissa, ‘but we’re big on group harmony and value each other’s opinions.’

We all inspire each other in our approach and styles, that’s what makes working together so powerful.’

With no official hierarchy within the group, all four women work across admin, quoting, material runs, design and lettering equally, relishing in the creative elements of their new company. ‘We love nothing more than to bring out the humble pen and paper and show off our swashes, however it’s a passion that runs deeper than fancy words,’ says Kate, ‘We’re fascinated with all things associated with the craft: history, story-telling, technique, tools, and teaching.’

For The Letterettes the future is bright. ‘2016 was such an unexpectedly big year for us,’ says Kate, ‘This year we’re looking forward to all of the briefs and workshops we are able to jump into as a foursome, adding to the variety of products we letter on. We’re also keen to elevate the value and credibility of creative endeavours, and we’re striving to have creative individuals and groups (especially women!) band together and support each other.’

‘The days of pitting ourselves against one another are over.’

To book a workshop or find out more visit The Letterettes online or follow their adventures on Instagram.

The hip girl gang that is ‘The Letterettes’ sure knows good branding! Photo – Caitlin Mills for The Design Files.

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