Meet our teachers: Suzie Dicker, calligraphy
Suzie Dicker is the founder of London-based minimalist luxury stationery and leather goods brand À L’aise. She created the company to fuel her fascination with high quality paper and design with a focus on timeless design and an emphasis on quality. Suzie teaches her Introduction to Modern Calligraphy class at our West Hampstead store. We took the opportunity to quiz her a little about herself and À L’aise.
Q: Where did you first discover your love of calligraphy?
A: One of my first jobs, aged 17, was working for a luxury stationer in Bath. It had floors of different papers and used to sell amazing inks and nibs from all over the world. They also produced bespoke stationery for weddings and parties, occasionally with calligraphy on. It used to fascinate me that it had been done by hand. I don’t think I could even comprehend it at this age. Later on whilst working for Meticulous Ink, another luxury stationers in Bath, I remember we received a sample of a calligraphers work that blew me away. The envelope had the most beautiful calligraphy in bright white ink and I would sit running my hands over the ever so slightly raised script in awe. One weekend I decided I would teach myself. I picked it up fairly quickly and had never felt so passionate about a craft before. We started offering bespoke calligraphy pretty soon after this and I have never looked back. People often ask what my hobbies are and its calligraphy, it just happens to be what I do for work now. I still calligraph in my spare time, usually doing the opposite of what I’ve been commissioned to do that week. It’s more experimental and usually just doodles or one elaborate envelope for a friend or family member.
Q: Tell us about your brand À L’aise.
A: À L’aise is a modern luxury stationery brand. The name is French for ‘at ease’ or ‘comfortable’ and I want that to directly translate onto the products we create. We design cards, gift-wrap, prints and leather goods. Everything we create has to be well made, using the best materials and have an understated calm to it, allowing them to effortlessly slip into someone’s life. I always refer to À L’aise as ‘we’, really it’s just me at home in my studio with my 2 cats.
Q: I just love the different coloured inks you have available! How do you go about choosing colours?
A: Honestly, I just create the colours I want to use. For example I couldn’t find copper coloured ink I liked so I set about creating one in just the right consistency. I honestly design everything out of passion. I think that’s really important, you have to love what you’re making before someone else will too. I like the freedom running a business gives you to create freely.
Q: Do you have a favourite item of stationery? Why is it so special?
A: This is a difficult question, I have an obscene amount of stationery and I hoard things away. The very first stationers I worked at actually closed down it’s shop in Bath when I was working there and it was just me and the owner left to sell everything left in the shop. She was really good fun and I remember us both digging through the stock room finding all the stock we needed to get rid of and I would pull things out and say “wow, this is cool” and she would just reply “have it!” I left with stacks of things from that old shop and I still have a lot of it and it means a lot to me, my favourite being tons of pastel, glittery wax seals… because who doesn’t need to seal the letters with pink glittery wax? That shop really developed my love of fine stationery (and tacky coloured wax seals) and probably is what lead me to running a stationery business.
Q: We are really looking forward to your next class with us. What can students expect in your Calligraphy Classes?
A: My Beginners Modern Calligraphy course is a crash course on the basics of modern calligraphy. We start with learning how to use the nib, moving onto forming the letters of the alphabet and then learning how to create beautifully flowing script. You get to keep everything you have used in the workshop to take home, which is important, as practice really does make perfect when it comes to calligraphy!
Q: What is the most silly thing you have been asked to write in calligraphy?!
A: I offer bespoke calligraphy on any greeting card you buy from my website for an extra £3.50. People sort of assume when ordering online it’s done by machine and a human won’t ever see what they’re writing inside of the card. I get some pretty intimate messages to write, but I’m a real romantic and absolutely love it. To be honest it’s that sort of thing that makes my day.