"I like to create wedding pieces that feel and breath delicacy, and so the right balance between calligraphy, typography, illustrations and negative space is absolutely key and I try to keep that in mind when designing."
María, The Spaniel Studio
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I started The Spaniel Studio in 2019, after more than a decade of experience in the design and execution of PR and communication strategies for more than a hundred companies. After working in the corporate world, I decided to make a (not so) little switch and founded my own studio to focus on something I love: calligraphy and wedding stationery. It’s been three years now doing so and every day I like it more. I couldn't be happier with the decision I made.
My work is devoted mainly to couples that are getting married and to brands in search of a professional calligrapher for their special events and activations. During these years I’ve been lucky enough to work for lovely couples - mostly from the US, but also from my country, Spain, and great brands such as Cartier, Tiffany & Co, Montblanc, Carolina Herrera, Brooks Brothers or IWC Schaffhausen, among others. My goal for both kinds of clients remains the same: to help elevate their wedding or event days to a whole new level of sophistication thanks to the most beautiful and exclusive calligraphy and stationery.
Show us one of your favorite designs and tell us about how it came to be.
I’d say my favorite designs are some of my semi custom wedding stationery collections, in which I put extra care, as they’re the showcase of my work. I created them with the aim to offer couples the possibility of having access to the most beautiful wedding invitation suites and as the same time unique in a way, as they’re tailored to each couple through the colors, calligraphy style, printing method, or add-ons, among other elements. The Sutton, Madison and Dordogne collections are probably my favorite ones.
When I designed them , I looked to create timeless pieces, aesthetically beautiful through touches of nature and the right balance of calligraphy and typography. Something I would choose for my own wedding (I got married years ago, but I wish I could get married again, the wedding stationery I’d create…!). I especially love the organic and romantic aesthetic that each of them get when using handmade paper, those deckled edges and soft cotton texture help create that artisan and delicate look that I'm so often looking for.
What are your favorite colors to work with right now? And why?
The white/ivory handmade paper shade of yours will always be my favorite one, and the one I usually recommend my couples for the main invitation card in order to highlight it. Then I’d combine it with muted colors and play with them until it feels right, looking for a beautiful color palette, which is super important for me in terms of designing.
Lately I’m into warm and natural tones such as blush, sand, wheat and beige, but a grayish green and a dusty blue will always get me. That being said, I recently worked with your sage green and dusty rose handmade paper as main colors for some wedding invitation suites and they looked stunning.
The color selection mainly depends on the wedding and the couple: are they getting married in spring or in autumn? Where are they getting married? Sometimes there’s just a personal preference: a recent bride loved burgundy and even though it’s not my favorite color to work with we ended up creating a gorgeous wedding stationery based on this color in addition with beautiful shades of autumn for their November wedding.
Your all time favorite color in Hex and how would you describe it?
#7c8270. Since I was always fond of the green, I found a grayish green beautiful for wedding stationery, especially if the wedding is being held outdoors. It’s muted, elegant and combines perfectly with some tones such as dusty rose or blush if the couple is looking for a romantic aesthetic.
Which of all our colors of handmade paper do you like best if you had to chose one?
Your white handmade paper is unbeatable for me. It has the most perfect shade of muted white, kind of a beautiful ivory tone that makes it perfect to combine with other handmade paper colors.
Color combination that will never go out of style? Color combination that will make a comeback?
I’d say blue & white will always work in wedding stationery. A nice combination of bluish shades can be a major exponent of timeless elegance.
What are design elements that you use consistently in your work?
An absolute essential is calligraphy, but just the right amount, I like to keep designs minimal. When using illustrations I almost always work with drawn elements, rarely use watercolor - only on selected pieces, because I love to keep designs monochromatic. I like to create wedding pieces that feel and breath delicacy, and so the right balance between calligraphy, typography, illustrations and negative space is absolutely key and I try to keep that in mind when designing.
How do you see handmade paper? Is it a more modern or a more retro design element?
Handmade paper can be used in a modern way, but for me it is definitely an element that helps get that classic and antique look that so many couples are looking for. Those unique deckled edges contribute to that organic aesthetic that feels so special and that matches so well with handwritten calligraphy. The same design looks completely different printed on handmade paper than on heavy weight cardstock (and if you ask me you got me: I’d most of the time choose handmade paper!).
What inspires you?
Traveling is without a doubt what most inspires me. In fact I named my wedding stationery collections after beautiful places that inspired me. The shades of the buildings that so many times create beautiful color palettes, the unique character of each place, or just a beautiful hidden spot offer me design ideas. Also, quotidian things such as a walk through the city, reading a deco book or magazine, looking at the sky at sunset or learning about artists from different disciplines sometimes offer some of the greatest inspiration ideas.
Your dream design project?
A secret dream project (not so secret anymore) it’s been to work in a royal wedding, although I know from previous experience organizing events that protocol rules can be really restricting and stressful.
Regarding working with brands I may say that my expectations have been exceeded as I’ve already worked with some of my dream brands in Spain and the United States such as Cartier, Tiffany & Co or Montblanc.
Also, it may sound a little cliché, but I really feel that I got the best couples to work with. When creating wedding stationery every project is different and special in a way, so many times it feels like a dream project, especially when the couple trust in my advice and suggestions.
If you had to use only one font on handmade paper for the rest of your designer's life, which would it be?
If I had to work with handmade paper for the rest of my designer’s life instead of any font I’d rather choose a handwritten calligraphy style. Handmade paper and handwritten scripts just match perfectly, with that organic and natural look so characteristic of both of them.The beauty and uniqueness of perfectly imperfect elements combined together.
Are you secretly a serif or sans serif person?
When designing wedding stationery I’m a serif person, I love the timeless aesthetic that a beautiful typography gets when using balanced and well combined with other elements.
Which three words best describe your style?
I’d like my style to be perceived as elegant, delicate and fine artistic.
Did you teach it yourself or did you go to school for design?
I learned it myself in my years developing image strategies for so many companies. This helped tremendously when launching my own business and continues doing so managing The Spaniel Studio image. Thanks to that, I was able to create my own visual identity, website, brand materials, etc. and to manage the image of my own brand (social media, media coverage, collaborations, etc.), which I find it super important for my business. The transition to focusing on designing wedding stationery it's been one of the nicest things I've experienced in my professional career, as my main focus on designing is now the search for beauty.
How did you learn calligraphy?
I combined self learning with lessons from some of the best calligraphers in the world. I knew from the very beginning that if I wanted to master the calligraphy art I had not only to spend countless hours practicing and perfecting the calligraphy techniques, but also learn from the best calligraphers. I’m continuously combining practice with calligraphy courses , trying not to get comfortable in what I already dominate. In calligraphy there's always room to improve.
Your guilty pleasure in design?
I love interior design and find it super inspiring. You’ll find me following on Instagram amazing interior designers and firms in search of inspiration. I’m specially obsessed with wallpapers and how those can totally change a space. I can spend a whole evening at De Gournay amazed with their hand painted wall-coverings.
Why do you like working with handmade paper?
I love working with handmade paper. High quality handmade paper 100% cotton such as yours helps elevate a wedding invitation suite to a whole different level and contribute to that romantic and organic look I’m most of the time looking for. When Claudia asked me to be featured as a designer I reminded with her that it's been more than three years now working with Eliv Rosenkranz's paper, almost from the very beginning of The Spaniel Studio. And even though I've worked with so many different papers - and continue doing so, it keeps being one of my very favorite to work with. Also, the amazing team of women behind that beautiful handmade paper makes Eliv Rosenkranz a reliable and trusted vendor, always willing to help and understanding their clients’ needs, which is key to me.