The Lost Art of Letters

Katy Ackerman of Lewes Lettering Co. creates custom calligraphy invitations perfect for the return of the wedding — and so much more

Story by Meredith Lindemon  |  Location Photography by Meg Shupe

Katy Ackerman has an almost palpable happiness. It’s the easy effusiveness natural to talented people who love what they do, which diffuses organically into the lives of everyone they meet.

Becoming a calligrapher was a similarly organic experience for Ackerman, who owns Lewes Lettering Co. She opened her white-clapboard storefront in 2020 to house her design studio and stationery store on Front Street in the heart of downtown Lewes. For Ackerman, this new space is the crowning achievement of five years of dedicated work perfecting her craft and building a loyal following.

“I started doing calligraphy in 2015, when I got engaged,” said Katy. “I was playing around with it because I wanted to use it for my own wedding. I started an Instagram, and in a few weeks, people began asking me to do calligraphy for them. By the time my wedding came around, I had so much practice that I was doing my own envelopes in the middle of the night.”

Studio photos by Megan Steele

Like many in the creative field, she got her start working for someone else. In her case, it was a stationer who needed someone to address envelopes, using the traditional lettering style. She did calligraphy part-time while she worked at Dogfish Head Brewery, until 2017, when she was able to go full-time with her own business. She opened her shop last year.

For anyone who loves paper, her Lewes Lettering Co. is an expertly edited treasure trove of design-forward journals and planners, trendy greeting cards and hard-to-find writing tools. For those interested in learning calligraphy, Ackerman offers two different workshops, which have earned rave reviews. Her custom invitations encompass a wide range of price points while still adhering to her signature style.

“I want my calligraphy to be the main focus, so I have a very clean look. I print in two methods, one being letterpress. I also offer raised-ink printing, which is beautiful but doesn’t break the budget as much,” says Ackerman. 

After a year of being stifled, Katy predicts that texture in designs, velvet and handmade paper will be the prevailing trends.

“An invitation is so much more than a piece of mail,” she said. “It’s a personal investment in a sacred event.”