Lifestyle Magazine

Today's Spotlight: Deb Sementelli of Lettering Art Studio

Today's Spotlight: Deb Sementelli of Lettering Art Studio
Today's Spotlight: Deb Sementelli of Lettering Art Studio
So excited that I got a chance to grab Debi Sementelli of Lettering Art Studio. Deb has created a very popular font that you may have seen this past wedding season: Belluccia. I am fascinated that  Deb has taken on the unique challenge of not only designing her own fonts, but finding success in a crowded marketplace...
1. Tell me a little bit about your background and your training.   For starters, my mother had the most beautiful handwriting and she used to doodle the alphabet when she was talking on the phone. So I was always entranced by the beauty of letters from a young age.  I took my first calligraphy class as an art student at the Cleveland Institute of Art.  When I left art school I ended up in Nashville, Tennessee and was fortunate enough to apprentice with two freelance commercial artists.  I learned a great deal from them.  From that point on I was always trying to do art or calligraphy in some form or fashion.
Eventually I came to Dallas and after years of developing my letter forms was finally able to do lettering full time. I did all kinds of lettering jobs.  One involved hand painted posters for hotels including the Fairmont and all the Marriotts in the Dallas area. That was BEFORE digital printing. Then I had my two sons and decided to focus on raising them.  As I'm sure you well know, when you work for yourself, your time is not your own. There are always clients who need it NOW or add to the project at the last became harder to manage that and raise my sons so I took a hiatus from my lettering business.  When my youngest was a junior in high school I started up again. But it wasn't long before my hand skills were sharp again.  That was 7 years ago.
2. How did you decide to come up with your own font? It seems like an impossible task! 
Like you, I have always done a lot of work for weddings.  Calligraphy is very labor intensive. It always made me sad when a bride would love the look of calligraphy but didn't have it in her budget to use it for as many things as she'd like.  So I thought if I could create a calligraphy font, I could offer that to the brides allowing them to have the look they want for less.  I was lucky to find a seasoned font designer [Brian Bonislawsky] who was willing to partner up with me.  I do all the designing and create the actual letter forms, flourishes and ornaments and he makes them digital. Both fonts took about 6 months to make.  It's a lot of work.  And I had a full work load of projects going on at the same time so that's why it took so long.
3. Please tell our readers what inspired you in the conception and eventual design of "Bellucia" and "Dom Loves Mary" fonts. 
Belluccia is named for my mother, aunt and uncle ( her brother and sister)  who were all artistic and encouraged me to develop my skills from a young age. My uncle was actually an artist in the Air Force.  They've all passed away so it was wonderful to create something in their honor. Bellucci was the family name but there was already a font with that name so I just added an "a".  In addition to beautiful penmanship, my mother was an artist, writer and had a beautiful singing voice.  The classic but whimsical style of Belluccia reminds me of the lilt in her voice when she would sing around the house.  
Dom Loves Mary was inspired by my in-laws Dominic and Mary Sementelli. They were opposites, as many couples are, whose personalities complimented each other's.  They've both passed as well.  In the last month's of Mary's life I spent time with her looking through photos of when they were courting and saw the beautiful black and white pics in their wedding album.  She had such a sparkle in her talking about the love of her life.  To her last days she thought she was " a lucky gal" to have been married to my father-in-law.  I was so touched by their long lasting love that I decided to honor them with a font that represented how they were "made for each other".  So the Dom Loves Mary Script is in memory of Mary and the Dom Loves Mary Text is for Dom. They are meant to go together just like Dom and Mary did in their beautiful life together.  The style is very classic, inspired by those black and white wedding photographs and the 1940's and 50's when they courted and married.
4. Were you surprised at the reception and success of "Bellucia"?
I was over the moon thrilled with it!  It made all the lists you could only hope a font would make...the Rising Stars, Best Sellers and Most Popular fonts of 2011. It's a lot of work to create a font.  If Belluccia hadn't had any success, I may not have created the second one.  I'm even more thrilled that is has stayed on the Best Sellers list for 19 months!
Today's Spotlight: Deb Sementelli of Lettering Art Studio
5. How has "Dom Loves Mary" been received so far? 
I'm happy to say, Belluccia's little sister has also made the Rising Stars and Best Sellers list and continues to do well.  So, with this encouragement, I am already working on another font :)
Today's Spotlight: Deb Sementelli of Lettering Art Studio
6. Any advice for the brave, up and coming font designer out there? 
Well I think the most important thing is to understand the work that goes into making a good font.  In addition to the hand lettering, you have to either learn how to do the technical part ( that involves a program called FontLab) or find a seasoned font designer who is willing to work with you. It's also helpful to understand that just because you release a font, that doesn't mean it will sell. In any given month there may be 400 new fonts released.  So you have to look at why you want to create fonts and who you want to make them for?
I'm focused on the wedding market because that's what I know most about.  I have continued to take on regular projects while I make fonts because until you get a large number of fonts in your foundry, it's not financially feasible to just design fonts.  I'd like to get there some day but for now I'm still testing to see if I can create font styles that I like and people want to use.
7. Let our readers know the best way to purchase your fonts. I am setting up an Etsy shop ( Lettering Art Studio) to sell my fonts there but until that is open, they can go to my website  Check out the pics of both fonts in use and then click on "Purchase My Fonts".
Before I go, I want to say thank you to you, Christy, for being such a supporter of my work.  It means a great deal when calligraphers and designers you respect like your fonts enough to share information about them.  It's people like you who have added to the fonts succeeding.  So thanks from the bottom of my heart!

The pleasure is all mine Deb! Congrats on your success and the new Etsy shop and good luck with Dom Loves Mary.

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