Meet Brittany Hampton, a Portland based Invitation and Chalkboard Designer. She owns Letters & Dust and has found herself creating some of the most incredible wedding suites and signage in the Northwest. She has an eye for style and perfection. You can find her work on Instagram at @lettersanddust and her website at www.lettersanddust.com. You can learn a little more about her in this Q&A:
In three words or three small phrases, who are you?
In three words I would say that I am observant, practical, and creative
What piqued your interest in invitation and chalkboard design?
After I had graduated with my design degree I discovered quickly how many amazing designers live in Portland and that the job market was very saturated. I landed an internship with Nimbi Design where this whole new world of design was opened up to me—I had never thought about the fact that wedding invitations and paper goods are "designed", and I loved the creative freedom in being able to choose any theme and create beautiful pieces that would be treasured by couples tying the knot! The chalkboards and signs had the same appeal, but I also love the added urgency in that they are not permanent, you have to say good bye to the artwork which makes it that much more special.
Before you were Letters & Dust, you were BHDesign. Why the change?
I have a practical reason for the name change—getting married! I plan on changing my last name and didn't want to create confusion with my brand. I also felt that Letters and Dust really conveyed where I wanted to take my business, which was doing much more custom sign work as well as chalk murals and sidewalk art projects. Not that I don't love the paper goods, I still do them very frequently, there is just much more joy for me in creating with my hands and again the non permanence of chalk I find very alluring.
What are your favorite kinds of design projects so far?
I do love my chalk work, but lately I have also been doing wood signs as well as mirrors and glass. I particularly love when people come to me looking for unique ideas for displaying information such as creative ways to display table numbers, or writing on leaves and leather. I also love a challenge, like creating intricate designs in small spaces or conversely, filling a space with a large-scale design.
Any projects you've been dying to do but haven't yet?
I would love to do some agate slice calligraphy! I love seeing this concept on pinterest and I really want to try my hand at it—I am also hoping to find a way to do an agate / marbling concept with chalk, it's still in the planning stages but I think I am about ready to test it out! I also have yet to do a portable chalk wall for a wedding, which I would love to do this summer if possible, just looking for the right couple to say "I do" to lots of chalk!
From friends and family, to actual designers, who inspires your work?
Like most other creatives, pinterest is a huge resource to me for inspiration, but in terms of people who inspire me—it's always my clients. Working in the wedding industry, I think it is very natural to form a relationship with the clients as well as other vendors working with you to create this vision that the couple has created. I love my unique clients who think their ideas sound crazy but are looking for beautiful execution and to bring a touch of who they really are to such a significant day in their lives. That is what I am inspired by, people who truly know themselves and are not afraid to step outside the norm to create something really lasting and inspiring with something as commonplace as a wedding.
Do you do the planning and design yourself?
Currently I am a one woman operation—hopefully soon that will change and I can hand off some tasks to others who are more qualified than I. In terms of chalkboards and paper goods, I do all the brainstorming, research as well as conceptual planning for what I am going to create. I love the planning stage to be honest, that is where I really start getting excited for a project.
Any pre-wedding rituals?
For me it's all about planning for the Oregon weather on the day of a wedding! I'll wake up, check what the weather is going to do as well as if the wedding venue is inside or outside and start taking proper precautions for transporting goods to the venue. I have mastered the art of stacking chalkboards so that they don't smear each other, as well as wrapping them to protect them from rain if there is a short walk to the venue. Short of that, I always get coffee, triple check spelling on the boards, and then send positive vibes to the happy couple.
Why Community over Competition?
Portland is so diverse in it's culture and the everyone here is so unique that it only makes sense to value community over competition. I have no problem referring couples to other chalkboard artists knowing that they are looking for a specific style that I may not be as strong at, and I would much rather they be happy with the end result knowing that I was happy to refer them elsewhere rather than try to keep their business and not have the result be what they were looking for. All the vendors I have worked with here have their mentality that we are all in the same boat and there is plenty of business for everyone—it's much more about lifting us all up rather than keeping anyone down which is why I love it as much as I do. Everyone feels like extended family and everyone has their special style which means there is a vendor for every couple no matter what they are looking for.
What is your dream or vision for Letters & Dust?
I started Letters and Dust honestly because I couldn't find my dream in-house graphic design job that I thought I wanted, now I get to have limitless creativity that I am being paid for and working in my own house! For me I feel like my dreams have come true in this regard, but in a grander scheme of things, I would love to have a few employees to handle aspects of business that I am not as strong at, as well as some other designers to free up a bit of my time as well as allow me to take on more clients. Basically I want Letters and Dust to be without limits, where I never have to turn clients away due to overbooking, as well as be able to expand my client base to other states—I wouldn't say no to doing chalk art in hawaii!
You're getting married this October! What have you learned about wedding planning from this other perspective?
One lesson I have really taken from working in the industry before experiencing my own wedding is that weddings are most successful when you are true to what you want it to be. I have seen many clients pressured by friends, family, traditional standards and the like, where they have ended up unhappy with the actual result because it is not what they wanted. One thing my fiancee and I have been very clear with each other on is what we want, what we don't want, and that we are not going to compromise for what others expect of us. I have also gained a renewed respect for the vendors I have worked with and now have them working for me—I really sought out the vendors that I knew would take my vision and also bring their own style to their service without me feeling the need to micro manage. I believe woking with the vendors that you really vibe with and that you feel you can talk to anytime as a client or friend are the ones you really want to work with. Most of my wedding day will be a surprise to me, which I find much more exciting than having a hand in everything. Lastly, don't bite off more than you can chew! Being that I do paper goods and signs for other clients led me to grand DIY dreams of what I can do for my wedding...now I am thinking it may be easier to just hire someone! I have many projects that as of now may or may not happen based on my own availability and I am trying to be more realistic with my expectations of myself and what I will contribute to our wedding.
From a vendor's perspective, what is the most important piece of advice you have for brides?
From the clients I have worked with, I think the most important advice I could give them is to enjoy the process. Things happen and rarely does everything go to plan and the more you can be ok with this truth then the more enjoyable everything will be. You spend so much time and energy in planning this event that will be over before you know it, and you should be able to look back on it with fondness rather than remembering all the little things that went wrong. Yes there will be things that are stressful, but you are getting married—at the end of the day what matters is that you are with the ones you love and saying "I do" so that special person. Everything else is just an added bonus.