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Meet Addie Mae Weiss of White on White

Today we’d like to introduce you to Addie Mae Weiss.

Addie Mae, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
In my childhood, I was immersed in traditions and hospitality. Growing up in Atlanta, Georgia. My mom would regularly use our china and silver because beauty should be part of the everyday. Adding to this beauty, we benefitted from travel visiting museums, the ballet, and theater. Mom was big on teaching rules of etiquette not to be stuffy, but to minimize awkward moments. Etiquette is a great equalizer, if everyone knows the process, we enjoy the moment and each other’s company for the good and interesting things each person brings to the conversation, not their faux pas. I love literature and how words connect and the meanings they evoke and went on to major in English and Political Science. Looking back, I was drawn to the stories about people in the history lessons and legal cases more than the rule of law and ultimately Law school wasn’t the best fit for me so I needed to find my passion.

I do not have a traditional graphic design background, but my range of experiences give me a good sense of what goes together when looking at typography, spacing, colors, and textures. I’ve always had an affinity towards beautiful papers from spectacular marbled Florentine papers to the simple feel of a thick all cotton paper. The leaps in graphic design computer software technology have provided me tools to create beautiful invitations. The invitation introduces an event and each event is a story unfolding. I’ve found my passion working with clients to discover their personalities and collaborate to create a custom design to introduce their special life event.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Any small business person who claims a smooth road is asleep at the wheel – the bumps force you to correct for the better. When I began my invitation business in 2005 the typical stationer invested thousands in albums of stationery and invitation designs. I had shelves of albums to show clients and we would pick something and then work to creatively personalize it by tweaking a font or little motif from the various company offerings and printing options were limited to engraving, thermography or offset printing (similar to screen printing with each color printed separately).

Big changes in digital technology for photography, graphic design and printing changed the look of invitations and also how people created and purchased invitations. Suddenly a world of invitations with photography printed on them changed the holiday and birth announcement market and online options also changed the way people purchased invitations. The online competition put many of the companies I carried out of business. It paved the way for me to really take stock in what I loved about invitations and learn the design part from soup to nuts.

Paper is the ultimate foundation of a special invitation. With amazing software advances, I am able to create and have control over every detail of my design. The internet has opened direct contact with a world of suppliers of beautiful tactile feel papers and printers for each job whether it is the classic hand-craftsmanship of engraving and letterpress or technically detailed thermography and high-resolution digital.

White on White – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I think of each event as a story to be told with the invitation akin to the artwork on a book’s cover. A good design pulls you in and peaks your interest to pick it up the book wanting to learn more. Creating the right tone with an invitation to introduce guests to the event and the individuals hosting the event involves a partnership with my clients. I don’t just ask clients their favorite colors and fonts, but converse with them to learn about the setting and the people involved with the event to ensure we hit the right tone.

In working with clients to learn about their event we craft their narrative. This creative thinking often helps with creation of a logo or motif for the invitation but can go beyond the invitation and is used in multiple ways such as making their wedding website interesting for guests by providing background information on why a certain flower was chosen, why certain colors were picked, why a venue was picked.

Weddings, bar/bat mitzvahs, graduations and similar life events are special celebrations and no solo detail makes the day memorable. I have a great number of talented colleagues in the industry such as musicians, event planners, florists, officiants, photographers, videographers, calligraphists, cake pastry chefs, caterers, DJs, decorators, lighting designers and other creative talents with whom I’m often communicating to help carry through a theme and ensure the people at the event enjoy the celebration and the people being celebrated shine.

Where do you see your industry going over the next 5-10 years?  Any big shifts, changes, trends, etc?
My tagline is “created with timeless artistry” and I strive to live up to this with every job. Trends are always present, there have been eras of bling with lots of rhinestones and buckles which made postage a challenge, as well as eras of burlap and rustic chic. Irrespective of trends, I look at each design and image if it were framed would I still be happy with it 20 years or more from now? Weddings particularly invite trend because they have entire magazines and fashion devoted to the concept. This guiding principle was recently tested when a client recently showed me a picture of her own wedding invitation framed in the same frame alongside both her daughter’s invitations. I had worked with each of her daughters on their invitation design roughly a year apart. The shapes and style of each were both uniquely their own and fit the tone of the different wedding venues as well as all the other details which make weddings memorable. Importantly they each held their own side-by-side and looked beautiful together.

The world of smartphones and online shopping and communication has changed things. And while I do work long distance with clients via email, seeing colors and feeling papers can’t happen in a cyberspace. For long-distance clients, I frequently end up mailing a sample of the materials after they are narrowed down. But it is wonderful when I can sit in person with a client in my design studio and have access to hundreds of samples of ribbons, printing types and paper colors, textures, patterns to choose from. I often think what I do is akin to “paper architecture,” especially when multiple layers are involved and paper thickness and overall measurements are calculated. Artistry is involved to realize that eighth in the border on the computer screen needs to be slightly wider at the sides than top to make the two-dimensional concept visually look correct when executed in three-dimension paper layers. And it is life experience which is utilized when working to create an original design that conforms to postal standards.

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Image Credit:

Corinna Raznikov Photography , Happy Gatherings

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