When you arrive at an event embellished by Denver calligrapher Hannah Howard, you’re greeted by a handwritten welcome, rendered in lyrical, looping script.

“For me, calligraphy is a way to say there’s a place for you; that you’ve been thought of before you even showed up,” says Howard, who began honing her organic lettering style in college, later perfecting it while working as a stylist and event designer in Louisiana. When she landed in Colorado two years ago and entertained the idea of launching her own calligraphy and styling studio, Ink & Root, she made a pleasant discovery: Denver had saved a place for her. “My style is a bit more modern and whimsical than some of the other [local] calligraphers,” she says, “which is why a lot of people told me to [start my own business].”

Through Ink & Root, Howard styles events, hosts creative workshops, and graces wedding invitations, signs, and the like with her signature expressive script. “These days, people are wanting something less fancy and more inviting,” Howard says of her style, which bends the rules of traditional calligraphy, for which every letter must march along at a 45-degree angle. Howard’s hand, by contrast, flaunts delightfully irregular loops and lines. It’s just the kind of unfussy (yet special) touch that makes guests feel welcome—and that’s the point. Because for Howard, calligraphy is just an “act of showing love through art.”

Photo courtesy of Maria Levitov

Beyond the Envelope

Think calligraphy is just for wedding invitations? Hannah Howard has other ideas. Here, her tips for bringing stylish script (either from a pro or your own hand) into your home’s decor.

Personalize accessories and gifts. Using a colored acrylic marker (Howard favors the DecoColor brand, in gold), embellish everyday items and gifts—think backpacks, journals, and coffee mugs—with your kids’ or friends’ names or initials.
Write a mirror message. Using a white acrylic marker (and a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser for any mistakes), pen a favorite quote or message on a mirror in your home. “It’s such an easy and affordable way to incorporate calligraphy into your space,” Howard says.
Spruce up casual dinners. Simple touches, such as place cards for your guests or a sign announcing the evening’s meal, are “great ways to add a bit more thoughtfulness to your table.”
Hand-letter a chalkboard wall. “If you’re hesitant to cover a whole wall with chalkboard paint,” Howard says, “paint
one square and hang a frame around it.” Use the space to display a menu board or family schedule for the week.