logo.666f451251327ad507cba9476f77eab9ebec74c9.png

CULTURE & LIVING

These Instagram creators are reviving the lost art of handwritten letters

Put down those emoji-laden text messages and allow these creative artists to reacquaint you with the charm of a handwritten letter instead

BY HASINA KHATIB

17 NOVEMBER 2021

In a world governed by instant gratification, it comes as little surprise that our communication needs are fuelled by superlatives. It isn’t enough for a texting app to simply deliver our messages to the intended recipients; it has to be the fastest, speediest, most instant service to do so—or risk becoming obsolete by dawn. And with every new algorithm update, Silicon Valley executives are conspiring to make our lives more seamlessly connected than ever. Against the backdrop of lightning-fast messages, taking the time to pen your feelings down on paper might seem like a protracted, time-consuming endeavour—and it is this very factor that makes handwritten letters a nostalgia-tinted salve for the fractured lives we lead. But if your handwriting isn’t quite what it used to be in your grade school days, fret not, for a new host of creators are willing to do the heavy-lifting for you. From creative snail mail to decorative calligraphy, meet the Instagram creatives who are ensuring that handwritten letters are no longer lodged in the remit of tea-sipping grand dames.

Meet the Instagram creators who are reviving handwritten letters

Taking the time to put pen to paper will always make for a treasured souvenir, but for those looking to go the extra mile for a personal milestone, a new crop of calligraphy artists are willing to make your message as special as the person receiving it. Just ask Sanjana Chatlani, founder of The Bombay Lettering Company, who has previously worked for Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas’s star-studded nuptials. The unique, one-of-a-kind nature of handwritten letters means that they usually serve as the answer for clients who come to her with the question, “What can we get someone who already has everything?” She elaborates, “We live in a digitised world where everyone’s craving that personal touch. The rarity of handwritten letters is what makes it special—since people are always on the go, receiving a gesture like this can be so precious.”

The process of commissioning a handwritten letter can be as detailed as you’d like it to be, from the texture of the paper to the colour of the ink used. After creating a rough draft, you’ll receive the option to add floral illustrations or other decorative elements. Once the letter has been finalised, you can choose to have it inserted in an envelope sealed with wax, folded into a scroll with silk ribbons or even choose to have it framed. Chatlani recalls, “One of the most memorable letters I’ve written is a series of notes that a mother wanted to write for her daughter when she gave birth to her. The notes were broken into 26 small letters and placed inside a monogrammed teakwood box with the intention that her daughter would read them as she grew over the years.” In order to ensure that the letters would stand the test of time, Chatlani worked towards designing the items in a way that would increase their longevity.

The art of handwritten letters has also received an unexpected impetus during the pandemic, reveals calligraphy artist Pooja Dubey who goes by the moniker, The Write House 2020 on Instagram. Having started calligraphy as a hobby, she was inspired to make the move from gift tags and place cards to handwritten letters as a consequence of the pandemic. She recounts, “One day, a client inquired if I could write a letter for her best friend whom she hadn’t seen for the past two years because of the ongoing situation. As the letter progressed, I felt more and more connected to the words I was writing—almost like I was becoming a part of their story.” While the market is still niche, she believes that the pandemic-induced travel restrictions have done much to further its cause. “Ever since, we have been receiving more requests from overseas clients who wish to pen their love for family and friends they have not been able to meet. Connecting people who can’t be physically present with each other through the medium of paper is one of the things that makes my job feel truly worth it,” she says.