The cursive beauty of a simpler time
To accompany calligrapher Meredith Langer on a walk through Kennett Square is to see her aesthetic influence on the town.
Her work is everywhere: The sign above Mala Galleria is hers. The script font logo of Nomadic Pies? Hers. Signage at the Farmers Market, or on sandwich boards, or advertising special events? All hers.
“My work is an answer to the pushback many in our contemporary society feel that believes we need to get back to that way of life,” said Langer, 29, who has operated Merely Mere, her calligraphy company, on a full-time basis since 2015. “There is something nostalgic about taking that extra moment and writing a handwritten sentence. It's very simple and beautiful, and it means so much more than just receiving a text message.”
After graduating in 2006 from Sanford School in Hockessin, Langer – who grew up in Chadds Ford – majored in art at the University of Mary Washington in Fredricksburg, Va., where she took classes in drawing in various mediums, with a focus on textiles, photography, and theater design.
During college, she took a summer job at the then newly opened Terrain at Styers in Glen Mills, and continued to work there during the next few summers. If college served as a place of art training, then Terrain became her artistic baptism, one that merged art and commerce. In her seven years there, Langer created special events, pop-up shops, and organized road shows for the company, while also serving as its special projects manager.
Tapping into her education, she also became Terrain's resident sign maker, and quickly developed a signature style of sharp and readable lettering.
While at Styers, she first dipped her ink pen into calligraphy, using a paintbrush and canvas to develop a roadside sign promoting an upcoming wedding. Using the wedding invitation as a guide, Langer copied the fonts, letter by letter. She read books about calligraphy, and watched online tutorials. Slowly, what had once been just another part of her expanding capacity at Terrain was becoming a true skill.
“I began to discover the nuances of each letter, and what gives each letter its own identity,” she said. “For instance, where the down stroke was thicker, and how big the loop was in the letter 'e.' I was becoming inspired.”
Langer's experience at Styers served as a natural springboard for Merely Mere, her company that she began while still at Terrain. Her calligraphy is not just limited to invitations. She burns her words into several other mediums, such as leather used for custom-made bags, as well as custom signage, invitations, cyanotypes, wood burnings, and design work for weddings, special events and storefronts.
It's an add-on to an already busy calendar that, in the past year, has also included coordinating the holiday pop-up shop on State Street in Kennett Square, and organizing the Kennett Holiday Village Market at the Creamery this past December.
The basis of Langer's talents – and her business – is found in her constant tinkering with the tools of her trade. There is discovery, she said, in testing angles and finding new curvatures in each image.
“It's about tweaking and changing, and exploring each letter in order to increase its legibility, but also it's being able to make each letter more playful,” she said. “It's very romantic when you finally get the angles right, when it's flowing and things are moving and the you have the right paper, the best ink and the perfect paper.”
To learn more about Meredith Langer, visit her Facebook page, “Merely Mere,” her website at www.merelymere.com, Instagram at @merelymere, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, e-mail email@example.com.