headshot of Lisa Hedge, Founder & Creative Director

Creator Spotlight: Lisa Hedge of Venamour & Ensemble Studio

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Nothing inspires us more than creatives who pursue their passions and leave the comfort and predictability of their full-time jobs to launch their own ventures. Lisa Hedge is this person: a brilliant Creative Director who has always been passionate about print and the power of analog (despite — or perhaps as a result of — her highly digital experience). Hedge launched the creative design studio Ensemble with fellow art director, Vanessa Saba, and founded Venamour, “a stationery design studio for printed matters of the heart” for wedding ephemera and soirée papers.

screenshot of an instagram post from @venamour with the caption #extraextra

Lisa’s portfolio doesn’t just sound good “on paper” (her credentials include art direction for brands like Warby Parker and J.Crew): the work she is doing with Venamour and Ensemble makes her an inspirational force in print’s revival.

Follow Lisa’s updates and latest projects for both her ventures, on @venamour and @ensemble_studio.

1. WHO WAS YOUR FIRST CREATOR/INNOVATOR CRUSH? WHO HAS BEEN THE MOST INFLUENTIAL TO YOUR CREATIVE APPROACH?

When I first saw Ed Ruscha’s typographic drawings and paintings in college, I was really transfixed. I was pursuing a studio arts degree with a drawing focus, and it was perhaps the first time that I got really wrapped up in typography and saw a bridge between fine art and design.

 

2. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL DESIGN AESTHETIC?

screenshot of an instagram post from ensemble_studio with the caption Pretty papers for @saipua soaps. Photographed by @scottie_cameron #ensemblestudio #saipua

I like to think that my design aesthetic is always changing, but there are of course things that I strive to achieve throughout my work. While I love polished and orderly typography, I’m also very drawn to artful and expressive uses of color, pattern, ornament, dynamic compositions, etc. I always try to be sensitive to the smallest of details without losing sight of the overall picture, as it’s the sum of many parts that comprise a visual aesthetic. More generally, I like design that finds novel ways of looking at familiar things, presenting the recognizable in a new context and therefore enabling us to see things differently.

The intersection of two unique points of view makes every project a convergence of ideas and attitudes reflective of both designer and client, and always requires me to work in a way that both challenges and reinforces my sense of design.

3. WE LOVE THE NAME, VENAMOUR — WHAT WAS YOUR THOUGHT PROCESS WHEN YOU CHOSE IT FOR YOUR WEDDING STATIONERY / PAPER GOODS COMPANY?

screenshot of an instagram post from venamour with the caption Paper trail.

When naming the business, I got wrapped up in the Latin expression “vena amoris” (which means “vein of love”) and an old folktale that tells the origin story of the engagement ring. I wanted a name that could build its own meaning over time, and now I just like that the word “enamour/enamor” is tucked in there, considering all of the papers are designed for amorous purposes for the most part.

4. AS MUCH AS WE LOVE DIGITAL, WE SHARE A LOVE FOR ALL THINGS ANALOG AND PAPER MATTER. IN THIS ERA OF E-VITES AND E-“SAVE THE DATES,” WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT PAPER GOODS AND EPHEMERA?

screenshot of an instagram post from venamour with the caption eclipse afterglow / illuminations on paper for @annaeullman

I think it’s mostly a love for materials and getting to work with your hands. It’s also very rewarding to see the sum of your creative decisions realized in a tactile product. So many of our everyday experiences are mediated by digital interactions, so getting to work with paper always feels like an indulgence. I love learning about the nuances of paper as a material: the subtitles of texture based on the composition of the fibers; color possibilities via printed floods or pulp dyed in the papermaking process, etc. A paper’s attributes make it suited for particular production methods, so it’s fascinating to learn about the limitations and possibilities.

An email is sometimes the most effective way to get a point across, but when it comes to wedding papers, I think that the symbolic weight and keepsake quality of luxurious papers counts for a lot.

5. WE’VE NOTICED THAT WEDDING SEASON IS CURRENTLY AN ALL-YEAR-ROUND THING, AND NO LONGER STRICTLY A SUMMER OCCASION. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS?

screenshot of an instagram post from venamour with the caption Flo & Gus #invitationsuite

Fall or winter weddings can be really stunning. The interiority of the fall and winter seasons encourages us to crave closeness with loved ones, cozy candlelight, and decadent feasts. So perhaps the less obvious wedding months are on the rise for intimate or opulent gatherings.

6. WHAT PAPER MATTER IS CURRENTLY TACKED TO YOUR VISION BOARD IN YOUR STUDIO, OR FILED AWAY AS SOUVENIRS THAT YOU CHERISH?

screenshot of an instagram post from venamour with the caption Un-archiving old piles

I do have a habit of hoarding all kinds of paper goods and leaving stacks of miscellaneous papers all over my studio. I keep a large library of printed matter, as production references always come in handy. I have a couple of shoeboxes filled with hundreds of wedding invitations from the early twentieth century that I bought on eBay for inspiration. And I definitely cherish some of the first invitations that I designed, which were for my sister’s wedding. I still have the envelope and contents that were addressed to me, along with some pressed lavender from the rehearsal dinner and my personalized menu card.

7. WHAT SET OFF YOUR LIGHT BULB — THE MOMENT YOU KNEW IT WAS TIME TO PURSUE YOUR DREAM OF OPENING UP YOUR OWN DESIGN STUDIO, AND TAKING THAT ENTREPRENEURIAL LEAP?

It felt like the right time to take the risk. I think I recognized that I wanted to become far more intimate with a particular area of design, and creating a business around it would be a way to do that. As much as I loved the dynamic of working at a larger agency, I knew that I had to be all in and try my luck. Aside from the wedding business, I also partner in a design studio called Ensemble with another art director, which enables us to work with other business owners and a very different clientele than Venamour’s.
screenshot of an instagram post from ensemble_studio with the caption www.ensemble-nyc.com

8. WE LOVE THAT YOU’RE SEMI-OBSESSED WITH FONTS AND TYPEFACES (WE ARE TOO!) WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE FONTS — THE ONES THAT SPEAK TO YOU, RESONATE WITH YOU, AND TRIGGER THAT EMOTIONAL FEELING?

Yes, fonts! I do love typography, particularly Renaissance-era and tried-and-true Old Style typefaces like Caslon. The Venamour logo is a heavyweight Caslon, and I love the drama of weighted serifs with heavy contrast. With Ensemble, Vanessa (my partner) and I have to rationalize type to our clients as part of any branding project, and it’s always an interesting exercise to try and excavate your emotional reaction to type and articulate what you find exciting about a particular typeface.

9. WHERE DO YOU FIND EVERYDAY INSPIRATION?

That’s a good question! I try to find a separation between work, and when I’m seeking out inspiration. Otherwise, I can daydream far too much, and I’ll be digging out a sketchpad instead of writing emails and making purchase orders. This year I’ve been trying to seek new forms of knowledge to stay inspired. I’ve taken cooking classes, a political theory course (which was way over my head), language classes, a painting workshop, and figure drawing classes. I’ve been finding inspiration by putting myself back into the role of a novice, which is a departure from the attitude you have to maintain as a business owner — where you have to tell yourself (often) that you know what you’re doing.

10. JUST FOR FUN, COMPLETE THIS SENTENCE: ”OTHER THAN MY PHONE, I NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT…”

Probably my studio keys. I love being there so I’m easily lured back, even if it’s not on the agenda.

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