This article is by Carolyn Henderson, the managing half of Steve Henderson Fine Art. She is a Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews and her freelance writing appears in regional newspapers, online magazines, and her humor blog, Middle-Aged Plague.
I’m an e-mail person: it’s quick, fast, instantaneous, easy and free. What’s not to like?
Sometimes, however, e-mail won’t suffice, and you find yourself having to write a real letter, on paper, that you send through the mail with a stamp. With a few taps of the keyboard, five minutes concentration, and some decent paper, you can create a customized letterhead for your art business that looks like something you order, and pay for, one ream at a time.
You don’t though – purchase 500 pre-made sheets all at once. When you create your own letterhead on your computer you’re free to change fonts, size, contact information, even color – but you look like a “real” business with “real” stationery, which is good, because that’s what you are.
This is what our letterhead looks like (1)– I use it on all correspondence, Steve’s résumé, bios and artist statements, presentation sheets – basically any written communication that generates from our business. If you’re remotely familiar with your word processing program (and you haven’t done this yet), then you’ll wonder what’s taken you so long. If you’re not so adept with your word processing program, then this is a great way to practice.
First, your name, or that of your business. I like to put it on the left in a large, bold, generally sans serif font, this latter term basically meaning that the type is smooth without any extra squiggies, loops, or short, decorative lines at the start or finish at the stroke of the letters. Arial, Eras, and Franklin Gothic are examples of sans serif fonts – check them out by looking in the toolbar at the top of your word processing program; in Microsoft Word, there is a dropdown menu on the Home page that lists the font and its size.
You can also use a serifed font (think Times New Roman, Garamond, or Georgia), or something handwritten looking or scriptlike, or funky, or old fashioned – just make sure it’s readable and try to not get overly adorably cute. The purpose of a letterhead is to put, in one easy to locate and read spot, all of the salient information about you so that you can be easily contacted. I incorporate website, e-mail, phone number, and physical address.
To get the line between the name at the top and the information below, you can either hit the shift and underline keys simultaneously, or better yet, go to Insert or its equivalent in the bar at the top of your software program (I use Microsoft Word 2007 on one computer and 2010 on another), click Shapes, and choose Lines. You’ll get the equivalent of a large plus sign that you left click on and drag to the right until it’s long enough.
That’s it. Save the document, and every time you want to write something using your letterhead, call up a previous document in which you used it and copy and paste the letterhead into your new, yet unnamed file.
While you can use the basic $5 a ream all purpose stuff that’s always on sale for $2 as long as you send in your receipt and assorted documentation (I just pay the $5), for a little more you can pick up something of increased quality – linen, or parchment, or granite – in pale peach or blinding white or stately ivory; when I ran a résumé business I had more women gravitate toward subdued pink. Think classy, and that’ll take care of any temptation you have about lime green.
The paper may or may not have a watermark – generally a sign of higher quality – which you can find by holding up a single sheet to the light and looking for it, usually the paper manufacturer’s name. If there is a watermark, take the extra ten seconds to find it and ensure that, when your document prints, the watermark isn’t upside down or reversed. I know – it’s highly unlikely that your recipient will do this, but it’s a small, intimate detail of accuracy that people like me actually care about.
Next week: little extras you can add to your letterhead – logos, signatures, and images of your paintings.
(1) Your editor removed the address and phone number line to protect their privacy.