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Article: Artist's Work Is Letter Perfect

by Laurie Gordon
as seen in the New Jersey Herald, February 2004

Calligraphy is the art of beautiful writing, and no one takes it more seriously than Kathy Milici, owner of 24 Karat Designs Calligraphy Studio in Newton. This year marks her 25th anniversary as a Sussex County artist and teacher.

"I didn't really choose calligraphy, I believe it chose me," says Milici, who has been fascinated with letters and letterforms since early childhood. Her career goes back to 1974. At 17, she provided a calligraphy banner for the holiday edition of the NJ Herald as part of
an art project at Sussex Tech, her alma mater. By the age of 19, she was a full-blown professional, hand-rendering private commissions and teaching in area adult night school programs.

Today, Milici believes that personalized service and special client care is the key. "In this high-tech, high speed world, the human touch is so unexpected and appreciated. Calligraphy is such an honest and pure art form, an ancient form of communication still appropriate and beautiful in these modern times."

"With the recent increase in popularity and availability of computerized calligraphy, I was a bit concerned for my business. For me, it has turned out to be a real plus! Although there is a market for the computerized fonts, a large number of people go out of their way to find someone to do hand-rendered calligraphy, especially for weddings. They want the style, warmth and personality of a real spirit behind the work." She knows that one well cared for customer is worth thousands of dollars in advertising.

24 Karat Designs specializes in hand rendered calligraphy of all kinds; wedding envelopes, place cards, menus, seating charts, award certificates, birth and marriage certificates, wedding vows, framed poetry, customized pieces, and commissioned work. "Any idea that is
thought, spoken or written can be done in calligraphy. Words are a powerful and wonderful form of expression," Milici says.

Her studio is filled with hundreds of wedding envelopes waiting to be addressed for clients, and rough drafts of original calligraphy pieces commissioned by county residents. "It's my full-time business and my life's passion," says Milici, She reminds herself daily to "stay
positive, be super organized, and balance and pace myself."

In 2003, Milici's work was chosen for the cover of Sussex County magazine, in celebration of the county's 250th anniversary. This summer, from July through September, her work can be seen in an exhibition called "The Spirit of Success", as part of the Sussex County Arts and Heritage Council's salute to local residents who have been educated in Sussex County, and chosen their career, their life and their work in the community. Her work will be on display at the Public Gallery, Sussex County Judicial Building, High Street, Newton, NJ. Along with the Sussex County Chamber of Commerce, she is also a member of the Greater Newton Chamber of Commerce, and the Sussex County Arts and Heritage Council.

Beginning this summer and into the fall, Milici will return to teaching, offering classes in the Continuing Education Program at Sussex County Community College. "There are so many people who are interested in learning calligraphy now. I believe that people are longing for a simpler and slower pace of life. Calligraphy is much slower than handwriting and can have a very meditative quality about it. It has great, practical every day use and anyone can learn."

With a busy, full-time calligraphy business and design studio, there are always exciting projects on the horizon. This year she will begin production on a teaching video, a new line of greeting cards, and an expanded website design. "I believe that everyone is blessed with uniqueness and creativity, in one form or another. I am ever grateful for the opportunity to share my talent in service to the community."