As most of you know, I love creative people, I am fascinated by the creative thought process and I applaud people that have the courage to always step outside their comfort box and to keep “pushing the envelope” so to speak.
Rajiv Surendra is a 27-year-old Toronto native that runs a calligraphy business called Letters in Ink. He now lives in New York and is actually a very much in demand calligrapher, whose uniquely atmospheric old world style graces the menu boards and shop windows of many of the city’s chicest stores and restaurants. The self taught artist has learned first hand the power of the beautifully penned word in this digital age.
In this month’s (March) issue of House Beautiful, please take a look at his amazing artwork in the home of designer Garrow Kedigian. Rajiv has created a “writing room” in chalk!
The chalk “writing room” in Garrow Kedigian’s home in Montreal. Photo courtesy of House Beautiful.
Mr. Surendra’s laptop is an 18th century rosewood writing desk, the kind of portable writing desk that was used in a different time. Within his desk are straight pens with hard metal nibs, glass wells of ink and creamy cards and envelopes from Lalo of Paris. There is also a handwritten letter from the Duchess of Devonshire in response to a missive Surendra sent inquiring about her chickens.
“I can’t tell you how many CEOs and high-level people I have approached by sending them a handwritten letter rather than an email, and the letter goes right to their desk,” says Surendra. “So many people I have written to told me that they have framed the letter, it was so beautiful. When I was 14 years old, I sent a letter to Martha Stewart and she got right back to me”.
In terms of the restaurant chalkboard work, Rajiv says. “I would eat at the restaurants and go up to the owner and say, ‘Hey, can I rewrite your chalkboard?,'” says Surendra, who lives on the Upper West Side.
As a kid, his parents let him draw on the walls of their home. By age 10, he was copying handwritten letters from the 1800s that his parents brought him from museum gift shops.
A side note – if Rajiv looks familiar, it might be because he starred as Kevin G., the rapping mathlete in the 2004 classic Mean Girls.
Rajiv Surendra, doing his rap in the Winter Talent Show as the cocky calculus nerd MC Kevin Gnapoor in Mean Girls.
Working on signs for restaurants such as Sanagans Meat Locker in Toronto.
Working on an installation for Moor restaurant in Orlando, Florida.
His new business cards are absolutely beautiful. Working with the famous British company Smythson, Rajiv had his original art transformed onto a hand engraved copper plate that was then made into these oversized Nile blue stock cards with gold ink and 23kt gold hand-gilded edges.
Letters in Ink business cards, photo courtesy of the Quintessence blog.
Of course Rajiv’s talents extend to invitations as well. What a thrill it would be to receive one of these specially addressed envelopes in the mail, they are hand drawn original works of art!
Photo courtesy of Letters in Ink.
To contact Rajiv or to simply check out his work, visit him at lettersinink.com.