Why, what, how

Creating Joy with ART that CElebrates what’s most importanT. 

…As Barbara Cooney writes in the beloved children’s book Mrs. Rumphius:
“You must do something to make the world more beautIful”


Bring joy to clients by celebrating what is most important to them, capturing their reinvention – through beautiful personal, occasion and brand identity focused designs – while delivering with delight.

Design Values

Leverage traditional fine-art, calligraphy and typography techniques while embracing modern stylizing and graphic art technology. Freshly make each piece for every client. 

The Story

Art, architecture, and gardens

I went to my first art camp at 11 at the colonial revival Hill-Stead Museum mansion in Connecticut. We painted their sunken gardens, historical building, and learned about their French impressionist masterpieces. I will forever love painting botanicals and grand venues, respecting strong women leaders, and being apart of an artistic community. Shout out to Theodate Pope Riddle.

A guide to the mets colored buttons
A guide to the Met's colored buttons.Credit...Karsten Moran for The New York Times.
Gotta catch them all

I was lucky enough to have a family that encouraged a love of art and design. My mom majored in Art and Art History at Amherst, and later graduated from UVA’s architecture school. She gave me watercolors in as a kid, enrolled me in the Hill-Stead camp, and brought us to museums and historic venues.

The aunts would bring our collective cousins to the Met. As a crew we often played kings, queens, knights and peasants…. with massive forts and rules to achieve greater hierarchy. So, we enjoyed seeing the knights and pharaohs.

Beyond enjoying the mummies, swords, and art we played games to see who could find enough of those now-iconic and retired metal tags with its “da Vinci M” logo. I loved that one little letter plus some artwork was attached to so many feels.

Does it hurt? asked the boy

Her mom, my grandmother, had the most wonderful collection of old children’s books shelved in the rooms reserved for our vacation visits. From Tennis Shoes and Dancing Shoes (the ones Meg Ryan talks about in You’ve Got Mail) to the full Wizard of Oz series. I was obsessed with the illustrations, from book cover to chapter starters.

My favorite was the Marvelous Land of OZ #sawhorse pictured here. Bizarre, a little dark, incredibly fantastical, and beautiful black ink designs – sometimes colorized.

By Michael Sloan, to Lydia
By Michael Sloan, to Lydia
painting her toes

My uncle, Michael Sloan, is also a talented cartoonist – he gifted me this painting as a kid in ’94. It now hangs in my art studio above my desk.

Since then his cartoon won a Pulitzer but that’s another story and you can read about it here.

All Stars

My dad is a scientist and engineer (though, we have paintings of his around the house too!). I lucky enough to grow up with a computer, and a Dad who taught me first MS paint and then gave me access to Photoshop to explore.

I designed my first floral shirt for my elementary school’s spring fair for my sister’s year. My mom said they needed a design so I whipped one up in Paint. Thanks Dad for finding the shirt…. I had laughed when I looked at my current pieces and saw a still similar albeit grown up version. Lol to the Times New Roman– but you have to appreciate the playing with fonts, and botanical line drawing cartoon. I still put little stars on lots of my whimsical pieces.

Tsunami fundraiser

In high school a crew of us held an art gala with our pieces to raise money for the Tsunami disaster in ’04. I sold a couple pieces, included this saxophone one, inspired by Miles Davis – Kind of Blue. The album cover is also above my art studio desk.

For calligraphy, I love to listen to Jazz, the Bach Cello Suites played by Yo Yo Ma, or the PBS Pride and Prejudice soundtrack. We used to watch the series as a family, and I was floored when my first calligraphy teacher also put it on in our classes. 

For art, I love an eclectic mix of Sylvan Esso, Pinback, Wilco, The Who, Apocalyptica, Chance the Rapper, Shovels and Rope… My brother got so sick of me playing the Apocalyptica title album on repeat in my art room in high school, but my go to is to keep the same vibe going while finishing a piece or series. 

ITALian, Roman, and Grecian – Oh My

For college, I picked Wililam and Mary. Yep, that’s in colonial Williamsburg – going back to Hillstead roots. Freshman year I started a side job called Lydia-Tate Designs, creating and managing websites, including for the schools Art and Art history department.

The summer after Junior year, my future business partner and I studied Art and Art History in Sicily. My highlight of our studies there was going to a dig run by a family friend at UVA in Morgantina. And, getting exposed to all things heraldry through the ages.

Arms of the Two Sicilies
Arms of the Two Sicilies, from the French Encyclopédie ca. 1760. The Constantinian Order of St. George surrounds the shield.
Lake Matoaka Art Studio, William & Mary
take me to the woods

I essentially minored in art, but have always loved data and business (including running that website freelancing company). So, I majored in Process Management and Consulting from the William and Mary Mason School of Business. The program includes lots of liberal arts courses up front, and finishes with a two year intensive program. 

By senior year I enjoyed escaping to the land of 2-D art with late evenings in the Matoaka Art Studio situated in the woods overlooking Matoaka Lake. Working on designs there was a nice break from our business team intensives.

Calligraphy zen

Flash forward to my first calligraphy class in ’16. I took a six week copperplate calligraphy intensive at a local art studio, Binders in Ponce City Market, with my incredible talented teacher Anne Elsner. She taught me “Calligraphy is less about pretty handwriting and more about DRAWING each and every letter. It’s about establishing a pacing and rhythmic motion as you write – giving you a consistency of shapes and letters, and spaces in between words and lines. It is highly relaxing and meditative. Like yoga for the hands, it centers, calms, and enchants the person making as well as and the person admiring it.” In the midst of a busy consulting word, I loved going back to the zen of art classes, removed from reality of emails, pings, and calls for a brief respite.

I inevitably started adding illustrations to my calligraphy, creating stationery, and curating postage for my addressing projects. In sharing my new love of designing all things stationery, I found out that my grandfather was a vintage postage stamp collector. I love vintage postage so much -they bring a tiny piece of art (and art history) to a normal day.

what now

I love my job in the business world as a customer experience consultant, but yearned for a way to connect my two worlds. I started taking on custom commissions for creative work in my free time, and formalizing it into a business. Bespoke artwork comes with a different kind of client of requirements gathering, but the core skills are similar. And, I had all my past art life to lean on.

I also realized just how incredible my cousin-in-law Stephanie Fishwick when some of my first clients pinned her collaged crests as inspiration. I don’t take other folks’ art as inspiration from clients for my pieces, but I reached out for her blessing on all things crests. We talked about how large the world is for all kinds of styles, and how supportive it can be to live in a collective art community. 

In 2016, Alison Hight – the roommate and study abroad pal from Sicily – joined me in a general partnership. We ramped up our strategic vision and re-branded from my name to Paper Phoenix Designs (I need to do a post on our name!). Alison brought a unique set of experience and expertise in art history and archaeology, an eye for design, organization, and talented web dev skills. Since then, Alison moved to Austin, joining WP Engine where she could put her customer focus meets web dev skills to great use. In early 2018, I re-organized Paper Phoenix as an LLC. Today the biz fondly goes by Paper Phoenix Co, or Paper Phoenix for short.


Click to expand answers!

Where are you based?

I live in Atlanta. While I love serving clients in the metro area, since it is such a pleasure to meet you in person, I also often work remotely! My goal is to make it a seamless process, regardless of your location

I just got engaged?! Can you design my wedding invitations?

Congrats on your engagement! I’d love to create deeply custom invitations that speak to you and you as a couple and your wedding day vision. For a completely custom full wedding suite with all-the-things, aim to book in with me 9-11 months ahead of time so we can make sure everything you want is included (but still reach out if you have a rush order and/or just need components of a suite, like an invite design!). From Save-the-Dates, to Seating Place Cards I’m here to help;  more on that here.

How must does it cost, and how do I pay?

All bespoke projects are….bespoke! If you would like a proposed estimate, send me an inquiry! We’ll chat details and then I’ll shoot a proposal through your very own portal with my secure client management and payment system.

I love your work! Do you have anything available to buy right this minute?

Thank you! I specialize in custom pieces, but around the holidays I create a crest for holiday cards. If you have a particular need, or see something I’ve made before that you love, please feel free to reach out!

How do you do it?

I hand letter with ink but also think modern technology is great. So, I strike a happy medium. For raw projects on addressing, I create everything by hand and you get that perfectly imperfect feel. For other pieces, I design by hand, digitize, combine that ink-based art with digital creativity with graphic art, and typography, then collage it all together for printing. To learn how bespoke commissions work, check out the custom process.

Let's do this



Drop Me a line –

I’d love to hear from you!