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Letter Perfect

Susie-Melissa Cherry has won an international following for her calligraphic-arts business.
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THE WRITE STUFF: Susie-Melissa Cherry is the calligrapher to the stars. 
photography by Vanessa Gavalya

It’s been said that susie-melissa cherry is one of the best-kept secrets in Dallas, but her work is far from underground. In fact, Cherry’s handiwork can be seen everywhere from towering billboards to the ampersands in past Neiman Marcus ads. Cherry, a talented calligrapher, is the founder and president of Dallas-based Calligraphic Arts Design Studio and Gift Wrap Studio.

Why a calligraphy business? “Because no one else was doing it,” she answers matter-of-factly.

Specializing in hand lettering for the likes of wedding invitations and corporate logos, Cherry has a clientele as illustrious as her work product. Among those who’ve used her services: both Presidents Bush, Charlton Heston, Queen Elizabeth II, Gene and Jerry Jones, and Tony Blair, just to name a few. But don’t think that Cherry’s high-profile client list will go to her head. She is fiercely loyal to her hometown and her business, even turning down an offer in the early 1970s to be the official White House scribe for President Richard Nixon because it would require her to move.

Cherry learned calligraphy, or the “ancient art of beautiful lettering,” at age 13, and gradually began putting her own twist on the aesthetic. “I didn’t always get paid for it,” she says, “but I knew right away I would do this.” 

The success of Calligraphic Arts stems from that attitude, plus a good measure of business- and people-savvy. One mail-order business, a gift-wrapping venture, and three offices since her company’s founding in 1971, Cherry currently practices her passion in unassuming digs off North Central Expressway.

She’s doing her part to keep the dying art alive by teaching calligraphy classes at her office and Southern Methodist University. Cherry’s studios are also a tribute to the craft, housing a collection of rare antique books, Asian scrolls, and more than 80,000 pin nibs.

Says Cherry: “I am a library for my students.”

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