Two of Us: Arley-Rose and Morgan
Photo credit: Michelle Gardella
Married couple Arley-Rose Torsone and Morgan Calderini of Ladyfingers Letterpress bring high design and old-fashioned print making to loved-up couples everywhere.
How they met:
Arley-Rose: I was working at an arts non-profit in Providence called AS220 doing their graphic design. At the time they’d finished redeveloping a new building and I was doing tours for artists who were interested in renting studio spaces. Morgan was riding by on her bike with her friend and they stopped to check out the studio that she ended up taking.
Part of what we’d envisioned at AS220 was to start a print shop. Morgan had just graduated from print making at Rhode Island School of Design and like magic she just appears and says she’s going to put this print shop together. She starts raising all this money, getting supplies donated and creates a print shop from nothing. As a graphic designer we started collaborating and we worked together for two years and then decided that, you know, we’re good at this, we’re great at working together, people are hiring us to do design and print jobs and we really could start something.
Starting the business:
Morgan: Our biggest challenge was feeling like we really wanted to see change. We’re really socially active and both work to change the way things are, whether it be resources for artists, good design work or fighting for equal rights. When we found each other we were like, we have to make this change and also exist in this crazy wedding industry. The question was, could we sustain ourselves in this business and be a voice for people like ourselves who don’t have a lot of great options? Invitations can be so tacky and covered in rainbows all the time. We wanted to provide good design to clients who would be willing to support us and we’d provide a quality product while helping change the marriage tide in the country, which are no small goals.
On queer weddings:
Morgan: We’re at the height of engagement and wedding invitation season right now. Of the couples we’re working with I would say maybe a third identify as queer couples. We have a lot of couples coming to us from New York right now.
Arley-Rose: In the future I would really like to see that ratio of same-sex couples to straight couples switch. I’d love to have a majority of our business be same-sex couples.
Morgan: I would like to see that anyone who wants to get married be able to get married.
On working together:
Morgan: We both really love what we do. Arley does all of our design work; she is astounding with her lettering and her attention to detail. She makes everything that we print and she is so gifted. I love the part that I get to do, which is to print out that beautiful stuff on these cast iron presses that are over 100 years old on my beautiful soft paper. When we sit down with clients we warn them ahead of time that we’re really incredibly geeky and nerdy about stuff that I think a lot of people don’t even think about. But when you hold that piece of paper we get excited about that.
Arley-Rose: We have a lot of respect and awe for what each other does. I am just blown away by what Morgan does. I couldn’t do it. People come up to me and they’re like, Oh you and Morgan started the print shop, and I’m like, Yup, that’s my wife! She does magical things and I’m so proud of her. (ladyfingersletterpress.com)