Rosemary Radford, 30, has been doing hand lettering since she was 12, but at the beginning of this year she started The Garden Key Collective, her own start up business venture with her craft.
In the past, she said she did hand lettering in her spare time, but this year Rosemary, who works from her home studio in East Nashville, said she’s made it a pursuit to hopefully do it full time.
“I was first introduced to lettering through a collection of books that my mom purchased for me when I was starting middle school,” she said. “Every free moment I had I would spend studying the intricate details of the letters and recreating them on paper.”
INTERESTING and ORGANIC
Originally hailing from Huntingdon in West Tennessee, Rosemary moved to the mid-state area in 2007 after graduating from UT Martin. She started to attend MTSU but later left to take on a full-time job at CMT.
Rosemary has been working as a senior coordinator in their graphics department for the last six years, and said art has followed her everywhere.
“I think I get on my friend’s nerves because I’m always doodling no matter where I am. It’s always been a huge desire of mine,” she said. “I started doing logos for businesses and wedding invites and it’s slowly progressed into doing all kinds of things now.”
She described her process of hand lettering as being interesting and organic. She said she could take inspiration from anything, but colors and textures are her biggest source.
“I can be on a walk and think, ‘That’s a really cool flower. I love how it blooms, the style and the intricate pieces of it.’ Then I can take that into my work, and those small little intricate pieces can inspire something.”
Rosemary thinks about what she designs by taking into consideration what mood it represents.
“If I’m doing place cards for an Easter brunch, I’m not going to go with a crazy sharp metallic style, I’m going to go with something that’s elegant and classy.”
She said working on different projects, some take days while others may take weeks to complete.
“I’m a perfectionist with it,” she said. “Until it feels right I don’t want to send it out into the world, because I’m putting my name on it. I want it to feel good and look good and represent me.”
In the future, Rosemary said she’d love to take The Garden Key Collective to the next level. Expanding outside of just lettering, she said she’d love to start designing websites or logos for companies and do more of the small intricate things like place cards.
“I want to be portable too,” she said. “I want to be able to travel and take this with me all over the U.S.”
When Rosemary isn’t lettering she likes styling, travel and taking photographs.
She said part of her passion is looking for colors that she could use in her art.
She and a friend have a side business called Where Roses Bloom where they style for people around Nashville and write editorial pieces.
Rosemary said the passion that everyone has here is like no other. She is one that fuels off other people’s passions so when she gets around people who are crazy about their own talent, it excites her more for hers.
“With the community of Nashville and all the collaborations that are going on, it fits right now,” she said. “Lettering is such a universal thing, and can play a role in any event and can be placed in any house.”
It’s relatable, and it tells a story, she said.
“One thing I love about this city is that the people are so responsive to each other’s work. I think people are always wanting to help each other, and are open to collaboration and seeing each other grow, that’s what’s so beautiful about this community. No matter your talent or what you’re passionate about the whole community is here to support you in that endeavor and that’s just incredible.”
Rosemary said the city is at a great point right now. She said with things like Creative Mornings Nashville and The Skillery, there are a lot of opportunities for people to be involved in the community help accelerate their own talent.
“We’re on a progress roll, and I’m so excited to see what the city is going to do in the next few years,” she said.