This week we’re looking back on a tour with Boston triple threat–calligrapher, pet and wedding photographer!– Fat Orange Cat Studio. Today, owner Li Ward is still on a creative roll capturing celebrations of love and furry friends, hand-lettering and even authoring a book.

Li Ward of Fat Orange Cat Studio<br><a href= target=_blank>Fat Orange Cat Studio</a>

L&L: Tell us a little about you and Fat Orange Cat Studio. What types of services do you offer?

LI: My name is Li Ward and I live in Boston with my husband and two cats. I started Fat Orange Cat Studio in 2009 after years of photographing my cats for my own amusement. I never for a second thought that photographing other people’s pets could be a business until someone suggested it, and once they did it seemed so obvious! I named it after my wonderful fat orange cat Veebs and all the many plump orange cats I’ve had growing up. Fat orange cats are the best!

Li Ward of Fat Orange Cat Studio<br><a href= target=_blank>Fat Orange Cat Studio</a>

L&L: How did you first get started in photography? Did pets or weddings come first?

LI: I got started in 2009 when I was determined to have a more fulfilling career. Pets came first and I was pretty sure I wouldn’t photograph anything else (especially weddings!). But chance would have it that early on in my pet business I was asked to photograph a pet client’s wedding, and I met a talented wedding photographer who let me come along to some of her gigs – and I was hooked. I’ve been photographing weddings since 2010.

Li Ward of Fat Orange Cat Studio<br><a href= target=_blank>Fat Orange Cat Studio</a>

L&L: Do you focus your time and energy more in one aspect of your business, or do pet photography, wedding photography and calligraphy all receive equal attention? Do the three balance each other well?

LI: Wedding photography by far receives the most attention, followed by calligraphy, followed by pets. In my perfect world I would love to give all three equal amounts of attention…and receive equal amounts of pay! In reality they are very different business models with different values attached to them. It has been a big surprise to find how much calligraphy keeps me busy, so when wedding season starts, I have to turn away calligraphy inquiries in order to keep sane! Even though the workload among the three varies, I’ve been able to have one complement the other – wedding clients hire me to photograph their pets, pet clients hire me to photograph their wedding, and sometimes to be their calligrapher too.

Li Ward of Fat Orange Cat Studio<br><a href= target=_blank>Fat Orange Cat Studio</a>

L&L: With regards to calligraphy, how many different lettering styles do you offer? Are these existing styles or ones that you’ve created?

LI: At the time of this writing, I offer 5 lettering styles, ranging from cursive to script to a mix of both. They are all original, but based loosely on lettering principles of what’s called Copperplate and Spencerian calligraphy.

L&L: Can you explain the different ink and paper options? What is the most popular? Can couples also choose from an array of colors?

LI: To keep things simple for myself and the client, I prefer black permanent ink (like Higgins Eternal). For custom color I use gouache paint thinned with water. One day when/if I can focus more on calligraphy I would love to be able to offer custom colors more readily. For now black ink is the most popular because it is what I encourage the clients to choose 🙂  I don’t have too much say in the paper options, as that is decided by the wedding stationer. But if I did, I would say the less “furry” the paper, the better! Otherwise nibs tend to catch on the fibers, or inks tend to bleed.

Li Ward of Fat Orange Cat Studio<br><a href= target=_blank>Fat Orange Cat Studio</a>

L&L: What types of wedding materials will you hand letter? Will couples typically hire you for one item, or for a larger package? What percentage of your calligraphy clients are also your wedding photography clients?

LI: I will letter envelopes, paper menus, escort cards, and lettering that needs to be digitally scanned for print. The most common request is to address main invitation envelopes, but I have also done their main invitations and menu boards. About 20% of my calligraphy clients are also photography clients.

L&L: Obviously, weddings and pet portrait sessions are very different events. How similar or different is your approach to photographing each?

LI: Pet and weddings are similar in that I travel to the client – whether at the wedding venue or at their home – and do a mix of portraits and candids in natural lighting. Business-wise it is a completely different model. For example, in wedding photography the digital files are included in the packages because it is about telling the story of the day, so I want the couple to be able to go through all their images. With pet portraits it’s more about capturing a few really great photos of their dog’s “smile” and personality to hang on the wall, so it’s all print-based.

Li Ward of Fat Orange Cat Studio<br><a href= target=_blank>Fat Orange Cat Studio</a>


L&L: When you aren’t working, how do you enjoy spending your time?

LI: I love playing fetch with my cat Bingley who is awesome. My husband is a bit of a mixologist so we enjoy a cocktail or two (or three) pretty frequently. I also just love hanging out in the city, whether it’s walks along the Esplanade, eating at our favorite restaurants, or having a drink with friends somewhere.

L&L: Thank you for giving us an inside peek into Fat Orange Cat Studio. If readers want to get in touch with you to inquire about your availability, what is the best way for them to reach you?

LI: My website or Facebook page is the easiest way to reach me. All my wedding, pet, and calligraphy work I share under one roof, and I blog here regularly. I also do some sneak peeks on the Facebook fan page.

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