7 Questions with Old Tom Foolery


As promised, I’m starting a new little series: 7 Questions for a Letter Lover. Every so often I’ll check in with a super-talented calligrapher, stationery designer or someone who’s really doing their part to keep letters alive.

Today I give you husband and wife superstars, Lauren and Joel Gryniewski of Old Tom Foolery fame. I am such a fan. I had the pleasure of meeting this genius duo at The National Stationery Show back in May and they were every bit as fun as you’d expect. Lauren graciously obliged when I asked her to pick a favorite card (which has to be like picking a favorite child) and the identity of the real Tom Foolery…

Who’s Old Tom? And is he really old?
Old Tom Foolery is character we created when we started our company in 2007. We wanted to create a bit of a mystery man with a name that hinted at humor as well as history, since we launched our company with cards created on an antique letterpress.

Who is responsible for what in this husband/wife duo?
We met in grad school for advertising, where Joel was being trained as a copywriter and I was studying to be an art director. We started working together as a creative team in school and were hired to be partners at our first jobs. We have basically the same creative roles now at Old Tom Foolery, where Joel does most of the writing and I do the art and file prep, though there is a lot of input given on each other’s work. As for everything else involved in running a business, we try to divide and conquer the best we can.


How did you two get so clever? Where do you get your inspiration?
We are lucky to have lots of friends and family with good senses of humor. They tolerate and inspire a lot of our work.

Do you play favorites? What card or poster has your heart? 
I personally have a soft spot for our “creepy stalker” card:


Lots of letter-lovers save their correspondence. Does this ever cross your mind when you’re designing stationery?
I can’t remember the last time I threw away a card I received. With our cards, we just try to help people express a sentiment in a way they might not have thought to say it on their own and also create high-quality products that have the tactile feel of something that’s worth keeping.

If you aren’t penning a note on one of your own designs, whose stationery do you reach for?
One of the perks of being in the stationery industry is getting to know the great people behind the other products you love (and also doing the occasional card-swap). We love giving cards from our friends at Bald Guy Greetings, Rifle Paper Co, Ecka & Pecka, Dear Hancock, Sapling Press, Fugu Fugu, Urubbu, and so many more.


If you weren’t designing stationery, what would you be doing?
I love photography, which I’ve luckily been able to incorporate into stationery with our new brand, Modern Lore (www.modern-lore.com). So if we weren’t in the stationery game, I’d love to hone my photography skills and be a travel/animal photographer.

Doesn’t that make you want to get your hands on some clever correspondence? Head over to Old Tom Foolery to see more. Psst, there having a little promotion so stock up!

P.S. Thanks Lauren + Joel!

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