Under the Spotlight – Royal Steamline

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Credit: Jessica Hill Photography

Something a little different in Under the Spotlight today. I’d like to introduce you to Aerin & Jeremy of Royal Steamline. They specialise in wedding invites with a gothic/steampunk/retro/vintage vibe and I think you’re going to totally dig what they do! I can’t wait to get going…

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Who are you and what do you do?

Royal Steamline is Aerin and Jeremy — a husband-and-wife design team based in Portland, Oregon, USA. We create wedding invitations that have a dark, clockwork or otherwise retro/vintage flavor. Through a subtle and sometimes anachronistic combination of shadows, textures and vintage illustrations, we aim to convey a sense of eras strange and forgotten. Sea monsters mingle next to robotic ravens, and gentlemen scientists have tea with rockabilly rebels. Simply stated, we offer unconventional invitations for unconventional people.

Who/what are your biggest influences? Who do you really admire?

We primarily create designs that aim to capture a theme or mood. Our influences vary wildly — from vintage fashion & science journals to odd finds at antique stores. Now, if you mean visual artists that we follow and appreciate, here are a few names off the top of our heads: EMEK, Alex Gross, George Tooker, Gregory Crewdson, Joe Coleman, Irving Norman, Guy Burwell, Wayne Douglas Barlowe, Michael Michael Motorcycle, Toni Frissell, Chris Ware, Guy Colwell, R. Kenton Nelson, and Jeremy could stare at Todd Schorr’s “The Spectre of Monster Appeal” for hours.

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What is the ethos and idea behind your business?

We want weddings to be cool. We want to change the way people think about weddings and offer alternatives that speak to their personal tastes. About seven years ago, a number of friends who were getting married began coming to us to design custom invitations since they couldn’t find anything that epitomized their rockabilly, goth or other non-traditional wedding themes. So, we started to make invitations that were outside of the normal, plain, anemic styles that we were (and still are) seeing everywhere. More and more couples are insisting that their weddings reflect their personal styles instead of conforming to traditional wedding styles, structures, colors and attitudes. We want to contribute to their big party and help them have the weddings they want.

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How do you come up with invitation ideas?

Often, our designs are sparked from a book or artifact on our shelves like a first edition of H.G. Wells’ Star Begotten, an Edwardian glass eye, or Liz McGrath curios. Jeremy’s been deep into Victorian pulps and I’m obsessed with mourning buttons and early 20th century advertising and science imagery. We’re inspired by the stories of retro technology, old movies, textures of old paper…the look of outdated fonts…some crazy ornate border flourish. The combo of the different worlds usually leads to some interesting aesthetics. 

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What is your most popular design?

It seems to change every month, but 10/6 is always up there. I think that’s because it’s so versatile and has its own interpretation for each couple.

Do you offer custom work?

Of course! We offer unique “from scratch” custom designs, as well as custom design changes to our readymade invitations.

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Tell me a little about your favourite invitation you created and why.

Hmm…I like Coney Island 1896 because I’m a big fan of old sideshow posters and I’ve got a soft spot for cephalopods. I think it just looks great printed — and it really sets an undeniably quirky and fun tone. Jeremy likes Vintage Rock because, well, it’s a symbol of vintage rock: Viva Gene Vincent and Wanda Jackson!

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 Do you have any advice for people looking for invitation ideas?

Really spend some time and look around for the right invitation for you. Your wedding invitation is a great way for your guests to get a peek at all the fun that’s to come. And if you don’t see what you’re looking for, it never hurts to ask!

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What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Really, just doing this full-time is a blast for us. But if we had to name a single client that we were flattered to work with, it might be Voltaire. We were so honored he chose us to create the invitations for what looked to be an awesome goth wedding.

Name a couple of bands/songs that are on your stereo at the moment?

Music plays a huge role withregard to who we are and what we do (or, maybe, just how we do it). We actually met when we were both living in San Francisco and our first date was basically one big argument about music (but it was great!). We genuinely enjoy a huge range of music: I grew up loving bands like Bauhaus, Ministry, Joy Division, Clan of Xymox, and The Smiths while J listened to stuff like the Misfits, Neurosis, Hawkwind and Einstürzende Neubauten. These days, we’re still all over the place! Recently, shows we’ve seen include Earth, Stereolab, Marissa Nadler, The Raveonettes, Vagabond Opera, King Khan and BBQ, the Horrors, Thrones, Atlas Sound, the Ghastly Ones…We haven’t even mentioned Jeremy’s love of early Americana (Harry Smith is a big influence) and my collection of hard bop and sad bastard vinyl.

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What can we expect from you in 2010?

We’re always working on new designs and will soon be offering matching programs, table numbers and other wedding accoutrements on our website (currently only available by special request). Also, our New Year’s Sale is still going on: we put 5 designs on sales the week of New Year’s.

To contact Aerin & Jeremy about your wedding invitations, go check out their fabulous and inspirational website and drop them an email

If you are a photographer or wedding vendor and are interested in being featured in a future ‘Under the Spotlight’ post then drop me an email for all the info.

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8 comments

  1. Amanda

    This makes me all the more excited to get to my mailbox everynight as I am waiting for our wonderful invites to arrive from Aerin any minute now! She has been a dream to work with as well as creating the most stunning and interesting invites in the business (big call I know!)

  2. shonda

    My Fiancee just ordered the coney Island ones because we are getting married in Brooklyn with an old school theme and I am obsessed with cephalopods. I found them on Etsy as I was searching for alternative invites. Aerin is lovely and so easy to work with- I highly recommend them! And their packaging is BEAUTIFUL!!!

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