Jason Pickleman, head of JNL graphic design, was approached by a friend at the Museum of Contemporary Art to design the Jewish marriage contract for his upcoming wedding because “Everything on the web sucks.” Others complained that most ketubah designs haven’t advanced since the 1950s and there is a need to create something unique and cool for the younger generation.
Many Jewish couples keep their marriage contracts, known as ketubot in the plural, displayed in their homes with decorative designs. Pickleman started the website Cool Ketubah! The site features six designs, one known as Flourish Ball which shows a “calligraphic jumble of flourishes, ” according to Pickleman. Read Between the Lines is “a formal and linear composition using bold, all-cap, sans sarif typography that is justified left to right and in which all negative spaces are filled in with opposing colored blocks.”
Pickleman, 49, also tailors the text to the needs of the client, and added, “I understand I’m playing on sacred ground. I didn’t want to come off as being flippant or irreverent. It occurred to me from the beginning that I had to write the text, and that comes with a heavy, heavy heart, knowing you are writing a contract that will hang on people’s walls as long as they are married.”
Pickleman does not advertise his site, and has sold 110 ketubot in the last 5 years, fetching from $375 to $750 each. Pickleman plans to write only 18, which symbolizes “chai” or life and is a propitious number according to Jewish tradition.