Tuesday, June 1, 2010

*Loving Letterpress* Stationery Show part 2

Letterpress (relief printing) has experienced a surge in popularity over the past decade. It's origins reach as far back as the 2nd Century in China. With Gutenberg's invention of movable type in the 15th Century, it became an invaluable production process. By the 1960s and 70s it became a rather outmoded form of printing. In recent years, artists and designers have rediscovered it, distinguishing their work from mass-produced lines of cards and stationery. The craft movement has surely had an affect on it's resurgence, bringing high quality handcrafted products to the mainstream. As you'll see below, the original presses were so well made that many designers are using models from the early 1900s.

I LOVE Hello Lucky cards & stationery! My current favorites are from their "Sock Monkey" Line, but their Thank You cards and Invitations are quite beautiful. You may have seen their delightful skunk Apology card, "I Stink" in my post on Papel New York last winter.

Best friends and sisters, Eunice and Sabrina Moyle are the founders of Hello Lucky, whose humble beginnings began in a garage with a vintage Vandercook press. You can see a cute photo of the two on their site. I was disappointed they weren't at the show this year, but Kelly above was nice enough to let me take some pics of their lines. I thought her outfit complimented the work well!


New cards feature illustrations by Julia Rothman (see top 3 above) and Ester Aarts, who creates fun vintage-inspired designs. I know Julia's work from the drawings she creates for the Design*Sponge feature, City Guides.

Great lines and shade of green on this Congratulations card, You're Going Places! Looks like a lot of places ;)


Pie Bird Press was one of my very favorites at the show! Hannah Berman, above, is the designer and she, too began in 2003 with the purchase of a press and a dream :) She worked as an apprentice for 3 years with Peter Koch Printers before taking the leap and starting her own business. She says she would have never gotten this far were it not for her amazing mentors!

Her entire line has obvious pop appeal from the subject matter & vibrant color to the cropping of images. You just couldn't pass by this small booth without coming in for a better look.

If you're like me, then you enjoy seeing what influences an artist, how they live, decorate their home... I just found a fun Sneak Peek Design*Sponge archive of her home in Albany, CA. More bright colors strategically placed :)



Onto more wonderful prints and cards with a completely different look from Black Bird Letterpress. Kathryn Hunter, on the right is the designer. She started her business in a friend's house in Louisiana in 2003 with the purchase of a Chandler and Price Old Series platen letterpress. What was going on in 2003? Good year for the press :D



These cards above remind me of beautiful vintage Mexican designs.
I also liked this little
Bird in Hand promo she created. Bird on one side, hand on the other, just spin for the perfect illusion :)


I will be buying some of these Peace on Earth cards! He's special.


LET {her} PRESS was a collection of 5 letterpress paper companies, all quite lovely and all run by women.



Bird Dog Press is a small creative design studio in Colorado run by Allison Bozeman below. Her designs are pretty and delicate with a lovely handmade appeal :) These note sets were inspired by the historic fabrics used for feedsacks that were often upcycled as garments, aprons, curtains, quilts and more.

Visit Allison's blog to read more about her commitment to craftsmanship and sustainability. *Plus see her precious dog Siler, otherwise known as bird dog, the namesake for her company. Both Siler and her Chandler and Price platen press were meaningful rescues!

The bows gave the collection just the right personal touch.

Lucky Bee Press began as The Hive Design Studio started by Amy and Laura in 1995. They currently live in different parts of the country but continue to collaborate from afar. I didn't have the chance to talk to them at the show, but I was charmed by these delightfully sweet cards.



I'm including Paper Parasol's business card because I just love it! Kept looking at it on my desk and decided I had to share. This was the 1st year that Cindy Tomczyk of Paper Parasol Press participated in the show. She was smart to share a booth and surround herself with such veterans of it :)

Paper Parasol grew out of a long distance relationship and two people sending handmade cards back and forth. So Romantic! In 2006 these two made Chicago their base. Olga, a Chandler Price New Series Press came along in 2008 and a business was born :D

I quickly became a fan of her folk inspired artwork and quirky tongue in cheek messages :)



Kelly Maron is the designer behind Paper Stories, starting her business in 2005 after the purchase of a 1926 Chandler & Price Press. I was attracted to her stark and whimsical design style as well as to the funky fonts she used on these cards below.

Here, she's ready to take your order!


12 terrific companies participated in a calendar treasure hunt organized by Kelly and Tami Rasmussen of TamTam Design (see more from her in next post). Each company designed a month page to encourage buyers to visit those booths and collect the full set. Smart and inventive way to market each other's work, huh?! Click here to see participant list.

Robin Beth creates beautiful handcrafted invitations, cards and personal stationery. Her lines are elegant with a light playful touch, a chord that can be quite hard to strike! These sets below were simply perfect.


The Let {her} Press display had a seamless cohesive look. Each line held it's ground, not competing for your attention, but quietly drawing you in :) The booth had a fun bubbly feel that seemed to attract lots of interest, too.

Fugu Fugu! I love the name and I love the puffy fish, feel like one after a big meal or the pint of ice cream I enjoyed earlier. True.

Below is the friendly cute couple behind Fugu Fugu Press, Ken & Shino. She is the illustrator and he operates the machinery. A shared love for old things lead them to the acquisition of two big 'ole letterpresses!

I Love Let's Party!

I Love You're Brilliant!

I wish I could buy them all :D I honestly love pretty much the entire line here!! Simplicity and Cuteness at it's Best.

Visit their blog to see some of the behind the scenes set up of the show :')

what's up?

More preciousness and fine design! Below is Busara Teuber of Ilee Paper Goods

I made my way back to her the 2nd day because she was so busy the first time I passed by. These adorable giraffes caught my eye and next thing I knew I was photographing everything on display.

I think this design below is fantastic and her baby owl is as sweet as pie...

His over-sized head and bewildered look had me at Hoot ;)

Busara told me that when she began, she painted every card and detail by hand before implementing a silkscreen and letterpress to print them. She also creates some wonderful invitations, click here to see more!

One of my favorite designers to talk to was Brad Woods of Maginating Letterpress Design. With a 15 year career in animation, Brad was a designer on Eek the Cat, Canada's Emmy winning cartoon and a computer animator on film's that include Tim Burton's Mars Attacks! and Spielberg's Jurassic Park: The Lost World. Not bad? There's more, but despite years in film and TV he eventually dropped what he refers to as "digital wizardry" in favor of an old school craft. That's right, letterpress printing! Didn't think I'd switch now did you?

In 2006, he bought his 1st press and Maginating was launched :D You can see the influence of 1950s and '60s style animation on his work, but it feels totally fresh and energetic to me! It's also clear he has a keen sense for playful clean and colorful design.



So clever! Above, a very popular piece from the show.


Brad credits Snow & Graham with kick-starting the current explosion in letterpress printing. Ironically, they were not at the show this year.

I appreciate the way his happy characters engage the viewer, looking directly at you from the page, many waving hello :) Brad's designs illustrate unabashed positivity and joy!! Fabulous.


Below, the Ladies of Letterpress 2010 Calendar, pages created by members, Dandy Lion Press, Flywheel Press, Hazel & Violet Ink, Ink & Iron, May Day Studio, Paper Mill Designs, Pistachio Press and Thomas Printers. Printed on Crane's Lettra Pearl White :)

I think it's fascinating just how many companies now print using a letterpress. I wonder if because so much of our time is spent online, we crave the richness and tactile quality it provides. The process seems to dictate an overall graphic, often vintage-inspired look, but I've been surprised by the range and variety developed within it's seeming limitations. As you can tell, I'm a full fledged fan! I'm also inspired by the business model these companies uphold. Most are dedicated to sustainability, using recycled paper and vegetable-based inks. Groups like Ladies of Letterpress offer essential support and resources for each other that can be the difference between an artist thriving or failing. It's refreshing to see in the current competitive climate :D

Some of the show was like a whirlwind. Don't ask me how I missed wonderful companies like Egg Press, Elum, Hammerpress, Igloo Press, Delphine... was Dutch Door Press there at all? I just don't know, but I do know letterpress is very much alive and kicking!

Thanks for stopping by, come back soon! Parts 3 & 4 of NSS coverage to follow :')
xo, Allyn

5 comments:

sheiladaviscsw said...

Love these! what an amazing post Allyn!

jane said...

Such wonderful artwork. I want that lifesaver and those giraffes hugging are sooooo caaaaaaaaa-ute!

carina said...

Great post! So many wonderful lines to see at the show. :)

Maria Madonna Davidoff said...

Wonderful post about the stationary show. I was there too, not as an exhibitor but as an attendee and I do recognize some of the artists you mentioned here. well done!

Kelly said...

This Show looks so amazing!!

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