For today’s Behind the Stationery, the fun and whimsical Printerette Press is letting us in on their traditional design process as they incorporate hand painted and hand drawn elements into all of their designs. You may recognize their work from Sophie’s 1st Birthday invitations. Catherine shares about going from fashion to stationery, her team, and how they balance their calendar to split the wholesale and custom parts of the business. –Megan
As a little kid I always wanted to be a clothing designer. I got an art degree in Fashion Design and a job right out of college designing clothing for a big box retailer here in Minneapolis. Funny though — after working in my “dream job” for a few years, it just didn’t feel like my thing any more. The stars sort of aligned when a friend asked if I had any interest in her aging dad’s print equipment. I thought it was the weirdest, most random thing I’d ever been approached with. I had almost zero print experience and immediately told her I wasn’t interested, but then I went back to my little cubicle and ruminated on it for a while. Eventually I decided I couldn’t live without letterpress in my life. (I’m really hot and cold – can you tell?). I printed on the side while keeping my job for a year or so and eventually made the leap to full-time Printerette. The rest is inky, greasy history.
We’re located in the Seward neighborhood of lovely Minneapolis — a neighborhood famous for the enormous amount of backyard chickens per capita. Depending on the day, our little shop is either a beautifully sunny, breezy, and an inspiring place to be or it’s a blazing-hot, steamy inferno. Depends. Today it’s the latter.
We are a letterpress print shop and so that’s our specialty. We also do some flat printing and actually love to combine the two methods to get both the color impact of flat printing and the textural impact of letterpress printing. Our combo print method wedding suites are our big thing right now.
Our product line is in two parts: We have a small line of ready-made items like greeting cards, letter sheets, and note pads and we also have a custom line for weddings and social events. The combo really keeps us busy and on our toes! We really focus on weddings during the spring and early summer. Then, when our custom business slows down a bit, we ramp up our wholesale ready-mades. It’s a nice balance!
Our design process for custom orders starts with a casual consultation. We like to get to know our clients and their event as much as possible before throwing in our two cents about how to create the perfect paper for them. When I’ve gathered as much info as I can, I take it to my sketchbook. Nearly all of our designs start on paper with regular old pencil, pen, and paint which is what gives our work its signature hand-illustrated and whimsical look. I only bring my sketches to the computer for small layout tweaks. Otherwise, it’s done old-school style.
My design process always starts in my sketchbook where I love to combine brushwork and pen work into my illustrations. I hand draw and hand paint all of our designs and only really digitize them when we’re ready to make plates and go to print, so you’ll see a lot of charming irregularity in my illustrations.
When we’re on press and the design is coming to reality, we’ll sometimes make some last minute color or placement tweaks as a team. Being able to do that is a big part of why I love letterpress printing so much; it’s such a hand-done method that the design process really doesn’t stop until the product is totally complete. We’re making design decisions all the way up to completion; where with modern printing, designing stops the moment you click “print”. Just today we decided to add just a spot of neon ink to one of our new card designs to make it pop a little more than I originally designed it to.
There are three of us in the studio at Printerette. Judith is the studio manager. She handles all inquiries and most Printerette correspondence. She’s the one who takes the orders and gets the orders out when they’re produced. Judith also handles all of our social media and blogging. Molly handles most of the printing. She’s the one who makes sure colors are mixed perfectly, registration is perfectly aligned, and impression is perfect. She’s one bad-ass print maker and everything that goes out the door has her seal of approval. I oversee everything creative and do most of the designing and concepting.
I get inspiration from lots of stuff! But lately — summer time! I’m a Minnesota gal that really lives for warm weather and I think you can see it in so much of what I make. Also, my clothing designer brain is still very much in action and I find a lot of inspiration for Printerette in clothing trends, especially with color and pattern.
We’re very active on social media and as we increase followers, our client base has increased as well. We get lots of “I saw this thing you did on Instagram” inquiries which is awesome. We’ve haven’t done the National Stationery Show for a couple of years, but find it to be a great way to build name recognition. And in the wedding business, we find that word of mouth is a big player in growing our client base.
Interested in being featured on the Behind the Stationery column? Shoot an email to Megan at [email protected]