Sea & Lake Paper Co. is the Toronto, Canada-based duo, Alicia and Christina. Their cards are quirky and fun, featuring hand lettering and illustrations as well as smile-inducing sentiments. With dozens of designs  in their line, there is truly something for every occasion (including an apology for hanger, which I keep on hand at pretty much all times, unless I’ve got food in hand). In May, Sea & Lake released a new collection, featuring 12 Cards for Allies. These cards are about inclusivity and supporting members of the LGBTQ community, with sentiments that show love and encouragement (‘this doesn’t change anything – you are always you’). These cards let their recipients know that someone is in their corner and celebrate being yourself. I had the pleasure of asking Alicia  a few questions about Sea & Lake and the creation of Cards For Allies.

How do you work collaboratively during the creative process and beyond?

Our brainstorming process varies, but our most tried and true method is I hand Christina a notebook and say “write some *whatever category we currently need* cards for me, please” and Christina writes about 20 different cards, of which usually at least a couple are then edited for flow, etc. I sketch and digitize the design. Our printing is finally being outsourced, but we spend lots of time in front of the TV with beers and stacks of cards to package. This process  sounds way more organized and segregated than it actually is, as there’s a lot of crossover in all areas – sometimes I come up with a funny phrase for the front of the card, sometimes Christina picks the color scheme – the process tends to be pretty fluid and changes from design to design. The only thing Christina never does is draw…because she can’t (if she could, I’d definitely let her).


What made you decide to create your new card line – Cards for Allies?

It was just an awareness of the complete lack of anything like this in the market currently. We also just had a couple occasions (my brother just had his gender identity changed on his government documents, and we had a friend get top surgery) where we totally could have used cards, but had absolutely nothing. It’s also a topic that is incredibly meaningful to us, and we really went about it with the thought that if just a few of the young adults in the LGBTQ community that are feeling alone receive these cards and feel even remotely less isolated, then we’ve created something worthwhile.

How did you decide on the words/sentiments that you included on each card?

Honestly, a lot of it was quite simple. We created these cards the same way we do the rest of our work – we come up with things we would either want to receive on a card, or things we want to say but have a hard time verbalizing. Part of the line was really inspired by when my brother came out to me. At the time, the two of us weren’t very close and had a hard time talking about things, but I so would have loved to have a card that put into words the support I wanted to provide him.


What are your hopes for the Cards for Allies?

You know, it’s hard to say that you want your cards to be available to anyone and everyone that needs support or encouragement without sounding  ridiculous, but that’s really the goal with these. We want them to be seen and shared and accessible, but if they help just one friend/teacher/co-worker/parent/sibling to say ‘this doesn’t change anything’ or ‘I’m trying, but I sometimes mess up,’ that would be enough. We’re also in the process of partnering with a non-profit that provides support to the LGBTQ community, to donate a portion of past and future profit from sales of the Cards for Allies.


I’m so excited to share the launch of the 8Balloons pop-up shop today! I created the shop to celebrate my favorite stores and artists. This month’s theme is all about inspiration and encouragement and I’m kicking it off with, Gotamago, Live Love Studio, Lucky Horse Press, Diamond Donatello, and Sea+Lake Paper Co. I hope this first set of cards inspires you and the people you send them to just as much as they have me!

8Balloons Pop Up Shop 2

Lady Gatsby MonoloI might be a lover of paper, but don’t be mistaken, I have other loves as well. I’m pretty sure most of the girls out there can relate when I say I love shoes! Love is an understatement actually, as I have acquired many in my lifetime. So when I was introduced at NSS to Lady Gatsby, a stylish greeting card line with a focus on high-end shoes, I was smitten! Lady Gatsby is based in Los Angeles and includes beautiful illustrated cards and prints for all you style-loving ladies. Each piece captures some of my favorite fashion moments, and the illustrations are just so soft and sweet, it’s hard not to fall in love with them.Lady Gatsby LouboutinLady Gatsby ValentinoLady Gatsby Red Chanel BagLady Gatsby Celine

Last Friday was a start to a beautiful new beginning for many of our friends and family members. With so many world events going on and not all very good, love overruling last week was definitely a huge feat and hopefully a step in the right direction for many other issues. With that said, I wanted to celebrate love and our loved ones by sharing these beautiful messages.

Sea+Lake 21st CenturySea+Lake
Print TherapyPrint TherapyAlta Rose DesignsAlta Rose DesignsPrint SmittenPrint SmittenModel Citizen PressModel Citizen PressPixies and Porcupines MarriagePixies and PorcupinesWanderlust 25 Paper Co.Wanderlust 25 Paper Co.


Lucky Horse Press is a design studio that specializes in handmade letterpress and silkscreened stationery.  Founded by Michele, Lucky Horse Press offers custom work in addition to her fabulously sweet stationery line. This line features a range of color palettes, from the muted brights (it’s a thing) to neons. Michele took some time to answer a few questions about her smile-inducing cards.

Q: What are the origins of the name Lucky Horse Press?

I named my company Lucky Horse Press after a story my dad told me about when I was a baby. He was waiting tables at a Hawaiian themed restaurant (my debut catalog cover features an actual tiki cocktail glass from that job as an ode to this story) and working hard to provide for his family. One day he decided on a whim to turn his luck around. He drove up to the racetracks someplace upstate and bet on a horse named Philip’s Daughter. What makes this story even more special is that my dad’s name is Philip. He had always said that when I was born it was fate that brought me to him. Philip’s Daughter actually won the race and my dad won his bets. This story always made me feel happy because I like to think that my spirit was with the horse that day. Lucky Horse Press was created to perpetuate a cycle of happiness that begins with a good sentiment that gets passed on.


Q: What do you enjoy most about the process of letterpress? How about silkscreening? Do you have a preference between the two?

I like letterpress because it almost always requires the use of a machine that may look cold and intimidating but has the capacity to deliver soft colors and delicate details. I like the way ink can be used in silkscreening because letterpress inks tend to be on the transparent side, while silkscreening inks are more versatile, in that they can be made sheer or opaque. While I am more comfortable with letterpress, silkscreening also challenges me to develop a more creative process or approach.

Q: Please tell me about one of the best pieces of mail/cards you have received, and what made it special to you.

I received a postcard sized etched print of a sailboat with a message on the other side from an old college friend. It was art and a message that captured my life in that very moment in time. Because I moved around so much, the print only exists in my memory but I am glad it still lives there.


Q: I’m loving the muted (yet bright) color palette you’ve used for ice pops, melon bowl, birthday balloons and thank you flowers. Where do you draw your colour inspiration from?

Thank you! I love the translucency of certain things when they are shown before light, such as leaves and grass under the sun, the ocean, candy, jellyfish, quartz…the list goes on.

Q: I see you’ll be at Renegade Craft Fair Pop Up  in June. What else does summer have in store for you?

Summer is keeping me quite busy! I am going to practice silkscreening large-scale prints and do what I love to do most which is lazing around and snacking. Most of all, I’d like to spend more time with people and in places where I feel happiest and maybe even antiquing in the countryside—something I haven’t done in a long time.


NSSI feel so grateful to have had the opportunity to go to the National Stationery Show this year and connect with so many friends and to make new ones. I went with the mission to connect with my favorites and to find new shops I hadn’t yet discovered, and I was not disappointed! All in all, I was re-energized and inspired those three days and cannot wait to continue to share these shops the next few months. Below were some of my highlights. Gotomago

GotomagoGotamago Lichia Shifting Status KuoShifting Status KuoOur HeidayOur HeidayLark N RavenLark+RavenMasha DyansMasha D’yansInk Meets PaperInk Meets PaperLucky Horse PressLucky Horse PressHartford PrintsHartford Prints!Lady GatsbyLady GatsbyWarren TalesWarren TalesSpooksvillaSpooksvillaKiss PunchKiss & PunchHartland BrooklynHartland BrooklynSea+LakeSea+LakeSteam Whistle LetterpressSteam Whistle LetterpressBench PressedBench PressedBruno PressBruno PressAshkahnASHKAHN


Bold type, letterpress and hip hop go together like Pete Rock & CL Smooth, like Eric B & Rakim, like Q-Tip & Phife. Founded in 2009, Paper Jam Press is about typography, a strong design aesthetic, music and truth. It’s about making people smile and inspiring through a few carefully selected words. With a series of letterpress posters featuring song lyrics like “Everyday I’m Hustlin”, “Give It All You Got”, and “Today Was A Good Day”, Paper Jam Press provides inspiration and makes your walls look good (like, really good). I was hooked as soon as I saw the Paper Jam Press Instagram feed and had to reach out to designer Arianna Orland to learn more about her creative process.

Q: What inspired you to create Paper Jam Press?

It was a confluence of things. In 2009, I found myself spending more and more time doing computer-based client work and although the work was satisfying, it also left me longing for a way to feel truly connected to the graphic design practice. I missed making things.

At the advice of a former boss, I decided to take a letterpress class. That’s one of the moments in the creation of Paper Jam Press that really stands out. After you learn the basics in class, the instructor says, “Okay, it’s your turn. Go ahead and print anything you want.” I immediately thought of an anonymous street artist I had been following at the time. The artist stencilled phrases on the sidewalk that I’d encounter as I walked around the neighborhood. It was kind of like a public long form poem to a lost love. One of the phrases was “love me til my heart stops” and when it was my turn to print, that’s what I printed. I realized right then  how powerful a few well chosen words could be.

I had a strong desire to make an object, a thing, that I could hold in my hands and perhaps give to another person. I wasn’t interested in large system design or scale which was the focus of most of the commercial digital expression I was working on for clients. I was instead interested in intimacy, quality and what happens when you make a object and another person agrees to take that object and make it part of their own lives. I thought, let’s do more of that, that feels really good.

And You Dont Stop-1024

Q: Please tell me what about letterpress appeals to you.

The simplicity, the craft, the practice. The quality of the materials, the machines, the tools and how highly specialized they are. The wood type and how each letter was carved by hand. The fact that the craft is both mathematically precise and filled with inaccuracies. The way it feels to physically move your body in the act of creating work. The community of letterpress printers and makers all over the world that choose to print this way.

I think we forget that letterpress printing was the normal way of printing from the 15th century well into the 20th century. In fact, there was even a time that press ownership was regulated by the government. Now we just hit a button on a keyboard and anything we could possibly want to document, express or share comes out, but it wasn’t always that way.


Q: What next for Paper Jam Press? Any dream projects or collaborations (in addition to those you’ve already done – Blik, Tattly, etc.)? Side note: I can’t be the first person to suggest stationery, can I? A line of Paper Jam Press cards would be so awesome!

In terms of what’s next, we’re thrilled to announce we just launched a new collection with our friends over at Blik. We have a line of 9 clocks and 8 wall graphic in our favorite color, black – of course – plus they’re available in fresh colors for summer. We’re also in talks to do a card line/collaboration with one of our favorite presses. Can’t share much more about it until the ink is dry (ha!) but it’s going to be awesome.

Dream projects are:

  1. Oliver Jeffers dipping our prints, or even better we paint the phrases and he dips them
  2. Collab with Converse on a line of Chuck Taylors

  3. Large wheat paste mural on any wall that will have us. Seriously we want to hear from you.


Q: What appealed to you about creating a series of posters inspired by music? How do you select the lyrics that you print? I love that the words can stand on their own, even if the viewer doesn’t have a reference point for the words as lyrics.

The music is stuck in my head from high school and still makes me want to move. As far as the phrases go…I keep long lists of possible poster ideas. Whenever I’m considering a new batch, I share the list with my boyfriend. We debate the list until there’s a solid batch of contenders and that makes the next edition.

I like that they stand on their own too. Funny story. A close friend’s parents have “Today Was a Good Day” on the wall in their bedroom. The reference it lost on them and it doesn’t matter. The poster makes them happy, and that’s the point.


Q: What is on your playlist?

On permanent rotation, Beasties, Tribe and LL  for sure. And when I’m feeling emo, I love Bon Iver on repeat.

Q: Please complete the sentence: Letterpress is….

Letterpress is…real.





Papillon Press

In honor of Father’s Day, I wanted to round up another set of my favorites for this year. It may be to late to purchase for arrival, but there’s no harm in sending an extra card to your dad. I mean, the best cards are the just because ones!

{first image via Papillon Press}

Sparkvites Father's DaySparkvitesA Jar of Pickles Father's DayA Jar of PicklesTiny Gang Designs Father's DayTiny Gang Designs
ShopinvitingInviting Letterpress

card_23_pop2Bespoke Letterpress is a Sydney-based letterpress studio that specializes in the design and printing of custom wedding invitations. Their love of letterpress and of aesthetics is evident in their beautiful designs, which run the gamut of vintage to modern. In addition to custom projects, Bespoke also offers a line of stationery, which is simply gorgeous.

Q: What appeals to you about the process of letterpress printing?
It’s a totally tactile way of creating something beautiful. From selecting paper to mixing inks to operating the presses requires hands-on involvement every step of the way – just the way we like it.


Q: Where do you draw inspiration for your designs? There is a great blend of vintage and a more contemporary aesthetic amongst your card lines.
We are extremely lucky to meet and get-to-know designers, illustrators and artists each and every week. Many of our designs are collaborations with these talented people or created based on an experience or event. There are some fun discussions had in the studio when we are in the design stage, so each member of the Bespoke Team gets the opportunity to contribute to a new product or range right from the very beginning.


Q: What do you enjoy about custom work? Can you share one of the projects that you really enjoyed working on?
The flexibility and freedom to explore techniques and print limitations is a hugely enjoyable component of our work. We are always testing boundaries or discovering ways that we can create and letterpress products or projects for ourselves and/or our clients that of course serve their purpose primarily but ultimately look damn amazing. Recently there has been a high demand for bespoke business cards. Extraordinary designs that combine various stocks and letterpress print combinations/solutions that have resulted in some amazing, personality-filled cards.

Q: Please complete this sentence: Snail mail is…
an utter delight to receive but even more fun to create!

card_19_pop4Q: Who are some of your favourite designers/artists?
This list is endless and always changing. At the moment we are drawn to intricate-styled illustrators and anyone who appears to be a hand lettering genius.

Q&A LetterboxI’m pretty sure if you’re an 8Balloons reader, you have the same love and appreciation of paper as I do. I’m also pretty sure you believe there is a card for everything and anything. If this is true, then I know you’ll be instantly smitten with Q&A Letterbox, a monthly greeting cad subscription series.

Q&A Letterbox is based out of Toronto, CA and created by the well-admired, Queenie of Queenie’s Cards and 8Balloons very own Andrea also known for her 365 Days of Letter Writing. Their is no other pair out there that know paper like these two girls, or have a better love of it. How does it work? Q&A Letterbox provides three cards monthly featuring Canadian shops as well as extra stationery goodies. And when I say goodies, I mean it! They have everything covered for you from special occasions to just because notes! Sign up for July’s subscription by June 20th so you can share the love too. As the ladies say, spread the love, one mailbox at a time!Q&A Letterbox 2Q&A Letterbox 3