When I first began 8Balloons over 5 years ago, the idea of attending the National Stationery Show didn’t even factor into the grand scheme. I was just hoping to create great content on my favorite greeting cards. I have been so happy to see the progression of designers over the past few years and am so grateful to see how large my community has grown including meeting one of my closest friends and partnering with Andrea on the blog. This year, both Andrea and I were able to attend the show and see some of our favorite people and their greeting card lines, while also being introduced to new ones. There are just so many to share that both Andrea and I will be curating our finds throughout the month.
Amy Heitman is a purveyor of beautifully-designed stationery. She pairs her illustrations, oft inspired by florals and nature, with classic type. Amy’s designs are seriously pretty, with a charming style that evokes days gone by. She took part in the National Stationery show for the first time this year, and her booth was simply gorgeous, wallpapered with her sweet gift wrap. Amy is just as lovely as her designs – read on!
You studied art education at college and subsequently became an elementary school art teacher. What did you learn about yourself from this job?
I loved teaching. I taught first through fifth graders and was constantly inspired by my students’ unadulterated creativity and their ability to look at things from so many different angles. It was so inspiring to see their different solutions and unique outcomes to the same assignment and I learned how much I really appreciated art and creativity in its simplest form. I also learned how much I loved being a part of a creative environment, and how much I loved just making and creating things. I would find myself up late many nights a week after school working on my own personal paintings and projects after finishing all of my planning and grading.
What did your artistic journey look like? How did you know it was time to pursue illustration and design full time?
I have been drawing and painting for as long as I can remember. I have always known that I wanted a career doing something creative but never really set out to pursue illustration and design full time. I really loved my job as an art teacher but left teaching to stay home after my first baby was born. I had done mural painting throughout the school district I worked for, as well as a few smaller jobs in our community, and thought that pursuing more mural work might serve as both a good creative outlet and a way to supplement our family income. So I created a simple portfolio website and included some illustration and design work I had done for some friends and family. I didn’t receive any requests for mural work, but quickly began to receive a bunch of requests for custom wedding stationery.
One of my husband’s co-workers at the time ran an Etsy shop and she suggested I put some of my designs there, so I did (despite not being too familiar with it at the time). At the time, I was pregnant with my second baby and just a few weeks later I was placed on bed rest and told I was going to lose the baby. I spent the next five months that way and my Etsy shop was such a huge blessing to me during that time as I began receiving so many requests for custom work. It not only gave me something to focus on and fill my days while I rested, but it was also during that time that I really fell in love with stationery design and began to focus on developing my own aesthetic and creative voice. (That baby is now healthy, happy and about to turn FOUR!)
What made you decide that you wanted to transition from custom work to starting your own stationery line?
I spent several years doing primarily custom work, and while I loved it, I was receiving many more requests than I could take on. Upon learning I was pregnant with my 3rd baby I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep on the same custom work load on my own and began to think about growing my business in a different direction. My sister had been begging me for years to create a greeting card line, so it was something that had been on the back of my mind for a while. I spent most of the 9 months of my pregnancy learning as much as I could about the stationery industry and creating my initial product line, and launched the line when he was a few months old.
What do you love about greeting cards and snail mail?
I LOVE how a simple card or note has the power to brighten and transform someone’s day. Everything in our culture is so instant because of technology –we have the ability to send an email or text to anyone at anytime and they can receive it instantly. I feel that makes the act of taking the time to hand write a note and send it in the mail that much more special and meaningful. When I was on bed rest with my son, I received so many cards from friends and family and people in our community who I didn’t even know saying how they were thinking and praying for me, and it was so meaningful to me to be able to read those cards over and over again. I have a huge box of cards with sweet messages I’ve saved from friends, family members, coworkers, students, and mentors over the years that I love to look back on occasionally.
Being a mom of three must keep you on your toes. What is your secret for maintaining balance?
I don’t have a ‘secret’ for maintaining balance, but I strive to keep my priorities in line. My faith is most important to me and I try to make sure seeking God first is my number one priority every day, followed by my marriage and kids. I feel that loving and serving my family is my most important job right now, and I am incredibly thankful for grace because I definitely don’t always get it right.
We package and ship everything from our home studio downstairs, and, though it can be hectic at times, I am so grateful to be able to work at something I love while being surrounded by the people that I love most. I have two amazing studio assistants that work for me keeping things organized around the studio, managing wholesale accounts, and packaging and filling orders. Then I do a lot of work during nap times and do all of my design work at night after my kids are in bed. Sometimes I actually set an alarm at night to remind myself to stop working and go to bed. My husband is amazingly supportive — he works full time at another job but is really involved with the business and kids when he is home. And my kids always love to help out in the studio and be involved with everything that is going on!
Flora, fauna and animals are often featured in your designs – where do you draw your inspiration from?
I love finding patterns in nature, and am always inspired by being outdoors. I also love looking at vintage children book illustrations, and vintage textiles and wallcoverings. I love old things that are filled with nostalgia yet still have a quality that feels current and fresh to them.
A portion of the sales from each of your cards is donated to support the INK Foundation. Please tell me why this is important to you.
When I launched my card line I wanted it to have an impact beyond just the reach of one card from one person to another, and as a woman and as a mom of a young girl the issue of human trafficking is something that has always been heavy on my heart, and I believe everyone deserves the chance to live in freedom and justice.
Aparna Varma is the sweet as sugar designer behind Green Bean Studio, a Toronto-based stationery line and design studio. Aparna’s personality comes through in her cards, which are sure to make you smile with punny sentiments and hand drawn characters inspired by her background in animation. One of my favorite parts of the Green Bean line is a series of 3D cards, that come with glasses! These cards are super fun and innovative, a guaranteed hit with recipients of all ages.
You studied to be an animator, and in 2013, decided to start Green Bean Studio. What made you decide to turn your drawing talents to greeting cards?
Designing characters and story lines for TV shows/movies was a lot of fun and I considered it to be my dream profession. During my post-grad I attended a class on illustrating children’s books (which I want to do sometime in my life) and it made me realize that I missed the feeling of having a tangible finished product in my hand. Something I could feel, send and share with other people – like the cards I had been making for friends and family for their birthdays for as long as I can remember. I never knew it was an avenue I could really pursue until I moved to Canada a few years ago and attended a few craft shows, which opened my eyes to this wonderful world of possibilities…
Tell me where you draw inspiration for your cute characters from.
From childhood toys (I had so many!) to books I read as a child – mostly fairy tales, all which had this magical yet innocent feel. I try to incorporate all that into my cards. I guess I try keeping even my ‘adult’ cards pretty much cute and audience friendlyGiven your animation background, do you begin to imagine story lines for the characters in your cards?
Most definitely! There is usually a whole family of characters for one card –all with unique stories and names.
You have a seriously cool series of 3D cards! Where did this idea come from?
Most of my friends are working on TV shows/movies all with super cool effects/CG/3D – I wanted to incorporate that new age ‘cool’ factor with an old school kick to the cards – and so 3D cards with glasses came to life!
It made a simple card more interactive, not only for the person receiving it, but also for everyone watching the receiver try on the glasses and look amazed – everyone wants in on the fun experience!
Please tell me about your creative process. Do all of your pieces start as drawings and evolve to paintings?
Ideas come to me at the most random time – I always keep sketchpad to write or sketch them. Every 2 weeks or so these ideas make it into my IDEA BOOK – from where I choose one to work on. Then there is more doodling, sketching, assembling references for color, composition and then I lay it down using acrylics/gouache after which it is scanned and digitally corrected for print bringing my characters to life. I usually have more of a creative week or two where I finish 5-6 designs.
Your cards incorporate your hand lettering – how have you developed your lettering style?
My own handwriting had to adapt to different geographical preferences: as a kid growing up in India there was a lot of emphasis on practicing cursive handwriting in school and during summer holidays. I then moved to Botswana with my parents for a few years where the emphasis was on printing. I had to adapt to these varying styles resulting in a very flexible style, which I can switch easily as per need.
Any new projects in the works?
This summer I am working on range of 3D cards –which I promise will be so much fun! Keep and eye out for tote bags and lapel pins too!
POSTED IN: Aparna Varma, Canadian stationery designers, Green Bean Studio, hand lettering
With the excitement of Mother’s Day and the beginning of summer, we often times forget to have the same momentum for Father’s Day! It’s just as important to acknowledge dads and/or father figures so we got you covered with these cards, both funny and sentimental.
first image via Paper Source
Paula & Waffle is a super sweet line of whimsical stationery designed by Paula with inspiration from her sidekick Waffle, a four-year-old Havanese pup. Based in New York City, Paula draws on the city and walks with Waffle for creative fodder. Her cards range from witty and adorable to pretty patterns and florals, with designs for all occasions. I adore Paula’s patterns (many of which can be found on her fab gift wrap!) and her script lettering.
You started Paula & Waffle in 2014 – what made you decide to make the jump from your career in online marketing to building your own stationery line?
I was always into the arts in high school. I spent my summers at art camps & classical music festivals and honestly thought that I was going to pursue a career in teaching & performing classical music. Long story short, I went to college in NYC and ended up going into ad tech right after graduation. I loved the fast pace of the industry, worked on amazing ideas and loved working with insanely smart people, but part of me always missed using the creative side of my brain. One day I woke up, thought about where I wanted to be in 10 years, and just couldn’t see myself going down the career path that I was on. I decided to take two graphic design classes at Parsons and absolutely loved them! I left ad tech a few months after that and started Paula & Waffle.
Where are some of your places to sketch and draw inspiration from?
In the summer, Waffle and I often go to Central Park, where he squirrel-watches and I sketch. I also often sketch from various cafes in NYC and outdoor museum spaces. We’re lucky to live in such a vibrant city! There is inspiration everywhere – from the conversations we have to the dramatic architecture, to the diverse art and food; there is so much that we draw from and are inspired by in our work.
Tell me a bit of your design process. How do you go from idea to finished product?
I always have a sketchbook or notebook nearby so that whenever inspiration hits, I jot down a quick note or a doodle. About once or twice a month (depending on how busy we are!), I compile all of the ideas and start putting together an informal mood board with colors, musical inspiration (a lot of the colors and themes we choose are drawn from the music that I’m listening to at the time!) and sit down and begin seriously drawing and designing. I go through periods of intense focus, so each series of 8 – 12 cards is usually created in 3-4 days. Once the drawing phase is done, I then scan all of the work and digitally color and edit the designs for production. In-between designing cards, I also do a bit of custom branding and wedding work, which is a lot of fun for me!
You’ve released a series of new designs for spring 2016, which debuted at the National Stationery Show. What is the experience of exhibiting at NSS like?
NSS is an amazing and intense experience. It’s amazing because you have so much talent and creativity in one place. I’m always so awed by the smart ideas and gorgeous collections that I see from other designers. It’s also super intense because there is so much paper and so much variety that the first time you walk the show, it can be a bit overwhelming both visually and mentally (but only because it’s so awesome!).
We usually kick off our day around 8 a.m. Waffle and I walk about a mile every morning through Riverside Park, then head to our studio in Long Island City where we might fill orders, design, or any combination of the two. We go home around 8 p.m. most days and watch some bad (sometimes good) TV 😉
Please finish this sentence: Snail mail is…
Snail mail is our favorite form of communication!
Any dream collaborations or projects in your near future?
We’re currently working on our first wedding collection, which I am sooo excited about! We’re aiming to launch it a bit later this year – stay tuned for more details!
Let’s talk letterpress. The feel of ink engrained into paper is a stationery lover’s dream. It appeals to the analogue lover in me, setting and inking type and pulling prints. It’s no wonder I was so taken with the letterpress stationery lines at last month’s National Stationery Show (NSS). Some of the designers there were familiar favorites, while others were delightful discoveries.
It goes without saying that I couldn’t help but gush when I met the creatives behind stellar lines like Egg Press and Hello!Lucky. These gals are just lovely, trendsetting creatives with a passion for stationery and sending snail mail. These are my kind of people.
There was more gushing when I happened on the Hammerpress booth. I am such a fan of this design studio established in 1994. One of their postcards sits on my desk, truly it is a work of art. I adore the vintage style of many Hammerpress designs as well the typography and patterns.
I loved checking out new designers like BRYLO, created by designer Chaz, who debuted her line of letterpress cards at NSS. These modern designs are flora and fauna inspired, simple and classy.
The painterly feel of Tack and Ward’s designs really appeals to me. The combo of swishes of color and unique hand lettering is on point.
Bremelo Press charmed me with sentiments like “it’s better than i imagined” and “build a fort, take a nap”. These cards (with a serif black type) are, for me, almost like bits of an e.e. cummings poem, type fragments that evoke a sweetness. Bremelo also has a great collab with artist Leigh Riibe.
I immediately gravitated toward Richie Designs‘ “OK, if we get caught, here’s the story” card – because we’ve all been there at one time or another. These designs are quirky and funny, sure to make you grin.
POSTED IN: Bremelo Press, Brylo, egg press, Hammerpress, Hello Lucky, Leigh Riibe, Letterpress, letterpresslove, National Stationery Show, NSS 2016, Richie Designs, Tack and Ward
What a whirlwind (and all we did was walk the show)! The National Stationery Show (NSS) was four days of inspiration in one of the world’s best cities, the Big Apple. NSS is a trade show for stationery buyers, an opportunity for designers to showcase their new paper products. NSS was a visual feast, with designers from across the US, Canada and internationally featuring their stationery lines and related products. There are so many great moments to share, which are impossible to encapsulate in just one post, so stay tuned for more!
For the last few years, Ink Meets Paper creates a new design for their Text Less, Write More postcard. A piece of letterpress art, this postcard is my mantra. I love this year’s design (possibly too much to send out).
Steam Whistle Letterpress is simply the cat’s pajamas. Designer and printer Brian Stuparyk uses vintage type and images in his designs, which he describes as a throwback to the days when letterpress was king. He wins for most inventive business card, which actually folds up into a whistle (and it works!).
Before getting married, my husband and I were in a long distance relationship (or LDR as the kids call it). Sometimes, we went months without seeing each other (cue violins) and it was tough on us. Tiffany, the fab and talented maker behind Shifting Status Kuo, has designed a line of cards that is perfect for couples in different area codes.
Amy Heitman is sweet as pie, and her designs are gorgeous. An artist and illustrator, Amy creates beautiful prints, cards and wrap with thoughtful sentiments. I adore her florals and use of color.
August Paper Co.‘s Marissa created a seriously cool tissue paper collage backdrop for her booth at the show. She starts each card with a tissue paper collage, which is photographed and printed, and then uses a letterpress to add sentiments to each design.
More posts to come, as well as some interviews with the designers we met!
POSTED IN: Amy Heitman, August Paper Co, Ink Meets Paper, letterpresslove, National Stationery Show, NSS 2016, Rifle Paper Co., Shifting Status Kuo, Steam Whistle Letterpress, tissue paper collage
Spring is in the air and I feel bright and cheery! I thought I’d find some cards to reflect my mood. I’m loving Texas-based Hello Small World, with a fun mix of cool illustrations, lettering, puns, and pop culture references. With sayings like ‘I heart you more than rom-coms’ and ‘I like you in the kissy kissy way’, this line offers up cards for all occasions. Here are some of my faves.
Yellow House Paper Co. combines kraft stock with screen printed lettering, bright envelopes and super sweet charm bracelets/necklaces on nylon cord. These designs are way cute, and I pretty much want all of them.
I really do adore kraft cards, and Katie Leamon combines kraft with her gorgeous lettering and script, black and white, neons and metallics. Utter perfection.
Banquet Atelier & Workshop designs beautiful products with a focus on paper and textiles. Their aesthetic is distinct and draws inspiration from nature, often featuring flora and fauna.
Parrott Design Studio’s cards feature gorgeous script lettering. And they’re letterpressed. Designer Sarah creates simple, whimsical designs often using candy-coloured hues.
Make someone’s day, and send out some snail mail!
POSTED IN: Banquet Atelier, hand lettering, Hello Small World, Katie Leamon, Letterpress, neon, Parrott Design Studio, Yellow House Paper Co.
Letterpress always looks so good, text and ink engrained into luscious-feeling paper. There is something really appealing about the process – setting type, inking it and printing. It’s no wonder that I adore Grey Moggie Press. Melanie, the designer behind the line, has a great sense of humor, which comes through in her cards (see her ‘best friend’ and ‘truth’ lines). And, the series of cards devoted to snail mail won my heart immediately. In addition to being a funny, talented creative, Melanie is a mom who left her career in law to make Grey Moggie a full time gig. In short, she’s all kinds of cool.
You were studying to be a lawyer when you took a letterpress class at a local art center as a creative outlet. What was it about letterpress that drew you in?
I’ve always been a letter writer and a big fan of snail mail. During law school, I reconnected with playing with paper the way I had when I was younger. I was trying to make cards I’d want to send and I felt that I could do that with letterpress. At first it was just a way to be creative, get my hands dirty, and make a few things to send to friends and family.
At what point did you decide to purchase your first press?
When I was pregnant with my daughter (now 4.5 years), I realized with a baby at home, it wouldn’t be as easy to get out of the house to print at the art center where I’d been working. I got a small tabletop Kelsey press. In the end, it was a misguided purchase because it’s hard to find time to print with a baby, even at home. Later I purchased a C&P 10×15 platen press that is now the workhorse in my studio. I found it on eBay and had to hire a rigging company to get it from Massachusetts into my studio at the time, a carriage house on Capitol Hill in DC.
In addition to taking on a full time job in the field of law, you taught classes at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center. What did you enjoy about teaching and the studio environment there?
My favorite thing about Pyramid Atlantic was that beginner artists and hobbyists could work alongside people who had made art a career. I loved overhearing all the big, creative ideas people were sharing while I printed. It was so different from the environment I was in all day as a law student and later when I worked in a law school.
Please tell me a bit about the name Grey Moggie.
We want people to be excited about paper, about writing letters instead of email, about sending physical and not electronic invitations. I love the idea of sitting down at my desk on a rainy afternoon with my favorite pen, a cup of tea, and my grey cat (moggie is British slang for cat). That would be a perfect afternoon and we want everyone to feel that way about writing letters and sending mail.
In 2012, you decided to pursue Grey Moggie full time – what led you to this decision?
I was craving flexibility in my work life when my daughter was very young. I didn’t want to be at a 9:00-5:00 job while she was just a baby so I quit and started selling cards at a weekend market here in DC. It was a great set up. I could be at home with my daughter most of the week, take an evening or two to print new work, and sell on the weekends a couple times a month. From there, the wholesale side of my business grew, and now we do more wholesale business than in-person sales events. We seem to have come full circle and I’ve adopted something closer to a 9:00-5:00 schedule recently, because it works for my family and my business right now.
While I adore all of your cards, some of my faves are the snail mail themed ones, like ‘I Keep the Postman Busy’. Are you a letter writer? What do you enjoy about snail mail?
I love all of it! The feel of different kinds of paper, seeing a good friend or family member’s handwriting, checking the mailbox every day. I also love that getting a letter means the sender took the time to choose a card for you, sat down to write a letter, got a stamp, and walked to the mailbox or post office. It’s a level of effort that isn’t there with email or social media and it conveys love, and friendship, and caring.
What are you working on currently?
We’re focused on a new website and branching out into non-card categories. We’ll release a new catalog in early May, and we’re really excited about a new greeting card collaboration with a local illustrator who shares our sense of humor. Look out for the new cards this spring!
POSTED IN: Grey Moggie, Grey Moggie Press, Letterpress, letterpress love, stationery, writing letters is my superpower
With Mother’s Day just weeks away, it’s time to do a round up of cards that are just right for mom, whether she’s the type of gal who prefers pretty florals, your hilarious sense of humor or being reminded just how badass she is.
Honizukle Press (above) features seriously pretty and sweet letterpress styles, a classic stationery choice for your classy mom. Sweet Peony Press‘s gorgeous card (below) is vintage in style, a love note for mom, just as the gardener-themed F as in Frank Paper Goods card (below).
I love the sassy sense of humor behind 417 Press. Designer Michelle Secondi always makes me laugh with her real talk cards.
POSTED IN: 417 Press, Bench Pressed, F as in Frank Paper Goods, Honizukle Press, Letterpress, McBitterson's, Mother's Day, Sweet Peony Press