Q&A with Amanda Mello

Amanda's Letterpress

Last week in my post, Post Your Love, I included a piece from MelloPress. Amanda Mello, is the awesomeness behind it. We all know I am pretty fond of anything letterpress by now, so I really was taken by her fun take on it, adding humor to her works. She seemed like an all around cool girl and I was completely interested in what she had to say. She really gave me a helpful insight into her process and also included a bunch more resources I must check out for future posts!

Drunk Coasters

Name: Amanda Mello

Age: 27

Location: Philadelphia PA

Is Mello Press your full time position?

I wish letterpress were my full time gig! Or, I kind of do. I spend 40 hours a week nannying for a very sweet 18-month-old boy and his precocious 5-year-old sister. It’s a nice contrast to the time I spend holed up alone in my studio.

Why do you choose paper as your medium?

I chose print, and letterpress specifically, as a medium because I’ve actually never really felt “artistically inclined.” I’m terrible at drawing and painting . . . but I’ve always had what one would call a good eye. I excelled in photography classes and wasn’t terrible at layout when I worked on the high school paper. I’ve also always been a big reader – as a child I would spend all of my money on new books and was often scolded for reading too much {because it meant I wasn’t playing/socializing enough}. As I got older there was no shortage of available reading material as my uncle owned and operated a printing company. At this point I became interested in being a writer and even swore off printing as a potential career. But when I dropped out of college I needed a job, so I used my connections in the digital printing world to get a gig doing commercial color printing. It was intense and it turned out I enjoyed it and was really good at it. But, as I said before, I’m not artistic, so I couldn’t just sit down and do a bunch of graphic design and then print it.

And that’s how I found letterpress, I went looking for a more hands-on way of printing. I prefer to work with actual wood and metal type, which greatly influences my work in that it makes me think more creatively to express myself. Because, the thing is, with this old type it’s hard to find full fonts of it, so you need to work with what you have {or go for polymer plates, but that involves digital design}. I equate it to doing a word puzzle or playing Scrabble – I’ve got this many letters in this size type and I’m trying to say this thing in this amount of space. To me it’s a lot more about expressing an idea within the constrains of my materials than it is about making “art.” That word makes me so incredibly uncomfortable.

I Like Your Face Postcards

Do you ever feel “artist’s block”, and if so how do you overcome it?

I get “printer’s block” all the time . . . but I honestly think that it’s more about my tendency to procrastinate or general frustration. Setting type and pulling prints when you have a cobbled together shop like mine {a small press, some type, and minimal spacing material – which is SUPER important} is time consuming, and I am not a woman with a lot of patience. So, really my “blocks” are less about not having ideas and more about not having the motivation or patience to get everything ready to work. In fact, I’m procrastinating right now by answering these questions for you!

How would you describe your style?

I like to think of my work as candid and simple. I work with subtle colored paper, complementary inks, and very concise wording. And it is, of course, necessary to have a good sense of humor and a strong appreciation for snark and sass.

Can't Stop Won't Stop

Who inspires you and what are some of your favorite sites?

Joan Didion is one of my biggest influences, though I suppose she’s not what you mean by “artist.” Still, she has a phenomenal way with words, which is important to me. I’m also a huge fan of Jenny Holzer, specifically her Truisms series. I love the work that the guys at Tugboat Printshop make and am always blown away by their cuts. My friend Bill McRight inspires me with his dedication and how prolific he is – in fact any/all street artists inspire me in that way. I’m awful at putting myself out there and I’m completely in awe of how easy it seems for them to wheat paste things up all over the city. All the work that comes out of Hatch Show Print kills me. Rick Griffith had some prints at the Hamilton Wood Type & Printing Museum Wayzgoose last November that blew my mind, so he certainly makes this list. Also, the work that his design company Matter puts out is amazing. There are so many more, but I feel like I’m going way over the top right now.

I saw you do bookbinding (love!), what comes first the print or the idea of the book itself?

The “go!” books were a byproduct of my “Journey” maps. When I received my first shipment of vintage maps I noticed that some were not going to make it through the printing process. Instead of throwing them away I tried to come up with other uses for them. I’d just taken a bookbinding class with the wonderful Michelle Wilson and had learned the stab binding technique so I trimmed down some maps, printed on them, and stitched them together.

Go! Handmade Map Travel Notebook

I’ve also made some little notebooks styled after the Moleskine cahiers. They’re my favorite books for notetaking and they’re so simple to make – I just haven’t had much luck finding graph paper in the right size.

My most recent binding project was actually in conjunction with my friend Andrew Bonazelli. He wrote a novel which is being released on Vitriol Records and together we hand bound about 20 hard copies of the book. The project was much more his than mine, I just supplied the binding knowhow, but I’m looking forward to the final results – after we finished with months of binding we stained the text of the books with tea and Andrew took keys and a screwdriver to the covers. In this case the binding was done to complement the text of the book. So really I guess it just varies by project.
I always ask everyone to include photos of their creative work space:

Love her entry!

Amanda's Creative Space

Creative Space pt.

Check out more of Amanda’s work go to:



Other Resources of hers:










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