Featured Designer: Tiffany Kuo of Shifting Status Kuo

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Shifting Status Kuo is a playful, super sweet line of stationery and lifestyle goods designed by artist Tiffany Kuo. Trained as a printmaker, Tiffany uses this art form to make greeting cards, prints and textiles – all of which are lovingly hand-crafted in her studio. Her innovative designs include a line of tea-themed cards that incorporate individually wrapped teabags. And, Tiffany’s pillowcases are the perfect gift for Valentine’s Day (and weddings, and just because).

You studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and fell in love with printmaking. What about that particular medium resonated with you?

During my time at School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), I really got to experiment with woodblock printing, etching, and of course screen printing. I fell in love with how versatile screen printing can be. It gives me the freedom to print on fabric, paper, cork, wood etc. Regardless of the printmaking technique, I was always drawn to the hands on process of mixing ink, pulling a series of prints, and embracing the perfect imperfections. Printmaking lends itself to creating multiples or an edition of something, and it just made sense for me to incorporate printmaking with how I create my greeting cards.

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Please tell me a bit about what your creative process is like. How does a design move from an idea to a finished piece?

  1. Most of my designs start out as a short phrase that gets added to a bullet point list on my phone. It can be a pun I want to play with or a concept I want to incorporate.
  2. Then I go through the list and pick a few to sketch out with pencil. These rough sketches often include notes to myself in the margin and arrows pointing here and there to assign ink colors for printing.
  3. I use a light table and my favorite black pens to ink my sketches and manually do color separation of screen printing layers. My process is quite low tech in comparison to other designers’ but I really enjoy the process drawing directly on paper.
  4. During my design process I have to be mindful of how the ink and paper color will inform the final piece. Sometimes I’ll mix a small batch of ink and test the color out on swatches of paper before finalizing my design.
  5. Lastly, the designs are exposed onto a silk screen and each layer of ink is pushed through the stencil to create a print!

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Your Cup Of… cards are so very sweet. I love the idea of reading a handwritten note while pouring yourself a cup of tea. What was the inspiration for these cards?

Yes, that would definitely enhance the experience of receiving and reading a handwritten note! I wanted to create a card that was also like a tiny gift in itself. When I think about thanking someone, I thought it’d be a sweet gesture if the card had a little something extra. Once I had “Cup of Thank You” designed and the tea bag assembly figured out, the rest of the series followed.

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What appeals to you about snail mail?

I’m a very sentimental person and have kept almost every card or letter written to me in a giant tin box. I love that snail mail is a tactile keepsake of a handwritten note from someone. When I get a particularly funny or sweet card, I tape it up around my desk area so I’m reminded of the sentiment. Email is fast and convenient but let me ask you… regardless of how meaningful the message, how often do you display a printed email? Probably less often than a thoughtfully written card or letter, right? Snail mail takes more thought and there’s always that moment of delight when you get it in your mailbox!

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Your pillowcases are simply genius! Any new projects on the go, or dream projects that you’d like to create?

Thank you! The “Next to You” pillowcases have a special place in my heart because they are directly inspired by my long distance relationship. Sometimes love is about appreciating the comfort of each other’s company and it’s such an honor when sweet couples young and old choose my pillowcases to share the love.

Aside from dreaming up more card and pillowcase designs, I’d like to add more gift items to my line. My dream project would be to publish an illustrated children’s book! I have a couple of books that I worked on several ago but put on hold while I focused on my card and gift designs. I grew up loving all of Dr. Seuss’ and Shel Silverstein’s books and it would be amazing if I could create a book that little kids love. I welcome all and any advice to make this happen!

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Valentine’s Day is around the corner – how do you feel knowing people are spreading love by sending your cards?

Let me start by saying that I’m a hopeless romantic and love all kinds of romantic gestures (even the cheesy ones). Knowing that other people chose MY cards to spread love all across the world gets me all sappy! Just think…. my cards could be in someone’s snail mail keepsake box!

What was the most memorable Valentine card you’ve received?

As with most long distance couples, my boyfriend and I often send each other snail mail and care packages. My favorite ones are always with his funny doodles and captions. We have an inside joke involving a mischievous koala character and my favorite Valentine includes his drawings of the koala saying some pretty funny things!

Because we love you 8balloons readers, and Tiffany is awesome, she is offering 20% off of her website shop with the code 8BALLOONS20. It  expires 2/14/16 and is not valid for the Shifting Status Kuo Etsy shop. 

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