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!