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the uppercase magazine

STATIONERY A f r e e E X C ER P T FR O M i s s u e


UPPERCASE a magazine for the creative and curious

SPECIAL preview Our love of print and paper is stronger than ever. Despite online media and digital technologies, we are always pulled back to the tactile delights of paper—our hearts beating faster at the sight of beautiful stationery. Issue 17 of our magazine includes this special Stationery Guide of small stationery companies from around the world. We’d like to share this content with you to help promote their businesses and to give you a small taste of the quality content you’ll find in each and every print edition of UPPERCASE magazine.

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i ma g e s o f o u r current issue C OV E R i l lu s t r at io n BY D A R LING C L E M E NTIN E

1 1 6 pa g e s ofinspiring co n t e n t

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the uppercase magazine



The art of correspondence has never been more valuable than it is today, whether you are penning a note of thanks or sending a birthday card. No electronic medium can replicate the tactile joy of a beautiful greeting card—the feel of the card in your hands or the soft sound of opening it. — L ag o m D e s i g n


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a. favorite design Chicago, USA Founded in Chicago in 2005 by graphic designer turned letterpress artist, amber favorite, a. favorite design specializes in designing and printing timeless letterpress greeting cards with a classic Americana feel. The designs cater to high-end gift and stationery retailers as well as international consumers. All a. favorite goods are handmade with the occasional help (but constant support) from friends and family. The company mission is to encourage long distance warm fuzzies through snail mail.

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Art School Girl Bridgewater, USA Art School Girl is a small hands-on stationery company creating art and paper goods from vintage, recycled and repurposed materials. Their aim is to design clever, limited edition stationery sets, art and greetings, with an eye to the past and a heart for modern personal communication. Expertly crafted and often sewn or printed by hand, each piece is artisan quality. They hope their work will inspire writing, creating and smiling.

Ask Alice Melbourne, Australia

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You can usually find Sass, the founder and designer of Ask Alice, tucked away in her sunny back-alley studio with her handsome old dog, Diesel. Their product offerings includes traditional items like postcards, greeting cards, notebooks and journals. They also produce unexpected and useful items like a letter writing kit, a crafty rubber stamping kit and, Sass’ personal favourite, a parcel packing kit. UPPERCASE / 5


Belle & Union Savannah, USA

B e ll e & U n i o n

Belle & Union was established in 2011 with the purchase and restoration of an 1897 Curtis & Mitchell Press and a big dream to make writings, wrappings and wares with a unique sensibility. Josh, a Northerner, and Meg, a Southern belle, met, married and started life and business together in the beautiful Southern town of Savannah, Georgia. Their collection is a medley of goods brimming with old-fashioned American wit and wisdom. The designs are chock full of hand-rendered typography and illustrations, with wares that include greeting cards, boxed note sets, tea towels, notepads, recipe cards, jotters and more.

Bison Bookbinding & Letterpress/ Karolin Schnoor Bellingham, USA

b i s o n b oo k b i n d i n g & l e tt e r p r e s s / ka r ol i n s c h n oo r

Surrounded by the overwhelming beauty of the Pacific Northwest, Bison Bookbinding & Letterpress operates with respect and gratitude for the environment and resources. Their paper goods are masterfully printed on post-consumer recycled and treefree papers with vegetable-based ink. They collaborate with Londonbased illustrator Karolin Schnoor, whose whimsical artwork translates beautifully to letterpress, resulting in some of their most well-loved and best-selling card designs.

Blackbird Letterpress Baton Rouge, USA Blackbird Letterpress is a fine art printmaking studio in South Louisiana. They blend traditional techniques and organic forms with new technology and contemporary design. Their original stationery brings fun back to correspondence. With sturdy binding and letterpress-printed covers, their recycled notebooks are perfect for writing, drawing and musing. 6 / UPPERCASE

Letterpress Tips B y K at h r y n H u n t e r b l ac k b i r d l e t t e r p r e s s


he line between design and production is a fuzzy one for me. I find the two are pretty intertwined. In school I worked mainly with woodcuts and mixed media (sewing, embroidery drawing and clay), earning a BFA from Montana State University and an MFA from Louisiana State University, both in printmaking. After finishing graduate school in 2003 and finding my first letterpress, I spent all the money I had and learned how to use the platen press. What attracted me to letterpress printing was the whole process, start to finish, beginning with a pencil and an eraser and ending with an inked impression in fine cotton paper. As an artist I’ve been trained to develop an idea and follow it through, and in my little letterpress business, Blackbird Letterpress, I do the same. For Blackbird, balancing design and production is about timing. It’s in the timing of a deadline for a custom job or when a new design needs to be finished for the next trade show. We are a small print shop and I do most of the design as well as most of the printing (with the help of a few amazing helpers). As Blackbird grows, I hope to spend more time on design. But I will still keep my hands inky—I do like it that way.


op e r at i n g a l e tt e r p r e s s to p tips ca rd business 1. Patience—Letterpress printing is always about problem solving. 2. Motivation—Gotta get moving! 3. Good craftsmanship is the backbone of the process. 4. Flexibility—Plan your day but understand that it will change many times.

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5. Community—Become part of a community, of your letterpress peers as well as your local community of artisans and small business people. For example, Ladies of Letterpress has brought many of us printers and designers together, and the support, friendship and resources we share are priceless. 6. Hire an accountant and keep up with your books. 7. Remain open to new ideas, methods and suggestions. 8. Marry someone with a forklift. No joke. 9. Take a walk, go to a gallery or read a book or magazine. Keep your eyes open—it’s all research. 10. Don’t be afraid to grow.


How We’ve Grown By fiona richards cartolina cards


e started producing handmade cards eight years ago. The first store that bought our cards was Country Furniture on Granville Street in Vancouver—I literally walked into the store with my 12 sample cards and asked the owner if she’d like to buy them. I walked away with a $200 order and thought I had it all figured out—that was easy! A year later, with a hundred or so retailers on my list, I was working 12-hour days, 7 days a week. I hadn’t slept in months and it occurred to me that I had an unsustainable—and more importantly an unscalable—business. I just couldn’t produce the cards fast enough! Lesson number one in manufacturing: make sure you can produce a lot of product if, heaven forbid, you are a success. Cartolina cards became an all-printed card line shortly after, which meant no more hours at the work table breathing in glue fumes. We were able to produce large quantities of cards quickly. Once we had stockpiled masses of cards, the next step was to sell them. If you are a designer and producer you probably are not a good sales person—that’s generally the pattern. And if you are a good sales person, you probably don’t have time to drive around the country meeting with buyers. It’s time to get sales reps. Our approach was to secure a good list of US retailers and then take it to impress a select group of overseas distributors. Distributors buy your product in bulk and then sell it and ship it to retailers using their own sales force. This method works best with overseas sales. We partnered with a group of overseas distributors and were finally off to the races in Europe, the UK, Australia and New Zealand. The funny thing is that having a world-wide sales force doesn’t mean you can just sit back and wait for the fax machine to spit out the orders. Every day we spend time marketing directly to buyers, chatting strategically on social media and connecting and reconnecting with retailers. It’s an ever-evolving task. But the one thing I’ve learned over the years is that the best person to sell your product is you—nothing connects you to buyers like a friendly phone call or a face-to-face chat. Be the face of your product line— buyers want to know the person behind the product. 8 / UPPERCASE

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1. Take a good, honest look at your art and ask yourself if it is truly unique. Don’t waste time on art that looks similar to another line because buyers won’t buy it. Retail buyers do not like to buy lines that look similar—it’s a bad business move. 2. Understand the printing industry. The more cards you print the less you pay per card. So don’t expect to make a million in your first year. As soon as your sales increase your costs will decrease and your profit margin will grow. 3. To price your product, go to a few stores that sell a similar card to yours and check the price. Your retail price should be approximately the same as a similar card on the shelf. After you have established the retail price, work backwards—half of the retail price is the wholesale price. Subtract all your expenses, including labour, from the wholesale price and if there’s anything left over, that’s your profit. 4. You don’t need to start with a huge line—24 cards is fine. The key is that you need to release new products three or four times a year. Six new cards every four months is fine. Sales reps need to have new products to show buyers, so if you have new products on a regular basis you will probably make more sales. 5. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. The greeting card industry is really quite conservative. Art cards with no greeting are a tough sell. Square cards do not sell well at all in North America. 6. Birthday cards are 85% of what we sell, followed by Thank You cards. Obscure holidays and greetings don’t sell well at all. You don’t want to be left with duds. Remember that your cost per card is only relevant if you sell through the entire print run, so be conservative. 7. Remember that there are lots of venues for selling cards other than stationery stores, including hotel gift shops, bakeries, vineyards and so on. 8. It’s great to get orders from retailers but be prepared to lose a chunk of your profit—large retailers require steep discounts. 9. The first order from a fabulous retailer is so exciting and validating, but the key to your success is the reorder. 10. Stay focused and stay unique. Pay absolutely no attention to your competition. If you spend too much time checking out the competition you may eventually end up looking like them.

bruno press

Bruno Press

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St. Joseph, USA This small letterpress shop was handed down from a father to his daughter, Mary. She uses hand-set lead and wood type and carves many of her images out of linoleum. Her passion is designing and writing ironic, sarcastic zingers for her line of cards.

byKsenia Atlanta, USA Founded by Ksenia Phillips, this boutique design studio offers brand design and one-of-a-kind paper goods for weddings and other celebrations. The hand-painted stationery is designed with one goal in mind: to reflect personality and individuality.

CabinPress Studio Fort Collins, USA This small letterpress print studio is located at 9,500 feet above sea level in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Proprietress Denise Newberry loves giving workshops and producing stationery that is exquisite and one of a kind.

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Chelleline Cards Montreal, Canada Chelleline Cards offers imaginative and minimalist cut-paper collage and block-print greeting cards and stationery products. Their sweet and charming designs are guaranteed to make a recipient smile. Childhood toys, sea creatures and fairy tales are among their chief sources of inspiration. Each design is lovingly and carefully handcut with a pair of scissors, putting the “hand� back into handmade.


Concrete Lace Atlanta, USA Owner Katie Kaiser Daniels got into the business early, selling handmade cards as a four year old. Thirty years later finds her working with her husband in a home studio. They take great pride in the quality of their products and are a part of each step in the production of their goods which are created in small batches with environmentally responsible, USA-made materials using a 1934 Vandercook.


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Wright, USA Creativity is a self-proclaimed sassy little greeting card company based in the sagebrush prairie of Wyoming. Owner and designer Sarah, a professional “card hunter,” started her business when she realized there needed to be more cards that were witty but were without the fluff (for modern minimalists like her).

Curious & Co. Creative

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San Jose, USA Simply put, Curious & Co. Creative is three women who love making cool stuff. Started out of a desire to offer graphic design to local businesses in the Philadelphia area, it’s grown to include clients from all across the US and beyond, and are now spread between Philly and San Francisco. Because each woman has varying tastes and styles, their designs include abstract images and fun illustrations, while their messages range from simple sweetness to playful snark.

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Draw Me A Lion Vancouver, Canada Draw Me A Lion is a line of fun cards, prints and colouring activities for kids of all ages drawn, designed and assembled by Lisa Cinar. Signature items include colouring postcard booklets, colouring posters and lots of cute people and animals hanging out in the midst of flowers. 10 / U P P E R C A S E

Farewell Paperie Seattle, USA Lisa and Jen are just a couple of former ad creatives that spent more time talking paper than making ads. It was only a matter of time until their creative paths united with an eyes-closed, hand-holding leap into the wonderful world of paper, letterpress printing, patterns, colour and anything that looks and feels lovely. Their cards are made to sound like a conversation with friends—a little silly, with a lot of banter and good will in mind. Handprinted on a 105-year-old letterpress (named Bill), they create fun sentiments that will hopefully make a small, thoughtful gesture a big stinkin’ deal.

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Happy Cactus Designs

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Austin, USA Happy Cactus Designs is owned and operated by self-taught artist Brannon Cullum. Drawing inspiration from gardens near and far, traditional Indian textiles and vintage design books, their collection of colourful and pattern-driven greeting cards, social stationery and other paper goods are all drawn by hand. Happy Cactus Designs aims to create exquisite social stationery and sophisticated greeting cards that are an extension of your personal style.

Inkadinkadoodle Waupaca, USA Inkadinkadoodle produces timeless and classic paper goods for gorgeous correspondence and elegant gift giving. Working out of her Wisconsin studio, Andrea Jenson is inspired by architecture, vintage clipart, gardening and nature. She works surrounded by a 1880s Golding & Co. Pearl letterpress and Heidelberg Windmill letterpress, type cabinets and letterpress cuts that she has accumulated through the years.

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Jessica Nielsen j e s s i ca n i e ls e n

Rotterdam, Netherlands Jessica Nielsen is an illustrator and pattern designer living and working in the Netherlands. She likes to make bold and bright coloured designs. In addition to illustration commissions, she designs and develops her own paper and textile products.

Kate & Birdie Paper Company Winnipeg, Canada

kat e & b i r d i e pap e r compa n y kat h a r i n e wats o n

Kate & Birdie Paper Company is a Canadian boutique paper company founded in 2004 by Gloria Wall and her husband Steve. Specializing in sustainable, illustrated paper goods, their products feature illustrations and patterns drawn by hand in Kate & Birdie’s signature style and sophisticated colour palette.

Katharine Watson Hyde Park, USA Katharine was born in New York but grew up in London and Hong Kong, and this mix of cultures and aesthetics is visible in her work. In 2008 she traveled to India to study block printing, and incorporated these new skills into her training as a printmaker. She uses inspiration from traditional textiles and folk arts: old prints, quilts and embroideries. Katharine believes that the most important aspect of her work is keeping the tradition of hand-printed textiles alive in a way that is both beautiful and accessible. And that every once in awhile it’s nice to get a handmade card instead of an email. 12 / U P P E R C A S E



sold my first card 40 years ago. I was 12 and my mother had just opened the first independent card and paper store in Canada. I went on to work in that store on and off until I finished university. Although I embarked upon a career in publishing I couldn’t resist keeping a hand in the paper world. I decided I could distribute one line of cards while I was still working, but when the truck unloaded 140 cartons of fine art cards into my driveway I knew I was in for an adventure. I figured things out along the way. With a little faith, a lot of optimism and a careful eye to the bottom line, Paper E. Clips flourished. Twenty five years later, Paper E. Clips has over 40 lines sourced from all over the world, 13 staff and sales people from coast to coast. Paper E. Clips started as a notion and perhaps even a hobby and has evolved into a career that has allowed me to fulfill both my creative and entrepreneurial passions. It wasn’t the career that I imagined for myself, but I couldn’t have imagined a better one.

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1. Start with some research. Do your cards look unique? We often turn down card lines because they are too similar to the lines we already have. In looking for a distributor, have a look at their website first to see if they are a good match for you. 2. Know your market. It is hard to sell square cards in the USA, Canada and Europe because all of these counties have postal restrictions that make mailing a square card or a large card prohibitive. Cards can also be too small to mail, so research mailing standards. 3. Do you want to be green? It’s not a prerequisite, but it can win you sales. However, customers may not be willing to pay more for it, so make sure that your cards still have a reasonable retail price. 4. Who is your customer? Imagining who your customers are will inform your choice of materials and style. For instance, children’s cards sell for a much lower price than wedding cards. 5. What does a distributor do? A distributor is not a sales agent. They will buy your stock, warehouse it and do all of the invoicing and collection. They will also have a team of salespeople who earn commission, and a showroom and tradeshow costs. Having a distributor can mean a large increase in sales, so you need to be able to produce your cards in volume, quickly and at a reasonable price. 6. How much does a distributor cost? Usually a distributor will ask for 40% to 50% of the wholesale cost of the card. 7. How do you introduce your line? The best approach is to email a distributor with an introduction, pricing and a PDF catalogue of your cards. If they are interested they will ask for samples. They will always be interested in who you are selling to and how long you have been selling. 8. What does a distributor want to see? Distributors need a minimum of 18 to 24 designs. The cards need to be coded. A simple alpha-numeric code is the best, and it should be legible on the back of the card. Bar codes are a good idea and the way of the future. Many retailers require them now and without them you reduce your sales. 9. Don’t overlook the obvious. Ninety percent of card sales are for birthdays, so have birthday cards in your collection, more rather than less. 10. Understand the seasonal buying calendar. Retailers work four months ahead of a season. A distributor will need samples even earlier. For example, distributors need Christmas samples by March. 11. Do you need a contract? Get a recommendation for your distributor from another line that works with them. You can ask for a contract that specifies territory, expected volume of sales, buying price and so on. However, in the 25 years that we have been distributing we have never had contracts and have always worked in good faith, and that has served us well. 12. Don’t be afraid to start small. The greeting card world is a friendly place and there is always room for one more!

U P P E R C A S E / 13

Kept Casual Chicago, USA Kept Casual is just what the name implies: kept and casual, refined and relaxed. Run by creative duo Tiffany Kapellas and Mary Cantu, Kept Casual’s note cards and gift tags highlight their modern twist on classic menswear patterns. Their stationery suits life’s everyday sentiments, from a simple hello to a personalized message of thanks, or well wishes for a happy couple. They recently introduced a few extras to their line: a calendar and party coasters with a nod to the timeless appeal of metallic gold. Their upcoming plans focus on broadening their product selection with witty note cards, customized stationery and lively wrapping sheets.

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Lagom Design Horsted Keynes, UK

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Lagom Design was established in April 2007 with the aim of placing a renewed focus on quality in print and design, applying their philosophy to the greetings cards, stationery, giftwrap and prints they create and sell. Involved in the creative process from start to finish, they work closely with local suppliers to develop products that are well conceived, thoughtful, individual, beautifully tactile, collectible and cherishable. They use the best materials and work with local printers who use vegetable inks and sustainable paper stocks from environmentally friendly Swedish mills.

Les Bois Letterpress Boise, USA Founder Jennifer Manning-Gilbreath, a professionally trained visual artist, started Les Bois Letterpress to bring together vintage printing and twentyfirst century design, all in an effort to make stationery that literally leaves an impression. She’s able to bring together more than just printing and design by incorporating the values that matter to her most—bringing a little light into people’s lives, expressing creativity and caring for the environment. 14 / U P P E R C A S E

tradeshows B y k at i e h u n t tradeshow bootcamp


fter exhibiting at the National Stationery Show for the first time in 2009, Bridgett Edwards of Perideau Designs asked me to share on her blog some of the tough lessons I learned as a first-time exhibitor. The post sparked a number of emails from fellow stationers who were considering exhibiting at the National Stationery Show but didn’t know where to begin. As emails came in, I kept seeing the same types of questions over and over: How much product should I bring? How much does it really cost? How do you get everything there? What types of walls should I use? Soon thereafter, Tradeshow Bootcamp was born.

Launched in the spring of 2011, Tradeshow Bootcamp educates and connects small businesses who are interested in selling wholesale and are considering tradeshows as their launching point. Tradeshow Bootcamp’s in-person workshops and webinars cover everything you need to know about getting your business ready for a major tradeshow, from industry standards for products, booth logistics, sales tools, marketing strategies, vendor recommendations and retailer expectations. Panelists come from all areas of the stationery and gift industries. I’m incredibly proud of the supportive, collaborative community we’ve built with Tradeshow Bootcamp. Preparing for tradeshows can be downright exhausting, even for veteran exhibitors. Late nights, lengthy to-do lists and high emotions are not uncommon before, during and after the show. But there are ways to manage the stress and the steady stream of decisions that need to be made. Here are our top 10 ways to keep your cool and stay mentally prepared for your tradeshow:

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1. Create a master to-do list. This will be the list to top all lists. Start big and then break it down into smaller, more manageable lists. Keep in mind that this list (and its sub-lists) will be a living, breathing document that will grow and shrink. Plan to update it at least twice a week. 2. Map out a plan. Pull out a calendar and plot all the early-bird deadlines for booth services, marketing projects, media submissions and everything else on your master to-do list. Work backwards from your tradeshow date and assign a set number of specific tasks for each week.

3. Set a budget and stick to it. Very early on, determine how much you want to spend on your show. Factor in everything— your booth space and components, marketing materials, travel and lodging and a buffer for miscellaneous expenses. Knowing which elements are important to you, where you plan to spend your money and how much you’re spending overall will relieve some of the stress. 4. Make decisions and move on. A lot of decisions will need to be made as you prepare for your show. Do your homework, research your options, make an informed decision and move on. Be confident in your choices and try not to overthink things. 5. Check it off. Take pride in checking things off the list, even if you add an item to the list after you’ve finished the task! There is something very rewarding about crossing tasks off a list, no matter how big or small. 6. Take breaks. Schedule down time leading up to the show. Exercise, a date night with your significant other, dinner with friends or even just a full night’s sleep—step away from the computer and give yourself a mental break. Taking breaks will help relieve stress and allow you to refocus and re-energize. 7. Take care of yourself. Eat well, sleep as much as you can and do your best to minimize stress leading up to the show. It is easy to run yourself ragged during this time—you’re juggling other aspects of your business, family life, personal obligations and preparing for a major tradeshow. You do not want to get sick before a show (I promise) and a little TLC can go a long way. 8. Ask for help. Recruit friends and family to help you get ready for the show. They’ll be happy to help address preshow mailers, proof your catalogues or watch your kids for a couple of hours. Remember that your friends and family are your biggest fans, they want to see you succeed and will be happy to lend a hand where they can. 9. Find comfort in community. Use social media or online forums to connect with others who are preparing for your tradeshow. Leading up to the National Stationery Show, it is not uncommon to find late night dance parties, pleas for help or virtual hugs on Twitter. Even if you run your business solo, you’re not alone as you prep for your tradeshow. Having a supportive network of industry colleagues who can relate to what you’re going through is invaluable. 10. It is a marathon, not a sprint. Selling wholesale and preparing for your tradeshow should be viewed as a marathon, not a sprint. Recognize that your tradeshow is just one step in the process of growing your business. Soak in every moment, learn from your experiences and enjoy the ride! U P P E R C A S E / 15

Mac and Ninny Paper Company Gloucester, United Kingdom Mac and Ninny believe that if you love it, you should label it! Because everyone is different, they’ve created 64 different bookplates so that every Tom, Dick and Harriet will find one that matches them and their interests. Their range of Preserve Gift Kits look as scrumptious as the contents of preserve jars—each kit has everything needed to turn a culinary creation into the perfect gift.

mac a n d n i n n y pap e r compa n y ma n vs . g e o r g e d e s i g n

Man vs. George Design Wauwatosa, USA Man vs. George Design is husbandand-wife team Ryan and Tilney Fitzpatrick, based in Wisconsin. They make colourful, modern greeting cards with a flip-side surprise—their designs wrap around front to back for an extra pop of colour. With everything they create, the goal is to make people smile. Their greeting cards, calendars and art prints are all printed in the US on high-quality 100% recycled cover stock sourced from Midwestern paper mills.

Maple & Belmont Norfolk, USA

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Maple & Belmont was started by Kimberly Munn and her husband Derek in the fall of 2012. Their products feature Kimberly’s charmingly witty designs that explore their visual voice through hand-drawn illustrations and typography. They strive to bring patrons a quality only found in short-run handmade products. Currently they specialize in cards and miscellaneous paper goods, but are starting to branch out into other stationery products, including stamps. They hope to expand into home goods, such as tea towels, tote bags and pillow covers.

Nancy & Betty Studio Canterbury, United Kingdom Nancy & Betty Studio is an independent, design-led stationery brand, based in Kent, the garden of England. They’re rather fond of bright colours, foiling, simple bold graphics and whimsical messages with a nod to retro themes whilst always within a contemporary context. They like simple graphics and strong colours, with a nod to retro themes—inspiration often comes from typewriters and Polaroid cameras.

n a n cy & b e tty st u d i o pap e r pa r as ol p r e s s

Paper Parasol Press San Mateo, USA This letterpress and design studio, located California, produces stationery and limited edition prints. Finding inspiration in Americana and European folk art, they combine their love for traditional letterpress with modern technology. All their cards are individually printed by hand on a vintage Vandercook Universal 1 or a Chandler & Price 12” x 18” New Series Press, named Olga, that weighs just under a ton.

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Papercut Bindery Shipley, United Kingdom About 20 years ago, Roger Grech taught himself to bind as a vehicle for his print work. His sketchbooks, journals and notebooks are handbound using high-quality materials, including leather and handmade and hand-printed papers. A firm believer that handmade is no excuse for poor workmanship, he hopes the care and attention he puts into his work will unlock the potential in yours.

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Pei Design Pasadena, USA Designer Pei Pinney founded this boutique gift and stationery brand in 2012. Their design embraces whimsy and simplicity within the modern lifestyle. All of their work features Pei’s playful illustrations and designs that bring a sweet combination of utility, style, sophistication and joy to everyday life.

penelope’s press Woodridge, USA penelope’s press is a small letterpress studio based in a suburb of Chicago. Out of a deep-seated love affair for paper and armed with an entrepreneurial spirit, proprietress Debbie Lee traded her realtor’s hat for a printer’s apron and opened shop in the summer of 2009. The company combines clean and simple letterpress goods with original hand-drawn illustrations. Paper is lovingly hand-fed through vintage printing presses in a humble garage shop and assembled on an all-purpose kitchen table from Midwest suburbia.

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Power and Light Press Silver City, USA Power and Light Press is a one-woman letterpress shop based in beautiful New Mexico. Kyle Durrie takes great pride in the pursuit of fine craftsmanship but works just as hard to hone a juvenile, sometimes inappropriate sense of humour. She’s inspired by a love of paper, wobbly lines, history, overheard conversations, logs, whiskey, trains, the colour brown, the Wild West, dogs, salt water, road maps, vintage office supplies and beards, among other things. She also loves crossword puzzles, swimming in creeks, green chile, adventures and occupying small spaces. 18 / U P P E R C A S E

pow e r a n d l i g h t p r e s s

RUNNING A STATIONERY STORE B y T h e r e s a K u ta r n a a n d b r a d K r e u t z e r pa p e r u m b r e l l a


eeply committed to being happy in our working lives, we opened Paper Umbrella in 2005. Our desire to work together grew out of our collective thirst for creative expression. We started out motivated to set up a good working life, but ended up discovering that our real work was uncovering the alchemy between us in our partnership. We have learned that our business is only as strong as our partnership. Seven years on, we have built a business and a family, and are surrounded by a flourishing creative community. Looking back, all of this was a result of our energy and our drive to succeed being in sync. We remember many frenzied nights hustling around for fixtures and locating suppliers, but we always said that when the timing is right, the work is effortless. We have been the fortunate recipients of a myriad of helpers who simply appeared to help us. We continue to be so grateful for all the tremendous support we’ve received. Looking ahead, we are striving, like Uppercase magazine, to become a hub of information for others to use as they pursue and explore their own creative expression.

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Ow n i n g a b r i c k a n d mo rta r sto r e

1. Engage with your community. This will allow for local collaboration and help you build relationships with customers who want to support local business. 2. Embrace change and be open to constantly reinventing your business. From products to partnerships, the business demands that you stay fresh and relevant. 3. Create an atmosphere that entices your customers into a fantasy built on the unexpected and the imaginative. Music, displays and products all work to create a happy refuge from the demands of the outside world. 4. embrace social media only if you are prepared to invest the time to make it interesting for your customers. 5. As a brick and mortar store, it is important to connect personally with your customer. This is one advantage you hold over any online store. 6. Allowing our customers to physically interact with our products gives us the tactile advantage. Choose and/or create unique products that you love having around you and that your customers will love, too. 7. When it comes to marketing, think outside the box—as well as outside the big box. Budgets can be small, so use local media to position your business in news-related stories. For example, we have a created an annual 24-hour event at Christmas that takes on the big box stores directly and generates lots of free press. 8. Ensure that you set aside time away from the business to enjoy all the other aspects of life so that you can come back to work refreshed. 9. Your values are reflected in the choices you make. Take the time to find and nurture your distinct point of view. 10. Have fun—it’s infectious!

Photos: Danielle Tocker

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Present & Correct London, United Kingdom

p r e s e n t & C o r r e ct

Present & Correct provides office sundries for the modern workspace. It’s a showcase for the things we have enjoyed since school. A long-term obsession with stationery has culminated in this constantly evolving store, which stocks paper and office objects inspired by homework, the post office and old educational materials.

Pressbound Beverly, USA


Working out of an old mill building in a coastal New England town, just north of Boston and next to Salem, Melissa Gruntkosky handcrafts paper goods. Her work inspires tangible connections in a modern world and combines traditional printing like letterpress and woodblock with modern design and digital techniques. She is fueled by folk art inspirations, such as Polish paper-cuttings, Russian nesting dolls and vintage embroidery. Her love of texture, geometrical patterns and retro colour palettes can also be seen throughout her work.

Pretty Paper Please by MĂŠlanie Kimmett Vancouver, Canada MĂŠlanie Kimmett is a designer and illustrator based in lush Vancouver, Canada. An incessant love for the magical, the natural world, modern shapes and typography bravely dressed in vibrant colours continually inspires her work. She recently looked to her Lithuanian heritage for further creative inspiration. She has always been drawn to the simplistic quality of Eastern European and Scandinavian design, and hopes to explore this in new work.

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Print In Cursive

print in cursive

Salt Lake City, USA Print In Cursive is a small boutique letterpress studio based in Utah. All projects are designed and printed by Elpitha Tsoutsounakis on a Vandercook No. 3 in her home studio. Colours are all mixed to specification and every sheet is fed by hand. Letterpress is often valued for an exciting, deep impression, which is sometimes best, but she is interested in exploring all the possibilities in this particular printing method and evaluates impression, ink and paper appropriately for each design.

Rotopolpress Kassel, Germany

r otopolp r e s s sa r a h p h e lp s c r e at i v e

Rotopolpress is an independent publishing company founded in 2007. Besides illustration books, comics, prints, paper games and postcards, they offer a range of screen-printed sketch-booklets. Each booklet comes with a different pattern and a coloured book endpaper. The covers are hand-printed at their screen-printing workshop. The inside pages are made of plain, off-white, 120g paper—perfect for pencil or ink.

Sarah Phelps Creative Halifax, Canada Sarah’s bright, clean designs are full of whimsy, laden with heart and born out of a deep love for both traditional letterpress and Gocco screen printing—along with a desire to add a little cheer to the world. In working on those just-can’t-stop-thinking-about-it ideas, her process begins with putting pen to paper. She lovingly produces pieces by hand for a truly tactile product crafted right in her home studio, with slight print variations bringing character to every piece.

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s poo n & sa i lo r l ett e r p r e s s

Spoon&Sailor Letterpress Central Falls, USA Rhode Island’s Spoon&Sailor like to party like it’s 1899. This means that every single item that makes its way out their studio door is 100% handcrafted: all ink colours are custom mixed, each card is manually cut down to size on a turn-of-the-century guillotine cutter, and every printed piece has been hand-fed into a century-old Chandler & Price platen press—often several times. They delight in coming up with unique and memorable solutions for everyday paper goods and have an ever-expanding retail line.

st e e l p etal p r e s s

Steel Petal Press Chicago, USA Artist and printer Shayna Norwood runs this urban letterpress boutique. Their style is bold and bright with designs that wow. They create beautiful, handmade letterpress paper products using reclaimed cotton paper with gorgeous texture and weight. In addition to the impression each print leaves on the page, Shayna loves the mechanics, machinery and process of letterpress printing.

The Beautiful Project Vancouver, Canada Quirky, sweet and sometimes a little bit sassy, these paper goods are made with love and attention by designer and illustrator Jeannette Ordas. Her work is inspired by her love of all things vintage and cute, from 1950s cookbooks to textiles and typography.

The Nic Studio Brooklyn, USA The Nic Studio specializes in stationery design, original illustration and layout design. Here you will find custom and ready-to-order invitations, notecards and sets, art prints and more. The work demonstrates a sense of humour, an appreciation for the little moments in life and an obvious love of the hand-drawn. 22 / U P P E R C A S E

t h e b e au t i f u l p r oj e ct t h e n i c st u d i o

The Paper Cub Company Long Beach, USA The Paper Cub Company is a collection of modern greetings and paper goods. Their cards are screen printed on recycled papers in the US and feature hand-drawn lettering, bold graphics and trend-right colours. Each card is screen printed and special enough to save and frame as artwork.

The Victory Special Press

t h e pap e r c u b compa n y

Anchorage, USA

t h e v i cto ry s p e c i al p r e s s

Letterpress printing—that’s what they live for. The Victory Special Press started by designing and printing a variety of greeting cards, posters and other ephemera, but now design and/ or print custom orders for a variety of people, businesses and events. They still see a need in this world for a beautiful piece of printed material, with a feel and texture only available from letterpress printing.

thunderpeep designs

thunderpeep designs Toronto, Canada thunderpeep designs is a Canadian design studio, specializing in greeting cards, stationery, prints and custom invitations. Their work is inspired by an eclectic mix of folklore, grand tales from far-off lands, cheesy one-liners and a mad passion for typography.

Tulip Press Toronto, Canada In 1993, Kathryn Klar designed her own wedding invitation and began receiving commissions to create oneof-a-kind invitations and announcements. Stamps, stationery and a line of greeting cards were introduced soon after. The name Tulip Press was chosen for her favourite flower, the tulip— its delicate petals and the way they gently unfurl are an inspiration for her drawings, designs and packaging.

tulip press

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Tweedle Press Chigaco, USA

tw e e d l e p r e s s ty p e s cal e

This small family business uses sustainable materials to create stylish paper goods while focusing on personal service. One of their most interesting offerings is letting clients have their junk mail and other scrap papers hand-recycled into customtinted papers for print projects.

Typescale London, United Kingdom

v e r 贸 n i ca g r e c h

Typescale is the work of designer Jane Bernstein. Their work features type-based prints, notebooks and stationery, and is born out of a lifelong love of photography, typography and collecting. These collections include vintage typewriters, signage, lettering, flash cards, wood type, word games, packaging, cameras, graphics supplies and printed ephemera.

Ver贸nica Grech Avil茅s, Spain Ver贸nica studied Fine Arts and Design at San Carlos University in Valencia. She currently lives in the north of Spain, in a small town nestled between mountains and facing the ocean, with beautiful views in every direction. She works with a variety of clients to support illustration projects. She loves nature and landscapes and enjoys creating strange and fun characters, poetic portraits and colourful urban scenes.

Wild Ink Press Chico, USA Wild Ink Press creates work that ranges from visual puns and pop culture references to textural wonders. This family business operates out of a converted tidy little second garage that was slathered with acid green paint. That colour, combined with bright warehouse lights and an all-glass garage door, creates a vibrant but cozy creative environment.

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Get your work on stationery By Lilla Rogers lilla rogers studio


ou walk into your favourite little shop, and you covet the ridiculously cute illustrated journals and cards and notebooks, and even the charming sticky notes, and you ask yourself, “How do I get that gig?”

10 t i p s

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g ett i n g a fa b i llu st r at i o n g i g

1. Go to shops, turn over products you love and note the manufacturer.

Lilla’s new Book!

2. Go to the websites of these manufacturers and find their submission details.

Gain a wealth of information, inspiration and know-how on moving your artistic career forward from one of the most successful illustration agents in the industry.

3. Stop and reflect on what you love to draw. What’s out there already? Now draw something different. 4. Colours are key. Look at websites like or, or at a sumptuous page in this magazine for colour ideas. 5. Set up your palette of these fresh colours. 6. Now draw and paint or vector your images. Make a mess. Use references. Put on awesome music. Dance around your studio. People buy your joy!

7. Free-floating silhouetted icons give the client great flexibility. Having lots of isolated images, such as a mushroom, an anchor or a telescope, give the designer bits to play with. These are used to create coordinating patterns for things like journal endpapers, packaging art and interior pages of sketchbooks. You are making a kind of art kit for the client, a designer, to have fun with. 8. Make sure your icons are related to the theme of your main image. 9. Pop the images onto your website. Post, blog and pin your images. Send out a newsletter with them. Now you’re ready to email them directly to your favourite manufacturers. In the email, pop in about three to five jpgs that are 72 dpi, RGB, and add a link to your website. 10. Rinse and repeat. The system works!

I Just Like to Make Things is a dazzling, colourful volume of career and personal advice for artists, filled with ideas, playsheets (as opposed to worksheets), case studies and tools for staying inspired and creative. These pages are grounded in the wisdom and experience gleaned from a long and buzzing career as creative juggernaut Lilla Rogers shares her analysis of leveraging various working styles and ways to keep your art fresh. Artist interviews provide inside details about the best jobs, as well as tips on how to work smart and stay creative. You’ll also find annotated case studies of several successful art jobs, in addition to colouring book pages, hand-drawn charts and lots of crazy fun. Published by Quarry Books.

lilla rogers was a full-time, highly successful illustrator beginning in 1984 with clients ranging from the New York Times, Takashimaya, Barneys New York and Levi’s. She had agents in Tokyo, Paris and New York. In 1994 her top students asked her to represent them. Since that time, Lilla Rogers Studio has become one of the most respected illustration agencies in the US, with clients in Europe and Asia and known for setting trend. Being an illustrator and teacher allows Lilla the unique position of helping her artists grow, as she fully understands the creative process and how to nurture the best in each artist. She has lectured internationally at conferences and tradeshows, such as the Illustration Conference (ICON) and Printsource New York, colleges and corporations, and is interviewed for her expertise as an agent, trendsetter and artist. She lives in Arlington, MA.

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s cr a t c h and sni ff ou r l at est cover !

mmmm‌ print has never smelled so good! SUBSCRIBE NOW

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