Posts in Events
Etsy/West Elm Pop-Up Shop Recap
IMG_5830.jpg

Last weekend was the Etsy and West Elm pop-up shop! We (and 12 other Seattle area Etsy sellers) packed up our products and set up shop at the Seattle West Elm store for the day.

Local decorating blog The Inspired Room curated the event, and were honored to be chosen. Thanks to everyone involved! It was a great day.

IMG_5828.jpg

I'd been sick in bed with a cold all week before the event, but I rallied my energy just enough to park myself in a comfy West Elm dining chair with an unending supply of London Fog from Wheelhouse Coffee. So if you met me at the event, that's why I was half dead. (I hate being sick!!)

IMG_5826.jpg

It was really fun to see our cards and prints in the beautiful store. We set up at a dining table, under this amazing chandelier. I "window" shopped from my chair all day, and Brad added about a dozen new things to his Christmas list. West Elm is definitely one of our favorites.

IMG_5824.jpg

We're not doing a ton of events this year (focusing our energy on preparing for NSS), but we have one more pre-Christmas event coming up! We'll have the studio open on December 5th & 7th for our annual 57 Biscayne holiday open house. Put it on your calendar and come see us!

More info about the West Elm event: West Elm’s Blog The Inspired Room’s Post

People Who Make Things on the Internet
brookyln-beta1.jpg

[Hi friends, I'm passing the blog baton to Brad for this one.] At the beginning of October, Sara & I went to New York City. This was my first time in NYC and my first time at Brooklyn Beta.

We went with our good friends Hannah & Perry along with their son Jude. We split our time in New York between the conference and exploring. Sara asked me to share a bit about the conference.

If you're wondering what Brooklyn Beta is, I've conveniently grabbed the description from their site:

Brooklyn Beta is a friendly web conference aimed at the “work hard and be nice to people” crowd — some of the friendliest web designers, developers, and practitioners around.

Our goal is to inspire you to make something you love, something that makes a difference. We invite speakers to highlight meaningful problems that need our help, get all the people who can turn an idea into reality in one place, and try our best to make it happen.

I found that Brooklyn Beta is about people and stories more than it is about design. Don't get me wrong, we listened to CEOs and founders from companies like Etsy, Airbnb, and Squarespace, but it was more than that. It was a gathering of people who make things on the internet, some of whom I knew, some I recognized, and others I got to know.

Prior to the main event, I went to talks by Squarespace, Meetup.com, and Facebook. I learned about arduino, user testing, and how products fail. There were many happy hours. We helped make 600 paper airplanes at the Invisible Dog. We toured the Studiomates/Creative Morning HQ/Tattly Offices. Good times.

Friday's event was excellent. All of the speakers shared their experiences and told wonderful stories. I left more inspired than when I had arrived.

Brooklyn Beta Take Aways: (Mostly from Tim O'Reilly)

  • Work on stuff that matters. Work on what is hard.
  • Create more value than you capture.
  • Writing creates context in which other people can think.
  • You can leave anything out, as long as you know what it is. —Ernest Hemmingway
  • Change happens slowly, then all at once.

NYC Take Aways:

  • NYC is huge. Subways are a perfect way to get around if you are exploring.
  • The Natural History Museum is amazing!
  • Birch Coffee is so good. I wish it were in Seattle!
  • Dumbo and Williamsburg are where it's at.
  • The architecture in NYC is mind blowing. There is a scale to the buildings and an insane amount of detail that you just don't see anywhere else.
  • LaGuardia airport sucks.

If you want to meet people who care about what they do and why they do it, I recommend going to Brooklyn Beta. I know I'll be there next year.

Etsy Pop Up Shop at West Elm!
Seattle_EtsyPopUp_Promo.jpg

Etsy and West Elm are teaming up to showcase Etsy sellers in Seattle, and we'll be there!

Working with decorating blog, The Inspired Room, the folks at both companies chose 12 Seattle-based Etsy artists for a one day pop-up shop. We are absolutely thrilled to have been chosen, and can't wait for the event!

The pop-up shop will take place on Saturday, November 9th at the Seattle West Elm store. Each of the featured Etsy sellers will set up within the store to share and sell their homegoods, accessories, stationery and more. There will also be a Smilebooth, DJs and snacks, a.k.a. FUN!

Join us! Date: Saturday, November 9th Time: 1:00 - 6:00 p.m. Location: West Elm, 2201 Westlake Avenue, Seattle, Washington

More info: Facebook EventWest Elm's Blog The Inspired Room's Post

These are the featured Seattle area Etsy Shops you'll get to shop!

Constellation Co.
Love, Daniella
Wallingford Co.
Herbivore Botanicals
Lily Emme Jewelry
Dahlia Press Shop
Fremont Candle Co
Garden BonBons
On Your Case Store
Tutta Lou Press
Three Bad Seeds
Rouge and Whimsy

Trunk Show at E. Smith Mercantile!
esmith8.jpg

Last night the lovely ladies behind E. Smith Mercantile hosted our sneak preview trunk show!

We packed up what we have of the new card & gift line and carried it on our backs (not really) the three blocks to our favorite Pioneer Square shop. We set up in the (soon to be) E. Smith Back Bar and welcomed the neighborhood to come see what we've been working on. (It was a low light scenario that was lovely for shopping but tough for photos, so please pardon these instagram-esque photos that I actually snapped on our real camera.)

esmith9.jpg

It was a lovely summer evening, with lots going on in the neighborhood! Our friend Meggie came to help me carry things and set up.

esmith5.jpg

We were lousy with cards for sale!

esmith6.jpg

Lots of friends came to shop and hang out!

esmith7.jpg

Our baby presses were in attendance to remind folks that everything is letterpress.

esmith3.jpg

Wine was served, conversations were had.

esmith10.jpg

There was a special guest performance from Eric Freeman, who played everything from Jimmy Buffet to Johnny Cash, and had us dancing in the aisles.

esmith1.jpg

Can we talk about how cool E. Smith is? Really cool.

esmith4.jpg

Bad mirror selfie with my baby sis - the wall & display look great! ;)

esmith2.jpg

Hello friends!

Thanks to E. Smith for being very gracious hosts, and thanks to everyone who stopped by! We had a great night, and we hope you did too.

Life Just Snowballs Along
aiga.jpg

Sara here, catching up after a long long loooong end of 2012. I love the hustle and bustle of the holidays and finishing up the year, but being that busy always takes its toll.

Brad and I had a wonderful Christmas, but spent most of our vacation time being quite sick. But we're finally getting back to normal and are back in the office working, planning and getting 2013 in gear! But before we do that, here's a bit of a December wrap up!

We participated in the local AIGA & AAF Seattle's Jingle & Mingle Holiday Party as a vendor in their Design Gift Market. It was fun to meet folks and greet shoppers at a new event! (Photo courtesy of the event's Flickr page.)

snowball6.jpg

We participated in our first winter Crafty Wonderland show in Portland. It was a great turnout, and an amazing show to shop! We did a good chunk of our holiday purchases at the show, as well as at Portland Bazaar (we left Cherish in the booth and ran off to visit!), and Wanderlust (my new favorite store in Portland).

snowball7.jpg

We launched the Cosmic Sans project website, and it went viral! We've found it all over the place. Here are some of the most exciting places we've seen it shared: Quipsologies, The Smithsonian Blog, The Maddow Blog, Design Taxi, and i09.

snowball1.jpg

Remember our desk project? She had a starring role in our Christmas decorations this year, keeping our stockings hung with care.

snowball5.jpg

Brad & I were able to get away for a few days after Christmas to get some rest before the new year. We stayed at Lakedale Resort on San Juan Island for the first time, and fell in love. We will definitely be back!

snowball3.jpg

While taking a break from work, Brad had some fun putting together a photo blog for our little family! We got a new camera awhile back, and are documenting our adventures again. I'll share some highlights here, but definitely check out the photo blog for updates about what we're up to personally.

So now you're caught up on the goings-on. We've got a very exciting year planned, but it's all on the "down low" for now. Check back in often, you don't want to miss it!

Constellation & Co. in Space!
cos2.jpg

I am excited to be writing my first blog post for Constellation & Co. and to have a chance to introduce myself! My name is Holly Power and lately I have been doing a lot of behind the scenes administrative things here at Constellation.

You may have gotten an email from me in response to an estimate request or seen me hanging around at shows with Brad and Sara (a little because I work for them, a lot because Sara's my bestie!). It's my great pleasure to be dipping my toes into the blogging side of things for a business that I love and am thrilled to be a part of. You will probably be hearing a lot more from me in the future, so enough about me, let's talk about Cosmic Sans...

Two weeks ago we had the amazing opportunity to curate the opening of Cosmic Sans, a super fun collaboration of artists who came together to create a sans serif space and sci-fi themed alphabet. The show exhibited 26 unique pieces by 24 artists that were sold via silent auction the night of the opening. We are so grateful to all the artists and people who helped make this show possible! It far exceeded our expectations! We sold all 26 pieces, and were able to raise over $1,ooo to donate to the folks at 826 Seattle, a wonderful non-profit that offers free tutoring, help with homework, creative writing classes and field trip opportunities for kids here in Seattle. Wow!

cos3.jpg
Guests checking out the cosmic art

Guests checking out the cosmic art

Folks enjoying this happy alien mural by  Josh Power  (my very own super talented husband!)

Folks enjoying this happy alien mural by Josh Power (my very own super talented husband!)

Some fierce bidding action! (That's  Jenny's  hubby, by the way!)

Some fierce bidding action! (That's Jenny's hubby, by the way!)

cos8.jpg

For those space lovers out there who weren't able to make it to the opening, don't worry! The show will be up at the Design Commission Gallery in Pioneer Square for the entire month of September. Hurray!

If you missed the show, we're working on a gallery site (like our Dream series gallery) to show off all of the awesome work. Also, if you weren't able to get your hands on one of  these out-of-this-world art pieces to take home, you will be happy to hear that we are working on putting together a poster, which will include a small version of each design, and a coffee table book available through Blurb.com. The proceeds from the posters and books will also be donated towards the fantastic work being done at 826 Seattle. We are so excited for this opportunity to continue to partner with them to inspire kids! We'll be sure to update you when both products are available.

Thanks again to Design Commission for hosting us, and to the following stellar human beings who donated their artwork:

Patrick Mahoney
Luz Bratcher
Jason Powers
Abe Vizcarra
Jesse Jaren
Graham Stinson
Trish Mahoney
Justin Mezzell
Drew Pickard
Jesse Penico
Lisa Schneller
Joseph Ekloff
Sara McNally
Chase Bratton
Josh Power
Jess McCarty
Kim Merrikin
Mary Kate McDevitt
Tim Darragh
Mary Frances Foster
Jade Kwan
Brad McNally
Paige Pauli
Zac Schwiet

Also thanks to Jenny Linquist, who is our favorite photographer ever, and took these great photos.

Don't Miss Cosmic Sans!
cosmicsans_blog.jpg

Cosmic Sans has sprouted legs and taken off running!

Submissions are coming in every day, and we are so impressed by what our fellow space lovers are coming up with! This show is going to knock your proverbial socks off. Just look at this sneak peek!

sneek
sneek

Insane, right!? Yes, that is Zoidberg! (Left by Zac Schwiet, right by Lisa Schneller) And that's just the beginning. We've got light sabres, space monkeys, and Gordon Freeman's crow bar coming your way!

So here's what you're going to do.

1) Plan to come to the show. And then do it!

2) Print out this flyer and hang it up somewhere that nerds cool people will see it.

3) RSVP that you're coming on our Facebook event so we can make enough space snacks for you.

We can't wait. We'll see you there!

Our CreativeMornings Talk
seacm2.jpg

July's Seattle CreativeMornings was hosted at Maker's Space, a rad new coworking space in downtown Seattle, and featured a talk by us! (Crazy, right!?)

Sara presented a talk entitled: Analog Passion & Craft in an Economic Downturn: How I Became a Small Business Owner (and Why it Was a Good Idea). Video of the talk is available on Seattle Creative Mornings' Vimeo page, and the presentation slides are available on Speaker Deck. (We've also included the text of the talk below.)

CreativeMornings is a monthly breakfast lecture series for "creative types." Each event is free, includes a 20 minute talk & 20 minutes of Q&A, and brings together creative folks to share their work and experiences. CreativeMornings was started in New York City in 2009 by Tina Roth Eisenberg (SwissMiss), to create an "accessible, inspiring morning event for people to meet." We're big fans of CreativeMornings - we love attending the Seattle events, and enjoy impromptu CreativeMornings in the office, listening to the wealth of content available from all over the world!

These photos of the event are by the lovely and talented Jenny Linquist.

seacm6.jpg
seacm3.jpg

It was a huge honor to be asked to speak. We have by no means "arrived," and are learning more and more every day. Writing this talk was an awesome opportunity for the two of us to think and talk through our story and our experiences. We have a tendency in our busy life to get bogged down in minutia and forget to step back and look at where we've been. It was incredibly refreshing to get to share about what we love to do and what we've learned along the way. We have a heart for the creative folks in Seattle. We want to be honest about our journey and  the reality of owning a business in order to support, inspire, and be in community with more and more creative small businesses in our city.

Holy plaid, batman!

Holy plaid, batman!

The response to the talk was mind blowing. We received so many kind tweets, e-mails, and even a sweet blog post on With Design in Mind. We've been meeting with folks here in the studio since then - having great chats about business in design and working in community. It's opened a dialogue that we are so excited to be a part of. I (Sara), have never thought of myself as a businesswoman or a writer, but I've so enjoyed learning, writing and talking about these topics. I'm planning to continue to share our ideas and journey here on the blog. (The first thing will be to share how I'll learn the time management to be able to do that! Updates to come.)

Here's the text of the talk - for those of you who prefer reading to listening or watching my quirky self.

Analog Passion & Craft in an Economic Downturn: How I Became a Small Business Owner (and Why it Was a Good Idea)

I'm Sara McNally. My husband Brad and I are the founders of Constellation & Co., a small studio in Pioneer Square. We offer full service graphic design and letterpress printing for a variety of client projects, including: wedding invitations, branding and print collateral for small businesses, and a line of letterpress greeting cards and paper gifts that is available in stores in Seattle and nationwide. We use a mixture of modern and historical technologies to produce work that is sometimes sweet, sometimes sarcastic, but always inspired by handmade processes, vintage ephemera, and collaboration.

While in design school, I got to the section of Megg's History of Graphic Design about printing in the industrial revolution and found my calling. In my mind, they'd reached the pinnacle of craft, and I wasn't interested in moving forward. That dream of the 1890's thing totally hits home for me. Since then, I've become passionate about collecting, restoring, and preserving artifacts from the history of design and printing, and putting them back into use. I love that our cast iron printing presses have lasted for over one hundred years in a world that is constantly changing and reinventing itself. There is something so satisfying about this tangible method of printing and design - it's something we desire more and more in our digital world. I'm honored to be preserving and continuing a historic craft, and making a living doing it.

We founded Constellation & Co. on the idea that community is important in life and in business, and that business and life should work well together. It starts with us - we're a married couple, and we collaborate closely on each client project, even if it's just talking out ideas over dinner. We also work closely with our clients, getting to know them beyond their preferences about paper and pantone colors, so we can offer them a design that feels authentic. Our clients bring us into their lives at important moments like planning a wedding or launching a business, and we take our involvement in those times seriously. We have two employees that are dear friends. And (this is my favorite story) we even had an intern that went on to become a wedding invitation client. She then launched her own business, we did her branding and business cards, and now we're her client - she does all of our studio and product photography. She's responsible for the pretty pictures you're looking at today. Outside of our company, we work with a large network of creative people and small businesses whose skills and products enable us to tackle bigger projects and offer more exciting work to our customers. The big picture for us is, we can't do this alone.

Now that you know us a little better, I want to share with you how we got here. And I promise to be honest. I would really love for the design community to believe that i'm crazy rich and glamorous. But I believe that our genuine selves are a lot more interesting than the things we put on Pinterest. Although, I still love Pinterest. My career has been a series of reality checks, and this is an effort to present them honestly to you. And it might as well be a timeline, because, as you know, graphic designers love timelines.

In 2008 Brad and I visited Seattle with friends on our winter break from school. We fell in love with the city and spent the next couple years daydreaming about moving here. I even had a poster of the skyline in my dorm room.

While dating, Brad and I had a daydream about someday (after our crazy successful careers), starting a company together that focused on the handmade. We knew it was something we wanted to do… but in a really long time, after we'd filled a swimming pool with cash.

I loved my time in college and went to a great school. I learned a lot about type, workflow, taking critique - but I was naive and self-entitled. I fell into the "designers will save the world" mentality that's too common in school. I had big plans for myself after graduation. I was going to graduate with an impressive job, move somewhere exciting, and buy a VW bug. (Sidebar: I still don't own a bug.)

Spring break of our senior year, we spent a week interviewing at several Seattle companies, including Hornall Anderson, Methodologie, etc. etc. In every interview, we heard about layoffs, closed intern programs, and the economy. Absolutely no one was hiring junior designers. As graduation approached, our professors made grim predictions, family friends suggested we start practicing "welcome to Walmart," and "can I take your order?" All in all, there was a lot of sad head shaking.

We graduated, and although we didn't have jobs or a solid plan, Seattle was were we wanted to be. So we got in the car with our limited belongings and we drove here. And when we made it to Seattle, we took a lot of trips to IKEA.

And then we started applying for jobs. And we got married! (Because there is no one in the world I would rather walk through this crazy life with.) And we applied for more jobs. And the abstract concept of debt became a concrete concept. And the recession we'd been ignoring became the recession that was defining our adult life.

Along the way, we did a lot of jobs. We worked as much as we could, wherever we could. Some of the jobs were great - we both spent time working freelance for some fantastic people. But a lot of the jobs were terrible - I spent a week as a receptionist, I worked retail, and I spent several months with an ad agency, taking photoshop files the "ad guy" did and reproducing them in illustrator for print. And I did that 12-14 hours a day. Often with no food breaks.

Right around this time, I had a realization. Hating my job isn't working for me. I was absolutely miserable. We paid way too much for school for me to already hate my career. Around this time, Brad started a contract at Microsoft, which was awesome, because my realization was great for my personal satisfaction, but terrible for paying the bills. But once I realized that I was okay being broke doing something I love, I knew that I had nothing to lose. I quit my terrible job, took an intro to letterpress class at the School of Visual Concepts, and sent a lot of "please let me work for you for free" e-mails to the letterpress community in Seattle. Thankfully, my e-mail bombs worked, and I spent a year apprenticing with Rebecca Mullins, the owner of Myrtle Alley Press in West Seattle. I got really hands on, spent a lot of time doing "pay your dues" type projects around the shop, and eventually got to learn the finer points of letterpress printing. And I absolutely loved it.

Towards the end of my year apprenticeship, Brad and I started taking clients, producing products of our own, and launched our website. Around this time, I read a lot of articles on the appropriate way to start a business. I realized quickly that the articles were not written for me. I was 23, broke, and didn't know the first thing about starting a business. I was a very unlikely candidate for being an "entrepreneur." I sat at my computer for days trying to write a business plan. It was really daunting. Maybe you've been there and given up. (I really wanted to.) But here's the good news: at this phase, your business plan is more like writing on toilet paper than carving a stone tablet. You have to get started before you'll know what you want to do, what you're good at, and what you can get people to pay you to do. Our website launched with copy that said something like, "Dear client, if you give us money, we'll do whatever you ask." As we took on more client work and got to know our business better, it became clear what our specialties were, and which kinds of jobs we'd never take again. If you don't get started, you can't even learn from your mistakes. You have to get started.

So we got started. We moved into a tiny corner of the 619 Western arts building, and bought our first full size press.

Before I continue, let me show you a photo of our first printing press. It was a glorious mess. The press was in pieces, covered in rust, and had been dropped off a truck. But I took one look at this press, and I said: I'LL TAKE IT.

before.jpg

I saw the potential in this press, and I wanted to be the one to save it. So we paid the lady, and put it on the truck. It took us well into the night to actually get it into the building. Moving a printing press is the most humbling thing i've ever done. And it's just as humbling every time I do it. I like to think of myself as an island. I want to do things by myself, take responsibility, and work as hard as I can to make them happen. Moving this press the first time forced me to ask others for help and depend on them to get it done. I was completely powerless to move this press on my own. It's something I fought tooth and nail. But that lesson has been more and more important as our business has grown.

Let me take a moment and admit that this whole thing sounds crazy. We purchase, restore, name, and operate 100+ year old machinery that is incredibly heavy, a nightmare to move, and difficult to repair.

If I didn’t passionately love this nonsense, I would be crazy to do it. Nothing about letterpress is glamourous. It's a greasy, inky, sweaty, exhausting business. And I love it.I've found, that in small business, love is mandatory.

When we finally got the press into our studio, I spent upwards of 40 hours with WD40 and wire brushes, scouring untold years of rust, dirt, grime, and nonsense off of the press. But we put in the time and elbow grease, and were printing our first client job in the new space with our new press by the end of the month. It took us 30 days from decision to printing.

jojo.jpg

That January was really stressful. We had overhead for the first time, and after moving the press, I felt the weight of our decision all too clearly. I had a lot of "WHAT HAVE I DONE" moments. Those first few days, I felt like I was swimming in the ocean with this printing press tied to my ankles. Getting into small business is difficult. I won't belittle that. The "just get started" enthusiasm is not enough on it's own to get you through the "we're going to go bankrupt" fears. You have to love what you're doing. Love is mandatory.

Here are some highlights from what we learned that first year:

We learned to start with what we could handle. We knew that at $325 per month, we could afford our overhead even if we never got a client job. That price meant we were at the top floor of a questionably safe building, in a space that had been previously occupied by an adult film studio, but we could afford it. We had to manage our expectations for that space - It wasn't perfect, but we were doing what we loved, and that had to be enough.

We learned to make our space home. It was tiny and windowless, but we treated it with love. You have to want to be in the place where you work. You'll spend the majority of your life there. Make it a place you want to be, and your clients will want to be there too. We packed dozens of people into the space on art walk nights, and over the months, taught hundreds of people about the history of printing. It was amazing.

We also learned that we have freedom to produce quickly and often. We designed and printed most of our products for the first time in this tiny space. We would get an idea, talk it out, sketch it out, and then produce it. We bought a printing press so that we could produce our ideas quickly and get them out into the world. We try to avoid putting our ideas into a folder on our desktop labeled "things i'll get around to." It's been my experience that those just don't get done. We have the technology to keep the time from idea to release short and sweet. It's been important for us to have the machinery, materials, and strategy in place to jump on good ideas. The things we make are ephemera. They're made to send, enjoy, and keep or recycle. They aren't forever. Nothing we create is forever. So why all the pressure? Create and release your ideas into the world. You won't know how they'll be received until you send them out. Some ideas will fail. Some will succeed. Some things will surprise you! And you'll have that information to revise the idea for the next iteration.

And lastly, we learned to expect change, because it's always coming. After 8 months in the 619 building, we were notified it was unsafe, and given 2 months to find a new space. That was a rough day. There was a lot of yelling. But as we talked it through, we realized that this was great timing. We'd grown a ton in those 8 months. Our business had really taken hold. We'd had our first intern, and were taking on our second. We needed more room, and we knew a lot more about our business than when we'd started. Constellation had gone from a question mark to something we knew intimately. And this was a great opportunity to find a new space to fit our growing business.

So, within a year of buying our press and moving into our first studio, we were doubling our square footage and moving into in a building with other artists and small business owners.

We love our studio. It's been a joy to work in, and our clients have loved coming into it! We used to meet a lot of clients in coffee shops for their convenience, but now we only meet with folks in the studio - it does a better job at selling our work than we do! And in very tangible ways, it feels like home. We share events, meals, conversations, and collaborations in this space. And we work. A lot.

In the Spring of this year, we brought on two part time employees. The work had gotten too heavy for me to tackle on my own. And the "weight" of the work is lighter when distributed. This thing is bigger than me. I've learned that not only do I need help, but I must accept help, and even more importantly - ask for help. For awhile, fear of failure kept me from bringing people on. It's scary being responsible for other people. But bringing in fresh eyes, time, and enthusiasm has allowed me to breathe, to invest my time in parts of the business that are otherwise neglected, and I get to share what i've learned with others. I'm so thankful for the ladies that support me on a daily basis. I sleep better at night when I know I have help, and my life is sweeter having more people to share what I love with.

We are continuing to grow - we've taken on more space in the collective, and brought in a second press. There are a lot of growing pains, but we're learning a ton.

So, that catches us up to the present day. When I sat down to write this talk, I started out with a list of questions. These are questions that I've asked myself these past 3 years, and continue to ask myself as we move forward as a business:

Why am I doing this?

I work a lot, and there are certainly days that I ask this question in frustration. But I always come back around to this: I love that my job is a way to build relationships. We work with creative people, clients, and other small businesses. I love getting to know these people. I love that I get to collaborate with my husband, and I love that someday, we'll have print shop kids. I continue to do this because I love to do it, and I love the people it's brought into my life. On the days when i'm overworked, underpaid, and exhausted, it's these people that keep me pressing on.

Where am I? What is specifically needed and desired in my city? I love this city, and it's an honor to be a part of what's happening here. I have to continually remind myself to get out of the studio and be in the city. It's easy to isolate, but it's so important to be aware of what's happening around us.

Who are my clients?

What do they value and what are they looking for? It has been so important to get to know my clients, not as a demographic, but as individuals. And working for clients has been a continually humbling experience. I'm constantly learning to put their joy above my pride. Their happiness is more important than my idea of good design.

But that leads me to: How can I educate my clients?

It's my responsibility to teach my clients what good design is, so that they know it when they see it! And in addition to my clients, how can I educate the public about the history of what we do? Education is a big part of preserving this historic craft, and we're glad to do it. We've done several tours with college classes and homeschool students, and bring people into the studio during open house nights to give them demonstrations of how printing works. And next month we'll be launching a monthly one day workshop for graphic designers on how to design and prepare files for letterpress printing.

Who are my peers? How can I collaborate with them? We're in the process of launching a large scale collaborative project with 26 designers, who are each tackling a letter of the alphabet and producing an art piece with the concept of Cosmic Sans - a space and/or sci-fi related interpretation of comic sans. It's really nerdy. But how better to engage 26 of our peers and create something together? We're excited.

So, back to the title of the talk. What does this have to do with the recession? What recession? My whole career has existed in the recession. I love what I do, and not getting a job forced me to pursue it. In many ways, this recession is the best thing that could have happened to me. These past three years, we've been hard at work, building something. I haven't taken away a large paycheck, (or often any paycheck) - but If I could go back and pick any of my "dream jobs" from college, I wouldn't. I LOVE my job, and I'm blessed to do it. We've built something that is growing, I can't wait to see what's in store for the several years.

Renegade Shopping Summer 2012
renegadeshopping.jpg

Renegade was awesome. Sincerely awesome. We got into a ton of mischief while vending - our fellow vendors' goods were way too rad to resist.

Every time one of us took a trip to the bathroom (on the opposite end of the building from our booth), we'd come back with something fun for ourselves or a gift for someone else.

[The show sign (I cheered when we drove in!) and fun new artwork in the studio by Paper Parasol PressHello, Lets Be FriendsOf Hearty Stock]

Things we came home with:

We bought an ultra rad tee shirt from Gnome Enterprises for our friends' son Jackson. His 2nd birthday party was the day we got back from SF, and we were really excited to bring him back such an epic shirt. He's at the age where he likes to pick what he wears every day, and I'm pretty sure that dinosaurs and robots are the best thing ever when you're 2.

We got an awesome chicken shaped cutting board from Mac Cutting Boards for my mom's birthday. My parents had chickens when they moved to Florida but can't have them at their house here,  so we're always on the lookout for fun chicken themed things.

We procured a sweet art print from Nourishing Notes for the friends who leant us their beautiful home while we were in SF.

I finally got a new laptop (my previous one was purchased in 2006), and picked it up at the Apple Store while we were in SF. So of course I had to get a lovely felt sleeve from Your Felt Case. It's the prettiest shade of blue!

Brad got a fun and type-nerdy Futura shirt from The Medium Control that he'd had his eye on for awhile.

We did an awesome trade for "Pillow Fights" pillow cases featuring old time-y fencing dudes with our "next-door" booth neighbors, Zerobird Studio.

We swapped for a sweet anchor card with the folks from Of Hearty Stock.

Folks we met:

The fine fellows of The Social Dept., whose tees we've purchased on Fab (and absolutely love).

Danni from Oh, Hello Friend, a blog i've read and loved for quite awhile!

Cindy from Paper Parasol Press - a Ringling alum who I'd chatted with online early on in the process of starting Constellation. It was so sweet to finally meet her and talk shop! We also enjoyed some good old fashioned swap-age.

Felicia from Hello, Lets Be Friends - another lovely Ringling alum! I stopped in my tracks when I saw their flywheel card. It was awesome to chat up Ringling alums running such similar businesses! Super fun.

Things we really wanted:

Glass terrariums made from repurposed antique windows by Meg A. Myers Designs

Every single doll made by Mimi Kirchner - because they are all amazing!

Sweet, slender pottery by Sara Paloma

Yummy food themed prints by Drywell Quality Meat Art

I'm not exaggerating when I say that it was an amazing group of craftspeople. We were honored to be among such awesome folks!

Renegade Craft Fair SF Summer 2012!
renegade1.jpg

This was our first time as vendors at any Renegade Craft Fair, and let me tell you - we are hooked!

The turnout was incredible, the organizers were highly organized and helpful, the vendors were suburb, the shoppers were excited... and we had so much fun. It was such a great show. We can't stop raving! Here are some photos of the goings-on.

renegade2.jpg
Our booth - lots of natural light in Fort Mason center!

Our booth - lots of natural light in Fort Mason center!

The two of us on a button, how fun!

The two of us on a button, how fun!

Check back tomorrow for a post about our favorite fellow vendors and all the things we brought home!

SVC Shop Crawl 2012
The lock-up for our shop crawl keepsake

The lock-up for our shop crawl keepsake

Last weekend we had an amazing time touring a selection of print shops in the School of Visual Concepts' letterpress community. It was so lovely to spend a day talking shop with other people as crazy enthusiastic about letterpress as we are!

It was our first time being a stop on the crawl, and we were honored to have everyone stop by. I love having a shop full of people! Below are some photos of the day, and more photos are available here.

shop5.jpg

The keepsake hanging with some of our favorite ephemera and our new magnetic tool strip - that line of ink knives is so satisfying to me!

Amy admiring Kristine's press (Cornelius), and Carl looking dapper with his iron hand press

Amy admiring Kristine's press (Cornelius), and Carl looking dapper with his iron hand press

Lovely type cases!

Lovely type cases!

Renegade Craft Fair San Fran
sfflyerfinal.jpeg

I can't tell you how excited we are for this. We'll be booth #34, and are looking forward to meeting new friends in San Francisco!

Brad and I have never been to California (lame, I know), so we're making a vacation of it. We'll be road tripping down the coast, doing Renegade, and then spending the week after exploring San Francisco. If you're a local, please comment with all the fun things we must see! We seriously can't wait.

Cosmic Sans
cosmic.jpg

Something magical happened on Twitter today. A nerdy joke that my husband has been snickering about for awhile was released into the wild, and it grew wings.

So here's the idea: Cosmic Sans, a series of 26 sci-fi and/or space themed letterforms, designed by 26 designers. Each letterform must be inspired by "the cosmic" and a riff on Comic Sans. ("Riff" here meaning it must be sans serif, and in some way traceable back to Comic Sans, but NOT ugly. Points for good design.) Each designer will produce a letterform, and a 12" x 12" art piece featuring the letterform. All 26 pieces will be printed (handmade printing methods encouraged, but not required), hung in a Seattle gallery show, and showcased in an online gallery for posterity.

Are you cosmic enough to join? (Please do!) Comments on this blog post will be the official registration for the series. Include your name, portfolio site (so we can get to know you), and which letter you'd like to do. Open to all, but we will jury the final 26 pieces for the show (if we get a crazy turnout). Are you excited? We are!

Due date and additional info on the gallery show when we have all 26 letters accounted for!

Where ya been, Sara?
pape11.jpg

So, things got a bit insane around here after my St. Louis trip. While I was gone, work ground to a halt for a week and has been backed up ever since (nearly a month!) No complaints here, busy = business!

We've been on press every day for weeks, and have quite a few new client projects in the works. We've hired a lovely and talented printmaker named Cherish to help out around the shop  and assigned the beautiful and organized Holly to answering e-mails and setting up client meetings (she also makes wreaths). With our powers combined, work has continued on in a rapid pace and won't stop next time i'm out of town! (Which will be in July for Renegade Craft Fair & San Francisco adventure, which i'm currently planning and very excited about!)

Crazy busy Sara tends to mean no blog entries. But I've got lots of updates planning and coming soon! In the meantime, here's a greatest hits line-up of our recent design/print work:

[Tiny Newspaper for the '57 Biscayne Open House]

lexygabe11.jpg
charlotte11.jpg
andi31.jpg
Crafty and counting...

Here's the scoop: Crafty Wonderland is this weekend in Portland, and we are so excited!

I checked out a bunch of our fellow vendors, and blew several hours of my morning... these folks are a-maz-ing! You don't want to miss this one. Here's a run down of the booths i'm most excited to check out:

Things I want: Beautiful, feminine jewelry from Amy Wing Gorgeous textiles from Anna Joyce Nerdy goodness from Betty Turbo (I've gotta get me some of those Buffy cards!) I feel like my summer needs feather earrings from Bird Crap Featherwear I love these cut paper shadowboxes from Bird Mafia Cut Paper Design How amazing are these mounted trophy magnets by bishoplennonart? The pillow pincushions by Chet & Dot are too cute for words. Makes me want to take up sewing! Tiny felted mushrooms in bottlecaps? Yes please! Gonna have to stop by House of Moss. I simply can't wait to see Wee Green Spot's sweet terrariums in person! (Been crushing on them for awhile.)

Things Hubby's Gonna Want: Ultra nerdy accessories by Pixel Party Felted Star Wars Mobiles? OMG. Sheep Creek has too many cute things for words. I don't know what Beard Balm is for, but my hubby's got a beard so i'm sure we'll find out! Looking forward to dropping by Man's Face Stuff.

Familiar Faces: I've got a Berkley Illustration print hung above my desk, and I can't wait to see more! We've got Mary Kate McDevitt's Abe print hung up in the studio - a very sweet reminder, even on rainy days. Can't wait to see what she's been up to! I totally stalked the gorgeous hats by Humperdinck His and Hers Haberdashery at the last Urban Craft Uprising, and can't wait to see them again!