Our Woodland Cheer thank you card was featured in the “How to Spend it” section of this weekend’s Financial Times, along with excerpts from an interview with the Moyle sisters! Writer Mark O’Flaherty did a great job with the piece. Thanks, Mark!
One of our favorite quotes he picked:
“When something heartfelt has to be conveyed, an e-mail can’t compete. The stationery of the future will be unique and handcrafted. If it feels mass-produced, why bother?”
Here’s the full interview:
MO: Could you tell me how you both first became interested and involved in letterpress?
HL: Eunice studied printmaking in collage and heard about a letterpress class held at San Francisco Center for the Book from a friend. She took a class there and became obsessed. Her first project was James Bond-themed invitations inspired by the original Casino Royale movie poster for a party Sabrina was hosting — thus Sabrina got hooked as well. Eunice got her first hand-cranked Vandercook printing press on eBay and installed it in her garage. After printing thousands of cards and developing a mild case of tennis elbow, we upgraded to a more automated Heidelberg Windmill printing press, from circa 1950.
MO: How would you describe your particular style?
HL: Happy vintage graphic bohemian. We draw from eclectic sources, from Victorian to 1960s advertising design, so our style is hard to pinpoint. The unifying characteristic is a sense of whimsy and making sure the artist’s/designer’s hand felt in the design details and customisation.
MO: What have your inspirations been?
HL: Tim Walker, Paul Rand, Jamie Oliver’s food packaging by Pearl Fisher, The Raleigh Hotel, Rob Ryan, Mucha, Hatch Show Print, Charlie Harper, Kay Nielsen, Andy Warhol, Orla Kiely, Andrew and Martin Provensen — to name just a few.
MO: What’s the scale of the operation and how many pieces are you producing per year?
HL: We’re a mid-sized boutique – about 15 staff and 4 printing presses. We produce about 2,000 letterpress cards per day, ranging from greetings cards to custom designed wedding invitation suites, each of which may consist of multiple customised enclosures. So, probably about 80,000 – 100,000 pieces a year.
MO: Do you think there is one particular piece of work you’ve produced that sums up your style, or that you think has been particularly successful?
HL: The save the date poster that Eunice created for her own wedding – it’s a bit over-the-top and combines whimsy with graphic elements and hand lettering and illustration. Other than that, the L’Oiseau wedding invitation suite is representative of our style – graphic and chic but a light-hearted.
MO: Why is letterpress which is inherently ‘vintage’, so modern again?
HL: People are feeling very nostaligic for the written word and old-fashioned correspondence. Call it mass-media burnout, Facebook phobia, or what not. There is something tactile, pleasing and personal about receiving a hand-written note written on a beautiful piece of stationery. Letterpress plays perfectly to these visceral desires because it is printed on a soft, cottony paper and printing is literally pressed into the page.
MO: Impossible I know, but from the book Handmade Hellos, could you identify 2-3 people working in letterpress mentioned in the book that you think are working in a particularly modern way, and why?
HL: Absolutely. Egg Press: they are using graphic, Mid-Century modern-inspired designs (think Marimekko or Orla Kiely) and combining that to perfection with letterpress and a witty sensibilty. Pancake & Franks: their designs are uber modern, conceptual, and minimal – all the white space sets off the letterpress printing to a T.
MO: Have we lost the art of letter writing, or will it come back? I’d love to know how you feel about the whole emotion of receiving personal handwritten mail…
HL: The art of letter writing is not lost by any means — it’s just becoming much less frequent. Letter writing will always persist among a certain set and for certain special circumstances (I mean, e-mail love letters? How unromantic!). We love the immediacy of e-mail for normal communication. But when there is something heartfelt to be conveyed — a word of sympathy, a wedding invitation, a love note — there is just no way that e-mail, no matter how many bells and whistles are attached, will ever compete with the human hand. Because letter writing is being reserved only for special occasions and people, the stationery of the future will be increasingly unique and hand-crafted. That’s where letterpress again comes in, as opposed to the traditional cheap-and-cheerful greeting card. If it feels mass-produced, why bother? You might as well a send an e-mail. (And it doesn’t hurt to take a few calligraphy lessons, too!)