When I was a kid, walking out to the mailbox to see if there was any mail for me was probably one of the highlights of my day. To this day, 20+ years later, I still get excited to see a “real” piece of mail hand addressed to me. I’ve passed on this excitement to my kids, and now they are the ones running to the box to see if anything good is in there. There’s just something so special about a card, or letter that someone put some time and effort into and sent in the mail. It makes it even more wonderful when the envelope contains a beautiful, unique card in it! Kristin, from 622 press, is out there creating some of those beautiful paper pieces, on her restored paper press, and I’ve got nothing but props for her! Meet Kristin, and enjoy her things!
Please introduce yourself!
Hi, I’m Kristin, owner, founder, designer, worker bee and cleaning crew for 622 press, my letterpress studio. I grew up in Wisconsin but moved to Bermuda just over a year ago. (More on that further down!)
What do you make or do?
622 press started purely as a letterpress studio. Over the last few years, my long-term goal of owning a brick-and-mortar shop has really crystallized, and last year I began adding other product lines I want to carry in my future shop to my online store. It’s such a great way to work out the kinks in prototypes and see what flies off the shelves before adding the pressure of a physical presence! Plus, my brain is always buzzing with new projects, so having that variety really appeals to me.
As of right now, 622press.etsy.com carries letterpress cards, coasters and prints, bespoke stationery and custom-design business cards, original watercolor paintings and digital prints, handmade crepe paper flowers and crocheted scarves and cowls.
How can we find your things?
You can find out everything about the letterpress studio (including my blog) on 622press.com. All purchases right now are going through my etsy shop at 622press.etsy.com. And, I’m always posting the latest and greatest at facebook.com/622press.
How long have you been creating and is it your full-time job?
I first encountered letterpress at college in Stevens Point, Wisconsin, where I was earning my BFA in graphic design. I loved design, but missed the tactile quality and unpredictability of materials from my fine art classes—and all of a sudden here was a medium that was the perfect marriage of the two. I went on to graduate with a snazzy portfolio and get a job at a regional magazine. By 24, I was art director of that magazine—realizing a dream I didn’t think I’d reach for decades—and stayed there for the next 5 years.
Fast forward to the present and I’d been pursuing letterpress as a weekend and evening hobby/business for more than seven years. I have greeting cards and limited edition prints in a handful of stores across the country and have printed business cards, invitations and other custom work for countless clients.
Last year I moved in with my boyfriend—in Bermuda. While it was scary at first—quitting my job, leaving friends and family—it has also afforded me the time to really invest in my own business. For so many years, I’ve just been throwing projects together whenever I have a spare minute that it’s awesome to me to be able to give 622 press what it needs to really start growing.
I also do a lot of freelance graphic design work, so between that and letterpress I keep busy!
When you’re not making things, what do you do?
For years and years, I’ve been so busy that I haven’t really had any hobbies that weren’t sort of a second job, so with the move last year, I made some new goals. One was a resolution to get healthy, so I try to work out regularly and do yoga occasionally. And of course, I try to get out and enjoy the water and everything Bermuda has to offer as often as possible!
Is creativity a luxury or a necessity for you?
It’s a necessity for sure. I’ve been without my press for about a six month period and it really affected my mental state. I’m always coming up with new ideas, getting into that groove of working hard and then I also love the sense of accomplishment when a project is completed—I just love it all! Right now I actually have more stock than I can store because I just can’t stop making!
Did someone in your family, a friend or teacher introduce you to your creative side or have they helped you along the way?
I credit my creativity to my parents—I think I got a perfect mix of both their creative instincts. My mom has always sewed and quilted, so that’s the main skill that she actually sat down and taught me, but she also gave me an innate understanding of how shapes and patterns fit together and probably some of my color theory and appreciation for the tactile quality of materials.
My dad can fix pretty much anything—he’s the main reason I felt comfortable buying a rusty old letterpress, I knew he could make it work—and so I think I got my problem-solving skills from him. For me, that translates into being able to figure out how to create nearly any project I dream up.
I’ve also had some amazing teachers over the years who’ve really encouraged that little spark of creativity I already had inside me. I had a fabulous painting instructor when I was very young who taught me to loosen up a little and embrace mistakes and imperfections, a lesson that was echoed by a college printmaking professor (and one I’m still working on! Hello, perfectionist). And of course, I have to credit Jeff Morin, another former professor who is now the president at MIAD, for introducing me to letterpress in the first place, sharing his passion and making all of this possible.
Where do you find inspiration?
Oh my, I’d say I’m probably over-inspired to be honest. It’s so easy to connect with other makers and see incredible work on Instagram and Pinterest, plus every time I finish a project, I have ideas for how to do it better or go about it in a different way next time. My greatest challenge is actually “finishing” things!
What’s on the horizon for you and what you do?
Right now I’m looking to grow my wholesale market. I have merchandise in five locally owned boutiques in the U.S. but I’d really like that number to be at least double that. (Retailers—email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a catalog!)
In addition, I’ll be rolling out new product lines in time for the holiday season—I’ve been experimenting with printing on leather and fabric with pretty exciting results!