Artist Spotlight || Ma Joie Press

I have always been a fan of paper goods.  I hoard stationary just to look at it and I believe that a handwritten letter is one of the best gifts a person can receive.  Therefore, it should come as no surprise that I am introducing Katrina from Ma Joie Press to you today.  She is a local (to me) artist that has developed her craft and her dream into a full time business.  She has mastered the art of beautiful, handmade letterpress that makes me want to have a party just to send out her invitations.

Katrina has taken the time to answer a few questions about her art.  She is very inspiring and what I find unique about Katrina is her method.  She still prints on vintage presses.  An art that is truly almost gone.  Please welcome Katrina and be sure to read all the way through.  There is a surprise waiting for you at the end. 

Tell us a little about yourself.
I'm Katrina, I make home and stationery from a little house in Plano, Texas.  I love art and history, and letterpress is such a perfect marriage of the two. I spend my days chasing, playing and teaching my adorable baby, and my nights drawing, printing and emailing clients all around the world.  My husband and I live in our little creative home, and pride ourselves on green practices.  I love baking, biking, and decorating.

Why Ma Joie? What was the inspiration behind the name?
My middle name is Joy, and as a kid, my father called me "kate-my-joy."  In a less obvious way, it's in honor of my father and family.  They have always been my biggest supporters.  I think "Ma Joie" captures what this whole operation means to me.  It is a joy to have the opportunity to draw and print and be creative.  To be able to share that with so many people during their special occasions makes me feel like what I do makes a difference.  In a sense, my joy becomes theirs', and that makes all the difficulties involved with working with antique equipment more than worth it.

Your husband Tyler is also connected to Ma Joie.  How does he influence your work?  
Tyler helps in every way you can imagine.  In the beginning, he helped me create my business plans, and traveled with me to find the right equipment.  These days he acts as a great taste-tester, if you will, helping me focus my work to fit within my aesthetic and target market.  He is my co-blogger, head of IT, and he has taught me so much about photography.  I'm lucky to have such a fun and creative husband.  He keeps me hip!

You mention your daughter Magnolia is your purest inspiration.  Tell us more about that.  
Nolie is the most amazing, gorgeous, sweet, smiling baby in the whole world.  I look down and see my husband in her face, and I am so proud to know she is mine!  I want to provide for her.  I want to make her happy!  She changed me in ways I never knew needed change.  With her arrival, I had to learn to balance all of these different aspects of my life.  Honestly, I think I had to grow up a lot, and I am sure there is plenty still to learn.  Now, there is no time to procrastinate.  If I actually want to grow my business, I have to do it in the 2 or 3 hours I have to work while she is napping or playing with my husband.  She inadvertently streamlined my process, and I am a lot more efficient and focused.  She is beautiful and fun, and I really think my primary role in life was becoming her mother.  I want her to believe in herself, and I think the best way to teach this lesson is leading by example.

You are self taught.  What has been the hardest challenge?  
Finding equipment!  It is hard to come by letterpresses that are in condition to be used.  I didn't really have the resources or the knowledge to fix one up, so I was lucky to find some that were still being used in print shops.  Learning the craft was definitely tough.  I mostly relied on information I could find on the internet, and a whole lot of trial and error.  My craft seemed to get better with each project, and that encouraged me to try another.  Eventually, I had my system down pat, and I haven't looked back!

You use vintage Kluge and Chandler & Price presses for your business.  What draws you to the older technology versus modern equipment?
There is so much that I have grown to love about my presses.  I love the sounds they make, and being able to get my hands dirty.  In these digital times, beautifully printed paper can make such an impact on people. The thick, supple paper, and the deep crisp impression isn't something we see daily.  The whole effect is more valuable because of the time and love and care put into each individual piece.  Much like a painting in comparison to a digitally printed representation, there is just more soul in the original work.

In college your interest in art was sparked.  How did that come about?
It is kind of funny, but I did not ever consider art as a career option until college.  I had no idea I could even draw!  I sort of happened into an Intro to Interiors course to fill a core credit requirement, and I was hooked.  The Interior Design program required many drawing and design classes, so I gave it a shot, and ended up surprising everyone.  Now, I can't imagine myself doing anything else!

When you start a new project where do you gather inspiration?
I am inspired by people mostly, and I love solving problems.  Every project and every client is an opportunity to give someone something they love, and I truly want to do so.  I love everything about giving gifts.  Often times, my best ideas start with the thought that someone might like to have this or that.  I am hugely nostalgic, and unbelievably emotional.  I also find a lot of inspiration in supplies.  Craft stores are very dangerous for me!  I walk in, and my head starts spinning with ideas!

What has been your most interesting or challenging project?
A few years ago, I was fortunate to be a part of a project with a band named Da Di Da.  We printed their album cover and track list on these fantastic recycled paper sleeves.  I was so in love with the project, I actually did it for free.  Tyler had fun too, he actually ended up playing organ on a song for the album.  It was a great experience, and I always hope for more artist collaborations in the future.

When working with a new client, how do you get to know them?
All of my projects begin with an email conversation.  Truthfully, most brides have a pretty good idea of what they want, or at least a mood they want to convey.  They send me pictures they have saved, and personal photos, even fabric samples.  I think this is the best part of my job.  It is fun to meet people from all around the world, and really challenging and rewarding to translate their ephemera into a wedding suite.  I think it makes the process more meaningful than picking something out of a book that a thousand other people have.  Some people love being a part of the project, and I love being a part of their wedding memories.

You followed your dreams and started a business.  Do you have a motto or advice for other artists just starting out?
Try not to delay when you have an idea!  If you don't act fast, you might lose the driving inspiration, or someone else might think of and do the same thing!  Life is busy, but you will be so happy when you work hard for something and find success!

Do you offer a retail collection as well as custom work?
Most of my time in the studio is devoted to custom wedding suites.  There are not that many letterpress printers who do fully bespoke wedding orders, so it has kept me very busy in the past.  Recently, I have been working to create a line of designs that I can offer for everyday use.  I learned a lot when I first started my Etsy shop, but my efforts were a bit scatterbrained.  I am so close to having a cohesive collection to represent my brand!

What are you working on now?
I currently have an À la carte wedding collection, some mixed media art prints, and some all occasion stationery for my Etsy shop in the works.  I took a long hiatus while I was pregnant, then a good while to learn to balance a newborn and a business.  During this time, it seems like I was hoarding ideas and inspiration, so I am eager to relaunch my shop with fresh products.

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Katrina has offered one lucky reader a chance to win a set of her beautiful handmade stationary.

TO ENTER || Simply leave a comment below stating what you enjoyed about the interview with Katrina.  To enter twice, in addition to leaving a comment, tweet about the giveaway by linking to this post and include Katrina and I in your tweet (@abbyb26 & @katemajoie).

All comments will close at midnight CST on Friday, August 24th. The winner will be randomly selected and announced on Monday, August 27.  To receive notice in your inbox sign up for updates in the top right tool bar.  

Thank you, Katrina, for sharing your inspiration with us today and for the lovely gift!