Friday, November 16, 2012

Favorite Friend Friday: Rosanna & Joel of Iron Curtain Press

We met Rosanna of Iron Curtain Press when an intern of hers stumbled into our shop and told us it was a match made in letterpress heaven. She was right! We have carried her line of handmade, letterpressed cards and gifts from the very beginning, and they are an Assemble (and customer) favorite. Her original designs are currently some of our best-sellers. Of COURSE she would be a favorite friend, even after moving away to sunny, Los Angeles (not jealous of the sun or anything)...We just had to share such a wonderful and creative talent with you folks!

rosanna kvernmo and joel iron curtain press letterpress card design handmade

We originally met in Seattle, but you moved to Los Angeles last year along with your print shop. How's it going?
Rosanna: So far, Awesome! My husband Joel and I had been thinking about making the move for quite some time and we finally made it happen just earlier this year in fact. It was quite an adventure packing up our print shop containing tons of equipment (literally) and moving it all down the coast. I feel so fortunate to have had wonderful friends in Seattle help us with the move, and then once we were in Los Angeles, more friends to help with the move into our new space. The transition to living in Los Angeles has been so great, I really love it here. The biggest change to the shop is that Joel is now working with me! It's been wonderful being able to work together - the product photography has improved immensely. I am beyond thankful that we've been able to keep up with our existing clients in Seattle while making awesome new contacts here. We have stayed quite busy considering we've lived here for just about 9 months.

letterpress printing studio shop iron curtain press

Tell us about your printing process -- you letterpress the old-school way, don't you?
I use hand-set type and have a really great collection of typefaces and vintage blocks. Each color is printed one at a time, each piece fed through the press by hand. The press and paper-cutter in our shop are both from around the 1880s and are still going strong.

type vs polymer letterpress hand design

Technology isn't all bad though. I have a motor hooked up to the press, meaning I don't have to use a foot treadle to spin the wheel of the press. I am able to create blocks using photopolymer (a super hard plastic) so that I can print a specific logo or custom design for business cards and wedding invitations. I think my card line is a good example of the mix: about half the cards are type-set using rad old typefaces and colorful ink. The other half are hand-drawn, fiddled with on the computer, turned into blocks suitable for printing and then made into cards. I like the versatility.

Assemble sells more of your card designs than any other. What do you think makes your brand so special?
Woo! That is so fun! I definitely think I have a pretty distinct style: it's pretty minimal, but bold. I do think my cards are sort of fanciful too, even in their simplicity. As I've developed my line, I've worked to expand my range, while keeping to my style. I really do make cards that I LOVE, and I'm so glad other people like them too! I have always loved paper and stationery--and even to this day I am a total paper-goods-ophile. It's a good challenge to be inspired by others work, but to not be overly influenced by their style.

Do you have a personal favorite card design?
Right now I'd have to say the new Joyeux Noel card is a personal favorite. And I'm really loving these new birthday cards too. How can one choose a favorite!!??!!

handmade letterpress holiday christmas cards joyeux noel happy birthday to you

We love the new letterpress coasters! Anything else new/fun in the works for the holiday?
I'm loving the new coasters as well! I collaborated on a calendar for 2013 with my friend Jed--his fantastical illustrations + letterpress = pure beauty and joy. They are currently for sale and I personally think they would make excellent holiday gifts. Also! I recently found out that I will officially have a booth at the National Stationery Show in New York next May. I am be.yond. pumped and nervous for such a large endeavor. I'll have a bunch of new cards debuting at the show, some more coasters, another calendar. I'm also working on a line of small letterpressed notebooks which I hope will be as awesome as they are in my mind. So yeah, I've got a bunch of new stuff percolating, plus all the fun custom work for weddings/business/stationery that I also do.

iron curtain press letterpressed coasters and calendars

What do you like to do in your off-time?
I love to have friends over for dinner - I just love cooking and being with friends. I've taken up surfing since moving to California, it is awesome. I love camping and roadtrips too. It's great having a self-employed schedule. I can work really hard for a while and then take off for a bit. I'm working on getting my motorcycle license so I'm looking forward to some camping / motorcycle trips in the near-ish future.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I'm really loving living in Los Angeles at the moment. But if I could live a semi-nomadic life, that would be the best. Of course, with my thousand pound press, I'm not going anywhere fast, haha. Joel says he would move to Norway if he got the chance.

If you could eat only one food for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
This is always an impossible question. But really, I don't think I will ever be sick of a good burger. I've started making buns at home too and that has totally elevated our at-home-burger-eating experience.

If you could invite one famous person into your shop, who would it be?

Another impossible question! Joel says he would invite Ray Bradbury, if he were still alive. I am so inspired by Anna Bond of Rifle Paper, if she counts as a famous person I would want to have her over for coffee.

Iron Curtain Press's designs are available in-shop at Assemble, and will be carried in our online shop after we close our brick & mortar in late December. Thank you, Rosanna & Joel! We miss you!

All images via Iron Curtain Press.

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