Friday, January 4, 2013

Favorite Friend Friday: Michelle (Mikko) Kim of Cub Report Card

Michelle (aka Mikko) Kim of Cub Report Card is one of our favorite designers that we have crossed paths with. Her cute, yet streamlined design incorporates little bears, gerbils and other adorableness into a sleek, silkscreened line of cards, totes and gifts. We had the honor of carrying her items in our shop until our recent transition online, but we hope to work together in the future! We caught up with her to ask her some of our Favorite Friend Questions and get the skinny on where she's been and where she's going.

silkscreening process with michelle mikko kim of cub report card

Tell us a little bit about Cub Report Card. When did you start and what were you looking to create?
My shop (on Etsy) officially launched in 2010. But Cub Report Card started years ago, when I just graduated from Design School. Back then, I didn't have a name for the company, I just loved to silkscreen and wanted to make something with my own two hands!

You just created a brand new character for a designer showcase with us, named Little G. Tell us about him and your plans for the future!
Little G is my sweet gerbil friend! In 2012, I wanted to start a line of stationery that focused on a character with a story to tell. Little G is all about a gerbil who travels across the United States and tells us about his adventures through notecards. Each notecard reveals a place he's been. On the back of the notecard, there's a map identifying his location.

I might continue his adventure in future (maybe Europe? South America?), but I'm also interested in creating fresh characters with new stories. I've already got a new little character and story in the works!! Coming soon!

What is your silkscreening process like from start to finish? How long does it take to get a design from (the computer or hand-drawing) to a card?
The silkscreen process is so magical! Even after all these years of silkscreening, I still get that shiny new feeling every time I draw ink. My technique is a photo-silkscreening process that I first learned from one of my favorite instructors in college (go Corcoran College of Art print department!). Once you have the right equipment, the process is pretty straightforward. I expose a photo sensitive screen with my artwork to an exposure unit, wash it out, et voila--the silkscreen is alive! That's the short and sweet of it. But what I love about silkscreening--well, printmaking in general--is all the little things that happen along the way that make the process your own.

silkscreening process with michelle mikko kim of cub report cardsilkscreening process with michelle mikko kim of cub report card

Before any actual silkscreening happens though, there are a few more bits that have to come together. First, I sketch character ideas out with good old fashioned pencil and paper. For example, Little G started out as a tiny rodent scribble in my notebook of ideas. Then I scan him in and refine the rough edges on the computer for more definition. From there it's a matter of drawing in all his little accessories and picking out the appropriate fonts and colors. Ink is a whole other ball game too. I usually have to mix inks (some version of a CMYK formula) and that process takes FOREVAH! To get just the right color and to make sure all the colors on a single card work in unison can take up to a day or two! But when you finally hit that sweet spot of just the right color, man, it's a beautiful thing!

What is your favorite part about working for yourself? What are the pros and cons? Do you have a day job?
There are many things I love about working for myself! Hands down the best thing is being able to just be myself 24/7. Other things I like: having my fur kids around while I work, making my own rules, being responsible for my own success, meeting new people and learning new things, enjoying what I do completely and wholly, having the ability to blast NPR whenever I want!

Of course all these things come with other responsibilities--some of which I find icky. Like having to market myself (ugh). Making mistakes and being able to learn from them rather than letting them get me down is a tuffy too. I've made some big boo-boos in the past. You have to just breathe in, breathe out, let things go, and move on. Sounds easy, but it's hard! Another challenge is being my own accountant (math-ICKY!) and finding other ways to support myself financially when I need to.

Which leads me to what else I work on… By day I'm a graphic designer. My day job helps me with all those adult bits and pieces that I'm responsible for--like heat, food, shelter. Some day I'm hoping that Cub Report Card can transition into my permanent day job. Someday SOON!

Do you have any projects coming up in the future that you're excited about?
Holy moley, there are so many projects I'm excited about! This year, I'm hoping to wrap up the Little G line, which means 50 cards for 50 states! I'm also planning to have them all available as a boxed set.

In my dream future, I'd love to get a housewares line going -- it would include Little G mugs, bed linens, floor tiles, all sorts of fabulous things!

cub report card designer showcase goodies seattle wa assemble

What do you like to do in your off-time?
Snuggle! Seriously. I love snuggling with my fur kids on the couch--all of us huddled together and dreaming about tuna and chicken. Fried chicken that is.

And when I'm not doing that, I like to shop at little indie stores, antique stores, knitting stores. Yep, I am a bonafide shopaholic. Uh-oh, see New Year's resolutions…

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
The Shire! I'd love to have a little Hobbit house filled with delicious treats in the pantry, a nice garden, some chickens, and other folk who are as short as I am.

If you could eat at only one local restaurant for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Ma'Ono! Best freakin' fried chicken on the planet. Plus you get kimchi with your meal. Hello!? Best of both worlds! :)

What's your dream job, besides what you are doing now?
That's funny, I just twittered about what other professions I would have pursued if I had the chance to do it over again! My dream job (besides Cub) is to be completely at bliss with no defined profession, surf like mad all day and live to do it all over again the next day!

You get to organize a dinner party, who is there?
P-A-R-T-Y! Gosh. Doug Pray, killer documentary film maker. David Foster Wallace, the writer who passed in 2008. I recently re-acquainted myself with his work and the commencement speech he gave at Kenyon College in 2005--it's very good. Art Spiegelman, the artist/writer who created the Maus series. And, Ira Glass. Cuz' I love me some This American Lifer! Shoot, there are no ladies in the house! That'll be my next party--the Assemble gals will definitely be invited ;)

Any new years resolutions?
Curb my appetite for shopping. Eek! My parents have put the fear of god in me about retirement so I guess there's no time like the present!

Thanks, Michelle!!

Top 3 images from Cub Report Card
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