My Path

I think many of us have moments in time where we feel a sense of ease & even realize life has been leading us to this moment (or profession) all along. a. favorite design, inc. is one of those organic transitions for me. I grew up loving stationery. It started with visits to the local drug store where I would stand in front of the Hello Kitty display. I would lovingly pick up each individual pencil, eraser, stationery set, ruler, sticker, basically anything & everything on the display. When I was fortunate enough to purchase a piece or two I would actually display it in my room & save it until I had the most perfect occasion for it. Not just any occasion but a special one worthy of great stationery. That was my first stationery love, followed by Mrs. Grossman, then Lisa Frank.

All through grade school I played with paper. Creating greeting cards for every occasion. Writing notes. Decorating envelopes with stickers. Saving wrapping paper to repurpose. Any paper I came in contact with became a precious relic. My grandma encouraged this every Christmas by giving me my annual gift of construction paper & markers. I would retire to a corner for hours to draw, fold, cut & glue to my heart’s content.

In high school, I was fortunate enough to enroll in a graphic arts program at our local trade school. That’s where I ran my first press, an AB Dick duplicator. I remember walking in the room the first day & standing in awe, gazing at the presses, light tables, stacks of paper & being engulfed by the scent of ink. It was magical. I still love the smell of ink.

In college I studied graphic design. I had the most amazing typography teacher. He was the first to introduce me to letterpress printing. I had seen it in my art history classes; however, I had never experienced the craft until then. For our final project we had to handset a paragraph of type & print it on specialty paper with a platen press. The very first moment I held the composing stick, I was hooked. Touching each piece of metal filled me with romance; who had touched these letters? What had been printed with them? The history of the fonts, composing sticks and press further sparked my interest & I began collecting random wood type blocks, books on printing, design & typography.

Upon graduation from college I worked at an agency. Then for a fortune 500 paper company who had retail stores specializing in selling printing supplies & paper to small print shops. This is where I gained an amazing knowledge of ink and paper, as well as printing methods. Not to mention an ongoing prepress education for multiple printing processes. Eventually I decided that the corporate world was not for me. In 2004 I began freelancing & picked up a retail job at a stationery store I frequented. The owner, Ted Frankel of Uncle Fun fame, was very supportive of artists & his employees. He encouraged us to sell our handmade goods in the shop & let us keep the profits to supplement our income, this was the humble beginnings of a. favorite design. I had always made my own cards, jewelry, books & ornaments so I naturally started creating for the store every spare moment I had. I created cards using my antique typewriter, then my Print Gocco & eventually letterpress printing.

While working at this stationery shop I gained invaluable knowledge of both the buying process as well as the wholesale process. I’m certain my first trade show wouldn’t have been nearly as successful had I not previously attended the National Stationery Show with Ted as a buyer.

In 2005 I discovered Columbia College Book & Paper Center at the time they offered community letterpress printing classes. It was there I took my first letterpress class… and my second… and third… and volunteered on my days off. I embraced letterpress printing & surrounded myself with it. Unlike my earlier experience with letterpress printing, I learned a more modern way to printing using photopolymer plates instead of type & blocks. This opened a whole new world of opportunity for me. Instead of designing with existing fonts & images, I could create any design I wanted on the computer, then letterpress print it.

In 2007, two years after creating a. favorite design, I purchased my very first printing press, a 1913 new style Chandler and Price platen press. Shortly after, I decided I would take a leap of faith and design, letterpress print & wholesale my greeting cards. This was the turning point for a. favorite design. My part time hobby suddenly became my full-time passion. It was then all the knowledge of my design background combined with my printing supply & paper knowledge combined with wholesale selling knowledge combined with my retail knowledge combined with my letterpress printing knowledge created a perfect path for me. It was very organic & all that knowledge led me to follow my passion.

It’s exciting to think about the future… This year we're celebrating 10 years in business. TEN YEARS! That is amazing to me. As of this year I've run a. favorite design, inc. longer then I was a graphic designer in the professional world, making afd my longest career thus far. That's something to be proud of & I am. I can’t wait to see what lies ahead for a. favorite design, inc. and what knowledge is around the corner.

1 comment

  • jane byington (aunt jane)

    I love Amber’s cards and send them to the very special people in my life. I am so proud of her and her accomplishments!!

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