The Love of Notebook Paper

June is a big month for me. Not only is it flag day (a.k.a. Mr. a. favorite design's birthday), it's also my mom's birthday, father's day and is filled with many friend's & acquaintances’ birthdays, more than any other month, in fact. Naturally, I spend a lot of time shopping for gifts many weeks before & all month long. On more then one occasion this has led me to obsess about notebook paper products. I found some amazing gifts and I can't help notice they pair perfectly with my notebook paper cards! 

from top left: 
{for}everly jewelry – Notebook Paper Earrings // Cyberoptix – Notebook Paper Necktie //  Thatch and Thistle Supply co. – Notebook Washi Tape // pi'lo - Lined Paper Pillow Cover // a. favorite design - letterpress notebook paper birthday card // dirtsa studio – White Lined “Paper” Towel // Montclair Made – Monogrammed Zipper Pouch // Just Wish – Notebook Paper Socks // Mango Tree Ceramics – Notebook Page Ceramic Necklace

Lost Sketches

My Mr. recently cleaned out our garage. While cleaning he found a large box marked "studio". I had no idea it was even in our garage until he brought it to me. I decided to sort through it piece by piece and see if any of it was worth saving. We've lived in our current home for almost five years & I figured whatever was in there was most likely meant for projects five years ago. There were quite a few of those items; old Rolling Stone Magazines, Xerox copies for Gocco printing, piles of security lined envelopes, cool, old, empty six-packs. But there were a few gems. Like the very first, rough sketches of an a. favorite design logo.

When I saw these sketches, it filled me with nostalgia. I thought back to ten years ago what a big deal it was for me to change my name & therefore, my business identity. At the time I was doing mostly freelance graphic design work and some handmade cards & journals under the name Ag47. AG happened to be my initials, and also the symbol for the 47th element, silver. I loved the logo & identity I created for myself and was struggling with the idea of changing my business name. Plus I had always thought I would be a feminist who would never-ever change her name. Ever. Then I met a handsome & thoughtful man named Thomas R. Favorite. I mean, F A V O R I T E . . . How often do get a chance to trade up to such a name? Needless to say my never-ever turned into yes, of course. a. favorite design came shortly after my personal name change. Funny how we make our minds up way before all the options have even been presented to us. The older I get the fewer nevers I say.

Also... here's the final logo I created. You'll notice it wasn't a part of the first round sketches.



Once Upon a Time...

Once upon a time I was crafty. It's true. Long before I made a living creating letterpress printed greeting cards, I spent my free time creating for pleasure. It wasn't always large projects or even successful projects but it was time spent tinkering, doodling…basically playing. Those days seem long ago now. Instead I've been filling my free time with obsessively searching the Internet and spending way to much time being a voyeur of other people's lives on facebook & instagram. Today I had an epiphany that this social media time spent encourages comparison. And comparison kills creativity. To combat social media comparison I'm starting to schedule time to be more creative. Crafty even. This may sound strange, I'm in a creative field, after all. So why the need to be creative outside of work? Well, I'll tell you why, it's important to experiment & challenge yourself. And it’s even more important to play. Creating has always been a part of me. And has been time well spent. Honestly, I cannot remember a time I didn't get lost in creation. Something magical happens to my mind while creating. I'm not sure if I can explain it properly so I'll just say it's my zen. Something I love to do and when I do it, I loose track of time. And not just time but thoughts. It's magical. To encourage me to create outside of "work" I thought a good motivation would be to post some old projects. Just random projects I once loving took my precious free time to create. They may not all be amazing but they will have all been created by my very own hands. Watch for some posts about past projects... and maybe even some future ones. Please feel free to let me know if you think I should revisit any of them. Now, time to set down the phone & pick up my journal and pen.

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.