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Featured Seller: sycamorestreetpress

Dec 11, 2009

by sycamorestreetpress

Tell us a bit about yourself.

We are Kirk and Eva Jorgensen, and between the two of us, we have lived in 4 countries, 7 states, and over 2 dozen cities. We started Sycamore Street Press from our dining room in Columbus, Ohio, where we were living while Kirk attended Ohio State. About a year ago, while on the road to Art vs. Craft, we decided that we wanted to make this little letterpress company of ours a long term family business. To do so, we knew we wanted to settle somewhere that was beautiful, affordable, and close to family. So after Kirk graduated in June, we moved to the small mountain town of Heber City, Utah. We love it here. We finally feel like we are grounded — and like we have found our home.

Apart from creating things, what do you do?

Besides more work? Just the normal stuff: eating, sleeping, watching TV, hanging out with family and friends, enjoying the great outdoors. We sometimes talk about starting a new band, and that might lead to a practice or an attempt at songwriting. But it never seems to go anywhere these days. Sycamore Street Press seems to soak up most of our creative energy.

What first made you want to become an artist?

Eva: I can remember watching my mom paint when I was a tiny kid and thinking that there could be nothing better in the world than making and creating things.

Kirk: I’ve always been interested in trying to create visual or other representations of what is going through my head. I like to feel creative and work with my hands, there is something satisfying about that.

Please describe your creative process how, when, materials, etc.

I love the collaborative nature that’s a part of the printmaking tradition. It’s one of the main reasons I chose printmaking as my major in school — I found the camaraderie in the print shop so energizing and inspiring. Because of this, I decided to begin collaborating with some friends of mine not too long after opening my Etsy shop. It doesn’t hurt that their work is fantastic, either! We have 3 regular collaborators: Stephanie Ford (who designs our {Pop} collection, Kristin Mills (who designs our {Lark} collection, and Amy Shaffer (who writes our {Lark} collection). In addition, we invite a different artist each month to make a drawing for our limited edition print series (The Sycamore Club). I manage to design and make the hand drawn illustrations for our {Folk} collection myself, and Kirk is working on designing a new collection of his own. I think the diversity of design that comes with having so many contributors is one of Sycamore Street Press’s greatest strengths!

I can’t speak for everyone else, but this is a little how my creative process works. From movies I watch, to the walks I take in the woods near our house, to blogs and books, I am always gathering inspiration. I’ll take notes and make little sketches in my notebook. Sometimes I just keep an idea filed away in my head for months at a time. When I have the time, and the mood strikes, I’ll pull out a pencil, an eraser, and a loose sheet of paper. When I come up with a drawing that I like, I’ll get it ready to make into a plate. This entails tracing or redrawing it in black ink and separating it into layers the old fashioned way. (I make a separate drawing on a separate sheet of paper for each color and line them up using a light box. I’m not very up on technology…)

After a design is finalized (whether it’s mine or someone else’s), I send it away to be made into a plate, and wait impatiently for its return (usually a week later). Either Kirk or I will then print it one piece of paper at a time and one color at a time on our circa 1940’s press. It’s a slow and laborious process, but we are in love with the rich, textured impression that letterpress creates. It’s unique look helps create some cohesion to the variety of designs created by us and our collaborators.

What handmade possession do you most cherish?

Eva: Just one!? Okay, my current favorite is a cedar lined chest I inherited from my great-grandparents. They had it made in Hong Kong in the 50’s, and it’s surface is covered in hand carved ships, waves, and distant shores.

Kirk: My all black messenger bag from Seagull Bags.

Name your top five books, movies, songs/musical groups, and web sites besides Etsy.

Eva: This list is ever changing and evolving. But here are the current faves:

Books:

1.The Little Prince by Antoine de St. Exupéry

2. The Vitamin series of art books published by Phaidon

3. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

4. Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

5. Valentine for Mr. Wonderful by Helen Frankenthaler.

Movies:

1. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

2. Breakfast at Tiffany’s

3. White Christmas

4. The Red Balloon

5. Good Will Hunting

Songs:

1. Sunday Morning by the Velvet Underground

2. Look Back by Ok Ikumi

3. Don’t Worry Baby by the Beach Boys

4. She’s Losing It by Belle & Sebastian

5. Be My Baby by the Ronettes.

Websites:

1. Abby Try Again

2. The Selby

3. Design*Sponge

4. Insound

5. Marie Claire Maison

Kirk:

Books/Zines:

1. Cometbus

2. On the Lower Frequencies: A Secret History of the City. Erick Lyle

3. The Slavonic Languages. Bernard Comrie

4. The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition. Caroline Alexander

5. The Norwegian language in America. Einar Haugen.

Movies:

1. Sneakers

2. Victory

3. The Lord of the Rings trilogy

4. The Karate Kid trilogy

5. Zidane

Musical Groups

1. Ramones

2. Dillinger Four

3. Descendents

4. Hickey

5. Tragedy

Websites

1. briarpress.org (A great resource for letterpress printers)

2. weather.gov (I seriously check this a few times a day)

3. soccerbyives.net

4. news.bbc.co.uk

5. uncrate

What advice would you give to artists who are new to Etsy?

1. Have a well made, interesting product.

2. Take great product photos.

3. Be in as many craft fairs as you can. Do your research and choose fairs that are a good fit for you.

4. Become a part of the blogging community.

5. Be prepared to work 10x harder than you are anticipating.

What are your favorite features on Etsy? What new features would you like to see?

One of our favorite features is the built-in community that is found on Etsy. We like how simple it is to navigate (from a sellers’ perspective) and maintain the shop. One new feature we’d like to see is the ability to leave feedback in groups, instead to having to do individual steps for each transaction.

How do you promote your work?

Through craft fairs, blogging (on my own blog and by writing to other bloggers), Flickr, Twitter, the Etsy Main Showcase, Facebook, and trade shows ( we just did our first one in May: The National Stationery Show in NYC). We have also done a few blog ads, including the Poppytalk Handmade Market, and our first print ad in Uppercase Magazine.

In ten years I’d like to be…

Living in a small, well-designed home in Heber built to our specifications, with a vegetable garden, a dog, and 2 or 3 kids. We’ll still be working at Sycamore Street Press, but mainly focusing on the creative side of things with helpers to do the shipping, bookkeeping, and supply ordering. Hopefully we’ll be able to take one big vacation every year — with smaller road trips in between.

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