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Featured Shop: Starboard Press

Dec 28, 2015

by Julia and Chris Roberts handmade and vintage goods

Hello! My name is Julia Roberts, and I design rustic wedding invitations, guest books, stamps, and other wedding-related goods for Starboard Press, the shop I run with my husband, Chris. We live and work in a suburb of Washington, DC.


Type, fonts, and typeforms have been a source of inspiration for us for years; I am especially interested in vintage travel posters, antique books, and the type design and fonts used in magazine layouts. Travel has had a big influence on our work, too: We are avid hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, and our experiences exploring the rugged mountains of Colorado, the rocky coasts of Maine, and the laid-back Florida coast have found their way into many of our designs — particularly those we’ve created for couples hosting destination weddings.


Chris and I attended art school together and both hold graphic design degrees, although we each took detours after college: I began a career as a professional photographer, and Chris worked in customer service. Then in 2011, we had a life-changing event that made us reevaluate our paths; recalling how much we’d enjoyed creating the stationery for our own wedding in 2003, we decided to get back to our design roots, and Starboard Press was born. Fortunately, our “detours” worked to our advantage. For Chris, learning customer service skills helped him shape our stellar client communications; for me, composing a photograph was yet another way to visualize a design.


Today, our creative process always begins with a sketch pad. It’s old-school, but it’s the fastest way for us to get our ideas going — we can draw and rough-outline as quickly as we can think. With an initial sketch in hand, we can easily tweak and critique an idea before it makes its way onto the computer. Layouts often sit for a bit to percolate before they are refined and finalized, and we’ll add elements here and there over a matter of days to make sure the design is what we want it to be. Then, we send the design for test prints to make sure it will adapt well before we put it in our shop. Knowing how to create personalized designs that adapt to a wide variety of names, for example, was one learning curve we faced early on, but mastering it has been a really fun process.


Starboard Press is now a full-time business for us both, and Etsy was the platform that gave us the tools to make it happen. The community that exists here for the self-employed entrepreneur is unmatched anywhere, and with Etsy as our backbone, we’ve been able to achieve things we never thought possible. Here, we can count on a consistent audience and a staff that appreciates self-supported artists and the small-business community, which is so valuable to our success and to the success of other small businesses.


The next year is looking very exciting for Starboard Press: A new line of white-ink invitations on colored papers is already in the works, and we’re adding more letterpress designs to our shop, as I’ve just completed my latest letterpress workshop and the creative juices are flowing. We’d also love to add more personalized products for wedding attendants to pair with our card line, and have been designing prototypes for those as well.

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All photographs by Starboard Press.


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