This week on Creative Loves we welcome Olivia Samson of Spring Olive... Olivia is a graphic designer, illustrator and printer (of both letterpress and screen printing) who lives and works in Chicago, Illinois. She creates beautiful letterpress greeting cards, art prints, gift boxes, baby onesies and also some custom wedding invitation stationery. Welcome Olivia!
>> Can you tell us about your work space? I actually have 3 work spaces. At home, I had to give up my home office to make room for the arrival of my son (though of course he's worth it!) so I created a work area in the corner of our master bedroom where I can hide out (relatively) free from distractions. I currently do not own my own letterpress so when I need to print, I rent time at a community letterpress shop in Evanston (Evanston Print and Paper). And finally, I have a studio just a couple of blocks from my house that houses all of my paper, inventory, shipping supplies etc. I also use this space for some screenprinting as well as developing new product ideas or for any various art projects where I want to get a little messy. My away-from-home studio is a small little space with no windows, but I made it more cheery by creating a couple of fabric covered push pin boards that I use to display the cards in my collection (it's nice to see everything all together at once) and also to pin up any visual inspirations, colors or textures I've found that I think are interesting.
>> Have you always been creatively driven? Yes definitely, I have always been a creative type. I have always loved making things - I have many fond childhood memories of drawing, painting, building, even "cooking" tasty masterpieces in my little easy bake oven. I also vividly remember as a child having created my own little "office space" in the nook between two adjacent couches in our family living room (I was probably 5 years old or so). I would sneak in here and color for hours, and display artwork on my little wall space. It's amusingly similar to my studio setup 28 odd years later! As for when I got into what I'm doing now: I went to college for graphic design and have been a graphic designer ever since. I discovered letterpress printing 4 years ago while taking a community letterpress class at a local college and have been gleefully obsessed. As a designer I spend a lot of time in front of the computer. It was so gratifying to learn how to letterpress print, it's so tactile and it's just so much fun to be able to take a design all the way from my imagination to a final printed piece.
>> What inspires you, where do you go for ideas? Any place with a lot to look at is inspiring to me. Being able to see an array of interesting shapes, colors, textures, patterns really gets the wheels turning in my mind. Anthropologie is one of my favorite stores for inspiration. I just love their store design and all of the different objects and colors and textures. Also I love checking out antique stores and flea markets. Art museums and galleries are also great fodder. Traveling is inspiring, I love going to new places, seeing and trying new things.
Please tell us about your current Creative Loves...
Magazines >> Martha Stewart Living, Anthology and also I l am in love with the monthly Wall Street Journal magazine that comes with the Saturday paper.
>> What is a typical work day for you? Every day is an adventure, to say the least! Aside from Spring Olive I'm also a freelance graphic designer. My days vary pretty greatly depending on how much design work I have going on. I am beginning to work more regular hours again after a few months hiatus. My son was born in November so I have been able to take some time to focus on taking care of him and was juggling my businesses in the downtime (aka naps and bedtime). Easier said than done! As for a normal day, If I have design projects going on I'll focus on those, and when I'm able to I spend time on Spring Olive. On any given day could mean: checking my Etsy shop, answering emails, sketch out new card designs, order supplies, or accomplish any other tasks that I need to get done. Also I try to get over to the print shop atleast twice a month to print new designs and reprints.
My son goes to bed for the night around 7:30. Some evenings are spent just relaxing with my husband, and some evenings are spent getting a little more work done. Weekends are a balancing act as well, with some time spent working and and some time spent hanging with family.
>> How do you approach each project? Most of my projects are self-directed. A few times a year I work on developing new card designs, though I'm always jotting down card ideas in my sketchbook which accompanies me most everywhere. When I'm ready to start designing a card, I start drawing in my sketchbook. Once I get something I like, I scan it into the computer and start manipulating it, going back and forth between hand-drawing and editing in Photoshop. To create my cards I use: pen and paper, scanner, inkjet printer. To print I use: platemaker, letterpress printer, paper trimmer. To create my onesies I use: pen and paper, scanner, inkjet printer, screens, ink.
>> What projects are you working on at the moment? I always have multiple things happening at any given moment. Right now I'm working on a couple of new card designs that I hope to have out in the next month or so. I'm also beginning to think about some new ideas for holiday cards for 2012, as well as some new baby boy onesie designs. Of course I have a little model to try the new designs out on!
>> What has been the most interesting or exciting project you've worked on and why?
I don't really have one project that I think is more interesting than another, though my favorite card design I've done so far is the 'Winter Wonderland' holiday card that I created in 2009 and have been re-issuing every year since. I was inspired by the artwork on a display at my neighborhood Starbucks and I went home and just started drawing. I was so engulfed in it that I literally finished it in one day, though it took many hours. I'm hoping to incorporate more of this more elaborate drawing style into some future cards.
>> In terms of your work what couldn't you live without? My awesome husband is so unconditionally supportive of me and what I do, so I definitely couldn't live without him! And in more unromantic terms, I definitely couldn't survive without my laptop.
>> What do you love most about what you do? I mainly sell my work online through Etsy, which of course means I don't get any face-to-face interaction with customers. I love when people contact me to tell me how much they love something they bought from me. It's so heartwarming to think I've made someone happy with something I've created. That feeling is definitely what keeps me going.
>> What do you want to do in the future? I want to make things! Many, many more cheerful little things. Perhaps one day we'll live in a smaller (southern) town, where I'll happily run a dual-purpose letterpress shop and charming little storefront. But we shall see, I'm open to wherever this adventure takes me!
>> Where are you happiest? I am happiest in the moment that I'm holding the first print of a new card design in my hand, freshly letterpress printed, perfectly registered, beautifully colored. The feel of the cotton paper, the imprint of the letterpress, the smell of the ink. At that moment, it's all just perfect.