Friday Interview: Parrott Design Studio! March 18, 2011 12:19

Happy Friday, everyone! This week I'm happy to introduce you to Providence designer Sarah Parrott of Parrott Design Studio. Sarah makes gorgeous letterpress items that we carry here at Craftland. Keeping reading to learn some of Sarah's secrets to success.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your handmade business.
My name is Sarah and I run Parrott Design Studio, a boutique design and letterpress studio located in Providence.  The studio offers a collection of letterpress printed wedding invitations, ready-made greetings and paper products, and custom design and printing for special occasions.  I was born and raised in Portland, Maine and currently live in Providence, with my husband, Rich, and our two pups, Simone and Scooter.   I have always had an affinity for the ocean, mountains, birds, trees, and the simple life. I have loved art all of my life - drawing, painting, making books, and sewing.  I have a background in marketing, art history, and print design and worked in marketing and event planning at various non-profit organizations for five years.  I needed another creative outlet and began taking letterpress and screen printing classes in 2007.  I purchased a gocco with my tax return money and started selling my paper goods that same year.  In 2008 I bought my first letterpress and added a second in 2010.  For three years I worked during the day, then come home to design and print until 1 or 2 in the morning.  In June 2010 I finally quit my day job to work in the studio full-time!  When I am not printing or thinking of my next best design, I can be found baking, listening to records, gardening, snowboarding, playing with our pups, taking road trips to Maine, and working on our 1930’s bungalow.

Describe your studio for us.
My studio is located in my home.  When I first began screen printing, I did everything in the kitchen of my first apartment.  Around the time I bought my first press I moved in with Rich and he finished-off a whole section of the basement for me.  A previous owner built a huge work table and I brought in various shelves and book cases.  I used to have my computer in there, but once I quit my day-job and started working from home, I needed a dedicated space for designing and the business-end, so I made an office out of a spare room.  I also do all of my shop packaging and finishing work, like invitation assembly, in my office.   Every so often I think about having a separate studio, then I think about the 4,000+ lbs. of cast iron in my basement.  Plus you really cannot get over the convenience of walking down stairs and already being at work.

Can you describe your process from inspiration to a finished product?
My designs are
simple and lovely, fun with a touch of whimsy, inspired by vintage ephemera, flora and fauna, candy-colored hues. When I am working on a custom project, the majority of the inspiration comes from my clients and their events.  Specializing in wedding invitations, I live and breathe weddings so I find a lot of inspiration in venue locations and flowers.  From all of the inspiration, whether it be client supplied or collected by me, I will go right to working in Illustrator.  Sometimes I will sketch first, or if the design calls for a custom illustration.  Once I am happy with the design, or the client is happy, I send the file out to have photopolymer plates made for letterpress printing.  In my studio, I am the owner, designer, printer, and studio manager.  I am there from inception of the design, to cutting the paper, to hand-feeding each piece of paper on into the press, to all the finishing details of card folding, twine tying, and assembly.

What do you do when you need some inspiration?
I get really caught-up in the world of paper and the world of weddings.  I love to collect vintage postcards and postage stamps and look to those for ideas.  I love flowers, both arrangements for weddings and those that grow in my garden.  I find a lot of color palette inspiration from flowers and nature.  I have recently started paying more attention to home décor and fashion trends, especially since we started renovating our house.  I love looking through textile patterns and textures, as well color.  Quite often inspiration comes when I step away from everything, take my dogs for a walk, and clear my head.  With inspiration at every turn, it is easy to become overwhelmed and end up staring blankly at a piece of paper or the computer screen.

What advice would you offer someone hoping to take their craft from hobby to business?
My simple answer is – go for it!  You will find excuse after excuse as to why you should not go for it, but if you love, love, love what you are doing, then go for it.  Start small and build organically.  I kept a day job for three years while building my printing skills and my business.  The day job paid the bills and the money I made from my cards I put back into my business to help it grow.  Start local!!  Get involved with craft shows, shops like Craftland, and get to know your community.  Have self-motivation and a passion for what you do.  Be the best at what you do.  Never stop honing your craft.  There is always room for learning something new, so take classes, learn new techniques to incorporate into your work, and apply them.  It takes a lot of hard work and perseverance, but at the end of the day, if you love what you do, it is all worth it.

What does handmade mean to you?
Handmade means something that is made with much thoughtful consideration, care, and love.  Handmade is something that, while it may cost you a bit more, is better quality.  It is something made by an actual person who loved making it and loves that you love it too!

How did you first become involved with Craftland?
I first became involved with Craftland in 2007 when I applied and was accepted (yay!).  I went to Providence College for undergrad, so I must have heard about it from someone…somewhere…however I never actually visited it until 2007.  Crazy, I know!  But once I started gocco printing cards, I remembered Craftland and applied.  Good thing!

Guilty Pleasure?
Sugar!!  Cookies, cupcakes, pie, donuts…dessert for every meal!  Or at least after every meal.  I have a hard time functioning when there is not some sort of baked goods in the house, so I either whip something up or take a little walk to the bakery down the street to pick up something tasty.