Friday Interview: Albertine Press! July 20, 2012 10:36

Happy Friday, everyone! This week I'm going to introduce you to another talented letterpress artist, Shelley Barandes of Albertine Press. Shelley is based in the creative hotspot of Somerville, MA. Read on for some great advice on making your craft your full time job. 


Please introduce yourself and tell us about your handmade business.
My name is Shelley Barandes and I'm the owner and designer at Albertine Press, a letterpress design and printshop in Somerville, MA (next to Boston). We have our hands in a lot of pots - designing and printing a line of greeting cards and note sets, customized wedding invitations, baby announcements, limited edition broadsides and also print for hire. 


Describe your studio for us.
The studio is in an industrial building shared with lots of other artisans and two (!) chocolate makers. We have 10 (I think) presses of varying vintage and function. Some we use only to teach, and others are our workhorses that get used nearly every day. We have miles of table tops that always seem to be full of projects in various states of production. Walls are lined with shelves that house our finished products, and if you look up you can see about a hundred boxes of envelopes in every size, shape and color. The office across the hall is stuffed top to bottom with samples, art supplies and a kid's corner, where my daughter hangs out when she comes to visit.


Does your background as an architect influence your stationery collection?
Absolutely. One of my signature lines of notecards and journals is a series of urban city sketches. The same details and elements of urban construction that led me to architecture is where I find a lot of inspiration in my illustration work.


What do you like to do when you need some inspiration?
You never know where you'll find inspiration - I've found ideas for new designs anywhere from the patterns painted on ancient pottery at art museums to radiator grilles in my building. I always have a camera with me to quickly snap pictures of things that catch my eye so when I'm feeling stuck for new ideas I can always refer back to them and see what might lead to a new design.

What advice would you offer to someone hoping to take their art from hobby to business?
First, read some books about turning craft into a business so you have a clearer understanding of what that means because making crafts and running a business are two entirely different things and not everyone is cut out for both. Figure out how you want a crafting business to fit into your life - is it about making things yourself, earning a living, getting your product into as many people's hands as possible? How will the business fit into your life goals (family, travel, etc.)? Look at other similar businesses to see what is possible, but don't be confined to a specific path just because others are doing it. Keep sight of the reason you started crafting to begin with and make sure that's part of your everyday role in your business. Probably most importantly, find a group of fellow crafters who you can talk with about challenges you're facing and support each other with your collective wisdom and experience (and mistakes).


What does handmade mean to you?
To me, a handmade product is one made with attention and love of craft. Nearly all of us use tools in our creations but at the core we use our hands to turn raw materials into a finished product we share with the world.

How did you become involved with Craftland?
Other crafters whose work I adore recommended Craftland to me, so I applied for the holiday show in 2011. It's been a lovely partnership since then! 


Little known, fun fact about you? 
I have great-grandfathers on both sides of my family who were in the printing business. One I didn't even know about until after I myself was already a printer, when my grandmother found some photos that have some of same equipment in their shop as in mine.