...to make room for my creative future.
This feels like the most important post I've ever written. It's taken me months and several drafts to feel ready enough to finally post this. I experienced a rollercoaster of emotions while making this decision, ranging from bittersweet to relieved and from melancholy to excitement. It wasn't something I felt ready to share until now...
After a year and a half of shifts in my perspective, career, and creative interests, I made the difficult decision to close Pressbound, my letterpress business for the last 8 years, and liquidate my studio. This may come as a surprise or disappointment to those who have known or followed me over the years. How could I give up on something I was so passionate about?
Financially, this decision made sense. To make money in a letterpress business you need to be all in. But in 2015 Pressbound wasn’t profitable because I chose to put it on the sidelines while going back to a full-time job. I was facing out-of-pocket costs for my studio space, which I barely had time to go to once or twice a month. It was no longer practical to keep paying for a glorified storage space.
Internally, I was ready to let go of my creative past in order to forge a new creative future. I changed. My interests shifted. And there was a lot of creative baggage leftover from running a full-time stationery business that needed purging. This included old products, supplies, and equipment, that were a huge distraction to moving on and creating anything new. Letterpress was literally weighing me down and I no longer wanted to bare the burden of owning cumbersome equipment.
This shift in perspective may seem sudden, but it was in the making long before I started working again full-time. When I first started in letterpress nearly ten years ago, I needed to create something tangible and away from modern technology. I craved a connection with the process that sitting at a desk job couldn't offer. At the time, a lot of other people felt this way too. It was the beginning of the maker movement, Etsy, and the resurgence of letterpress. At the time I had no idea how lucky I was to have easy access to workshops, an internship, a community of knowledgable people, printing supplies and even presses when I was looking for them. Ten years ago, that’s exactly where I needed to be. That path lead to countless lessons in craft and personal growth. Something I will never forget and forever cherish.
But years later, and only a few into running a letterpress business full-time, things started to shift for me internally. I wasn’t fully conscious of these shifts at the time but looking back I know they were present. Letterpress started to feel too restrictive. I wanted to create with more spontaneity, improvisation and whimsy. But letterpress is rigid, preconceived, and very finicky. I craved more experimentation but seldom got the chance to work in other mediums. Letterpress was my business and my identity. It took up all of my time and it was becoming a struggle. Unless I was printing something completely new (and there is a lot of reprinting when you run a stationery business), I was getting insanely bored while on press. It wasn’t until I started working at my full-time job that I was able to hear what my heart was telling me for the last few years: there’s a lot more to life than letterpress. It was time to let go and forge a new path.
I believe in the power of reinvention. And I didn't want to feel stuck on a path I chose to go down that no longer suited me. For years I identified myself as a letterpress printer. But I don’t want to identify myself based on the medium I work in. I am a lot more than that. I am a designer. I am an educator. I am a strategic thinker. I am a daughter, wife, sister, and friend. I am a nature lover and cat admirer. I love to cook, write, read, do yoga, and drink margaritas. I look forward to every Sunday that Game of Thrones is on. And most important, I am ready to rediscover the voice that got lost amongst the lead, ink, and 100% cotton papers.
So at the end of May I put the Pressbound Etsy shop in vacation mode indefinitely and closed the door on my studio space for the last time. It was really hard to close that door. But when I did I finally felt free. And that’s how I know I’m headed down the right path.