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letterpress notecards, limited edition typography prints, journals, buttons, gift tags,
and a surprise or two ($75 value!). orangebeautiful is also offering readers
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designer, Emily Hamma Martin. The company began in the fall of 2004, when, after
years of bookbinding, creating art and designing for several other stationery companies,
Martin finally made the leap and opened her own business.
Was there one moment when you knew something special
was happening – that your art was to become your career?
I always knew that I would do something creative for a career. When I was little,
I remember wanting to be a cartoonist or an animator. A fiber arts class I took my
senior year in high school was definitely the turning point, steering me toward
a lifelong obsession with paper and printing. We were taught about stamping, batik,
paper, textiles and (my favorite) bookbinding. The tactile nature of printing on paper
and constructing books really spoke to my meticulous, hands-on nature as an artist.
What inspires your work?
A common thread throughout my work has always been words, letterforms and typography.
Whether it be a snippet from a famous song (like in our Lyrical Hip Hop and Love Lyrics prints)
or utilizing typefaces as ingredients in our card designs, prints and custom work,
Type definitely is constant inspiration for me as a designer.
Would you share a bit about your creative process?
Since OrangeBeautiful functions as both the designer + the producer of the majority
of our products and custom work, my creative process often begins by thinking about
both what I want the finished product to look like, but also what the best materials,
method of production, packaging, etc. will be for that product to be its most successful.
If I have a client that really loves the tactile, luxurious quality of letterpress, well, I'm not
gonna design a layout that includes full-color photography or grayscale shadows…
I'll design something with a lot of line work, something that looks great in 1- or 2-colors,
something that will show off the amazing printing method that the client wants.
Describe your workspace.
Chaotic. OrangeBeautiful's workspace has gone through many incarnations
over the past 8 1/2 years. It's been the living room of my apartment, it's been a loft
studio space in the North Center neighborhood of Chicago, it's been a hybrid
retail shop/studio in Ravenswood (our current space). It's been part warehouse,
part meeting space, part print shop, part design studio. The percentages of those elements
tend to shift, grow and decrease depending upon what new projects we're taking on,
or to support a new direction we'd like our work to go in.
The retail/studio space opened in May of 2010, and just this past February,
we decided to close the day-to-day retail function of the space, physically expand
our work area, and utilize a now-smaller storefront space to host monthly Pop-Up shops,
trunk shows and special events, featuring our work, as well as the work of other
independent and local artists, designers & craftspeople.
As an aspiring independent artist, was there any advice you received or any
lessons learned that you’d like to pass on to other hopefuls?
Make rules for yourself and stick to them.
When you're first starting out, it's hard to not say 'Yes' to everything. And, ultimately, saying
'Yes' to things that ended up being not-so-great experiences, are actually invaluable for your
growth as an artist, a business owner and a person. However, the sooner you can start
making a solid list of 'deal-breakers' for what you're willing to do and not do when it comes
to making, producing and selling your work, the better off you will be in the end.
If you make custom one-of-a-kind items that you couldn't resell to a client other than
the one who ordered it, well, you need a hard and fast rule about not accepting returns
on custom orders. Write it down and make it public. Even if it's buried in a list of terms
and policies on the profile page of your Etsy shop, you need to put it out there to
protect yourself if and when that scenario happens.
If you take on larger cost projects like making a website or designing and printing a suite of
wedding invitations, take a deposit and don't do a lick of work, or order a single piece of paper
until you've done so. It seems like a no brainer, but sometimes your excitement as a creative
person who wants to get started on that creative process can take over and give you brain freeze
about the very thing that'll allow you to keep doing your art: Money.
Fake it 'til you make it.
Just because you do your work in the corner of your spare room while you're wearing your
pajamas and listening to Carly Rae Jepsen on repeat doesn't mean you should present yourself
to the world in that way. Make a website that has clean design and shows off your work.
Take a picture of your hands close-up working on your craft, and be sure to crop out your cat,
your laundry basket, and that Snickers wrapper from yesterday's all-nighter. Start a blog
where you post up things your working and things that inspire you, and leave the photos
of your baby out (you can always post those on Facebook).
I worked out of my living room for the first year and a half of OrangeBeautiful being in business.
I met clients at Starbucks (and always bought them their coffee, even when I was broke). I took
all of my savings and hired a kick-ass web designer to make OB's first website. I made sure to
always look professional and be confident about my work whenever meeting with a client,
or attending an event where I might find business connections. Even now, 8 1/2 years later,
I still feel sometimes like I have no idea what I'm doing, but I'm not gonna let you know that ;)
thanks so much, emily!
remember to leave a comment below, and you'll be entered
into a drawing to win a box full of awesome design goods.
orangebeautiful is also offering all readers 20% off your entire online purchase
through the end of april. coupon code is OPAT20. go forth and shop!
the winner will be announced on friday, april 19 at 2pm cst.