Over the past few months I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked with Lynn Russell of Satsuma Press. While we’ve managed a very successful collaboration with two greetings cards and a card for Heath Ceramics (see below), we’ve never actually met, as I’m in Cape Town and she’s in Corvallis, Oregon.
So while Lynn’s astonishing work ethic, her beautifully-kept journal and her meticulously-written emails utterly convince me that she’s one top-notch human being, I thought it’d be nice to ask some direct questions in this little interview:
Could you describe a typical day in your life
My days begin at 6 am and end at around midnight. What happens in that eighteen hour span can vary from day to day, but here are the constants:
– tea, multiple cups;
– breakfast with Liam and Ben;
– taking Liam to school at around 7:30 am and picking him up at 2:30 pm;
– tidying the house (because I am a firm believer that a clean house allows me to think and work better);
– sweeping of wood floors, repeatedly throughout the day (some may say I am a little obsessed with a clean floor, which is a difficult thing when your kid uses a power chair and loves to drive in mud);
– writing of to-do lists, consulting of said list, revising of said list;
– dinner with Liam and Ben;
– bedtime story and song for Liam.
There are a lot of other things, too, but these change day to day – checking and responding to emails, packing online orders, printing, printing, printing …
What do you enjoy most about your working day?
I love the days when I am printing, not just doing computer work and the seemingly endless administrative tasks. I love the look of a stack of freshly cut paper waiting for ink. I love pulling that first impression and still feeling like this is what I want to be doing. how very lucky I am in this regard.
What’s your favourite thing to do?
I love a good book and the time to read it in the middle of the day, not just at night when I often fall asleep after a few pages. I also love to cook, mostly savory. I love a day in the kitchen preparing something delicious for friends or family (which is why Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday).
What would you say are the prerequisites to be a letterpress printer like yourself
The traits that I have – tidiness, attention to detail, focus – are ones that have definitely helped me become a good letterpress printer. That said, I think being a printer is really a work in progress. I find that I learn something more with each job that goes well or, in particular, goes badly. Nobody wants a disastrous job, but there is a lot to be learned when things go awry.
One thing you just can’t do without?
Only one? I’ll keep it light, then. Tea, black with milk. True thing, I don’t think I can really function without it.
A couple of highlights of your career so far?
I feel so fortunate for the very warm welcome Satsuma Press has received. I’ve really only been designing and printing in earnest for the past 4 years, although I did learn to print before then.
There are definitely a few highlights thus far …. I was so thrilled when Heath Ceramics picked up my stationery line.
I had gone to the Sausalito Factory Store in July 2008 when I was in the Bay Area for Renegade SF and gotten the owner’s business card. It took me until February of 2009 to finally send her an email – it was one of things that stayed on the to-do list for a long time! I admire everything about Heath (and am the happy owner of several tea cups and bowls), so I was over the moon when Cathy wrote me back within the hour.
I love that Max Wanger, who is an incredible photographer, shot my wedding line.
This came about through a series of internet wonders. I am often amazed by how very small the internet makes the world, and how we can connect with people all over the world. I say this in all honestly because I am someone who didn’t even use email 10 years ago, at all, and who also grew up overseas and didn’t have a telephone until I was in the 8th grade.
Something you’re looking forward to in the near future?
Honestly, here is what I am looking forward to right at this moment – a day with no work at all. A day with my family, with cups of tea, a wood fire, my knitting, a good book, a delicious home-made meal.
I’m planning to make lots of cookies for gifts this season and so I’d love a day to make them and another to package them up. This year I’ll be baking my very favorite buckwheat butter cookies with cocoa nibs, plus shortbread and brown butter oatmeal cookies. And I have lots of ideas of how to wrap them up for giving because who doesn’t love a pretty package?
On the work front, I am really excited about the new Satsuma Press Mailbox Monthly that begins January 2010.
I love the idea of sending out monthly packages filled with letterpress printed goodies – and I’ve just started thinking I might include some other related pretties, like labels, glassine envelopes, ribbons …
Thanks so much to Lynn, both for taking the time to answer my interview questions, and for simply being so extraordinarily amazing to work with. I really do hope we get to meet some day.
Find out more about Lynn Russell by keeping an eye on her journal, and visit the Simple Lovely blog, where she’s written about her favourite things. You can buy the cards we collaborated on at her shop, along with her 2010 calendars, and lots of other beautiful work.