Artist of the Month: Creative Lab Press

Creative Lab Press at Ecru Modern Stationer

With a line of simply illustrated cards that are astute and sassy, Bri Davey’s NE Portland letterpress operation, dubbed Creative Lab Press, is 100 percent hands-on. Her hand-drawn designs often feature straightforward but playfully composed imagery accented by her impeccable calligraphy, which offers messages that range from touchingly thoughtful to cleverly cheeky (with a pinch of saucy irreverence where appropriate). After she’s devised a concept and it’s been written and illustrated, Bri makes the proper plates for Clara—her 1,700-pound, octogenarian Chandler & Price letterpress. She then cuts, prints and scores every card at her home studio under the watchful eye of her namesake. You see, her studio is not a laboratory—it’s no sterile environment or research facility: It’s an inky, and sometimes fuzzy, workplace. Just check the dogdanna-sporting logo—the studio is named for Bri’s “furry love,” Jackson, her giant chocolate lab.

Say Hello to Bri Davey (and Jackson!)

Creative Lab Press' Bri Davey and her chocolate lab, Jackson

Where are you from?

I was raised in small-town southwest Montana and have lived in Portland for seven years.

What’s your experience and education?

My education is in business (Montana State University) and nonprofit management (Portland State University); however, ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been drawing, creating and working with my hands. I started doing web and marketing design work about eight years ago for a company in Montana, and when I moved to Portland, I got turned on to letterpress. I quickly realized it was something I had to learn more about and found myself taking classes at local art schools. I’ve always wanted to have my own business and thus, Creative Lab Press was born. When I started the company in 2011, I was very lucky to have several friends getting married or having babies at the time. My first clients were friends or friends of friends that let me experiment with the craft and create something unique for them. I still do custom design work for weddings, holiday cards and birth announcements. This past spring, I launched a greeting card line at the National Stationery Show in New York City—debuting over 70 cards, gift tags, coasters and a calendar—all with my hand-drawn aesthetic.

How did you start Creative Lab Press?

I knew I would love letterpress since you are literally working with your hands through every step of the process. I took a few classes locally and then shortly after I found my press online in Portland and purchased it before I even had a place to put it. (It weighs nearly 2,000 pounds!) I rented a studio space shortly after and ran my first print in the summer of 2011.

Where do you create your cards? Do you have a dedicated studio or do you work from home?

All of my cards are created in my home studio in NE Portland. I have a great space where my letterpress is set up and I can get my hands dirty. For most of my cards, I initially illustrate the artwork by hand, then scan the art and have plates made for printing. I cut all the paper, print and score every card, and package each at my home office.

Creative Lab Press' studio

 

Creative Lab Press' tools of the trade

 

Creative Lab Press' tools of the trade

How does living in Portland and the Northwest inspire your designs?

I love taking advantage of all that the Pacific Northwest has to offer. I spend a lot of my downtime exploring the beautiful scenery of the beach, Gorge and mountains by hiking and skiing. I also enjoy tending to my garden and, in recent years, have spent windy days sailing out on the Columbia River.

I’ve enjoyed printing on wood veneer and have some die-cut cards that are in the shape of Oregon and Washington. Our lovely beaches, forests, mountains and iconic city images are often depicted on these cards with a hand-drawn style.

Where else do you get your ideas from?

A lot of my ideas come from just sitting with a sketchbook and drawing! Some of my best ideas have come from just a random doodle! Other ideas come from conversations with friends at a barbecue or over coffee with my husband. I like to keep my designs fun and a bit quirky—not something you see every day.

What artistic techniques and processes do you use?

The majority of my work starts first with hand-lettered calligraphy. I’ll draw out an entire card in my sketchbook and then scan it to create digital artwork on the computer. The digital files are then used to create polymer plates ready for letterpress printing. All of my cards are printed on my letterpress from 1931. They are individually fed into the press by hand and each color is a new press run. I also die-cut on my press with my most popular shapes being those from my new state-shaped collection.

Can you tell us the story behind your bingo card?

My husband and I have enjoyed playing bingo at fundraisers for the local nonprofit My Voice Music. My bingo greeting card was created to be able to be used as a “love” card or even for a close friend saying, “When I first met you, I yelled… BINGO!”

Creative Lab Press' bingo card

What’s your favorite part of your day?

Getting the press inked up and running that first print. Such immediate satisfaction!

How does Jackson figure into your process and the workday?

Jackson is so spoiled! He gets to hang out in the yard when it’s nice outside and rolls around in the grass and gnaws on a bone while I am printing. Tough life. It’s so great having him around during my work day—he definitely provides some stress relief and a good excuse to take a break and walk to the park.

How do you avoid creative ruts?

I generally like to get outside when I am fried and feel like I am in a rut. It’s a great way to get re-inspired and have some fun.

Tell us three things you love, need and can’t live without.

  1. My husband
  2. My dog
  3. Chocolate

Anyone else you’d like to give a shout out to?

Just a big THANK YOU to all my friends here in Portland and my family and friends back home for their amazing support. And especially to a handful of gals in PDX that have helped me endless times packaging cards and letting me bounce my crazy card ideas off of them. You know who you are!

Creative Lab Press greeting cards

Ecru is Hiring Two Part-Time Sales Associates!

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Ecru Modern Stationer is an established locally owned stationery store located in the Pearl District and soon to be open in downtown Portland. We specialize in hip and modern greeting cards, papergoods, gifts and custom party & wedding invitations. Learn more about Ecru at www.ecrupaper.com.

We are looking for an experienced and reliable part-time sales associates for 15+ hours a week. The hours available are Wednesdays thru Saturdays.

Job Duties:

  • Excellent customer service skills that include friendly and knowledgeable assistance to customers regarding store products and services.
  • Assist in maintaining store cleanliness, organization and merchandising. 

Job Qualifications:

  • Retail experience required.
  • A passion for paper goods, gifts and wedding stationery.
  • Communication and people skills a must.
  • Great organizational and multi-tasking skills required.
  • Detail oriented.
  • Self-motivated with a strong work ethic.
  • Out-going with a positive attitude.
  • Must be able to learn POS computer/register.
  • Must be able to handle money and make change.
  • Must be able to take directions, follow store procedures and work independently in the store unattended.
  • Experience with Word and Photoshop a plus.

Please send a resume and cover letter outlining why your skills are a good fit for this position and your interest in working at Ecru Modern Stationer. We kindly request no phone calls or walk-ins as we are a busy retail store. 

We welcome your email of interest for this position so please send via email to LeAnn.

Let’s Go Camping!

Let's go camping! Rachel Austin at Ecru Modern Stationer

Have you been camping this summer? If not, what are you waiting for?!?! Get out and enjoy Oregon. Heck, get out and enjoy these United States!

There’s really no better place to get your camp on than Oregon State Parks. Activities like biking, boating, fishing, hiking, horseback riding and birding are just a short jaunt away, and parks are packed with spots for picnics, history lessons and, of course, camping. There are special campsites for bikers and hikers, as well as folks equipped with tents and RVs. Not a card carrying member of REI? No worries. There are cabins and yurts available for rent. And yes, some are even okay for your pets.

If you’re a fan of outdoor adventure, it’s likely you’ll also dig these and other cards by Portland artist Rachel Austin. Her acrylic and oil paintings over old maps have been captured in colorful prints on natural linen paper printed with archival inks. The boxed set contains six unique notecards featuring sweet little campers and evoking a sense of travel. The cards are blank on the inside, making them the perfect medium to share your own adventures with friends near and far—or, the perfect gift for the camping enthusiast(s) in your life.

Let's go camping! Rachel Austin at Ecru Modern Stationer Let's go camping! Rachel Austin at Ecru Modern Stationer

Bridge Pedal

Bridge Pedal: Portland bridges and bike cards by Lark Press at Ecru Modern Stationer

We Portlanders can’t get enough of our bridges and bikes—we even have a wonderful event called Bridge Pedal that marries the two together. But, as everyone knows, Bridge Pedal is really a daily celebration. Whether we’re biking over the Steel, St. Johns or other local bridges, we’ve got a smile plastered across our face because the views of our city makes our heart skip a beat. Not a ride goes by that we don’t think that we’re lucky to live here, and that’s why these letterpressed cards by Lark Press have a special place in our heart.

Bike card by Lark Press at Ecru Modern Stationer

Happy Birthday, Leo!

happy birthday leo from ecru modern stationer
Those born under the sign of Leo (July 23 to August 22 ) are said to be confident, ambitious and generous. Although she or he is independent, Leo likes to be admired and appreciated by her or his audience. Audience? Yep, Leo likes attention. You’ll know Leo by his or her dramatic hijinks and look-at-me style. That’s why these greeting cards from Little Low, E Frances Paper, Idlewild Co. and The Social Type are the perfect means to flatter your way into Leo’s heart. After all, who doesn’t like being reminded just how awesome they truly are? Leo just likes it a little more than the rest of us.

happy birthday leo from ecru modern stationer

Card by The Social Type

happy birthday leo from ecru modern stationer

Card by E Frances Paper

happy birthday leo from ecru modern stationer

Card by Idlewild Co.

Happy birthday Leo from ecru modern stationer

Card by Little Low

It’s National Indie Retailers Week(end)

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We love a good observance holiday (hot dog month, ice cream day, etc.), but none makes our heart beat faster than National Indie Retailers Week.

Shopping local is important year round, but this special week gives us the opportunity to reflect on why it’s so meaningful. First of all, shopping local isn’t about what it does for the retailer; it’s about what it does for YOU.

From our friends at Neighborhood Notes: “When you spend money at an independent, locally owned business in Portland, you’re making an investment in your community and building your own personal wealth due to something called the multiplier effect. In a nutshell: When you spend a dollar at a local business, .58 cents stays local whereas that same dollar spent at a non-local business sends .67 cents out of Portland.* Money that stays (and circulates) in Portland helps create a stronger tax base and that, in turn, helps improve our city and its neighborhoods—your neighborhood, your home.”

It’s really powerful to know that the ability to make a difference in Portland’s economy and livability is in our wallets. That’s within reach!

We’d like to encourage you to get out this weekend and shop locally at your fave Pearl District retailers and to expand that list by exploring independent businesses that are new to you.

Visit Ecru’s Indie Retail Neighbors

If we overlooked an indie retailer in the Pearl, please let us know (in the comments below) and we’ll add them to the list.

Happy shopping!

*From the 2011 report Going Local: Quantifying the Economic Impacts of Buying from Locally Owned Businesses in Portland, Maine

Sasquatch Sighting!

Sasquatch cards by Michele Maule and Egg Press

Cards: Michele Maule (left) and Egg Press (right)

Attention, Bigfoot trackers: The big fella has been spotted in Portland’s Pearl District! The urban setting is a departure from his usual forest environs, but rest assured, this is no hoax. After rocking out at The Gorge and brewing up a little trouble in Eugene, Stumptown is the perfect spot to chill out with a beer and burger.

Sasquatch has made appearances in everything from advertising to games to sports, and now his hairy mug is trending on greeting cards from makers like Orange Twist Cards, Little Low, Michele Maule and Egg Press. We’re a bit smitten with the guy, we must admit.

If you want to catch a glimpse of Sasquatch, you should hurry on over. This guy has a habit of disappearing quickly.

Sasquatch cards by Orange Twist Cards and Little Low

Cards: Orange Twist (left) and Little Low (right)

Artist of the Month: YoshiniG Creative

YoshiniG Creative at Ecru Modern Stationer

The simply elegant and playfully designed line of YoshiniG Creative greeting cards came into existence thanks to Yoshini Gunawardena’s two best friends and one long night—the pair not only pushed the illustrator and designer to launch this endeavor but they physically sat by her side as she designed card after card for six straight hours, wrapping up that first burst of creativity with 20 different card designs.

Really, it’s the support of those that are closest to her that inspire and support all of her creations, which are full of vibrant colors and frequently feature off-kilter quips that are silly and humorous or just eye-catching patterns alongside imagery of animals and everyday items. Born and raised in Portland and schooled at Portland State University, Yoshini has seven years of professional graphic design under her belt and designs all of her cards by hand or digitally before printing them right here in town.

This “small business slash hobby,” as Yoshini describes it, is a labor of love—for both Yoshini and the friends and family that support her. In the end, “My goal is that they are as much a delight to receive as they were a pleasure to make.”

Say Hello to YoshiniG Creative

Yoshini Gunawardena of YoshiniG Creative

How does living in Portland and the Northwest inspire your designs?

Living in Portland definitely influences the designs I create. A lot of my ideas come from things on my way to work—the quirky feel of the city and its strong design presence. It’s hard not to feel inspired by everything Portland has to offer!

Speaking of work, we hear you have a full-time job in addition to your card company. What all do you do in life and how do you balance your time between the different areas?

For my day job, I work as a graphic designer for an interactive agency in NW Portland called ISITE Design. I’m on a team that creates the front-end visual design for websites and mobile applications. Aside from working a full-time job, I also enjoy spending time with my friends and family, though most of my time is spent with my boyfriend Richard and our two-year-old dog, Autzen. I’ll admit, it’s hard to find balance between working, my card hobby, and spending time with those I love, but I do my best to give each area the attention and focus it needs.

Where do you create your cards? Do you have a dedicated studio or do you work from home?

Right now, I just work in the living room of my condo, curled up on the couch with my laptop. Eventually I’d love to have a room dedicated to my card business—mainly to keep our dog from chewing up my cards and the cat from laying on top of them!

What artistic techniques and processes do you use?

I design my cards both digitally and by hand. When I design them by hand, I use Prismacolor markers to create an almost paint-like aesthetic. Most of the time though, I use programs like Photoshop and Illustrator to create my designs. What I enjoy most about using the computer is that it allows me to quickly iterate on different concepts. Additionally, I love when I learn a new technique in digital illustration and I’m able to bring that skill into my work at ISITE.

There’s some pretty clever, quirky copy on some of your cards. Can you tell us where these ideas come from?

All the really clever card ideas come from my friends and family. I am constantly getting text messages and emails about “a great idea for another card.” I even have a Google Doc with some friends for us to document our ideas. It’s safe to say my cards wouldn’t be nearly as popular if it wasn’t for the great ideas others have been kind enough to share with me.

Cards by YoshiniG Creative at Ecru

We noticed that some of your work seems origami inspired. Is there a story behind that?

As a kid, I had this phase where I was obsessed with origami. My parents supported this by regularly bringing me origami books from the library. Even though I rarely do origami now, I guess you can say that its elegance and simplicity has influenced a lot of my design style as an adult.

How do you spread the word about your business?

Word of mouth has been my biggest way to spread word about my business, though I’ve started to dive deeper into using Facebook and Instagram. I recently hired my friend Doniree Walker to help me with a digital strategy. She absolutely knows her stuff and has been a tremendous help. Though, I do find that at the end of the day, my friends and parents are my best advocates.

What’s your favorite part of your day?

I love waking up every day and knowing I get to do what I love and was meant to do in this life: design. I go to my full-time job every morning excited that I get to work with the most amazing people and am constantly learning and honing my craft. Then I come home and get to go back to my print design roots. I’m especially lucky that I have friends, family and a boyfriend that are incredibly supportive of this passion.

Tell us five things you love, need and can’t live without.

If we’re excluding people and pets…

  1. My laptop

  2. Cheese

  3. Sweatpants

  4. Prismacolor markers

  5. Doughnuts

What’s the best “thing” you’ve recently come across?

This changes daily but lately I’ve been obsessed with vintage advertisements and trying to recreate that look and feel in my cards.

Yoshini Gunawardena at work on YoshiniG Creative greeting cards

How do you avoid creative ruts?

When I hit a rut I usually try to check out sites that inspire me: Colossal, Pinterest, The Dieline, Oh Joy! and Design*Sponge. I also like to take a walk or watch some Netflix to clear my head of the project for a bit.

Anyone you’d like to give a shout out to?

Yes! My local printer: Anders Printing off SE Division. The people there work with my last-minute requests and help bring my designs to life. They were the only printer in town that created the quality I needed for the price I could afford. Most of all, they are so knowledgeable, kind and wonderful to work with!

Lastly, we hear you’re doing some pro bono work for nonprofits and community groups. Can you tell us more about that?

I will provide them with free design services and they will just pay the production cost and shipping. They can either design invites or announcements or even a set of cards that they can then turn around and sell while keeping 100 percent of the profits. I’m looking to work with about two to three groups a month, and depending on the demand, they will be selected by my business partners and I. People can contact us through our Facebook page for more information.

Happy Birthday to Us! And, Some Big News…

Ecru Modern Stationer's downtown location

Ecru’s downtown location will be housed in the historic Pacific Building.

Today marks Ecru’s 8th Anniversary! We wouldn’t be here without all the wonderful customers who have been so loyal and supportive over the years. Thank you for the amazing memories!

We also have some big news: We’re very excited to announce that we will be opening a second Ecru location in the heart of downtown Portland later this summer. In store, you’ll find the same great greeting cards, paper goods, journals, gift wrap and gifts along with a focus on Portland and locally made items. Well, that and a few new surprises.  We hope you’ll stop by and say hello—we’ll keep you posted on our official opening day.

Celebrate INDIEpendence!

made-in-usa-at-ecru

 

Nothing says America quite like the Fourth of July weekend. For many, it’s the kickoff of summer and the gateway to adventures small and large. Whether your plans include camping in your backyard or Glacier National Park, hiking in Forest Park or blazing a new trail in another part of the country, day tripping to the Oregon coast or road tripping across this great country, be sure to pack the right tools—American made, natch—to document your experience and share it with your friends and family:

  • Notebooks (orange/blue) and pencils by Sideshow Press
  • “What to Pack” postcards by Small Adventure
  • “I’d hike anywhere with you” card by Waterknot