Like many printers, Kseniya Thomas runs a commercial and social letterpress shop, Thomas-Printers, in Carlisle, Pa. She works with designers, individuals, collaborators and fellow printers on projects demanding quick turnaround and close attention to detail.
“A lot of people don’t understand that you can design and have someone else do it, not that I am the Kinko’s of letterpress,” she told me when I interviewed her for our designer profile in the Fall 2011 issue of Stationery Trends.
Unlike many printers, Kseniya felt there was a need to form a trade organization, so in late 2007 she teamed up with Jessica White, of Heroes & Criminals Press in Asheville, N.C., to found Ladies of Letterpress (LOLP). “This is a community where you can read about our adventures in commercial, fine press, art and zine printing, ask for advice and learn from other printers, share resources, and get inspiration for your own business and work — all for the love of letterpress,” their website describes. “Our mission is to promote the art and craft of letterpress printing and to encourage the voice and vision of women printers.”
Anyone (including men) is welcome to join, and there are currently 1,965 members from all over the world, most a testament to the group’s tagline, “A woman’s place is in the printshop.” They will be exhibiting again at signature mix marketplace in booths 2462, 2463, 2464, 2465, 2466, 2467 — and rest assured that that many booths will showcase treasures a whole lot of lady printers!
While Kseniya gave a great gift to the resurgence of letterpress — not to mention the whole stationery industry — by starting LOLP, she also turns out some masterful work, as you can see in some of her recent jobs, designed by individual clients.
Of course I was thrilled when Kseniya agreed to answer TPC’s Five Questions!
1. SS: How did you get into this crazy business?
KT: After graduating from college, I had a fellowship to study and work in Germany for a year. A friend and I happened to go to Mainz one weekend — that’s where the Gutenberg Museum has a working letterpress-print shop. A few weeks later, I wrote and asked if they accepted interns, and they did, so I moved to Mainz. I worked there for six months, and learned how to set type and print from guys who had spent their whole careers in print shops. I had no idea at the time that I had found my calling in life; even after I returned to the U.S., and realized that letterpress was happening here, I still only knew the basics of the history of printing and the craft of letterpress — and nothing about running a small business. That was 12 years ago; I’ve been in business for eight years now.
2. SS: Are there any design or lifestyle trends you are finding yourself particularly intrigued with these days?
KT: I’m happy to see so much hand-lettering now; I love to see anything that bears its maker’s mark, especially paper goods.
3. SS: What letter, card or invitation first comes to mind as the best you’ve ever received?
KT: Wow, that is a hard question. I used to write and receive letters all the time in the not-too-distant past, but I suppose the best note I ever received was one from my Grandma that she’d enclosed with a blanket she’d knitted for me: “My love for you is knit in every stitch.”
4. SS: What are your three favorite paper lines aside from your own?
5. SS: Is there anything you do personally to keep letter-writing, card-sending and invitation using alive?
KT: I print stationery for people to keep and send, invitations for all kinds of events, and beautiful keepsakes for people to hang on their walls. Once in a while, I actually send a postcard myself.