|Hi, I'm Julie ... artist, photographer, potter, etc. I am so happy you are here! I consider this blog my creative journal where I can share my recent work, ideas and dreams, and lots of little details about my life. Please make yourself at home. Whether you are a bride-to-be, a photographer, or just a visitor, I hope you will find inspiration here and even become a friend.|
I am so inspired by women with successful creative businesses. I am encouraged to learn how they began, how they balance life, and how they grow. I'd like to begin featuring such artists each month beginning with one of my Knoxville favorites.
I have recently had the priveledge to work with the lovely ladies of Fourth Year Studio ... photographing several of their latest projects. I am always so impressed by their work ... the creativity combined with functionality, the craftsmanship, the skill level ... it's all above par.
In addition to photos of some of their recent work ... I am also including an interview with Dianna and Emily (the minds behind all this magic). Besides being incredibly talented craftsmen they are additionaly super stylish, fun, and lovable ladies. I really enjoyed getting to know more about how they teamed up to create Fourth Year Studio and how their business works. I hope you enjoy it too!
How did you start your business?
Emily and I studied architecture together at UT. Our fourth year of school we studied abroad together in Poland and were paired up to collaborate on a studio project. From then on we knew we made a strong team with complimentary skills. We both loved the graphic representation side of design and the tactility of bringing them to life in three dimensions. Three years later we were yearning for a way to share our creative talents with the community. Fourth Year Studio created an opportunity to work with clients during an important time in their life to design pieces that communicate their love with others. Then we are able to letterpress these designs with our own hands. Often times there is no outsourcing - the final product is from our heads, through our hands to yours. We feel like the level of detail does translate through to the receiver.
What is your workspace like?
We are currently leasing space from a good friend in his print shop and meet local clients around town for coffee or cocktails to discuss their event in person. Before too long we hope to have a space of our own we can share with the Knoxville community.
How do you and Emily divide responsibilities?
I take on the business and marketing side - I love to see our business grow and enjoy strategizing our next moves. We share design responsibility. When we have a custom job, we each produce a schematic design and the client is able to select their favorite or synthesize the two. We come together during production to get jobs printed, assembled, and in the mail. If we have a job that requires sewing Emily heads up that task.
Tell us about the letterpress.
Letterpress is one of the oldest forms of printing. Type was set in a chaise and pressed onto the paper. The process has evolved so that you no longer have to have an extensive collection of type in order to print and we can create plates with whatever sort of design we dream up. We now own 3 platen presses but the one we use most often is our original press a Chandler & Price whom we fondly call Holland. Holland turned 100 years old in 2012. He started his life at Stubley Knox [one of the oldest companies in Knoxville]. It was a manual machine that was later retrofit with a washing machine motor. When we made the purchase from Holland's son Chris, Emily's husband made a few adjustments so it was fully operable again. It is an honor for us to operate machines that have lived through so many changes in the world and are still relevant. There aren't too many machines in use today that date back before WWI. We hope to pass the craft to the next generation of printers when our time is up.
What is the best advice you've ever been given as an artist?
Oooh, good question!! Although what we do is very artistic, I consider us more of craftsmen. But, the advice is still valid either way. You are only able to share your craft in a sustainable way if it is profitable for you and can provide a happy lifestyle. Value your craft and be sure others value it too. Sometimes this takes client education so everyone understands what they are supporting and why it is important. Although, we make an effort to work with a wide range of budgets it is important that the client is interested in supporting our craft, otherwise they are likely not willing to pay for it.
Who is your most common client?
Most custom designed jobs are brides/grooms looking for unique wedding invitations but we work with clients of all types for party invitations, business/personal stationery, Holiday cards, and other lovely paper goods. We work with local clients as well as people from all over the world. When we can't meet in person, a Skype date or phone call will get the ball rolling.
What is your favorite type of project to work on?
When clients come to us without preconceived notions of what they they want. Instead, we have a conversation about who they are, what is important to communicate and how we can create something totally unique to meet their needs. We love using a variety of materials and formats. In this tech overloaded world receiving a treasure in the mail is very special.
Anything exciting that you are currently working on?
Yes, we are about to mail a set of invitations for a couple in Washington DC. The set includes a wooden scroll invitation with a laser cut paper overlay, a wooden laser etched coaster with event information on either side, and letterpress RSVP card and envelope. The envelopes are even lined with a thin wood veneer and it all comes packaged in a kraft box. Wouldn't that be fun to receive in your mailbox?!
Where do you find inspiration?
All around us - the built environment as well as the textural, natural setting East Tennessee provides. Traveling always refreshes the design palate. I love to visit other print shops around the country and keep up with what is current in modern art and architecture. Inspiration is provided by experimentation. Combining modern technologies, such as laser cutting, with letterpress allows us the opportunity to try new things until we are happy with the result.