Where did the name of your studio come from?
Blackbird came from the symbology of birds, especially crows and ravens. Through history, Ravens and Crows were seen in folklore as messengers. And we print messages.
Who is on your team, and how did you come together?
At Blackbird I have a staff of 4 people, ranging from printmakers, artists, and a classical musician. We live in a university town so in the beginning that is where I found help, students in the art department, as well as word of mouth. Becca is our studio manager and keeps track of what needs to be done and alerts what fires to put out, plus does die cutting. Rebecca is a printer, along with myself, keeping everything in stock. Dawn dies cuts, and works in assembly. Masy is now printing and also works in assembly. They all have other creative side gigs, Becca plays the violin in the Symphony, Rebecca teaches art foundations at University of Louisiana, Lafayette, Dawn is an amazing painter, dawnblack.com, Masy makes really cool stuff at pressreliefprints.com.
How did you get into design and letterpress printing?
I have a BFA in printmaking and then continued my studies in graduate school in printmaking, finishing with an MFA in 2003. I went to graduate school at Louisiana State University and in their printmaking department they have 2 letterpresses and a lot of lead type. I learned how to print on the letterpress there, and was soon teaching the Intro to Books Arts class as part of my assistantship. After grad school I found a Chandler & Price 8x12 platen letterpress pretty close by and bought it with all the money I had in the world. And Blackbird began. I came to letterpress from a studio art printmaking background and in the beginning I only printed with lead type and carved linocuts, but through the years in developing the business, we've moved to print mostly using polymer plates.
Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
I especially look to other artists by going to galleries and museums, and also folk art, children's book illustration, vintage book illustration, vintage reference books, and of course the great outdoors.
What kind of press(es) do you use?
We have 5 presses in our studio: two Heidelberg Windmills, Chandler & Price 8x12, Chandler and Price 10x15, and a Vandercook SP15. Each are used and have their unique strengths in printing specific products.
Which press was used to print the Nicely Noted cards?
Heidelberg Windmill, printing and die cutting.