i can't say enough how much the great lakes cards speak to a part of me that no other card line ever has. it may be that they too, are fond of neil young, or that their sentiments are captured both simply and cleverly. whatever the reasons, they are original and i love them.
(and p.s. rifle does custom calling cards with this little pup, too!)
'imagine a fireplace and a lodge. imagine a mossy bog and tree. imagine aiming a bow and arrow into the sky and hoping to see where it lands. herein lies the great lakes. the great lakes is growing out of a love of handmade goods."
check out her new cards, just in!!!
they are quite amazing and worth at least a peak, unless of course you are a collector of cards, in which case these cards just may have to go with you asap!!!
pearl & marmalade is an amazing design studio out of chicago, comprised of dani and lee, two of the wittiest and nicest ladies around. we found them online a couple of years ago, and we've been obsessed ever since. their cards are offbeat and super, super sweet. i mean, who doesn't want to receive a note in the mail that reads: "like a shepherd and its rawhide chew i am rather fond of you." here are just a few of our favorite cards, and let me tell you, it was hard to narrow it down. enjoy, and thanks so much to dani and lee for answering our questions and giving us a peek into the world of pearl & marmalade!
this is quite possibly the best "sorry" card ever made in the history of paper goods.
click on the image to read the text.
card without cracking up.
what were your first jobs and how did you end up working in stationery and design?
Dani: In middle school I would babysit my cousins. Most of my hard earned money was spent on clothing and accessories from the local mall.
Lee: My first job was picking berries at a local fruit farm the summer I turned 13. I ate a lot of strawberries & spent most of my earnings on a very chic pair of hot pink Reebok high-tops!
We never formally studied graphic design (Lee went to school for writing & Dani's studies concentrated on textiles & fiber arts). But in Chicago we stumbled upon jobs at the same company creating & typesetting wedding invitations and became fast friends! From the beginning we were both at wit's end with the mainstream design-work, and bored with a greeting card market saturated with mean cards, hip catch-phrases & lazy typesetting. We took some spare change & a month of morning coffee money (we started P&M with about hundred dollars each), bought a ream of card stock and got to work. The early days were challenging- learning the ins and out of the mysterious world of business management, pricing & printers was a labyrinth (we are sometimes still in it!). We worked full time which demanded our weekends and nights belong entirely to P&M. But looking back it was the best motivator. Since we didn't have financial support from loans or investors our only option was to turn our ideas and that initial spare change into something more, or simply fail. The past 4 years has been a magnificent adventure. Getting to know other card-makers, being a part of the finest stationery shops (one such favorite called O'Suzannah comes to mind), and connecting with admirers of our cards is such an honor.
house, and it makes me smile everyday. yes, those
are raindrop hearts.
what are your favorite pieces/groups/series in your work?
Dani: I'm most proud of our limited edition letterpress prints. As a card designer I fear that my cards will eventually get discarded. The hope with the prints is that they will be framed, put on display and cherished for a long time. Our first print Amidst Routes was designed by Lee. It features botanical imagery, lace details and diamond shapes. It has a sophisticated color palette of warm grey and mustard yellow. I immediately fell in love with the design when Lee showed it to me. It reminds me of an old botanical print, but with a modern edge. It's just gorgeous! I'm a proud owner of the print, and it's on prominent display in my living room. We also offer two prints named Numbers, Numbers, one version in blue and grey and the other in pink and grey. I designed these prints with a baby nursery in mind. I think of these prints as my way of introducing children to design at an early age.
Lee: Of our letterpress cards I have a perma-crush on the Octo Love card that Dani designed this year- it's my favorite for a valentine/love card! And I have a fondness for our roots & vegetables cards 'cause each was designed with a special someone in mind (Mushroomy Compliments was for my husband, Fiercely Rooted for my childhood best friend, & Turnip Times was for Dani).
who or what inspires you?
There are piles of visual things that inspire us (antique valentines & wallpaper, 60's & 70's children's books, vernacular photography, vintage Vera scarves, old-time illustrations, strong fonts). But, plenty of our inspiration is also born in our fascination & longing for the curious manners of "olden days". We're all for a bit of sass and sarcasm here and there, but with our greeting cards we focus on an attempt to be a part of a community of folks wanting to send and receive sentiments of a kinder, more heartfelt & quirkier nature.
what three websites do you visit daily?
style me pretty
oh so beautiful paper
describe your ideal sunday.
Dani: My ideal Sunday is waking up late, treating myself to a homemade latte (I'm an espressoholic) and reading fashion magazines. If the weather is nice I love taking walks with my husband through our neighborhood and admiring the beautiful architecture. We live in the Chicago neighborhood of Wicker Park, which is known for its beautiful Victorian era homes. If the weather is crummy my husband and I love curling up on our sofa with our three cats and watching movies.
Lee: Mine would involve getting up early, taking the pooch for an extra long stroll & a few thrift stores. I also try to catch up on my letter writing & the week's news. On Sundays my husband usually makes fresh sorbets in the summer, or really simple delightful soups in the winter (in my book, this is ideal!).
studio vignette...hmm, owls and mushrooms, two of our favorite things.
Our studio space is tucked away in the Logan Square 'hood of Chicago. Our walkway & backyard is plumed with wild grasses, Queen Anne's Lace, giant hosta leaves and a gang of surly "garden cats" that shyly spy on. It's a perfect fit for us- quiet, a little dusty and off the beaten path. And as we grow, it's been large enough to comfortably fit all our production & stock, but small enough to remind us to keep things in tune to our initial mission of independent, honest and personal designs.
and 2 in his room.
let me tell you, i am not alone in my love of susie's talent. jessica, who works at o'suz and does at least half the blog tending, may need an intervention, ha. i'll let her tell you in her own words.
jessica here to share my boygirlparty obsession. as suzannah suggested, an intervention might be appropriate right about now. as i was collecting all of my boygirlparty goods to photograph, i realized that i have something in every single room of my house, from an owlie necklace to magnets to notepads to stationery to prints. it's just that it's all so painfully adorable, and i mean that in the best possible way. i love susie's subject matter, which is predominantly various kinds of animals, including my two favorite animals: hedgehogs and dogs. i love her style as well, that her little creatures are often depicted in various forms of human activity, like cooking, getting down with some tunes, or talking on the telephone. i hope one day i will be able to own one of her original paintings, or at least get to see one of her shows, which always seem to be amazingly installed. here are two of my favorite boygirlparty possessions:
that's right, it's boston terrier time. on the left is a print of one of susie's paintings, and on the right is my beloved one of a kind pouch. the pouch has its own little story. a few years ago i came across a boston terrier boygirlparty pouch on flickr and, um, kind of flipped out, because i couldn't imagine a more perfect combination of two great loves: boston terriers AND boygirlparty. i immediately emailed susie to see if there was any way i could get one because i knew i NEEDED this little delight, and she told me that she didn't have any at the time but she might make more in the future, which led to my stalking of her shop. then, in december 2007, one went up for sale, and i missed it. it was devastation station. i emailed her again, and told everyone at o'suz how sad i was to have missed out again. unbeknownst to me, suzannah had already commissioned a boston pouch from susie for christmas, and everyone but me was in on the scheming. i almost died of excitement when i opened it at our party -- it was all too perfect! so now i have my pouch, and i love it so much because it reminds me of this dude, mick aka mister puppy (1994-2008), whose lovely countenance you see here being held up on my fridge with boygirlparty ipop magnets that we sell in the shop:
we have tons of magnets in the shop, including a new series of cats, dogs, forest animals, and hedgies. i am trying to resist, really. but these few things really only scratch the surface of my boygirlparty collection. here is my assortment of notepads and recipe cards from susie (and yes, i do use them):
yes, that's a squirrel playing the guitar. these come straight from susie herself, and they always go quickly whenever we get them. in the past couple of years, susie has been partnering with companies like chronicle books and madison park greetings, which brings her work to an even larger audience. here are a few of the goodies we have in the shop, some of which are brand new:
the owl journal is so snazzy, it's also illustrated on the inside! aaron and i love love love the mini notes, because, yes, that is a kitty napping while all wound up in the telephone cord on a card that says "call me!" a lot of susie's work features not only her imagery but her handwriting as well, which is just amazing, simple and sweet. we also just got a whole new series of cards like the ones on the right, for various occasions from birthdays to anniversaries to new babies.
susie also does a lot of book illustration, and one of our favorites is this baby book for adoptive families for chronicle. isn't that the sweetest cover ever?
while we aren't able to carry the prints in the shop, that doesn't stop suzannah and me from being cuckoo about them. here are a few of mine:
hedgehog playing piano. nothing more need be said. now that we've gushed about our love for boygirlparty and susie herself, please keep reading to learn about how she ended up working as an artist and what inspires her to keep keeping on. thanks so much, susie, for taking the time to answer our questions!
what was your first job and how did you end up painting and creating paper goods?
My first longterm job was at a mom&pop art supply and framing shop outside Chicago, IL. I took the job for the employee discount, of course! The second question is a little harder for me to answer, I've always painted - as far back as I can remember, and I also have some pretty early memories of making paper goods. "Susie Cards and Gifts" circa 1985 was alarmingly on par with what I do these days... I guess I took painting & paper professionally around graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2002 as a natural progression of what I had been working on the time, which was album artwork and t-shirt designs for my band, and making zines.
what is your favorite piece/group/series in your work?
The musical animals series is my favorite to work on, but I'm most proud of my polka dot owls paintings that appeared on the covers of various Chronicle Books projects -- I just know I put every ounce of my energy into those. I was very proud of my installation and exhibition "The Wild Life" from the fall as well..
who or what inspires you?
I love to mix colors and often rely on memory and nostalgia for inspiration...I'll be mixing paint and unsure of what to make next and suddenly a certain blue will remind me of something I've known... a pair of socks or a plastic swing.. it could become the basis for new work.
Also, animals and nature consistently amaze me and influence my work. Any hike, climb, swim or David Attenborough series does the trick. And my pets, I love my cat and finches.
what three websites do you visit daily?
90% of the time I'm usually wikipedia'ing or googling something like Tiny Tim or the grammar rules for "addictive/addicting". I recently joined Twitter and like to check in on there, especially when I feel confined! (Working at home can make you pretty unsocialized.) I love Flickr, too.
describe your ideal sunday.
Sleeping in, tofu scramble for breakfast - my most coveted breakfast favorite, but sadly rarely available here in San Diego! Then, a bike ride with my fiance where no cars go (cars are scary to me when on bike) Possibly stumbling upon a garage sale with incredible mid century finds. a picnic in the shade with plenty of opportunities to birdwatch and/or see wildlife, a nap, a crossword puzzle, a funny movie. Simple, cozy. I'm lucky to say this accurately describes most of my Sundays!
what do you see outside your studio windows?
Bougainvillea, a bamboo fence, and a lemon tree that refuses to cooperate. A perfectly clear typically San Diego sunny day.
when we first started carrying night owl, most of their work was comprised of letterpress flats and cards. it's been exciting to see their work evolve, and we're loving the luxe new paper and simple but sincere sentiments.
more recently night owl has been working extensively with sustainably harvested yellow birch wood. in this case increasingly adorable graphics are printed onto a thin piece of wood, and the back is free for you to inscribe in pen or pencil. the fact that these are all made from wood also means they're all different -- there are variations in tone and grain and even the occasional knot. not only is writing on and mailing wood awesome, but, hello, mister puppy here is one charming google-eyed canine!
more recently night owl has expanded their work with the eco-friendly birch to include notebooks, desk notepads, and jotters. and since we are calendar-obsessed at o'suzannah, we are especially pumped about the 2009 calendar, which also includes sustainably harvested walnut and douglas fir. this 12-month desk calendar features six double-sided pages with a sweet new design every month. i gotta tell you, it's going to be hard not to bring this one home with me...get them while you can!
night owl has even moved beyond stationery and has introduced a few tote bags with some of their signature images. these fair trade totes are super roomy and are made of 100% recycled natural and organic fibers. then they are silkscreened in birmingham, and the night owl label is handstitched on the top. perfect for library books or grocery shopping!
i apologize if the above card sent anyone into a panic -- don't fret, it's only november 5. i just couldn't pass up the opportunity to show you some of my favorite holiday cards from night owl. seriously, have you ever seen such adorable owlies? here are mr. and mrs. claus, chillaxing on the mantel, getting toasty by the fire. i get a little warm and fuzzy just looking at it. on a more technical note, these cards are from the faux bois series, which is printed on fsc-approved 100% post-consumer recycled paper. you say cute and eco-friendly, we say awesome!
here's another sweet mantelpiece, this one letterpressed and sans owls, with a simple message. isn't this just the coziest fireplace ever?
i can't resist these owls. they're wearing belts, for goodness sake. these are some lovely little enclosure cards printed on birch that are perfect for tucking into a package or attaching to a gift.
i hope you've found night owl as endearing as we have. we have so many more amazing cards in the shop that i couldn't show you here, so please come visit us! xoxo, jessica
what was your first job and how did you end up making paper goods?
My first job was as a counselor in training in a sleep away camp which I had attended since I was 8 years old. My first assignment was to help the counselors with the four year olds during group activities. I love children and remember having a blast making arts and crafts with them, playing kickball, swimming in the lake with the muskrats and going to our farm. Perhaps the most exotic animal we had was a goat, but hey, we had a goat! When I think back to this first job and subsequent jobs thereafter, there is definitely a theme that emerges - children and/or whimsical play, arts and crafts and nature.
When I think about how Screech Owl Design came about, I definitely lead back to my mother’s words, “follow your heart.” She rarely helped me make decisions through life, but rather guided me with that phrase. Either I learned that early on or I am just learning it now, regardless, it may be the most important lesson yet.
What is your favorite piece/group/series among your own work?
Impossible question. I tend to be very critical of my own work. Perhaps my favorite piece is from a series called the “swimmers”. They came about after a long recovery process from an intense surgery I had a few years ago. I think making the swimmers series felt refreshing and free to me which was symbolic of the time.
Who, past or present, most inspires you?
Is it too cliche to say my grandparents? I hope not, because they truly are my biggest inspiration. My grandparents are survivors of the holocaust and came to this country with my mother in the 60’s. They landed in the Bronx and began creating and building their new lives there. Considering all the atrocities that they experienced and witnessed during the war, I was always amazed at how graceful, patient, kind and generous they were with others. My grandmother in particular was extraordinarily nurturing and willing to accept and give everyone the benefit of the doubt. I have always admired them and are inspired their willingness to look on the bright side of things, & their ability to forgive. They
were truly remarkable.
What 3 web sites do you visit daily?
The New York Times
Describe your perfect Sunday morning.
A perfect Sunday morning is an extra hour or two of sleep before rising (my inner-clock typically wakes me at 6 am daily somehow), a half hour of laps at the pool or lake, 20 minutes
for meditation and stretching and then home to read the Sunday New York Times on my couch where there is always beautiful soft light pouring through in the morning. Of course it
would be most perfect if my cats were nestled cozily on my lap while I read.
What do you see outside your studio windows?
In my studio space I have four large windows which provide tons of light and very different views. There is a beautiful old building outside my favorite window to the west with a
crenelated cornice that looks very much like a building in an Edward Hopper painting. This window is always inspiring and pleasing to my eye. I often turn to this window for peace of
mind and reflection. From another window I see this sad (in a good way) little house whose roof appears to be sagging and neglected overall. It’s got this massive tree out front which is a
hotbed of neighborhood bird activity. From another window I see a row of treetops which block a parking lot for eighteen wheelers in the spring. Thankfully in the winter, when the trees
are bare, I get a perfect view of the east river and the manhattan sky line. I love looking out the window, but I love watching my cat hangout in the catnip more!