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Meet Kelly (and Lucille) of Ink and Bean Press

Welcome to the Reich Paper Makers Series where we highlight talented designers, printers, artists, calligraphers, stationers and DIY-ers who love to use our papers for a variety of reasons.  All creative, unique and talented in their own ways, we think their stories are fascinating and hope that you do too.  This month we interviewed Kelly Minor of Ink & Bean Press in Cave Creek, Arizona.

Kelly Minor of Ink and Bean Press

Where do you live and work now, and how does this environment inform your creative process? Tell us about your company.

Originally from South Jersey, I moved to Arizona almost 7 years ago and am now based in a town called Cave Creek. The Sonoran Desert is a very beautiful and unique place and I often find inspiration in the surrounding landscapes, wildlife, and flora that grow here. I love the Western United States in general, and many of the designs I have created are specific to Arizona and other states like Wyoming and Montana. I’m also a wildlife and nature photographer, and find inspiration by visiting our country’s amazing national parks. Most recently, I’m starting a collection of letterpress goods featuring some of America’s most beautiful places.  

Kelly draws inspo from nature

Can you elaborate on your particular design process? What is your workspace like?  What materials do you prefer to work with? 

My design process differs in what I’m designing for. If I’m printing for a retailer, I’ll try and put myself in their shoes and try to think of ideas that would sell well in their store. If I’m printing wedding invitations, I’ll work with my client to understand their vision and what they hope to accomplish when their guests first open their envelopes. This entails talking about elements of their day, colors and whether a custom ink is needed (Ink & Bean hand mixes all inks), paper stocks, and overall feel of their suite. 

When I’m designing for me, oftentimes I design from a photo or memory of a landscape or wildlife scene I’ve seen while traveling and photographing. I will sometimes transform the scene into a hand drawing that will be made into a photopolymer plate for printing. Other times I’ll be inspired by the changing seasons and design based on the time of year. I use software like Illustrator to create my vectors and bring them to life with my press, a 1907 Golding Jobber #6 letterpress machine. This machine likely spent its first 108 years of life on the East coast. It was manufactured in Boston and I found it in Connecticut and had all 800 lbs of it shipped here to its current home in Arizona back in 2015. I’ve named her Lucille and she prints beautifully!

What are your first memories of becoming a creative?

Creating things has always been a part of my life. As a child my mother couldn’t keep me out of stores like AC Moore and Michael’s - a crafter’s paradise! I had every arts and crafts project you could imagine. I loved glitter, painting, cross stitching, creating bracelets with craft thread, scrapbooking, paper crafts like origami, sand art, staining glass, stickers...the list is never ending. I’ve also always loved the art of photography, which is something I only recently took up within the last 3 years.

The history of letterpress was intriguing

How did you get started in the stationery/design/printing business?

My very first job was working for Hallmark, so I always enjoyed finding and giving the perfect card and wrapping pretty gifts. I first learned about letterpress working for Papyrus in college. The shop was housed in a space that was previously a smaller stationery store in which we would sometimes receive their mail. One day we received the most exquisitely beautiful invitation to a stationery show. The type of printing had me completely intrigued and I began to do some more research on it. After learning that letterpress is printed on antique machines hundreds of years old, I realized that it was much more of an art. Raw ink, antique presses, and cotton paper completely intrigued me. After some years of interest and passion, the purchase of some antique presses and some ink, Ink & Bean Press was born.

It’s all in the details

How would you describe the aesthetic of your work? 

The most important thing for me when I’m printing is that my lines are crisp and clean and the print is evenly inked and pressed. I love line drawings because they print beautifully. Ink & Bean Press is unique in that I print for all types of occasions and purposes. One day I could be printing cards with a moose and mountains for one of my retailers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and the next I could be assisting a bride with an incredibly delicate and romantic wedding invitation. I also love designing for the holidays, so I dedicate a large amount of time to creating beautiful cards and gift tags for the holiday season. This is one of my favorite times of the year to design and create because I oftentimes will incorporate elements like fine glitter, Swarovski crystals, and hand watercolor to my hand pressed cards and tags. 

Lucy, the beagle, stars in a holiday card

Who or what do you draw inspiration from? 

My father was a screen printer when I was a child. It was a small side business he started on his own. I remember running around in the basement helping him with the shirts he printed for clients. He stopped printing long ago, but it’s interesting that I’d follow in his footsteps and print by different means. My dad has always been an extremely hard worker and one of my biggest supporters. He believed in me when I started Ink & Bean, so he’s a big reason of why I’m able to do what I’m doing today. 

I find inspiration in most aspects of my life. I love to travel and visit beautiful places, so many times I’ll come home and be inspired by my experiences. Arizona is uniquely beautiful, so many times I’ll find inspiration in my own backyard. My home life inspires me too; I have the cutest beagle puppy you could imagine, so she was the star for a card I created this holiday season.  

All Printed on Reich Paper SAVOY

What do you love about Reich Paper? Which papers/envelopes do you use and why?

All of my cards are printed on Reich Savoy Brilliant White 118#. It’s a beautiful weight and fine texture, 100% cotton stock that takes a nice impression and inks evenly. It’s extremely versatile as I’ve printed many designs on this beautiful paper and the result has always been crisp and clean. My customers always comment on my cards’ quality, and I owe part of that compliment to Reich Paper.

How do you stay grounded and relaxed? What are your more personal pursuits and hobbies when given the time?

Aside from Ink & Bean I have a full time job working for a government contractor, so while I don’t yet have the pleasure of printing full time, it does help mix things up when I get busy with my business. Aside from working, I love spending time at home with my loving husband and beautiful puppy, Lucy. I’ve been riding horses my entire life, so I jump in the saddle as often as I can and work my way through the levels of a discipline called Dressage. You can also find me in the mountains of Wyoming and Montana chasing sunsets and losing sleep for sunrises, adventuring and snapping a photo or two (or 1000!) of the wildlife. 

Meet Lucy

What are some of your struggles/obstacles so far? 

My Golding Jobber is actually my second press. While I still have my first press, a Chandler and Price 6x10 Pilot, it was a smaller tabletop press and wasn’t producing the type of work I wanted to represent Ink & Bean. It was several years before I started searching for something larger. When I found it, I had a time getting it here 2500 miles from its previous home. When it finally arrived, I struggled to find the time to uncrate it so it sat in my garage for over a year before I ever laid eyes on it. The day came to move it into the house (not an easy feat when it weighs 800 lbs!) and we found a foot on the press had cracked in transit. Luckily I was able to find a welder to mend the cast iron, but it meant more time lost before getting started with my business. I’ve come across every printing issue you could imagine when trying to create something satisfying to the perfectionist’s eye; whether it was an issue with my rollers not inking well, too much ink on the press, not enough ink on the press, a physical problem with my printing plates, alignment issues...the list is endless. But creating something you’re proud of is totally worth all the struggles. Letterpress is totally unique and when done well, impresses even the most discerning eye.

Each piece comes from the heart

What does handmade mean to you? 

Handmade is from the heart. Every piece I create is special to me in some way, and that is what makes my designs so personal. Whether I’m recreating a scene I saw outdoors or helping a bride with her wedding suite, I’m working to make a vision come to life and that’s an incredibly rewarding feeling. My process is very manual from creating the initial design to pulling a print from the press. As a one person operation, my heart goes into every piece I create and I truly appreciate each and every one of my customers. 

The mountains changed Kelly's life

Favorite spot to get inspired? 

I definitely find myself inspired each and every time I visit Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Grand Teton National Park. This absolutely gorgeous mountain destination has changed my life in more ways than one. Not only do I love photographing the area and creating art through images, but I began designing cards inspired by the iconic Teton mountain skyline and it’s opened many doors for Ink & Bean. The very first retailer to carry my cards is located in Jackson Hole, so as special as Grand Teton is to me, I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to literally leave a piece of my heart in a place I love. 

Be sure to check out Ink & Bean Press on the web and follow on Instgram @inkandbeanpress.

Thanks Kelly!

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