The Card Designer Spotlight is a series featuring independent makers whose greeting cards you can find in Paper Source stores. Meet and be inspired by a new designer every month on our blog!

This month we want to introduce our card designer Christy Asper of Paper Baristas. Find out how Christy has turned her life experiences into a platform to promote mental health awareness, sustainability and giving back to a cause that is close to her heart.

How did you begin your card-making career?

Art has always held a special place in my heart. As a child, it was my refuge—a way to express feelings that words couldn’t contain. However, it wasn’t until adulthood, when I began the long journey of healing from the abuse I suffered as a child, that I truly discovered the transformative power of art. It became an essential tool in my healing process, offering solace and a means to reclaim my voice. But my journey didn’t end there. I wanted to make a difference, to help others who found themselves in situations similar to mine. Inspired by my own healing process, I decided to turn my passion for art into a business. I wanted to create something beautiful, something that could bring joy to others while also serving a greater purpose. That’s how our stationery business was born. Initially, it was just a small venture, but it quickly grew as more people connected with our mission and our products.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

In a world filled with digital communications, the art of handwritten notes and personalized stationery holds a unique charm. We draw inspiration from diverse sources, but at the heart of it all are the stories of our employees and the causes we support. From promoting mental health awareness to advocating for environmental sustainability, our products serve as a canvas to amplify these important messages.

What does your day look like as a card maker and designer?

As a card maker and designer, every day feels like a whirlwind of creativity, logistics, and family time. Our day starts early, usually around 6:30 AM. We have two little ones, who need to be dropped off at school by 7:45 AM.. Once the kids are dropped off, we make a pit stop at our favorite local coffee shop. This brief moment of tranquility sets the tone for the day ahead and provides that much-needed caffeine boost.

Back at our home workshop, the real work begins. Jon Marc (my husband) heads straight to the letterpress machine. As the printer, he focuses on any letterpressing tasks that need to be completed that day. The rhythmic clanking and whirring of the press become the soundtrack of our mornings.

Meanwhile, I head down to our basement to get orders ready for our wholesale manager. Before the rest of the crew arrives, I take a moment to clean up and pick up any messes left by the kids. It’s a small but necessary task that helps keep our creative environment organized and efficient.

The rest of the morning is a blur of activity. Shipping, packaging orders and sleeving take up a significant chunk of time. Once our team is set-up for their daily tasks, I pivot to answering emails and hoping on calls. Communication is crucial, whether it’s coordinating with clients, responding to customer inquiries, or collaborating with our fair-trade team in India.

Once the workday winds down, it’s time to transition back to family life. We pick up our kids from school, help with homework, and enjoy dinner together. After the children are tucked into bed, I finally find some quiet time to focus on creative design work. This is my favorite way to unwind. The stillness of the night allows me to immerse myself in new projects, brainstorm ideas, and bring fresh designs to life.

Balancing family, creativity, and business is no easy feat, but it’s incredibly rewarding. Each day presents new challenges and opportunities, making the routine anything but mundane. From the early morning coffee runs to the late-night design sessions, every part of the day contributes to the bigger picture. It’s a dynamic, ever-evolving journey that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

What is your preferred medium?

For stationery enthusiasts, the allure of a beautifully crafted card or a meticulously illustrated note cannot be overstated. The materials, or mediums, we use in our creative process make our stationery one-of-a-kind.

Illustration is where our journey begins. Line art is my favorite. It’s simple, minimalistic, and effortlessly elegant—reflecting my personal style. This form of art is particularly well-suited for letterpress printing, as it emphasizes clean lines and subtle details. My tool of choice for creating these illustrations? Calligraphy pens with replaceable nibs. The versatility of these pens allows for both delicate lines and bold strokes, making them ideal for the intricate designs we strive to achieve.

The most important medium we use for our greeting card business is our handmade paper. We believe that the quality and sustainability of our paper set us apart. By creating our own paper, we ensure a safer working environment and an earth-friendly product that is unmatched in the industry. Our handmade paper is crafted from up-cycled cotton sourced from the garment industry and natural dyes, resulting in a unique and eco-friendly material. The deckle edges give each card a distinctive and artisanal touch, while the added weight ensures durability and prevents ink from bleeding through. This attention to detail guarantees that every card we produce is a piece of art in itself. The process of making handmade paper is labor-intensive but rewarding.

Final our medium of printing is also incredibly important. Printing is where we bring our illustrations to life on our handmade paper. Over the years, we’ve discovered that creating images on handmade paper can be challenging for modern machines. That’s why we prefer a combination of giclee printing and vintage letterpress printing.

Giclee Printing: This technique allows for high-resolution prints that capture the fine details and vibrant colors of our illustrations. Giclee printing makes it appear as though each card has been hand-painted, adding a touch of artistry and authenticity to our products.
Letterpress Printing: For a tactile and visually striking finish, we turn to vintage letterpress printing. This method allows for a beautiful deep impression on the paper, creating a three-dimensional effect that enhances both the visual and tactile experience of our cards. The combination of giclee and letterpress printing results in a product that is both modern and timeless.

By blending these two techniques, we achieve a balance between precision and texture, ensuring that each card we produce is a work of art. The deep impressions of letterpress printing complement the fine details of giclee prints, creating a harmonious and sophisticated final product.

What does your creative process look like?

Creativity is a journey rather than a destination, and my process reflects this beautifully evolving landscape. It all starts with capturing inspiration wherever it strikes. I carry my notebook everywhere I go, jotting down ideas as they come to me. Additionally, creating mood boards on Pinterest helps me visualize potential directions for new releases.

As I pin items, patterns emerge—sometimes it’s a recurring color, other times a particular design form like abstract illustrations or floral themes catches my eye. These commonalities guide the direction of my designs. I then select the primary colors I want to work with and begin sketching.

The transition from idea to sketch involves numerous iterations. I create initial sketches and continuously refine them, adding and subtracting elements until a final concept begins to take shape. Afterward, I create a comprehensive illustration and accompanying copy.

A crucial part of my process is stepping away from the work for a week or two. This break allows me to return with fresh eyes, often revealing aspects that need tweaking. Once I am satisfied with the piece, I share it with our team for their input. Some of our best cards have been the result of collaborative effort. When a design requires a particular art form beyond my skill set, I collaborate with other artists to bring the concept to life.

What are you most proud of as a creator and card maker?

I vividly remember the first time we received a purchase order from Paper Source. It was in 2020, and like many others, we were navigating unprecedented challenges. At the time, our household was bustling with two young children under the age of three. Amidst the chaos and uncertainty, this order brought a glimmer of hope and excitement.

With limited resources, we printed the cards on a small tabletop printer in our bathroom. The setup was far from glamorous, but it was functional, and it allowed us to fulfill the order.

Receiving that first big order from Paper Source was more than just a business milestone. It was an affirmation of our efforts and a testament to the quality and uniqueness of our work. Knowing that our card had been chosen among many others filled me with immense pride and gratitude.

While this achievement was significant, what truly humbles me and fills me with pride is the unwavering support of our community. Every card that our customers purchase contributes to a cause that is close to our hearts: the fight against human trafficking.

Through their purchases, our customers have helped us raise over $30,000 to support organizations that work tirelessly to combat this grave injustice. This accomplishment is not something we claim as our own. Instead, it belongs to every individual who has believed in our mission and chosen to support us through their purchases.

The impact we have made together is a powerful reminder of what can be achieved when people come together with a common purpose. It is a testament to the fact that even small actions, like buying a card, can contribute to meaningful change. This collective effort has allowed us to make a difference in the lives of those affected by human trafficking, and for that, I am profoundly grateful.

Any personal tidbits? Special talents/fun facts?

We have some exhilarating news that we can finally share! After years of careful planning, diligent crafting, and boundless passion, we are thrilled to announce the launch of a sister company this year, dedicated exclusively to handmade specialty paper. Over the years, our team has experimented with various techniques, materials, and designs to perfect the art of handmade paper. We’ve sourced the finest fibers, developed custom textures, and curated a palette of colors that evoke emotion and charm. The result is a collection of specialty papers that are as beautiful as they are unique. This new venture opens up a world of exquisite papers designed for weddings, stationery, and special occasions—perfect for those who appreciate the art of fine craftsmanship.

Find Paper Baristas cards, such as Deckled Edge Thank You Card, and Going To The Chapel Wedding Card at your local store or online at papersource.com. For more inspiration and behind-the-scenes action, follow @paperbaristas on IG

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