´ Earlier this month, I had a chance to sit down and chat with Kate Murray of Quick Brown Fox. I love getting to know the makers we feature in our Postmark’d Studio PostBox. I don’t know about you, but I think it makes sending the card a little more special when I send creations from “a friend.” Grab a cup of coffee (or a glass of wine if it’s Happy Hour), sit back, and get to know Kate.
Anne: When did you start Quick Brown Fox Letterpress?
Kate: I started Quick Brown Fox Letterpress a little over four years ago when I found a press that was about to be scrapped. I was able to salvage it and immediately went to work designing and printing my line.
Anne: Did you derive your name from the pangram “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog?”
Kate: I did! I love so many different fonts, so I was super-familiar with that pangram. It’s also super-memorable, so sometimes my business feels familiar to people even when I was just getting started. I also try to be super-quick with all my work, so I definitely took the name to heart.
Anne: Have you created a card illustrating that pangram?
Kate: I have! I designed it a while ago, and it’s just been sitting in my “one day print this” folder on my computer.
Anne: Tell us about your business.
Kate: I started working in letterpress studios just out of college and knew I wanted my own shop one day. When I found my first press (a tabletop), I convinced my husband to drive with me overnight to Cincinnati from Brooklyn. From there, I couldn’t wait to buy a bigger press! Once I found my Golding Jobber, it’s been nonstop. Since I am a one-woman studio, everything that leaves my shop has been designed, printed, packed, and shipped by me, so every card is very personal to me, and it means a lot when anyone loves the work. It’s definitely a labor of love. I still have dreams about a storefront one day where I can sell cards and teach classes.
Anne: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Kate: I draw inspiration from objects around me. I think of something fun I’d love to draw and then try to think of a good pun to go with it. I have a sketchbook that goes everywhere with me that I write and draw my ideas in. There’s actually a pretty big list of things to work from, so when I’m in the mood to start working on a design, I have quite a bit to pull from.
Anne: What Inspired the piñata card?
Kate: A store down the street from my apartment always has these piñatas in the window. Once I saw them I knew I had to work them into a card. I always try to make a card that will make someone laugh and hopefully brighten their day. Also, if I can make my husband laugh with the idea, I know I’ve hit on something.
Anne: The piñata card is so detailed. How do you not lose your mind printing four colors plus black?
Kate: It becomes a bit meditative. I’m never just printing one card—usually there are 10-15 I need to restock, so I print all the blacks, all the blues, all the pinks, and so on for a few hundred cards at once. I can definitely zone out while printing and forget what time it is—for me, it’s a bit Zen.
Anne: How much time does the set-up take?
Kate: The first time I print the card, it always takes the longest. I don’t work with crop marks, so it’s a lot of adjustment on press. After I’ve printed it the first time, though, each set-up only takes about 5 minutes.
Anne: Is there a specific order you print the colors in?
Kate: I always work from darkest to lightest. So, the black comes first to help with registration, and I end with the lightest color.
Anne: How many cards do you produce in a run?
Kate: For a card like the Piñata Card, I generally run about 100 so I won’t have to print for a while. My studio in Brooklyn is pretty small, though, so for the less-complicated cards, I generally like to keep about 40 of each in stock.
Anne: I am so amazed at the fussiness of each of those candy pieces. Have you ever woken up and thought, “I don’t have the patience for this print run today, maybe tomorrow”?
Kate: I think because I love printing so much, I don’t mind all the crazy registration. I always like to be challenged, so it’s fun when each card I print presents different challenges. Plus, the relief and sense of accomplishment when I finish is pretty great! I’m always like, “Whoa, you only lost two cards this time! Amazing—next time, only one card!” It becomes a way to keep myself entertained on press. I definitely have a few designs I haven’t printed yet because I’m not sure I want the headache I know they’ll bring!
Anne: Most importantly, what is your favorite candy?
Kate: Anything taffy. I don’t like chocolate, so I tend towards the fruit-flavored candies. I had a mango saltwater taffy recently which was amazing!
Anne: What are you listening to lately?
Kate: Loads of podcasts. I got pulled into Buffering the Vampire Slayer (which I binged), and now I’m playing catch-up with all the other podcasts I listen to (Beautiful Anonymous, My Favorite Murder, America’s National Parks Podcast, Crimetown, too many).
Anne: What are you crushing on?
Kate: I’m living for bright colors and foil right now. If you can combine both, I’ll probably buy it (USPS Dragon stamps, I’m looking at you).
Anne: Do you have some favorite places where you like to shop for stationery products?
Kate: I love Yours Truly in Brooklyn. They have the most amazing selection of pens. I’m also always at Paper Presentation buying color envelopes and fun liners!
Anne: Are you like the shoemaker’s children, or do you actually have personalized stationery for yourself?
Kate: I do! Sometimes my stationery is the off prints of what I’m currently working on, but I do have notecards for myself as well. I’m trying harder to keep up with my writing. I send each of my nieces (who live far away) a letter every week.
Anne: Would you call yourself a philatelist?
Kate: I wouldn’t, but I love stamps. I’m always buying whatever new ones come out at the post office. Right now, I’m obsessed with their Dragon stamps.
Anne: Finally, when you are not letter-pressing, what do you enjoy doing?
Kate: I’m a huge reader, and I’m currently in the middle of three books, so you can usually find me reading. I also love hiking and traveling to new breweries.