Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
Dear Lola Letterpress combines modern design and an old-school method to make custom stationery that pops… literally.
We conducted a Q&A with Sabrena Burnett, owner of Dear Lola Letterpress. Using a decades-old hand-crafted method, Sabrena creates beautiful printed works of art that facilitate deeper connection between the parties that they are intended for. Each piece invites the holder to take pause and appreciate the message on a deeper level.
Q: Let’s start with basics… what is letterpress?
A: Letterpress is a type of relief printing that uses a block or plate which is inked and then impressed directly onto the paper being printed. It gives a very textured feel to the paper.
Q: When did you first discover letterpress?
A: I had known about it previously, but I really fell in love with the process in 2009 after I took an intro to letterpress printing course at Otis College of Art & Design in Los Angeles, CA. I was working a full time job in fashion marketing, but wanted to explore other opportunities and figure out what was next because my career wasn’t fulfilling me.
Q: When did you decide to make it a business?
A: Probably the first minute of that printing class! I felt like I found something I could be excited to do every day. I was not the best printer back then, and I obviously had a lot to learn and a long way to grow. But I saw and felt that I could create a business from this mostly because of the joy it brought me. I knew I could become a great printer and was up for the challenge to learn and build a business.
Q: What was the process like?
A: I decided to fully immerse myself into the printing and design world. I took a few more classes at Otis. I signed up for classes and workshops at The Museum of Printing, which is also in LA. I made friends with all my printmaking teachers and one of them helped me source Big Red (my printing press) from an old school in Nevada. In the meantime I started dreaming up company names and designs, while still working a full-time job in marketing. Finally, all the stars aligned for me and 10 days before I was going to quit to work on my new company, Dear Lola, full-time, I was laid off from my job. So I set up a shop on Etsy, set up a website and started working! I’ll never forget the excitement (and fear!) over my first few orders.
Q: What is your favorite part of the work?
A: I am a single person business, so I literally wear all the hats. Designer, creative director, printer, social media manager, photographer, customer service rep, etc. I think my favorite part is seeing a project come to life. A larger project like wedding invitations, will start with a simple idea and brainstorm. Once we have designs finalized and go to production/printing, it’s so gratifying to see what started as a little seed of an idea is executed on paper. Still all these years later, it’s an exciting moment to see a large project all packaged up and ready to be delivered to my client.
Q: What does letterpress mean to you?
A: Letterpress is such a tactile and unique form of printing. Anyone can click print on a printer, anyone can send an email or a text. But there is something so personal about receiving a card in the good ol’ snail mail. I like to know that people are sending all the cards they order out into the world. It truly feels like I’m creating a medium for people to spread love and joy. Who doesn’t love to receive a hand written card or note in the mail? I recently had a client who was turning 50. She wanted to send 50 notes to people that have touched her life.
This is why I do this. It’s more than just a business to me, I love the thoughtful aspect of letter writing and people connecting with one another. It’s vital for our world, especially nowadays with how prevalent technology is.
Visit the Dear Lola shop to make your own custom Letterpress goodies!
You may also enjoy reading Following the Doodle: An Artist’s Journey of Reclaiming a Long-Forgotten Passion, by Barbara Laurie