Artist Spotlight: Paper Bandit Press
We love to see people pursuing their passion at any age. This husband-and-wife team's small business story is majorly inspiring!
Brett and Kim Borup founded PAPER BANDIT PRESS after their daughter lost her job as a stationery designer. Their family had always loved handwritten correspondence, and they wanted to see Stephanie continue designing greeting cards. After 30-year careers in Environmental Engineering and Business Management, they plunged into something entirely new -- letterpress printing!
Below, Brett and Kim talk with us about the challenges of letterpress in this digital age, and the benefits of working with family.
Tell us about the birth of Paper Bandit Press:
We started in 2013 when the stationery company our daughter Stephanie designed for decided to go a different direction and let all their designers go. Stephanie's letterpress designs had been very successful and we wanted her to continue doing what she loved. So we researched, bought vintage presses, and jumped right in. With a degree in business, Kim runs all the business side of things while Brett, as an engineer, loves the printing side of the business, and Stephanie has remained our top designer.
What does a typical day at your studio look like?
On a typical day, you’ll find Brett printing, sending off plate designs to be made in preparation to be printed, or taking product photographs for social media and website use. You’ll find Kim answering emails, working on marketing, balancing books, folding and packaging cards, and packing and shipping orders. There is always something to be done. It is labor intensive so it is a good thing that we like what we do!
What is your greeting card creation process?
The process starts with our designers submitting their designs in illustration. From there, we have plates made (one for each color to be printed). We cut down our paper from big parent sheets and then print away. Once the printing is complete, we die cut and score all the cards, then they are hand folded, an envelope is added, and they are sealed in a protective sleeve. Truly a labor of love!
We love that your business is a family affair! What are the pros and cons of working with loved ones?
The pro is that we can work anytime of the day or night. We all keep our own schedules depending on what works well for each of us. We all have our specific roles and expertise so we don't really step on each other's toes.
What are the difficulties, if any, of being a letterpress printer in this digital age?
Letterpress printing is more time consuming and costly than other types of printing. It is hard to compete with a machine that can print immediately and less expensively.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced to get to where you are now?
There is a significant learning curve to becoming an expert printer, especially when you’re starting from scratch. Working on vintage presses is also an ongoing challenge.
What do you enjoy doing in your “free time?”
We have tons of hobbies. We travel, and Brett does photography, stained glass, woodworking, and loves listening to podcasts. Kim loves to hike in the surrounding mountains, decorate, quilt, and do calligraphy. Our favorite thing to do is go on adventures with our children and grandchildren...hiking, visiting museums, camping, or just spending time together.
How does the culture of your city contribute to the development of your independent business?
We have a very artistic community. We meet once a month for "Creative Collaborative" with other artists in the community. It is a fun event and a great opportunity to meet and learn from each other. We also have great juried shows in the area where we sell locally.
We love your unique decoder cards! Can you tell us how you came up with those?
Stephanie has a master’s degree in children’s literature. She thought it would be fun to see if we could make hidden picture cards like the picture books with hidden pictures. After much experimentation, I think we have perfected it. We are working on several new decoder designs this year!