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Albertine Press Knows Simple, Cute Design

October 22, 2009
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Tucked into a building full of independent artists’ businesses in Somerville, MA is the small office of Albertine Press. I’ve acquired quite the obsession with printmaking lately and seeing this operation in person really hit the spot.

The room boasts three antique printing presses and is filled with boxes of letters to be set. Everything is done the old fashioned way and by hand. Shelley Barandes, the owner and designer of Albertine Press, demonstrates how the image of a telephone is created by rolling a piece of blue paper through the roller covered in black ink. Her deft hands produce about twenty copies in the few minutes she’s rolling. She says this procedure usually results in a few hundred prints an hour. While it may not have the efficiency of a larger press, each print is lovingly made and completely one-of-a-kind. Even in these few examples there is a variety of positions and shades, making each product unique.

Barandes has an adorable tongue-in-cheek design aesthetic. Her studio is full of cards, prints, journals and examples of custom-designed invitations and announcements. These are just a few examples of what she has to offer:

From top left, clockwise:

1. A collection of graduation themed blank notecards (hint, hint)
2. “Dear Mom and Dad, I joined the circus, Love me.” This was probably my favorite of her designs and, judging from the T-shirts and tote bags with this print on them, I’d venture to guess it’s Barandes’ favorite too.
3. An adorable fold out mini-calendar.
4. A set of coasters, 4 for $1 that I ended up bringing home with me.

Whenever I get to see the people behind indie names, I always feel inspired to devote more of my business to independent stores. I love knowing exactly where things come from and having confidence that the artist who made them took great care in creating what I now hold in my hands. It’s a much more intimate experience than imagining a line of factory workers and machines. So make yourself happy, make local artists’ happy, make everyone happy by supporting your local artists.

Originally written May 3, 2009

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