Meet the Cartel: Bowerbox Press
Welcome back to our interview series Meet the Cartel, a spotlight on Big Cartel shop owners. We’re kicking off 2022 with Val from Bowerbox Press, a letterpress printer from Maryland.
How did you get into letterpress printing?
I learned letterpress printing my very last semester at college and just fell in love with it. I’ve continued to learn and to combine printmaking with other art techniques.
Why did you choose Big Cartel?
I wanted to be in control of my own personal shop site. It was so easy to set up!
Tell us about your most popular item in your shop
The Bee Flags have been a bestseller, bringing cheer to hives of creativity all over.
Why did you choose your current theme for your shop?
It has a nice, clean look.
Check out the Neat theme for your own Big Cartel shop.
What does a regular workday look like for you?
Every day is different. Some days I’m carving a woodcut, some days I’m printing, some days I’m teaching. But I’m always thinking of new projects!
Tell us about your process for coming up with new products.
I start with sketches from real life or photos I’ve taken, then create a woodcut image and pair it with vintage wood or metal type. I do a few test prints to make sure everything is in the right place, and then I run an edition on the big letterpress.
Who or what inspires you?
I’m inspired by nature, especially birds and mushrooms, and the history of letterpress printing techniques. By sharing the craft of letterpress via my own designs, I can keep the old printing traditions alive and bring them to new people.
What’s a moment in your career, or life in general, that you’re proud of?
Setting up my shop in the barn behind my home was a big moment. It was a space for me to work in, to be creative in, and I could be in charge of all my own equipment too!
What was the most unexpected challenge you have encountered while running your own business? How did you overcome that challenge?
The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly been a big challenge. I help organize a craft fair, and we had to cancel a month before the big spring show and figure out how to create an online experience. I had great online sales in 2020, but missed being in person and being able to connect with customers in real life.
How do you like to unwind after a particularly busy day?
A quick hike out in the woods or in the field to catch a gorgeous sunset!
Any advice for someone thinking about opening up their own shop?
Just get started- don’t wait! Your work will always be changing, so put it out there and then keep making more.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing this?
Teaching letterpress more!
Give us three recommendations… for anything!
Here are my top three podcasts: