When I finally decided to get serious about launching Tehaus Creative Co., I knew one of our first needs would be business cards. But I didn't want to settle for the cheap paper things you buy in bulk online and end up in someone's trash can. I wanted something with texture — something that made people stop and take notice of what they were holding.
A quick google search of "letterpress business cards" brings up about 410,000 results ranging from every human being on Etsy, to big-box retailers in London. But what first drew me to Studio 3 Eleven was the fact that they are based 18.7 miles from my house. A quick glance at their website, Facebook, and Instagram feed showed that not only are they local, but husband-and-wife team Kevin and Brystal are passionate about their craft.
So for our inaugural ARTIST PROFILE, I couldn't think of any one better to chat with than the brilliant artist behind Studio 3 Eleven, Brystal.
Brystal, thanks for doing this! First off, how are you?
I'm doing great!
Awesome! Ok, so tell me about yourself.
Ok! I have 5 sisters. My husband and I have been married for 5 years. He is in the military and stationed here at Dyess AFB. We have 2 little boys, one is 20 months and the other is 3 months. I am from the Texas Hill Country I opened Studio 3 Eleven in November of 2011. We stay very busy!
That's great! Where at in the Hill Country are you from?
Well I went to school in Ingram but I always say Kerrville to Texans and San Antonio to anyone else haha.
My in-laws have a place in Marble Falls and live in San Antonio. The Hill Country is one of my favorite places in the world!
I know! I LOVE the Hill County.
Describe a typical day for you.
A typical day is pretty hectic now with the boys. I don't really know when it starts and ends as I am usually up throughout the night tending to one kid or the other. At 3 am I'm usually feeding a baby and answering any emails I can that I didn't get to from the day prior. Once we are up for the day I usually start with coffee and computer work. That may be anything from answering emails to design work for a client.
Once I feel like I'm at a good place with emails, it is usually time for morning nap. I put the boys to sleep and then I am able to set the press up for any runs I have ready that day. I hop on and off the press all day. Letterpress is a time consuming craft. Everything is hand fed. I mix all my inks in the studio custom for the client. So a job can take anywhere from 3 hours to 72 hours, respectively.
That's incredible! My wife and I don't have kids yet, so I can only imagine how crazy that can make things while running a business, especially when they're such a young age!
Yes! I underestimated the difficulty level of 2 kids. I just thought oh it will be easier to have the press in my house because I can do it both at the same time (be a mom and a printer) but often I feel like that makes it more difficult. I don't know how to give 100% to both...is that possible?
So tell me, what's one thing most people don't know about you?
I have no formal graphic design or printing background what-so-ever.
Wow! So what got you into it? How do you go from that, to running a studio?
Well, I come from a family of creatives so I like to think that it's in my blood. In addition to that, I have a passion for paper and an appreciation for printing the way it used to be. Letterpress is such a tactile product. The first time I saw it I was in love. I just needed more of that. My husband was deployed when I told him I was dreaming of a letterpress studio. He researched for 6 months and came back with a ton of information. We found a guy in Ft. Worth that was going out of business and we scored the press and paper cutter and a lot of valuable tips from him! We never looked back.
That's awesome. And it's really cool to hear how supportive your husband was. My wife has always been my biggest fan, and I don't know anyone succeeds without that.
So true! I wouldn't be in operation without him. He is a machinist by trade and without his knowledge, tools, and skills I wouldn't be where I am. He cuts all our paper on our gelatin paper cutter. And he machined parts for the press that you can't get anymore.
Ok so, where did the name "Studio 3 Eleven" come from?
Our anniversary is March 2011. My sister is a designer and she actually came up with it.
I love it. I wish Tehaus had a personal story behind it like that. But I just like the look of it, and I like Texas. So..
I love your name! And your logo is awesome.
Oh thank you! So you drink coffee?
I do drink coffee! My first job was at a little coffee shop in Ingram.
What music are you listening to these days?
I listen to a wide range of music depending on my mood. Some of my pandora stations are Wade Bowen, James Bay, Jack Johnson, Bon Iver.
If you could talk to yourself 5 years ago, what advice would you give yourself?
Sllllloooowww down! I feel like I should have appreciated the stages of my life more. I am always anxious for the next one. Even now, I can't wait for the new one to crawl, my oldest to start sports, etc. I have to remind myself to just enjoy it.
No kidding! So with looking ahead in mind, where do you want to be in 5 years?
I want a retail shop on Main Street in Fredericksburg. I want it to be a paper boutique but I want my press to be on display. I want to be able to press people's jobs right in front of them. I also would like for my wedding clients to be able to come in sit down with me face to face and design their suite.
That's so cool! Fredericksburg is unbelievable!
Every time I am there, people are everywhere. It's crazy.
What's been the most rewarding aspect of opening Studio 3 Eleven?
Client feedback. I still can't believe I create the things I do. I look at a business card or a wedding suite and I think wow, I did that. It's hard sometimes to mail them out.
Seriously, that's one of the most rewarding thing for any designer. Seeing the finished product out in the wild or in the hands of your client is the best feeling in the world.
It is! It's a great feeling.
Ok so, nowadays there's a lot of letterpress options for people to choose from. Why should clients go with you?
I deal with all my clients. I don't have other people answering my emails quoting my work or pressing my jobs. I don't confine my options to a drop-down menu. I truly am custom. They can send me a swatch and I can mix the ink to match. We also cut all our paper in the studio so we aren't restricted by size. I don't think people get that from my Etsy shop or my website. I don't send out work I wouldn't be happy receiving. It's a labor of love.
Absolutely. One of my favorite things that drew me to you was that you are passionate about what you create!
Ah, thank you! That means a lot
Ok last question: What inspires you?
My kids! I just want to show them that hard work does pay off. It's not always easy, pretty or profitable but being passionate about what you create and working hard at producing a great product will pay off eventually.
Money doesn't inspire what I do. I often reduce prices to make my work available to a bride that really appreciates letterpress. I just love sharing it with everyone. That's why I want a retail shop so bad. I want to talk face-to-face about my product.
That's so good! Brystal, thank you SO much for chatting with me today! Let's talk more soon.
Yes! Can't wait!