Designer meets print sales rep, print sales rep falls for designer and they live happily ever after, creating really awesome stuff. It’s certainly not your garden-variety love story, but Amy & Mitch, the duo behind Somersault Letterpress, aren’t exactly typical. In fact, they’re pretty extraordinary.
The couple escaped their respective industries to start their own letterpress studio in 2011, allowing them the freedom to really get into the nitty gritty of the creative process. Amy could finally flex her creative muscles to her heart’s desire, Mitch could start diving into getting his hands dirty in the letterpress process. It was this leap of faith that got them back into what they loved most—embracing the artistic part of the industry and taking the time to pay great attention to detail. Just like it was done in the good ‘ol days.
We recently paid a visit to the Somersault studio—a converted mechanic’s garage next to the couple’s home—to chat with Amy & Mitch and to catch a glimpse into their creative process. Read on to learn more about this passionate and down-to-earth couple.
What led you to get into the letterpress business?
Both of us came from decades of working with complicated design and print projects. It was something we did well together right from the start. When the economy crashed, we needed to make a change and take a huge risk in order to keep doing the one aspect of our jobs we loved most— which was working with paper and design.
It was a series of puzzle pieces falling into place from there that led us to letterpress and into the guidance of our dear friends Tom and Patty, as well as Mitch’s mentor and friend, Chuck, all of whom spent a great deal of time helping us learn how to use the presses as an extension of ourselves, and create well-crafted and beautiful paper goods.
What are some advantages and challenges of working with your significant other?
That’s a loaded question. Haha! It’s certainly not for the faint of heart.
One of the advantages is knowing each other’s habits and moods so well that it's second nature knowing how to balance the day: when to help pick each other up, when to steer clear of each other, and when it’s OK for a quiet day of focus.
The disadvantage comes when we can’t quite tap into each other, and instead work against each other. Those are the days when it’s best no one else is around. We just can’t help but respond emotionally with each other under stress, so even the dogs tend to hide those days. But a great working relationship recognizes when emotions flare and that even the worst of moods can be altered with simple understanding, laughter, and maybe some goofy dancing thrown in for good measure!
How has living in Las Vegas influenced your work?
Las Vegas is a tough city, no doubt. It’s a city that really wants to accept and understand art, but it struggles. We’ve definitely had to battle with getting people to think outside “fast, quick and cheap”. If it’s taught us one thing, it’s to keep an open mind about our business model in these formative first five years.
Amy, where do you typically find inspiration for your designs?
I find inspiration in many forms. Sometimes, it stems from something someone says. Sometimes, I just feel like doodling something out of my brain, and sometimes, I look at a landscape or a view and it makes me just want to create something from the color palette that jumps out at me.
What is your favorite part of the entire process?
That’s so difficult to answer, but we both agree it’s the actual printing process itself that seduces us. There is no better day than when we both get to print, and the rhythm in the studio is churning and thumping—perfectly orchestrated by the running presses. Second to that is the satisfaction in seeing a finished piece — that moment where you hold a beautiful work of art that didn’t exist until now.
What's one piece of advice you'd give to an aspiring designer that you wish someone had given you when you first started?
That the hustle is hard. Really, really hard. And that the sacrifice, sweat, and tears of getting somewhere on your own is all part of the process…and so worth it.
Your typical day starts with:
A walk! Even before coffee… sounds strange for this city, but it does wonders for clearing the mind.
What does your ideal day off look like?
There are no days off, really. We’d love to say we get away, but we haven’t in a very long time. Our treat is to escape maybe once a month on a Sunday afternoon to Boulder City with the pups, hang out on a picnic blanket in the park, eat breakfast sandwiches and catch up on some reading.
Favorite music to jam out to while working in the studio:
It definitely depends on the day…and we have quite the range: NPR, Eddie Vedder, Nina Simone, Radiohead, Parra for Cuva, The Black Keys. On Fridays, it might switch up to Beck, Holy Ghost, or even some ‘80s music…for goofy-dancing purposes, of course.
As long as it’s poured with the intent to cultivate conversation with each other and friends, we drink it all!