I Have A Passion: The Fingersmith Letterpress
Jackie is the founder of The Fingersmith Letterpress and has a passion for letterpress printing. She spends her day designing and printing at her very own studio just right beside her home. In her free time, Jackie does Muay Thai and weights. She likes photography and travelling.
Graduated from Business Studies in Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Jackie was first introduced to letterpress printing during a lecture in her final year in Lasalle College of the Arts. After graduating from there, she went on a trip to Australia to pick up a little more about letterpress printing.
“I wasn’t sure of what I wanted to do after I graduate, so I decided to go to Australia to see if I’m still interested in it. Turns out, I fell in love with it and decided to do it full time.”
She came back and started this whole journey with The Fingersmith Letterpress for two good reasons – because she did not want to have a 9 to 5 job and she did not want to work for someone else.
It was really admirable of her to begin from scratch and based on what she wants and loves doing. When asked what was the best part of letterpress printing, she responded:
“There’s no best part because every little thing makes it to the best thing ever. You know what I mean? Like if I were to miss out on one component then it wouldn’t be a whole? So I don’t think there is like a best part to it.”
For her, she likes to do different things every day. It is tough for her to stick to only doing that one same thing every single day, as she needs variety all the time. Hence, if you put printing and designing together, it would be the perfect job for her.
How does letterpress printing works?
“First, it starts with the design and then you make a photopolymer plate after that. Then, you mix the ink according to the Pantone book, ink up the machine and print from there.”
Jackie owns a very old and vintage letterpress machine, so it gets cranky sometimes. It frustrates her when she do not get a smooth print and it takes one whole day to try and fix the issue. However, when the machine decides to cooperate and everything goes smoothly, she expressed that she feels as though she had found a unicorn. Working with an old press certainly has its ups and downs.
As we embarked on a new journey, it is a definite fact that there will be plenty of challenges and setbacks. Jackie is no exception.
When she first started, she took on a project which took a big hit on her company. A lot of things screwed up and she lost a huge sum of money.
“That was one of our first few projects, so it kind of set me down a little bit. But after that I chose ice cream and we had ice cream and I was better. (laughs) Ice cream makes everything better.”
She told us that she could choose between forgoing this project or just continue with it and absorb the loss. After much thought, she chose the latter and took it as a painful lesson.
What keeps you going?
“Knowing the end goal in mind, which is firstly, not to have a full time job. And to continue doing what I love. As in I have to really enjoy what I do in life.”
Deadlines are also a motivating factor for her. It keeps her on track. When it comes to her inspirations for her designs and works, she likes to try and seek them everywhere and not just be fixated on one thing. Sometimes, ideas just come to your head and it is difficult to force them out. It is those random brain farts and creative spurts that just hit your mind without any warnings.
It’s good to have a role model to look up to sometimes, but if you idolise the person too much, you will end up copying or be too influenced by their style. For Jackie, she is a great fan of Dr Seuss and likes that he doesn’t take life too seriously. He is an adult but yet he is not adulting right and still has the playfulness in him.
Any personal beliefs in terms of how you should live your life?
“When in doubt, do the right thing.”
Currently, she is working on an ongoing project called The Travel Series postcards, where she illustrates out the things she did or food she ate in the different countries she have travelled to.
Jackie hopes that in the future, she will be able to see her products all around the world. Apart from the whole travel series, she would love to experiment more and create more stuff to increase her product range.
Any advice that you have for people who are interested in letterpress printing?
“I would say like probably save up first. You really need like a stash of cash to get you by the first few years. Since I started, I already knew that I do not just want to be a printer but I want to do designs and print. So, I’m slowly shifting away from doing just name cards and stuff like that. I really want to go into the designing route and use this as my means of printing, instead of just printing business cards all the time. So, don’t expect much and just be clear about your direction.”
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