Arley-Rose is a letterer, designer and illustrator. Together with her wife, Morgan, they own Ladyfingers Letterpress, a stationery brand, studio and recent bricks-and-mortar store located in Colorado Springs.
Arley and Morgan met in Providence, Rhode Island. Arley had hand-drawn a sign outside her current workplace advertising new artist’s spaces which caught Morgan’s eye as she strolled past. Morgan moved in and opened a silkscreen print shop, and after a few years working side by side, they found themselves in need of a wedding invitation. It was only natural to collaborate on such a momentous creation, and the rest, as they say, is history.
The story of how they met is a heartwarming testament to the mutual love of their craft. Having launched their wholesale line in 2013, the duo still design, produce and pack everything in house. Their greetings cards, as well as stamps, pop ups and a custom invitation service is abundant with colour, wit and playfulness.
With Morgan at the helm of production (and flying her very own hot air balloon in her free time), Arley spends her time drawing calligraphy. We chatted to Arley about her prolific comic book sketching growing up, and her excitement at stocking stationery rarities at Ladyfingers HQ.
When did your love of stationery begin? Do you have fond childhood memories of pencils and paper?
I was always the ‘art kid’ at school, starting in elementary school through high school and design school. As a kid, I had a drafting table in my bedroom where I would mimic the styles of my favourite illustrators from Mad and Cracked magazines. I filled my sketchbooks with imaginative worlds and characters where there was always a punchline, or some kind of added text that gave the illustration context. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was highly influenced by The Far Side calendar that my parents gave me every year that I hung by my bed. My drawings took on a ‘Drawing + Punchline’ style, which looking back could have been considered early comics.
I had always created my own greeting cards for my family, and to this day my mother still has a shoebox full of all my old cards that I had made for her throughout the years. Who knew that it would someday be my full time profession?
How does stationery and paper play a part in your work and creative process? What are your go-to instruments for creating?
A great pen and nice, smooth paper are key for my hand-lettered pieces. My ultimate favourite drawing tool is the Pigma Micron by Sakura of America in the 05 or 08 size, depending on the application. They’re archival and the different sized nibs allow me to add a lot of dimension into my work. As far as paper goes, I love using Borden & Riley #234 Paris Paper for Pens. It’s smooth and bleed proof and the Microns just coast on top like a skater on ice.
Do you have any favourite pieces of stationery? Any new purchases you’re getting a lot of use out of lately, or classics you keep going back to?
I’ve been experimenting with some new pens, specifically the Kuretake Fudegokochi and the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen, but at the end of the day I always reach for my Pigma Micron when I need to get the job done.
Can you share your top stationery shopping spots with us?
There’s a great chain of locally-owned art supply stores in Colorado called Meininger’s. They’ve been around forever and their store in Denver is like the F.A.O. Schwarz of stationery and art supplies.
Ladyfingers Letterpress opened a retail outlet in Colorado Springs in 2016 and we have since expanded our section of specialty hand-lettering tools and stationery. We offer hard-to-find pens and materials that are some of our favourite tools to use as well.
Paper is most satisfying in the form of…
A heartfelt written message from a loved one or distant friend!
If you could have a rummage in anybody’s pencil case whose would it be?
My 13 year old self. There was one pencil that I loved with all my heart that I got from the art supply store in Woodstock, NY. I can’t recall what it was called and I’ve never been able to find it in my adult years, but boy, if I ever got my hands on that pencil again…
What’s been your biggest stationery indulgence?
Opening our own stationery store! Not only do we get to share our work with the public in the place where it’s made, but we also carry some of our favourite lines that make us so so so happy!
Any parting thoughts or anecdotes on your love of stationery?
The best thing in my opinion about stationery is the stationery *industry*! We are so fortunate to be working among so many other indie stationers who are doing some really amazing and important work. Greeting cards and paper goods have come a long way since the days of “Get Well Soon” and we are psyched for the ways that people are boldly (and sometimes, hilariously) translating very human emotions into a folded piece of paper that gets sent through the mail. :)