Creative Types #2- Laura Walczak

Welcome to the second installment of my interview series Creative Types! This is a bi-weekly series where I like to highlight my creative friends because it truly is amazing to have so many artistic friends in my life. Laura and I are long distance friends (Rochester and Chicago) who see each other at The Fest or when Laura is road tripping through Chicago, and keep in touch through all the various social medias and instant message sessions on gchat. Without further ado, here she is! 

What inspired you to start designing and selling your address stamps?
I always like stamps for return addresses, and decided to design one for myself at some point. Which I then, of course, used on EVERYTHING. Including the card to a bride-to-be, who at her shower make a big show of my personalized address stamp on the card to her. I offered to make one for the newlyweds, so they could use it on their thank you cards after the wedding. After a few pages of sketches, I started working on two, and ended up with what is now the Olson design and the Nelson design. I was torn between something really fun and elaborate (Olson) and something more practical yet still eye-catching (Nelson). I ended up making both for them, one as a self-inking, and the other as a regular rubber stamp. They LOVED both. Through the powers of social media, I started noticing people asking the Bride where she got her stamps, and decided to take the leap and list them to see if there was any interest from the general public. There was. At current, I’ve created 150+ stamps, and have added two additional design options to my shop. I’m planning on adding more, as well as expanding to include stationery options as well. It’s been hard work but also fun, and I LOVE to hear the stories -- whether the stamps are for wedding invitations, housewarming gifts, or a fun surprise stocking stuffer for a spouse! I hope to hear more stories and have my stamps and design be part of so many more life events going forward.

What drew you to Etsy?
I had created an account a few years ago, 2007 probably? I had talked with my roommate at the time somewhat extensively about starting some sort of crafting shop and what we’d sell. Nothing really came out of that, but I think some time in 2011 I decided I might as well try to sell some of my existing letterpress prints there, as I don’t really need 20 extra prints of a poster I’d made. To this day, I’ve sold one through my shop.
How do you manage working for your day job and working on your art/design work? Do you find anything helpful for managing your time?
I’m working on working on that balance. It got REALLY crazy for me in December, as I was working full time, teaching as an adjunct, and suddenly I was up to my eyeballs in orders for Christmas. I didn’t sleep much to be honest. It was a really rough month. But I’ve been working on strategies to keep myself sane since then, and my volume isn’t as high as the holiday rush. Namely, keeping a spreadsheet of all the orders is super-helpful. I also have tried to streamline when I design, when I send proofs, and when I’m planning to ship so I’m not scrambling every day of the week with all of those tasks. I try to do about two waves a week to keep on schedule.
I’m sure there are things I could be doing better, but I guess I’m figuring it out along the way. I’m open to suggestions or recommendations if anyone has any!
Where do you find inspiration?
It feels cliche, but Pinterest. I have a board for type and lettering, and am lucky to follow some folks that have similar aesthetic appreciations as me. I’ve always been a fan of letterforms and type, it’s nice to have a place so  image-focused. The internet amazes me daily.
I’m also a huge fan of Jessica Hische, though have not yet tried to directly channel her in my work, which I probably won’t ever, but seeing it is inspiring enough! She also makes me realize that I’m not too young to be awesome, as we’re just about the same age, and she is certainly awesome. Time to step up my game!
Type that I like to use often comes from Lost Type and You Work for Them.
What is your workspace like?
A mess. I’m a queen of clutter and piling. I’ve got a sewing table holding my iMac, nested next to book shelves, butted up against a letterpress cabinet, with an organ to my left. I leave things on top of all these things all the time. There’s an armchair behind me that the puppy like to snuggle up on, and I love having her there keeping me company. I recently bought an actual desk that I’m looking forward to assembling and setting up in the dining room for a little more space, and a better view of the TV. I’ve watched SO much Mad Men since starting this stamp business, I’m almost through all that is on netflix.
Lastly, what are your favorite things to do for fun?
Snuggling my puppy is definitely up there! I’ve always been one for going to shows, and when I can I still like to. Punk, indie, ska, chiptune, whatever. I quite enjoy cooking and baking, and have recently started up a dinner party event thing, which is one part social experiment, and one party tasty times. You can check it out at , we’re on facebook and twitter too!
I’m just starting a 5k training through a local organization, I’m excited to start running, and to do this with a large group. The 5k is in April!
Sometimes I can be a beer/wine snob, I really enjoy trying different craft brews and visiting nearby Finger Lakes wineries.

Here's where to find Laura: