Sharing the stories behind the most talented creatives in my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA.
I met Allison Glancey of strawberryluna years before I moved back to Pennsylvania. We’d connected online shortly after I started Design Crush and bonded over the city of Pittsburgh, where Allison was living with her husband and the other half of strawberryluna, Craig. You’ve likely seen their gig posters for everyone from Belle & Sebastian to Morrissey. We spent a sunny Friday afternoon drinking boxed white zinfandel and talking all about life paths, dogs, and other awesome things.
Allison’s printing ink collection.
Tell us a little bit about how you got your start with strawberryluna.
It’s a bit of an accidental story, to be honest. I had always been interested in printmaking. I’d never had the chance to learn before I heard about Artists Image Resource (AIR for short) on the North Side. In fall of 2004, I went to an Open Studio night and was lucky enough to have the talented Mike Budai as the person to show me around and how to print. After that I was hooked, 100%. I began attending the AIR Open Studio nights regularly, working on small art prints for my own amusement and slowly started to get a little better with a lot of help from the AIR braintrust. It is a very DIY, punk, make it work sort of artists’ culture and that really helped solidify the process of screenprinting for me and allowed for a lot of experimentation. I started showing work in a few places online (Gigposters.com, Flickr, etc) and got connected to promoters, bands, record labels, managers and so forth, then started doing rock posters as well as art prints. The challenge of having to create and hand print full editions for band clients was really intense and rewarding at the same time. We also designed a line of Alphabet Prints that were featured in Real Simple’s Holiday Gift Guide in 2007 a few months after I had quit a corporate HR job. That exposure and holiday season was the true beginning of me realizing that strawberryluna really could be a full-time endeavor.
Allison prepping her workspace.
What’s your favorite part of the process? Your least favorite?
I think that my favorite part(s) of the process are both in finalizing a design. Because we end up working on every design through trial and error, moving, changing, playing, trashing, starting over… until there is this magical moment where it all suddenly feels right. Many times we will just walk away from the piece at that point and come back tomorrow, just to make sure it’s still solid. And then if it is, my other favorite part of the process is almost always that very first pull of the last layer and color on a print or a poster. It’s a very unique, special feeling where all of the hours of work that I’ve already put into a piece come together. It’s a cool “Proof of concept” emotion that I think maybe only other printmakers might truly be able to appreciate. It’s one part relief to two parts thrill somehow. And I love it. No matter how tired I am, no matter how late at night it is when I get to that one moment? It’s the best. My least favorite is, hands down, reclaiming screens.
Prepping and pulling a color on a gig poster.
What other makers inspire you most?
The ones who bust ass like we do! I love to see my friends process photos of their work, both our maker friends here in Pittsburgh and the ones who live far away that we might only ever see in person once a year. Working for yourself in a creative, design and maker business is so rewarding but it is also very very hard work and can be so draining at times. So I find that I most adore like-minded doers who put their heads down and just get it done, son.
Allison at the drying rack.
Where do you see strawberryluna in 5 years?
I’ve never had a good head for 5-year plans. I am much more of an organic let’s open this door and see where it goes kind of person and thinker, and my business model shows that if you really look at it. I would love to ramp up our wholesale side more, and I would love to continue working on more and more illustration-heavy projects. Perhaps actually get a book published! We’ve worked on a few book projects for covers, illustrations, and the like, but they sadly died before publication. I would love to write and illustrate a children’s book. Or ten.
Just a few of Allison’s favorite strawberryluna prints framed in her studio. / Sprite!, her canine assistant.
What makes having a small business in Pittsburgh so great?
So many things. I don’t want to make it sound like paradise here, because it’s not. The winters are long, cold, grey, and hardcore. And it’s a smaller city than the places that people usually think of as great arts-centric communities. But! I think that Pittsburgh offers so much more than many larger cities. For instance, a place like AIR where I learned how to screenprint? That just doesn’t exist in many other places. Space and price are at such a premium in cities like NYC, Chicago, and LA that it’s virtually impossible to have so many rich, community accessible facilities and support systems like we do in Pittsburgh. The maker and small business community of people that I’ve nestled into and have formed super strong bonds with is filled with very strong, hardworking, and lovely talents who honestly subscribe to the idea that A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats as well. If I need advice or a resource I find that most people here are more than willing to share, help, and listen. What seems incredibly natural to me about Pittsburgh’s maker and creative side is often seen as an unusual thing when I talk with peers in other cities and when we do shows across the country. Also, for being such a nice, green, and tech-forward city it’s relatively inexpensive without being rough or run down. I have to say that I also dearly, dearly love that pretentiousness is something that Pittsburgh has never and seemingly (hopefully?) will never foster. It’s a completely “put your money where your mouth is” town where people get excited to make things, open shops, and actually have the opportunities to make because we aren’t working three jobs just to keep a small apartment. With the caveats of being cool with a lot of rain and sleet? It’s a pretty great city. Just don’t tell everyone! It’s kind of a secret how awesome it is to live and work for yourself here.
01/ Fascinated by the Awair air quality monitor.
02/ Love these abstract paper birds by Marine Coutroutsios.
03/ Mass uses big box items to create color coordinating site-specific installations.
04/ The Rainbow Chapel in Shangai is a colorful new place to tie the knot.
05/ Serious wooden sculptures that are full of energy by Stefanie Rocknak.
06/ Check out Ambivalently Yours creative feminist Instagram account.
07/ Eve Fowler’s Mainfest Destiny billboard project is brilliant.
08/ All 468 New York subway stations on one epic poster.
09/ Obvious Plant took to the paint aisle to replace swatches with hilarity.
10/ The Hidrate Me water bottle syncs to your phone and glows to remind you to stay hydrated.
This week on Design Crush:
The beauty of domesticity captures in Fuki Koike‘s illustrations.
Tatoorary creates the best temporary ink I’ve ever seen.
Colorful large-scale wooden sculptures by CHIAOZZA.
Beautiful small-batch ceramics from Paper & Clay.
Paper gardens that won’t wilt by Anne Ten Donkelaar.
Ten DIYs to keep your hands busy this month.
I’m obsessed with the canvas bags and accessories of Tiff Manuell.
Colors are the best crayons you’ve ever seen.
Tamsin van Essen’s Erosion Series is based on something completely unexpected.
I definitely have an obsession with flowers, one that’s only come about in the past five years or so. I dream of having a cutting garden in my backyard and do my best to have fresh blooms in my house at all times, even if that means picking up a bouquet at the grocery store. Anne Ten Donkelaar‘s collages take up less space and are some of the prettiest “flower gardens” I’ve ever seen.
Multi-medium artists make me so jealous, but in a good way. Ashleigh Ninos is doing good things with both illustration and dye on paper in her respectively titled series Contour and Forecast. Both are minimal in nature while packing a serious punch of impact.
(via The Jealous Curator)
Mlle Hipolyte folds and cuts paper to create beautiful animal face masks. He layers the paper to create dimension and texture in the forms of fur and feathers in the most complimentary color palettes. The best part? The creature masks can actually be worn!
Caterina Rossato combines vintage postcard landscapes into something new by cutting out and placing them on wood blocks for dimension. The resulting sculptures feel fresh and modern, all while retaining the dignity of the original imagery.
Click on each image to go to the project.
All photos copyright of their respective sites unless otherwise noted.
Paper sculptures, hair art, and tattoos? Be still my heart! Belinda Rodriguez pulls out her skills as a freelance designer and illustrator to create these beauties created from layered paper and small hand-drawn embellishments.
01/ Szymon Swietochowski used holi powder to create staff portraits for his agency.
02/ Lego creations know no bounds, Agabag uses them for purse exteriors.
03/ An app controlled stove knob provides the right amount of heat for the right amount of time? That’s Meld.
04/ Ice Cream That Understands PMS is a student project, but I’d totally buy it.
05/ Want to keep your glasses from sliding off your nose? Nosewax is where it’s at.
06/ Travis Rice has a way with shredded paper.
07/ Sophie and Sarah are two beautiful models, who happen to be sheepdogs.
08/ Ben Brucker used 8.024 Post-Its to create superheroes on his office walls.
09/ The lunar cycle made out of Nilla Wafers looks incredibly delicious.
10/ How to break in a t-shirt and make it feel vintage.
This week on Design Crush:
Eight prints that make owning great art insanely affordable.
Have you entered our Moulton giveaway??
I love Laura Carlin‘s animal collage on tiles.
If you’re thinking spring take a look at these structural plant walls.
Creepy cool illustrations from Swan Bones.
Annie McLaughlin captures pattern and light so well.
Nest is saving me money in my 115 year old home one degree at a time.
Crazy sexy manipulated imagery from Eli Craven.
01/ Addicted to Glamour shows us a different view of the fashion industry.
02/ The Swirl Faucet creates an amazing pattern and saves on water usage.
03/ Take a walk on this meandering green suspended balcony path.
04/ Would you wear a Crayon dress if it were made by a famous designer?
05/ The B&O Play bluetooth speaker looks made for summer entertaining.
06/ I really love this – eco-friendly burial pods will turn loved ones into trees.
07/ Photographer/dancer Mickael Jou leaps through everyday life situations.
08/ Barbara Wildenboer turns old books into papercut masterpieces.
09/ A Japanese island where cats outnumber humans six to one. (Let’s go now.)
10/ I’d love to ride Sky Bike through the Andean Cloud Forest!
This week on Design Crush:
Eight new pieces of art to mix up your wall game in Print Edition: March.
Maker & Mineral‘s screen-printed pouches make me want to organize my bag.
Caroline Larsen does oil paintings like you’ve never seen before.
Backyard workspace inspiration for the outdoor office space I hope to create.
I’d open my mail way faster if it looked anything like Do Not Open.
Meet your go-to modern jewelry shop – Adorn Milk.
Completely inspired by the work of Hiroyuki Izutsu.
Check out Woven Pear for the best patterned socks!
Design Crush elsewhere:
I love matching the perfect rug + room when decorating.
I talked to Martha Stewart about empowering yourself and growing your business.
The Marketplace is carrying an exclusive print from Duealberi! Grab yours.