Julie Karatzis, Letterpress Printer, Owner of Cartoules Press. Interview conducted by Tony Kariotis of GreekPosts.com
Tell me a little about yourself!
My name is Julie Karatzis, and I’m a letterpress printer, graphic designer, illustrator and hand letterer – the creative and owner behind Cartoules Press. I’m based out of sunny Long Beach, and live here with my husband and our two young sons. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, and got my undergraduate degree from UC Davis, and then my masters in Communications from USC. I worked in radio advertising and then later on in design public relations for 10 years before I took Cartoules Press full time.
What does being Greek mean to you?
My father was born and raised in Kefalonia, and my maternal Grandparents were from Siderokastro, and Simades, a village near Tripoli (my mother was born in the US). As a young child growing up in the states, I always felt a strong connection to Greece as we visited my grandparents in Kefalonia nearly every summer. I made friendships in Greece, which I still keep today, and I love Greece as if I grew up there – it’s my home. Growing up I also attended Greek school and participated in Greek dancing, so keeping active in the community has always been a part of my life.
Being Greek to me is knowing the language, the traditions, the food, the land, but even more than that really feeling them and practicing them in your everyday life. Carrying the traditions and love of Greece onto future generations!
What makes you proud calling yourself Greek?
Greece has such a storied and unique past. That history and ability to keep traditions and the language in tact is so rare and something to be proud of. The traditions, the dances, the costumes, the food, even to what the ancients gave to the world in science, math, philosophy, astronomy – I could go on and on. But the Greek language itself is so beautiful both written and spoken. The typography of the letters is one of the things that inspires me in my art and hand lettering. The way words are used, and how words have multiple meanings that can’t even be translated exactly into English, like παρεα or μερακι. It’s also, as you know, very difficult to learn. Knowing this language, even if it’s just a few words or phrases is something to be proud of!
What inspired you to start Cartoules Press?
I started Cartoules Press back in 2009 because I felt that at the time, there was a lack of well designed stationery in the Greek language. I was on the hunt for bilingual wedding invitations in Greek and English for our Athens wedding, and couldn’t find anyone to design them, let alone letterpress print them – which was a printing technique I had come to love. After creating our wedding invitations, and traveling back and forth to Greece, I set up shop!
Tell us a little bit about your letterpress, design studio!!
While wedding and baptism invitations are the bulk of my custom work, I’ve expanded the company’s offerings to greeting cards, prints, stickers, and more recently home goods like mugs, aprons, tea towels. I also have some tees and tote bags in the shop as well. All of my designs are meant to evoke an emotional connection to Greece or Greek culture. Whether it’s in a saying or through an illustration. Everything I create is very personal to me and is pulled from an experience.
I often hand sketch a concept first, and design everything on my ipad and/or computer. If it’s going to be letterpress printed, then that gets turned into a print-ready digital file to make the letterpress plates. I love that what starts off as something hand illustrated, gets processed through a computer, then turned into plates, which are again then hand printed and produced into the final product. Each of my designs exists in many iterations before you see the final product.
For those who don’t know – letterpress is a centuries old printing process. Ink is applied to the surface of a raised image or text area (a polymer letterpress plate - like a stamp). This plate is adhered to our antique printing press using precision and detail to make sure it's perfectly registered. We print all of our letterpress projects in-house on a century old Chandler & Price. The raised surface is then pressed against paper (which is hand fed into the press) transferring the ink and design, and leaving an impression. It feels and looks gorgeous!
How often do you get to visit Greece? Where do you stay!?
We go every summer! It’s so important to us that our children grow up knowing Greece, the language and the culture as if they lived it every day. Growing up I would go to Greece every other summer, and even that was enough exposure for me to make life long friends and practice my Greek language skills. I want to instill the same pride in my children, and the only way that really happens I think is by going there and living it. When we go we stay in Kefalonia, where my father is from. Back in 2012, my family got together to build a beautiful home by the beach, so it’s where my parents, my sister, I, and our husbands and kids all come back together to a full house every summer!
Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
Just to be sure to follow me on Instagram @cartoulespress and to sign up for the newsletter on my website to keep in touch with new product launches that happen every couple of months, as well as sales and other fun updates! I just launched a line of summer tees and bags, including a fun beach bag for the summer that you can presale before the price goes up. You can find it on my website here (https://www.cartoulespress.com/product-page/sun-salt-sand-beach-bag)
Thank you so much for your time Julie! We look forward to following your journey!
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