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Meet the Designer: Waterknot Press

We have all kinds of cards at Part & Parcel—some that highlight awesome typography, others that are inspired by pop culture and some that are just downright sassy. When we came across Waterknot Press, we were struck by their beautiful illustrations, dedication to the letterpress craft and the humor in their messaging.

Aside from creating funny and heartfelt greeting cards, this Portland-based graphic design and letterpress company's meaningful motto is also their tagline: "Design a better world." Husband and wife team Josh and Jennifer are committed to sustainability, from using recyclable materials to donating a portion of their profits to environmental and social justice organizations. Oh, and if you don't know what a waterknot is, it's used by climbers to tie two pieces of nylon webbing together. It's strong, simplistic and incredibly safe. Make sure to follow them on Facebook, and check out our Q&A with Josh below:

Did you always know you wanted to be a designer?

No. I didn’t really understand graphic design was a “thing” until my late 20’s/early 30’s. I have always been an artist. I have always drawn and painted and played music. I studied fine art in college, not design. But, I was the guy who you could always ask to make a poster for your band. It was only later in life that I came to realize that I had, unbeknownst to myself, been creating graphic design for years.

How would you describe your style?

The thing about being a good graphic designer (and I’m not saying I am one) is that you can tweak your style to cater to a client’s or a project’s needs. Design differs from art in that design needs to be functional. If a design doesn’t perform it’s intended function then it’s bad design, regardless of how beautiful or cool it looks. All of that to say, I’m not sure I really have a design style because it can be so variable. I definitely have an illustration style, though, and over the last decade it has really evolved because of the letterpress. Because the letterpress excels at fine lines (like type) and not big solids or painterly/photographic continuous tone, I have spent a lot of time focused on lines. I really enjoy finding ways of creating more colors and tones through fine line work.

Where do you look for inspiration?

Outside. If I am not making something in the studio then I love to be outside. In the last couple of years our audience seems to really be connecting to our outdoor adventure themed cards. This feels really natural to me. I love to spend time in wild places and I love to draw them.

What’s the most memorable card you’ve ever sent or received?

The most memorable card I’ve sent would have to be a piece I created to convince my wife to marry me. I guess that design hit the mark.

What’s your spirit animal?

I don't know if I have one. I do have a deep connection to rivers, though. They are alive in a myriad of ways. So I guess you could say River is my spirit animal.