Tuesday 24 October 2017

'What started out as a hobby for me is now a full-time job'

Sarah McCabe

Sarah McCabe

MUM of one Antonella Magliocco-Vaugh followed through on her love for traditional design by buying an old letterpress online. The 1885 machine has resulted in a full-time job for the Offaly-based graphic designer, who spoke to Sarah McCabe.

"I studied design at Athlone Institute of Technology and worked freelance after that, but never enjoyed the technology side of it. I'm a pen-and-paper type of person and have always had a love of manual design.

The first shoots of my business came about when I discovered an old letterpress online, in Vermont in the US. When I say old, I really do mean old – it was made in 1885. The owner was going to scrap it unless someone took it off his hands so I got it for $100. It was a fantastic find. I had it shipped over and set up a studio at home in Ferbane, just outside of Athlone.

What started out as a hobby is now a full-time job for me. The company is called MAGVA Design and Letterpress, a combination of my maiden and married names.

Working from home means I can care for my child while I work – I have a three-year-old son.

I still use computers to help me design but everything else is done by hand.

The letterpress produces a very tactile product where the letters make deep impressions. Each plate is bespoke, made by hand from photo-polymer, and the end result is hugely personal. In a world where everything is digital – even photographs – it is nice to have something vintage.

My closest competitors outsource the actual printing work, or parts of it whereas my process is completely authentic, all done by me on the press.

The product is also eco-friendly. I use paper made of cotton or jute fibres, not wood-based papers.

These are highly sustainable Fair Trade papers, carefully selected and tested from around the world.

Granted, not everyone wants to pay a premium for stationery. It is definitely a specialised market. I initially targeted wedding invitation customers. While that has been very successful, demand has been more diverse than I expected. One of my product's strongest attributes is that it is not mass produced. Personalised stationery makes a great gift. I also offer larger pieces – I'm working on a poster-sized commissioned piece at the moment.

Irish Independent

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