creative chicago // cindy tomczyk

What drew you to paper goods and letterpress in particular?

Cindy: My current boyfriend and I spent two years of our relationship long distance. Both being old souls at heart, we resorted to sending each other letters and handmade cards. How many people my age can say that they have a huge box of love letters and correspondence that’s not on a hard drive? One of my first jobs out of college was for a greeting card company in Chicago. I continued to freelance and work on my own art outside of work. It sort of all fell into place. I was always interested in letterpress and printmaking. I took a few classes at Columbia College and I was hooked. Letterpress for me, is the perfect combination of old and new. I acquired my first press, a chandler and price, a few years ago, but then traded it for a vandercook #3, built sometime in the 1950’s. Now with freelancing for card companies, doing shows, and wholesaling, I am completely in deep with the greeting card industry.

Describe your typical work day at Paper Parasol Press.

Cindy: It can be so different day-to-day. Usually there is a post office run in there. Right now I am at home with the sun shining through the windows, drinking tea, working on new designs, and laying out the new catalog. Days like this are so perfect, but they are not all like that! Once I have my designs ready, I am in the studio a lot printing on my vintage vandercook #3. Then there is the boring general paper work. Until I can hire someone to help with that, I have to keep doing it myself. When the weather is nice and I have local orders, my favorite thing is biking the orders to the store. I also still work full-time, with Mondays, weekends, lunch breaks, and nights dedicated completely to paper parasol press. The day is often packed and I usually work the entire day from 7am to 10pm. It is one of the hardest things a person can do. If you’re not feeling creative, you have to force yourself to get creative/motivated because time is usually not on your side. As much as this has been difficult, it has allowed me to finance the start of my company and I have developed incredible time management skills. Plus, I have learned things at my day job and running my own business that has given me advantages to both.

How long have you lived in Chicago, what has kept you here?

Cindy: I was originally from the south side of Chicago. I attended college at the Ringling College or Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida. After graduating, I knew I wanted to get back to the hustle and bustle of a city and moving back to Chicago seemed like the best idea. I have been living here since 2005, seven years already! No matter where I travel or live in the future, Chicago will always have a huge chunk of my heart. Even if I complain about the weather, it’s really in my opinion, the best city in the country.

// Click on page 3 at the top of the post to read the rest of the interview //

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