Vandalia Street Press is a letterpress print shop and design studio in Saint Paul, Minnesota founded by artist Kim Tschida. With a background in design and marketing, and a BFA in Painting and Photography, Kim is an artist with many curiosities. Vandalia Street Press is comprised of two presses and a little print shop and design studio tucked inside a beautiful book bindery. And Kim loves what it has become. A business that allows her creative freedom in both the card line and in a new series of art prints, she also does custom printing for design studios and clients. She loves being able to balance art and business in a way that she never thought would be possible.
Talk about the beginnings of VSP. What inspired you begin this endeavor?
VSP began in 2008 when my husband and I acquired two presses from a printing company called Madonna Printing. He was very curious about letterpress printing. I really wasn't. I am a painter and a photographer and printmaking hadn't really presented itself to me as a medium yet. In the very beginning of VSP, I was designing the line of stationery with other Twin Cities artists and we were selling them to local retailers and on Etsy. It was pretty slow in the beginning and my husband ended up sliding over to the business of selling wine. I think he was pretty surprised to here that I wanted to take over all operations for VSP and run the business on my own. A little bit of ink on my hands and I was hooked.
Have you always been creative? What forms or channels have you explored in your creative journey?
I have always been creative and for as long as I can remember I've strived to be very good at drawing and painting and photography. And I have a strong desire for very good penmanship and hand writing to suit all moods. I graduated at a later age with a BFA in Painting and Drawing from the University of MN but I also have a degree in Audio Recording from when I was very young and spent several years in the local music business. Music has also been a big part of my creative life even though I'm a terrible musician/singer. So I went the route of studio work and marketing instead. Fast forward 17 years to Vandalia Street Press....
How has your business evolved? How have you evolved?
The business has evolved in several ways. One of the most important for me is that I design all of the artwork for the line of stationery and I do all of the printing and selling as well. Perhaps even more important though is that in the beginning all of the artwork was created in illustrator. I began feeling as though my drawing skills were being a bit wasted (and I missed drawing!) so now I also use pencil drawings as a beginning point for my stationery designs. I've also added Art Prints to the VSP line. My need as an artist to create landscape work has also been seeping out and I've started making some more fine art landscape prints and exploring art fairs to sell artwork and craft fairs to sell the stationery/art print line. It's important to say also, that VSP couldn't exist without all of my customers. Those who buy artwork, those who buy stationery and those who work with me on their custom printing needs.
Why is local important?
Supporting our local artists and businesses is one of the most important things that you can do. From buying from local farmers to local artists to local wine shops. We all build a better community when we are working together and supporting each other. When you keep your dollars local your dollars spent are more likely to go back into the community you live in and love.
How has living in Minnesota influenced your creative work, specifically through your business?
Well, this is an interesting question. I really don't like the cold weather. So, why do I continue to live here?? Well, the art community is very strong and supportive. We are all becoming very connected to each other. Living in the Minnesota landscape has influenced my artwork more that I would probably like to admit to. I love hot hot summer days. Days when the car reads 104 degrees are my favorites. Yet my artwork tends to be stark cool/winter landscapes. And my customers and clients appreciate the simple and clean lines that come out in the artwork I create for the line of stationery and art prints as well as my fine art.
What do you see for the future of VSP?
I would like to expand some the imagery that I use for VSP into different mediums. Textiles for instance. I've been teaching myself to sew and from that has come a small and very limited line of tea towels and decorative pillows. And also (though I'm quite shy about it) a line of luxury linen scarves. I would like to streamline some of the stationery/greeting cards to be more of a fine stationery line with custom note cards and luxury items such as personal stationery.
Do you feel like making and creating through your business allows you to contribute to something larger than yourself?
I feel very lucky to be able to make my living as an artist. Yes, sometimes I'm in the shop printing projects for other people. But I love it!! I really need the balance of the stationery line, the custom printing, and the landscape/fine art part of what I do in order for it to work. Through all of it—I really am a more engaged person and when I'm selling my work at a Farmer's Market (I am at the Northeast Farmer's Market on Saturdays in the Summer) or various Craft Shows around town—I really do feel more alive than I ever have.
Learn more about Vandalia Street Press here: http://www.vandaliastreetpress.com/