Sarah Holt, along with her husband Phil, owns and operates Mon Petit Paper Company. Mon Petit is a small letterpress studio in Seminole Heights that prints gorgeous cards, bold business cards, and personalized stationery. Everything is designed by Sarah, who “has a never-ending love for connecting with people over the fading and intimate beauty of printmaking.” (source).
Sarah uses her love of crafting and artistic sensibility to create gorgeous prints both through typeset and customized polymer plate printing. Typeset design involves Sarah setting each individual letter in her printing press by hand, before passing each individual sheet across her customized template. It is a labor of love and a labor of conservation. This is the printing style of the past, and every piece of paper printed this way has a classic, historical, and delicate look and feel. Customized polymer plate printing involves custom designing a template online, and then having a printing template created. This is great for printing images, and logos, and can be used in conjunction with typeset printing.
Sarah is a wonderful artist, even using her body as a canvas. Her husband Phil owns and operates Red Letter 1, Tampa’s premier tattoo studio. Needless to say this incredible couple is contributing to the beauty of Tampa, and soaking up some of that beauty yourself is as easy as ordering something from her charming shop. You can find everything Mon Petit Paper Company has to offer on their website, www.monpetitpaperco.com.
How did you discover boutique printing?
Creating custom business cards, invitations and stationery is something I’ve been passionate about since my first letterpress class. I graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, my focus in Printmaking. While I didn’t take a letterpress until after college, I gained a huge appreciation and respect for printmaking in my early 20’s. There’s just something about the meeting of paper and ink on these artisan presses that conjures a vintage connection to craft that resonates deeply with me. All forms of antique printmaking require a lot of attention and skill in the print room. I absolutely love getting to make custom designs for clients looking to represent the skill and labor of their craft in conjunction with mine. Creating custom stationery and invitations allows me to play with high-quality letterpress techniques I absolutely love!
How would you describe your overall style?
I have managed a custom tattoo studio in South Tampa for several years. Due to my connection with the nature of the studio, I like to meet with clients to discuss what their vision for the overall design and feel is. Seeing reference imagery they may be pondering helps me get an idea of how they execute what they want. Likewise, having clients who love my portfolio of typeset designs and ask me to run with it is always welcomed! As far as “my style” in regards to that approach, I like to create classic and simple business card designs using our in-house fonts to match the client’s vibe. For stationery and invitations, there’s no limit, let’s get creative and fancy!
How did you come up with the name Mon Petit Paper Company?
Great question! My now husband had a French nickname for me during a trip we took together to Montreal. He called me “Mon Petit Chou”, which I think means “my little cabbage” haha. Kind of silly but it led me to the name Mon Petit Paper Co., which came to me randomly while driving one day. It just felt right!
What is your favorite thing to print?
Currently, custom stationery although I get the most excited to print wedding invitation suites. There are so many fun options out there and the perfect excuse to indulge in all of them.
A lot of your art features flowers, what is it about flowers that draw you in?
Ah yes, I love flowers! Occasionally I watercolor paint as well and peonies are always my flower of choice. So as to not write a dissertation on the subject, there’s just something about them that truly resonates with me in big and small ways. My time in college as a Fine Art major made art too serious, everything had to have meaning. It drained me creatively and when I got out I just wanted to focus on painting as a meditative outlet, painting flowers allow me to do that. My draw to peonies is for sure due to being surrounded by Japanese tattoo culture. In deeper roots, my mother always gardened and my grandmother owned flower print everything, so I’m in love with floral prints and patterns largely because of them.
Can you walk us through the process of creating and printing a typeset greeting card?
Creating begins with the paper. First I decide which card stock to use and then the paper is cut down from large sheets by a three-step process. If using type, I create a pencil sketch of what layout I want and look at my in-house Font Menu to pick which font(s) I want to use. Type is then set, one letter, at a time, by hand. Large wooden drawers house the individual letters respective to their font and sizes. I’ve gotten much faster at setting type by memorizing the drawer layout and where each letter sits within the drawer. After setting the type, it is locked into a metal chase, think of a 10X15″ metal rectangle. The typeset is placed in the center of this metal rectangle (chase) and surrounded by wooden blocks (called furniture). Once the typeset is secured with the chase on all sides by the furniture it is hoisted into the press. There is then a series of math equations used to find out where your paper is going to lay so that your type hits the paper where you want it to respectively. (i.e. left, center, right alignment or otherwise). The chase and the paper sit on opposite sides of the press (think of a clamshell, with the chase and type on one side and the paper on the other). When the press is put in motion the two sides come together to “kiss”. At this moment the type meets paper and voila! Once your paper is registered correctly it’s time to mix your ink and get to printing! Some cards use more than one layer in this process. For each layer and/or color change this ENTIRE process must be repeated. This time-consuming attention is why letterpress is so much more expensive than inkjet printing. It must all be done by hand skillfully.
What is your personal favorite font on your font menu?
The hardest question to answer yet! I think Old English is the most beautiful but I use Bodoni and Franklin Gothic the most.
Where are your favorite places to shop for boutique crafts in Tampa?
The Paper Seahorse in South Tampa and The Paper Source in Hyde Park Village.
What have you always wanted to print, but haven’t gotten the chance to yet?
I’m dying to print more wedding invitations and custom stationery.
What is something that you have always wanted to tell people, but that you haven’t been asked?
Do you have a graphic designer? Yes! If clients need designs created digitally for printing, we have an in-house graphic designer ready to work in conjunction with the desired projects. As well, I’m always happy to work with a designer of your choice.
Where can we buy some prints?!
I sell my line of greeting cards and watercolor paintings at: www.monpetitpaperco.com as well as on Etsy at: www.etsy.com/shop/monpetitpaperco A selection of my cards are also available locally at: Blue Sage Eco Boutique, Sattva Yoga, and Disco Dolls.