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Karolina Lada: impressus

I feel really fortunate that I got to meet Karolina this past weekend. I urge you to take the time to look through her work which includes a range of hand-printed products. Her work has this unique blend of history and tradition infused with a modern minimalist touch and the result is something so special and elegant. Watching her at work in her creative space which includes an incredible antique printing press, it is clear that she is exactly where she is meant to be. There are no shortage of things to photograph in her space and spending time there, you can't help but feel inspired by the carefully selected pieces she hangs on her walls and the story behind everything from the press to her apron. It feels like everything was carefully selected, with intent and meaning. I feel like I could buy up her entire shop.

Below, Karolina answers some questions about her business after which you will find some of the photos from our session.

Business name: impressus

Number of years in business: 2 1/2 years

Location: Ottawa, Ontario

Links to website and social media:

1. Describe what you do.

I am the creative force behind impressus, a small letterpress studio located in Ottawa. I am a proud owner of an antique printing press, the Golding Pearl Improved No.11, on which I hand-print all of my products. I print small runs of cards, prints, gift tags, and other paper goods, including business cards and personalized stationery. I enjoy working on bespoke projects and welcome custom orders through my Etsy shop. I also like experimenting with different textures such as wood veneer and fabric.

2. What is it about your work that motivates you?

I remember being so fascinated by letterpress printing when I first came across it. The beauty and elegance of letterpress was so captivating that all I started thinking about was learning how to print myself. It is still a bit surreal to think that I was able to acquire my beautiful press and realize that dream. The Golding presses were manufactured in the early 1900s and it is an honour to have such beautiful piece of printing history in my studio. Given that these presses often end up in scrap yards, I also feel like I am helping preserve the part of printing history that they represent.

I love the hands-on experience that letterpress printing offers. I find it very rewarding to be able to create something with my hands and share it with the world (quite literally, since I had orders from Sweden, Australia, the UK and the US). It is also exciting to print custom orders for clients - whether it is business cards, special poem or song lyrics or custom message on a card for that special someone.

3. What is the biggest challenge you face when it comes to your work and how do you deal with that challenge?

I run my letterpress studio out of my home and the space I presently have is relatively small and does not get nearly as much natural light as I would like it to. I would love to have a dedicated space for my studio, preferably outside of the house. But until I am able to find a bigger and brighter space, I try to print during daylight hours and I find that staying organized is key.

Time is the other thing that I often do not have enough of. I I do majority of printing on the weekends as I have a full-time job. Being a sole proprietor also means spending time not only on designing and printing, but also on shipping orders, communicating with clients, updating my Etsy shop and website, and other responsibilities that come with running a small business. I find that creating "to do" lists works well for me and keeps me on track. And crossing things off those lists is very rewarding!

4. What do you want people to know about you and your work?

From hand-setting the type and hand-mixing the inks, to cutting paper and hand-feeding each sheet into the press, and then onto scoring each individual card or packaging each individual order, letterpress printing is a labour of love. It is a time-consuming process that requires patience and dedication and often it is a trial and error type of experience. But the payback is so worth it and I love it! I take pride in the products I sell and, as a perfectionist, I spend the required time on each order to ensure that, first and foremost, I am pleased with the outcome. If you entrust me with your project, you can be assured that I will put my heart and soul into it.

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