When you can’t find what you’re looking for, make your own. Right? San Francisco Bay-area native Julie Karatzis has done just that. Back in 2009 when she and her Athenian-born husband Spiros were planning their wedding – which took place in Greece – she sought letterpress invitations, written in both Greek and English. She couldn’t find anyone to create them, and in the two languages. She decided to do it herself, and Cartoules Press was born. Julie spoke to us about her background, how she got started and what’s next.
Tell us about your Greek roots.
I was born and raised in California. My father is from Kefalonia and my American-born mother has roots in Sidirokastro near Thessaloniki and Simiades near Tripolis. I spent all my summers in Greece, mostly in Kefalonia. The rest of the year, my time was filled with Greek School, Sunday School, GOYA, basketball and more. We went to Holy Cross Church in Belmont. I was also very involved in Greek folk dance, from 4 years-old through college. I got involved with the Greek Orthodox Folk Dance Festival in LA, and for years helped organize the festival. My husband and school would prompt a move to LA, where we now live. For a time I directed a Greek dance group in LA. I’ve taught Greek School at the Saint Sophia Cathedral in LA.
You couldn’t find the invitations you liked. What did you do?
I took some courses at the International Printing Museum in Carson, CA, so I could learn more about this craft. There, they had every single letterpress ever made. It was so cool. I attended classes on weekends, and met someone there who could help me print my invitations, once I designed them. We spent considerable time there, printing 200 wedding invitations – five pieces with two colors each. I really enjoyed the entire process. It was great to see the results of what I’d created. Nothing like this ever existed. I was so excited, so I started the business.
What kind of work are you doing?
I started out doing work for friends, and then began designing Christmas cards, and it took off from there. I’ve met a lot of Greek brides from around the world; a lot of Greek brides in Germany, Singapore. I’ve also worked with quite a few brides who were not Greek, but were marrying Greek, and felt it important to keep the Greek as a part of their wedding.
The website is my portfolio, and all jobs start there. Wedding work is typically all custom. Brides tell me their colors, theme, what they are looking for, then I create something and we tweak it together. I also design invitations for bridal showers, baby showers, baptisms, any sort of invitation desired, as well as greeting cards. When I’m not super busy with custom work, I develop more greeting cards. I sell the ready-made line of greeting cards on Etsy. There you can find holiday cards, thank you cards, and more.
You’re pretty much self-taught.
I have no formal training in design. I always loved to draw and paint, do crafts.
You work in PR too.
As the business is building, I still work part time for a small PR agency in LA. I have a Master’s in Public Relations and a BA in Communications. My clients are all architects and designers, which is a great environment for me. It’s fun to work with them, since I understand the creative process and what they are going through, how it all works together.
What’s up with Goddess of the Hunt?
A couple of years ago, I was featured on their site, and I kept in touch with editor Dana Siomkos. We’ve developed a line of prints that have to do with the graffiti in Athens. Dana got some photos from Greece this summer and I turned them into line art. We’re selling them in the ‘Goddess’ boutique.
What else is new?
We’re selling a lot of Greek and English Christmas cards. I’m getting a lot of custom orders for photo cards, too. I’ve also developed a line of prints of different islands. They’re maps, 5×7 flat prints. We’re getting a lot of requests to add more islands.
Writing cards is still important.
These days, everyone is sending email or communicating on Facebook and Twitter, however, sending Christmas cards and writing cards is important. Written communication is still very important.
Watch the video of the making of the graffiti prints.