An Interview with Wiley Valentine

Following on such great response from our interview with Kelli Hall, I decided to get in touch with one of Minted’s first brand and community designers Wiley Valentine. Emily Owen and Rachelle Schwartz, both graphic design professionals steeped in the throes of agency life, finally decided to take their creative future into their own hands and started up their own design house. Wiley Valentine, their stationery brand inspired by their grandmothers, has leveraged the letterpress with a distinctly modern mood, giving forth to paper remixes that redefine traditional.

Michelle Wedding Invitations by Wiley Valentine
Michelle Wedding Invitations

minted: I love the back-story on the WV name. How much of their aesthetic is reflected in your work? What do you think your grandmothers would say about WV?
WV: My grandmother, Norma Jean, is still with us, and she is absolutely thrilled! She loves to watch us grow as a company and see what we do next. It’s really fun that I get to share it with her. In terms of their influence I think it comes more in their overall artistry and creativity. Although our love for all things vintage can definitely relate back to them I suppose. We also launched a line of cards last year featuring paintings that Mary Wiley had done in her teens! I think she would have been thrilled to see that!

minted: In an increasingly digital world, why is paper important?
WV: It’s such an important form of communication. With all the texting, emailing twittering etc…going on, paper has become all that more special. It makes such an impression when someone receives a beautifully printed wedding invitation or hand written thank you note on gorgeous personalized stationery.

minted: Do you tweet? I’m sure minted fans will start following you.
WV: I have not gone over to the dark side just yet… ie. twitter. Although I feel it’s only a matter of time! 🙂

Metropolitan Muse Wedding Invitations by Wiley Valentine
Metropolitan Muse Wedding Invitations

minted: Recent advancements in letterpress have opened up the creative possibilities for designers. How does the world of digital design and its tools affect your analog design work?
WV: The ability to create custom artwork and then have plates made has given us endless possibilities with the letterpress medium. It’s so fun to see what we create on the computer, translated into a hand letterpressed piece!

minted: What’s the printing process like, are you moving plates around and mixing and matching on the fly? Or is it a more calculated process?
WV: The plate process is more exact. We create the artwork, than we have photo-polymer plates made (the eco-choice of plates). One is made for each color and printed one color at a time.

Carolyn Wedding Invitations by Wiley Valentine
Carolyn Wedding Invitations

minted: The WV design wedding collection is richly intricate and heavy with organic floral motifs. Where do you get your wonderful patterns?
WV: We are largely inspired by vintage books, wallpapers, advertisements, and old magazines. We love blending the vintage inspired look with modern applications.

minted: Where do you find your material, the library, garage sales, archives?
WV: We can find inspiration in anything from old books that used to belong to Emily’s grandmother, to old print ads that we found at flea markets, etc. There is really no rule, our inspiration comes from everywhere! I even like to look at my inspiration book before designing a collection. I get tons of ideas from my magazine clippings.

minted: What are the rules for what makes it “in” to the collection?
WV: There aren’t really any rules. We try and make a collection touch upon different design aesthetics so there is something for a varying type of design tastes. Something simple and modern, something decorative and over the top, and something in between.

Matzinger Wedding Invitations by Wiley Valentine
Matzinger Wedding Invitations

minted: Despite the ornate patterns, the WV collection remains very modern. How do you strike a balance between the traditional and the modern?
WV: I think it’s a blend of color, typography, and overall layout that creates the modern edge. Also using a vintage looking floral as a pattern, for example, is a way of using a vintage inspired image in a modern way.

minted: What are your favorite colors for this season and favorite typefaces? (I know this is like asking you the meaning of life, perhaps your top threes, you can list by Pantone if you like for colors :D)
WV: We are completely obsessed with champagne (8003) and what we have dubbed Buttercup (134). We are also loving Aubergine (8802). In terms of fonts we like to use a mix of calligraphy inspired fonts next to more minimal modern fonts for the contrast. I also love hand-written inspired fonts.

Yolanda Wedding Invitations by Wiley Valentine
Yolanda Wedding Invitations

minted: As a collaborative design project with only two votes, how do you come to consensus on making design decisions?
WV: Many times we just start designing and it becomes clear to us right away if it’s working or not. However we also love to toss around ideas with our great staff at the office. It’s great to get feedback from our staff, especially if it’s not from a designer but from our office manager for example. She gives us more of the consumer opinion which is very important to consider when designing.

minted: How many iterations does it typically take for a design to reach its final state?
WV: In terms of how many rounds does it take to come to a final design, it really varies. There are those designs that come instantly and they are so obviously right, and then there are others that have more of an evolution process that could be 4 or 5 different iterations before we come to a final design.

Adrianna Wedding Invitations by Wiley Valentine
Adrianna Wedding Invitations

minted: How do you pick what gets sold on your site?
WV: We usually design a collection, then Emily and I review it as a whole. We immediately trim it down and finalize what designs are the strongest. Then we show it to our trusty Wiley Valentine staff to get a broader perspective. We often create items that are inspired by some of our most popular designs as well.

I love the WV blog, you both cover so many cool places and sites. How do you find all this great stuff?
WV: A lot of places are just places we have here locally. I love to share these wonderful places with people that may not be in this area. We also have a lot of relationships with wedding coordinators and photographers that are kind enough to share some of their work, which is where the real weddings come from largely. But overall I find myself being inspired constantly and it’s just a way to document that on a daily basis!

Find more of Jonathan on her blog.