Having her work appear in national magazines like Lucky and Brides as well as countless design blogs hasn't stopped Rachael Hetzel from getting excited about every new opportunity. When her sister spotted her work in a San Francisco shop, Hetzel was thrilled.
The 28-year-old letterpress artist runs Pistachio Press — a stationery and invitation business she started in 2007 — out of her Rochester studio. Along with Etsy (where she's sold more than 1,500 items), her work is available in stores all over the country.
Hetzel's whimsical and simple prints feature her original and collaborative artwork, including cards with sparrows proclaiming "Hello there" and sophisticated damask-inspired wedding invitations. "Her designs and printing are geared towards the bride who understands the elegance of letterpress and the importance of good design," says friend Marni Shindelman.
"Ninety percent of everything I print is my design," she says. "It's part of my push to be more creative and have that outlet that I don't necessarily get when I'm printing, which is more meditative."
Hetzel, who received a master's degree in printmaking from the University at Buffalo, bought her first tabletop letterpress in 2003 and had no idea how to use it. Now she has four letterpress machines (three of which weigh more than 1,000 pounds) and interns to help with her work.
Though slightly more expensive than Hallmark cards (her items range from $3 to $5 and up for a single card or invitation), Hetzel's unique, handmade greetings with raised inked surfaces are like little pieces of artwork.
"There's so much more dimension to letterpress that you don't get with flat digital printing," she says. "I love that texture of seeing things come to life."
Also an adjunct art instructor at the University of Rochester, Hetzel works between 10 and 12 hours a day. But she says she could easily do more. "When I started the press, I worked about 15 hours a day, every day, for a year and a half," she says. "Then I pulled back just because I was afraid I would burn out."
But her passion for printmaking has prevented that. "There are times when I'm printing until two in the morning and nothing's going right, and there are times when everything goes perfect and the prints just look amazing," she says. "Every single time I print something, I'm excited about it."