Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Story Behind the Craft: Jessica of Cursive Art

I have a serious weakness for printed matter—cards, prints, postcards, you name it, I love them, especially when they are clearly handmade. I have a few (ahem, three) places in my office where I keep my stash and love nothing more than to go through and see what I have whenever I get the urge to send a piece of real mail. And I've found that buying cards and smaller prints is a most excellent way to acquire affordable art.
So up for today's post is Jessica from Charlotte, North Carolina of Cursive Arts. I adore her style and her use of color and words on her cards and prints—a business that started out as original paintings, but then changed so that she could get more art out into the world. I have my eye on a few things to purchase when I next need to get an Etsy fix. Also, when you get to the part when she talks about losing her job, know that I (who have also lost many a job...that sigh goes to you publishing world) am giving Jessica virtual high fives for pursuing her artistic passion while during her unexpected window of time.


Tell me a little bit about what you make?
I make linocut prints, which is somewhere between stamp-carving and woodblock printing.  I draw a two-tone image, transfer to a piece of linoleum mounted on wood and then carve away the negative space. I then cover the image in thick ink, place my paper on top and then use a tool called a baren to make sure the ink transfers well (this means each of my prints is truly handmade as I don't use a press). I use these prints mostly to make notecards, but I've started branching out to art prints as well.

How did you learn your craft and what do you like about it?  
I am completely self-taught.  I have no idea how I first learned about linocut making, but once I found out about it, I went to the Internet and started teaching myself from there.  Other than the basics, most of it has just been trial and error.  I love the art for a multitude of reasons: for one, it's a real challenge to see if an image is going to come out as well as it did in my head since, when carving an image, it's in reverse. Also, I find the repetitive motions of the printing part of the process to be soothing.  Finally, I love making art that is both affordable and unique.
Is this your full time work?
I lost my job in February, so while I am basically a housewife at the moment, I do spend quite a few hours a days working on my shop.  I only do not consider this full-time because it does not yet pay the bills.  I am actually grateful in a way, for becoming unemployed, because it's given me the chance to pursue art as a potential career.

What are some of your favorite pieces in your shop right now?
My favorite is my Make It print as it reminds me not to be lazy and keep working.  The Sway card has also been a long time favorite because it is most similar to my painting and illustration work.  I also really love the Hullo cards, because of their simplicity.
What do you hope your customers experience when they purchase from you?
I want my customers to feel like they are working with an actual human being, who cares that they're happy and satisfied.  I feel as though you can't even get that face-to-face most places these days, so when someone buys from me, I let them know immediately that I've received their order, and that I'm here if they need anything else.  I also hand write all my thank-you notes, because I so believe in real, personable communication over mass forms like email and text. Don't get me wrong, I love my iPhone, but I love to receive a handwritten letter even more.

If you want to share the story behind the work that you create, email me at thingswemake [at] gmail [dot] com. I love nothing more than to share your story and help us all to find better ways to balance our creative selves with daily life.


  1. I love these - especially the Yay. card, so simple and perfect. Makes me want to start doing this myself, but I REALLY don't have time to take on another crafty learning project!

  2. Love this work! My favorite is the "...no clue" card, the texture along the edges is just glorious!