Happy Feature Friday!
This week we are featuring Ava Puckett of Aviate Press, a shop of handmade greeting cards and other goods! You’ll be able to find a card for your sassy, funny or sentimental friend from Aviate Press’ amazing greeting card line. We love how Ava has developed her business and how open she is to trying new designs and different strategies to take Avaite Press to the next level. She’s always pushing the limits of where she can go and others have recognized this as her work has been featured on sites like Buzzfeed! Read on to learn more about Ava’s story.
: Tell us a little about yourself.
: Well, I am an illustrator, small business owner, full time job haver and dog lover. I’m originally from Oklahoma City, but came to Nashville to pursue music at Belmont University. I fell back in love with art and illustration after I graduated. During the day I work at MerchCave managing day to day operations.
: We absolutely love your designs and the products you create for Aviate Press! How did you come up with the brand’s name and decide to create such awesome greeting cards?
: Thank you! I was originally going to name it after myself because I had already established brand awareness as Ava Marie Doodles via Instagram and a blog I used to have, but then I read something by one of my greeting card idols, Emily McDowell – she talked about how she wouldn’t recommend naming your business after yourself for several reasons. After that, it took a few weeks of brainstorming and figuring out what voice I wanted to have in the greeting card world. I landed on Aviate Press because ‘aviate’ has my name ‘ava’ in it (cool) and because I liked the idea of incorporating paper airplanes into the logo, to go with the fact that it is all handmade. Once I came up with the tag line, I knew it was a winner: ‘handmade goods to lift your spirits.’
: Your cards range from witty and sassy, to cute and meaningful. How do you come up with the sayings and imagery that goes on each card? And what is your favorite saying or design you’ve come up with!?
: When coming up with ideas, I usually decide on an occasion/holiday that I’d like to focus on, then I start writing whatever pops into my head, no matter how weird or lame it sounds at first. After that, I usually show a few friends to see their initial reaction. Most of the time I rely on my sense of humor and whatever pop-culture phrase or made up word is popular at the moment. Sometimes ideas will come out of nowhere, though, and I will have to grab my sketchbook wherever I am. The more meaningful cards are usually a result of an illustration I did just for fun, or someone asking for one specifically. My favorite design? I think the ‘This is your year’ card really resonates with me along with the congRATulations card, since that was the first official Aviate Press card.
: What made you decide to start illustrating and how would you describe your artistic style?
: I have always been an avid doodler and crafter ever since I can remember, but I never thought about pursuing it as a career until after college; up until that point, drawing was only a hobby or a way to avoid boredom in class. : ) My style has changed a lot in the past few years, but I’d say it’s very commercial and playful. I find a lot of influence from Mexican folk art, which is very bright and fun. I’ve learned so so much just by being a part of The Warren, A Make Space in East Nashville. There are some very talented, lovely ladies in the studio who are always inspiring my to make better work and teaching me what they know. I feel like that is where I’ve learned the most about the business of art and my artistic style.
: What do you love about card giving and why do you think people should still send out cards for special occasions?
: It’s such a small act, but it can make a huge impact – especially in today’s mostly virtual world of communication. Checking the mail can be a chore when you know it’s just bills and spam, but when you see a small kraft envelope with your best friend’s handwriting on the front, it immediately makes you feel that person’s presence. You know it’s going to brighten someone’s day and if you buy from a small business like mine, you can also help support the makers movement!
: You’ve also created other products like pennants, totes, calendars, and are now moving into pins! What has it been like to create your designs on these different types of surfaces?
: Every new surface is a challenge, but in a good way! It makes me think outside of the box and be more creative. It’s interesting how much different something can look on my iPad as a sketch before it reaches the final product!
: Your work has been featured on sites such as Bustle, Buzzfeed, and the Huffington Post! How cool is it to see your illustrations picked up by these outlets?
: It is definitely a weird but great feeling! Still hard to believe these outlets like my work enough to post about it. I regularly check where traffic is coming from on my Etsy shop and whenever there is a bump in one of the products, it’s likely due to a feature like one of these. No matter how big or small the feature is, it means I am on the right track and that my sense of humor is in line with someone else’s, which is the greatest feeling ever!
: It is amazing that everything you do is hand done in house. What is the process like for doing all of your products by hand and what made you decide that this was how you wanted to produce your cards?
: When I first started, doing everything by hand in house seemed like the best approach in order to have better control over my overhead and see what cards were going to sell and which ones weren’t. It’s definitely tougher now that orders are more frequent and wholesale opportunities are coming my way (which is amazing!), but I do enjoy knowing that every card or print that goes out is printed, folded, and packaged by yours truly. At some point I will most likely have to outsource some of the printing and production in order to keep up with the business side of things, but want to make sure I am supporting other small, local businesses when going this route.
: What are your future plans and goals for Aviate Press?
: My ultimate goal is to have my side hustle become my full time job. Some other goals leading up to that one are to do more wedding invitations (hit me up if you are interested!), getting more wholesale accounts, and reevaluating my card line based on my best sellers. There is one big goal that is coming to life in just a few days: I’ll be doing a pop up shop in Chicago through the Chicago Design Museum, which I am so excited about! They are helping small brands and businesses test out selling their products in a brick and mortar environment for a limited amount of time with minimized risk. If you’re in the area, come check it out! So many other fantastic makers and an awesome chance to support the makers movement. It’s an unbelievable opportunity. I’ll be writing about my experience while I’m there on my website, so you can keep up with me there if you’re interested!
: Any advice for those looking to pursue their passion for creating art as a career?
: I would say start small and form a habit of working on your art. Pick up a pencil every day and just play. One thing that has also helped me a ton is being around other illustrators or makers who I look up to. Working with or around people you aspire to be like, who may be further along in their art careers, is a great way to jump start yours. It’s also nice to have Pinterest open for inspiration and listen to Podcasts like Adventures in Design or Art for Your Ear.
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