Welcome to the Reich Paper Makers Series where we highlight talented designers, printers, artists, calligraphers, stationers and DIY-ers who love to use our papers for a variety of reasons. All creative, unique and talented in their own ways, we think their stories are fascinating and hope that you do too. This month we interviewed Tristan Sopp of Resident Design in Pittsburgh, PA.
Where do you live and work now, and how does this environment inform your creative process?
I live and work out of my home in Pittsburgh, PA. It’s a fascinating place with lots of interesting people but I think the low cost of living has been the biggest factor in allowing me to do what I currently do.
Can you elaborate on your particular design process? What is your workspace like? What materials do you prefer to work with?
I am constantly working in 3D but moving between the computer and physical sculptures. I really need to do something multiple times so I can touch it, see it from many different angles, and adjust the things I don’t like. I never get anything perfect the first time so my design process is defined by many iterations. My workspace is my home. I have 1 floor entirely dedicated to production and an office space where I have my desktop and inventory shelves. I only work with paper but am interested in doing more mixed media or just different media in the future. Right now I’m trying to further cultivate my skill with paper and expand what it’s capable of doing for me.
How did you get started in the stationery business?
I loved working with tools in a wood and metal shop in college but wasn’t able to bring any of those with me when I moved for a job so I started working with paper because it was easily available, required few tools, and interested me at that moment. It’s slowly expanded so that now I am making crazy things that no one ever thinks are actually paper!
How would you describe the aesthetic of your pieces / body of work?
I like abstraction. I like geometries. Generally I’m trying to pull out specific features and I do that with the design/color. I want people to know what my sculptures are supposed to be but not give too much away. I’m not into photo-realism or even adhering to reality!
Who or what do you draw inspiration from?
I believe inspiration is fleeting and depending on it won’t get me far. I have way more ideas then I’ll ever be able to tackle so instead I subscribe to creating A LOT! I mentioned iterations are how I get things done. I take a shot at a ton of different sculptures, refine them, and ultimately get to a finished product on a small percentage of what I start but I’m never waiting for inspiration to strike.
How do you stay grounded and relaxed? What are your more personal purists and hobbies when given the time.
My favorite current project is brewing Kombucha. I have a big 3 gallon glass container with a spigot on it and I’m currently brewing a Chinese black tea Kombucha. I like making/creating in all ways.
What are some of your struggles/obstacles so far?
I want to build the online side of my business so it’s more in balance with the physical shows I attend. Right now the vast majority of my business comes from craft and art shows. Online takes a lot longer to build up (from my experience) so I’m directing a decent amount of my energy there at the moment.
What does handmade mean to you?
No matter how things are made, tools are getting the work done. I manufacture everything myself in my own home. Is it still handmade if I’m using computer and cutting machines to do that manufacturing for me? I don’t know if handmade is a valuable label anymore. I’m much more interested in purchasing things that are made by the people I’m interacting with. Perhaps “I Made It” is essentially what handmade means these days.
Favorite spot to get inspired?
As I mentioned above, I’m not a big inspiration person. I do keep a small notebook with me at all times and will have many ideas that I like to jot down so I can explore them later. That happens a lot when I’m driving to and from shows.
Be sure to check out Resident Design on the web here and follow on Instagram @residentdesignTags: blue satin, dragon, papercraft, pearl, red satin, resident design, shine, unicorn