Makers Series Gilah Press and Design

Welcome to the Reich Paper Makers Series where we highlight talented designers, printers, artists, calligraphers, stationers and DIY-ers who love to use a variety of Reich Papers for a variety of reasons.  All creative, unique and talented in their own ways, we think their stories are fascinating and we think you will too.

This week we are thrilled to introduce Kat Feuerstein, Owner and self proclaimed “mean boss” at Gilah Press + Design located in Baltimore, MD.

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We met Gilah many years ago and were impressed with their design style and quality of craftsmanship. Gilah is a multi-disciplinary studio with a focus on branding, packaging and making design tactile through letterpress printing. For over ten years, they’ve been dedicated to solving design challenges, and to helping designers bring their own work to life.  Gilah’s award winning design and print work has been featured in Print Magazine, HOW, Food & Wine, FPO, Design*Sponge and Oh So Beautiful Paper, among others.

Where do you live and work now, and how does this environment inform your creative process?

I live in the same Baltimore neighborhood that our studio is located in, Hampden. It’s a small neighborhood packed with artist studios, shops, restaurants, and it’s surrounded by three large parks. Being in a creative and entrepreneurial community nurtures a great collaboration in our design and print work. So many of our clients are also our friends and neighbors, and that is something that makes what we do most enjoyable.
Foil die from Gilah
Foil die from Gilah

Can you elaborate on your particular design process?

Our design process always begins with an in-depth conversation to gain a clear understanding of what our client’s goals are, what their business is about and what image they want to portray. From there, we typically work in a few distinct directions and allow the conversation to flow from that point. Some clients have a very clear idea of what they are looking for going into the process, while others rely more heavily on our expertise to guide them.

Mixing ink at Gilah
Mixing ink at Gilah

What is your workspace like?

We have a 3,000 sq ft studio in a warehouse building. The studio houses our seven letterpresses, a large paper cutter, a plate maker, along with other various finishing equipment. Our design studio is an open space where we all work in one room, with a quiet little conference room off to the side. Our basement is where we keep samples of past projects, along with some inventory of our own product line. The kitchen includes a bar, where we gather on Friday afternoons for happy hour to close the week out.
Gilah pressroom
Gilah pressroom

How did you get started in the the business?

My first “real” graphic design job out of school was at a small Baltimore-based design firm. One of my co-workers at the time, Bill Krowinski, is the husband of Lisa Krowinski of Sapling Press fame. While Bill and I were working together, Lisa was getting her first press up and running. I spent a lot of time in her studio, and became quickly obsessed with letterpress printing. I always knew I would have my own business, but until then, I did not know it would include letterpress printing. Eventually, I purchased my first press and rented a small studio for it. I worked full time for a couple more years, while I learned the ins and out of letterpress printing on weekends and evenings. At the time, I was taking a continuing studies course at MICA, and one of my professors, Margit Weisgal, gave me the kick I needed to ultimately break out on my own and give it a go. I’ve never looked back, and still get together with Margit for the occasional meal to thank her and keep her posted on how the business continues to shape.
The Windmill letterpress at Gilah
The Windmill letterpress at Gilah
How would you describe the aesthetic of your pieces / body of work?
I would describe our design aesthetic as “clean”, overall. Our client work is typically bold and vivid, while our own line of cards and products tends towards more soft and illustrative. Our product line is born through a more collaborative process, where everyone in the studio has opportunities to design in their own style, while our design clients typically come to us seeking the clean/bold style we’re known for in our branding and package design.
Gilah's work is classic
Gilah’s work is classic and clean
Where did you first learn of Reich Paper? What do you like about working with us?
I believe we met Duke at the National Stationery Show in about 2010 or thereabout. Once we discovered Savoy, and how well it printed for letterpress, we were hooked. It takes heavy ink coverage beautifully, and scores/folds without cracking, which is a huge plus for us. What I like most about working with Reich Paper is that we are supporting not only a family owned business, but one of the kindest, most down-to-earth families around. To us, being a micro business, that holds a lot of weight. Everyone we interact with at Reich has always treated us like part of the family.
Label paper from Reich Paper. Designed and printed by Gilah.
Label paper from Reich Paper. Designed and printed by Gilah.
What are your favorite Reich Papers and why?
Savoy would have to be the top pick, we print on it daily. However, I’m also in love with the Shine and Aveo. Shine, for a metallic stock, takes letterpress printing extremely well. We’ve opted to print several self-promo items on it throughout the years. Aveo is just beautiful and unique, being the only paper on the market that I know of that is made from sugarcane.
100% cotton SAVOY paper petterpress printed by Gilah
100% cotton SAVOY paper petterpress printed by Gilah
How does choice of paper affect your work?
Paper is typically one of the first things we will discuss with a client since it helps to give a sense of their overall aesthetic. Do they like a smooth stock, something toothier, bright white, natural, kraft, and so on. It is a great way to engage clients, as well, since they tend to get excited at something they can touch and feel early on in the process.
union_coaster
Coasters letterpressed on SAVOY 100% cotton paper
How do you stay grounded and relaxed? What are your more personal purists and hobbies when given the time?
I enjoy getting together with friends over wine or a meal, having a quite night to myself, traveling, reading, and practicing guitar, which I started learning about 6 months ago.
What are some of your struggles/obstacles so far?
 I think learning the ebb and flow of the incoming work presents an ongoing challenge. While there are patterns to it, it’s always a struggle to not get a bit anxious during the more quiet times. We tend to take advantage of the quieter times by getting caught up on printing our own work, getting the studio re-organized from the busier times of the year, and staying focused on our upcoming goals and self-promotion.
Gilah gift tags printed on SAVOY tree free paper
Gilah gift tags printed on SAVOY tree free paper

Thanks Kat and all the amazing staff at Gilah, we love working with you too and look forward to joining you guys for one of your Friday afternoon happy hours!  Keep those samples coming, we enjoy seeing all of your work.

Would you like to be considered for a future edition of our Reich Paper Makers Series?  Please email us and we will contact you directly.  Thanks.

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