Average Jo


Interview series: Our Crafted Nation, with Jackie from The Fingersmith Letterpress

Last August, I took the plunge and decided to do Average Jo full time. It is a whole scary and uncertain world out there, and at that time, I had no one to speak to about the excitement and self-doubt I might face in this transition. What better people to share with us their knowledge and experience, than craftspeople who've been around for some time, right? So after a few email exchanges and studio visits, here's the Interview Series: Our Crafted Nation. 

In this series, I had conversations with 4 craftspeople who call their amazing community a second home. They have inspired me in ways that I never thought I would be and have humbly shared with me what keeps them going, their difficulties, and my personal favourite part - a quote for keepsake. For the second of this series, I've got Jackie from The Fingersmith Letterpress

Jomaine: This is a one-woman show. What is an everyday routine like in the studio?

Jackie: If I were not printing in the studio, I'd be out teaching children acrylic painting. It's something that I also have a passion for since 7 years ago. These home painting sessions can be as often as 3 times a week. It's really a lot of freestyle expression for the children and they can paint anything they want. My role is to guide them in using specific painting techniques. One of the funniest (and most memorable) painting sessions was that a little girl who painted a picture of her father farting a balloon of green gas! 

Jomaine: I love your studio! How does your amazing design process go in this amazing space? 

Jackie: Thank you. I am really very fortunate and thankful for this space. I draw inspirations from everyday actions and things. I will then sketch them onto my notebook using Adobe Illustrator to have them on the screen to play around with. After I'm satisfied with my work, I make these designs into plates and that's where the printing magic happens.

Jomaine: I understand you did a huge leap - from studying business to the arts. What was that life changing factor that made you take that jump?

Jackie: I already knew at the back of my head that I've always wanted to do art. Being passion driven isn't enough - having the appropriate skills should complement it, and being in school did help me achieve that. I've also always loved working with my hands since I was a child. That table was actually made by myself!

Jomaine: I bet you get this question the most often, but I had to ask - why letterpress?

Jackie: As I’ve mentioned earlier, I love working with my hands, so the hands-on aspect of letterpress printing really appeals to me. Also, I am actually quite old school. I don’t really enjoy using technology so much but I do so just because society in this era seems to only function with the use of it. Letterpress feeds that old soul in me and gives me gratification that I won’t get if I were, say a graphic designer. Actually, the letterpress machine came about by chance. Long story short - a family friend was looking at selling it and I took it up on a good offer!

Jomaine: Share with me one of your biggest lessons learnt?

Jackie: Always wear gloves when cleaning up my letterpress machine! Once when I didn't wear them and tried taking my contact lenses off with kerosene stained hands, my eyes went bloodshot. It was horrible.

Jomaine: One of your creative works was a welcome gift for all participants during a collaborative talk with The Platform Collective. What value do you see in bartering?

Jackie: It's definitely a good concept. It’s also a good way to meet like-minded people (i.e. young entrepreneurs) in this growing community, which can be enriching and inspiring. People barter if they see the exchange as of the same value, and sometimes, in this time and age, that's tough.

Jomaine: Where do you see Fingersmith Letterpress in 3 and 5 years?

Jackie: As a designer and letterpress printer, I'd definitely want to increase Fingersmith Letterpress' product range and international exposure. I recently met up with a potential stockist in Barcelona (so happened we are following each other on Instagram too! - ah, social media). Well, in 5 years? Just continue with the progression in the same route, but on a larger scale and hopefully by then I’ll have more studio elves to help out in the studio. 

Jomaine: Advice to aspiring creatives?

Jackie: Manage your finances well. Only then will you be able to sustain your dreams.

Jomaine: Favourite quote?

Jackie: "When in doubt, do the right thing." - Unknown.

(Fun Fact: We became best friends after. Or at least I'd like to think so.)