Next up in our Meet the Maker series presented by American Express, we’re excited to introduce Jonathan Ventura, Scott Jarrell and Kristan Cunningham of Arts District Printing Co. This trio makes beautiful, travel-inspired art in their LA studio. Trust us: These prints will give you a serious case of wanderlust. Case in point: THIS.
First things first, tell us a little bit about yourself.
Arts District Printing Co. is a partnership between Jonathan Ventura’s Anon_Y_Mouse and Hammer And Spear, a design collective founded by interior designers Kristan Cunningham and Scott Jarrell. We’re located in the Arts District, a neighborhood of artists and makers redefining downtown Los Angeles.
Why did you decide to start Arts District Printing Co.?
Kristan and I met Jonathan at a craft fair. His booth was swarmed with people, snatching up his prints and greeting cards (us included). We fell in love with his unique style and invited him to create a Downtown Arts District series for Hammer And Spear. The prints immediately sold out, becoming instantly collectible. We all share a similar philosophy that good design should be available to everyone, so it was an obvious next step to turn our collaboration into a partnership.
In five words or less, tell us why you love to make.
Because we have to.
What does the making process look like for you?
Jonathan spent years traveling the country taking photographs. His style came about as a result of his process. He always dreamed of printing on Nepalese paper, but couldn’t afford it, so he made his own. He couldn’t afford the quantities of ink required, so again, he made his own using fruits and vegetables. This handmade approach created the vintage feel of ADPC. Due to demand, we now import our Nepalese paper from a women’s co-op in Nepal, but we will always continue to make our own proprietary “fruits and veggies” ink.
We LOVE your landscape prints! Where do you get your inspiration?
It all started with a trip to Death Valley. Jonathan fell in love with the soft pastel colors, silence and openness of the desert. An obsession was born.
What’s one piece of advice you’d share with other makers?
Tell a story. People buy from small makers because they want to feel a connection to the product. Tell them how you make it, why you make it, and why they need it.
What other creative hobbies do you have?
For Kristan and I, interior design is a huge creative outlet. We all love music, food and absorbing as much local flavor as we can from our travels. Jonathan is currently threatening to become a ceramicist.
Tell us how technology has changed and supported what you do.
The ability to quickly create an ecommerce site using Shopify was a huge help to our brand. All of the tools needed are built right in and simple to use. It allows us to post hundreds of images that we print to order resulting in no waste with very little overhead. We also test our photography using Instagram. We have the benefit of getting direct feedback in real time. We’ve found that Instagram likes can accurately determine the success of a print.
What’s up next for you?
We are currently working on a line of College Campuses and continue to expand our urban photography. We have partnered with Etsy Wholesale and Nordstrom for a Christmas season pop-up in 51 locations nationwide.
Have you fallen in love with Arts District Printing Co. yet? Then don’t forget that they’ll be joining us at Re:Make on September 13th. Stop by Fort Mason from 11am-6pm to check out their prints!
This series is a collaboration with American Express. Visit the Shop Small® website to learn about how you can take part in Shop Small, a movement to celebrate small business.