Blog posts & pages

View all results (0)
Meet the Team: Ally Stack

Ally Stack joined us in September as our new designer. She's in charge of the look and feel of all Smudge Ink products. From letterpress greeting cards to gift wrap and everything in between! We've all been enjoying Ally's company in the studio and every day we're excited to see what she's working on. Here's a look behind-the-scenes at her process (it's sort of amazing!).

Ally Stack(image: Ally)

How did you get started designing?

In school (at Massart in Boston) I studied illustration, but something clicked during my last couple years when I began to combine my illustrations with words. I've always loved things like poster art, graphic novels, and illustrated lettering and at the time I was studying a lot and looking for new ways to express information! Since college I've tried to be open to new mediums, projects, and challenges large and small, and it's been a trial and error process, though there are so many online resources now that have been helpful as I find my way. Every edit or thrown away idea sharpens my skills and makes me a better visual communicator. I think one of my first "freelance" jobs was doing a chalkboard menu for a cafe I worked in, and some of those first, more unusual jobs kept me inspired and informed my other design work later on. I still try to take on art and design projects outside of my typical work when I can!

a 2018 addition to the Smudge Ink line!(image: a 2018 addition to the Smudge Ink line!)

What are your favorite mediums to work in?

I love to experiment with screen printing and intaglio printmaking when I can, but most of the time I'm drawing with pencil or ink (both pen and brush). I often scan these images in and work digitally, whether it's to try composing an image differently or to add color.

What’s your favorite Smudge Ink product/design?

That would have to be the Holy Sheet Cake Birthday Card! I used to work at a shop where we sold Smudge cards and that one always made me giggle.

How many rounds of edits do you go through on a typical design?

In terms of meeting and working from feedback/notes, I think the number could be anywhere between 8 and 12. We also consider a collection or release as a whole, so that might involve making many small changes to make a group of card designs work together better.

Smudge Ink letterpress color palette and in-progress sketches(image: Smudge Ink letterpress color palette and in-progress sketches)

Do you usually start by sketching? Or do you prefer to jump right in on the computer?

I always start by sketching; I can keep up with my thoughts that way and it's most natural when I'm drawing people, animals, or plants. Sketching on the computer can be really helpful when I'm trying to capture a difficult perspective or when I want to sketch in color though!

When I sketch I let many ideas develop at the same time, refining them later. This is also a time for me to collect and organize various doodles and ideas saved for later. I let myself be distracted during this time - some great ideas come from "side notes" and conversations with people around me.

When I land on a concept I like, I often make many small thumbnail sketches to explore different compositions, then choose the strongest one from these. I work in black and white pretty far into the design process, making sure areas of dark and light are balanced and getting the line quality I'd like. April and I meet to decide between color choices, layout, type sizes and styles, and I also look for outside feedback from whoever is around!

text work and holiday sketches(image: text work and holiday sketches)

How do you spark creativity/where are you the most creative?

It's really sporadic for me. Sometimes I have a great card idea when I'm doing something that seems completely unrelated. I try to keep paper and a pencil around! It's difficult to just sit down and be inspired, but if I keep it in the back of my head while I complete other drawings, or just get other work done at Smudge or at home, I'll usually come up with something, and will need that paper!

Being around other people who are active and creative always helps though, whether that's seeing live music, going to a museum, talking with my roommates who cook professionally, or seeing artist friends' work in person or online.

What is your favorite place in Boston?

I'd say it's a tie between Forest Hills Cemetery and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Both can be explored for hours and have a little bit of everything! Wildlife/plants, history, art...and even some mysteries! I tell everyone to go at least once. My favorite thing at the cemetery is the slate gravestones- some date back to the 1700's, but you can still see each chisel mark and even the scoring marks from the carver who made them.

Thanks for answering our questions, Ally! If you want to see more of Ally's work, stay tuned! You'll begin seeing her work in our greeting card line in the spring of 2018. In the meantime, visit her website!