LONG BEACH, CA – Julie Karatzis, owner of Cartoules Press - a letterpress and design studio based in Long Beach, California, specializing in hand-printed event stationery, as well as Greek inspired home goods, stickers, and art prints, spoke with The National Herald about her work and Greek heritage.
She told TNH, “I started Cartoules Press back in 2009 as I struggled to find a stationer who could create unique, handmade, letterpress wedding stationery, in Greek and English, for my fiance and I who were getting married in Saronida, Attiki. Once I designed and printed our own invitations, I started doing this for family and friends, and eventually after a few years grew to doing weddings for brides all over the world! But my original love is with Greek typography, fonts and the Greek language, so I especially love working with Greek and Greek-American brides. I love hearing about my brides’ wedding ideas, and incorporating that into the wedding stationery - the first impression guests receive.
Karatzis continued, “All of my work is printed by hand on a 1926 antique letterpress printing press, and each piece of paper gets a run through the press for each color that is applied, giving it a unique look and feel that guests can keep forever. While most of my custom work includes wedding and event stationery and invitations, I recently added a product line of Greek-inspired home goods (tea towels, mugs, aprons, and art prints) as well as stickers and some apparel, featuring my own original hand-lettering and illustrations.
“All of my designs are meant to evoke an emotional connection to Greece or Greek culture. Whether it’s in a saying or through an illustration. Everything I create is very personal to me and is directly pulled from a personal experience of mine. From the prints I created, I realized that Greek-Americans really wanted unique items to gift their friends and family with Greek words or imagery that brought a piece of Greece to them in their everyday lives. So I look forward to visiting Greece every summer and taking as many photos and notes as I can to bring back with me for inspiration for new products!”
When asked where in Greece the family is from, Karatzis told TNH, “I’m based out of Long Beach, California (Southern California), and live here with my husband and our two young sons. I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area (Northern California) to my father who is from Kefalonia and my Greek-American mother, who has roots in Tripoli and Siderokastro.”
When asked how often she travels to Greece, Karatzis replied, “We go every summer, and in fact we just got back two weeks ago! It’s so important to my husband and I that our children grow up knowing Greece, the language and the culture as if they lived it every day. Growing up I would go to Greece every other summer, and even that was enough exposure for me to make lifelong friends and practice my Greek language skills. I want to instill the same pride in my children, and the only way that really happens I think is by going there and living it. When we go we stay in Kefalonia, where my father is from. Back in 2012, my family got together to build a beautiful home by the beach, so it’s where my parents, my sister, I, and our husbands and kids all come back together to a full house every summer!”
When asked if she was always interested in art and design, Karatzis told TNH, “I’m self-taught in all the things (letterpress, graphic design, illustration), as what I studied has almost nothing with what I’m doing now! I have a BA and Masters in Communications, and worked in Public Relations doing design PR before taking Cartoules Press full time. But as a kid I always loved to draw and make things using my hands. Throughout my childhood and young adulthood, I dabbled in ceramics, embroidery, scrap booking, painting, sewing, knitting – you name it! My love of design and stationery started when I was very young. I would collect it and used it to write to my childhood friend in Kefalonia.”