From the Series
Husband and wife, Ben and Vanessa Grib, are the heart and soul behind Essie Letterpress, based on a farm near Citrusdal in the Western Cape. Vanessa (the "Ess" in "Essie Letterpress") fell in love with the tactile quality and old-world charm of letterpress while attending art school in San Francisco. The pair produce bespoke designs for anything under the sun, from weddings to baby showers, greeting cards to personalised stationery. But they are earning quite a reputation for their sought-after Artist's Almanac, an annual showcase of local graphic designers' work. We chatted to them about their passion project.
Why did Essie Letterpress start doing the almanac?
South Africa has such a vast array of creative talent; we thought it would be a cool idea to do an annual showcase, an artist’s pin-up, of some of the most exciting work. Also it would give us the opportunity to work with some exciting names and studios and to print in diverse styles.
Do people still buy paper almanacs?
I think that the calendar is just an excuse to get some really cool artworks. With phones and tablets, I doubt this will be your primary source to find out what day it is, but we have developed this calendar with a cute little wooden stand, so it can fit on your desk and hopefully brighten up your day. As to whether people buy it, we are normally sold out within a month.
What makes the almanac such a covetable item?
It is unique in the way that is showcases artwork by a very eclectic array of artists through the year. We currently only print 150 of these, partly because it is such a labour-intensive process, but also to make it somewhat exclusive.
How do you select the artists who participate?
Our selection process consists of two frames of mind: Firstly, we like to get hold of the established illustrators that have made a splash in the past year, whether it is through an exhibition or excellent client work or just some exciting personal projects. Secondly, we look at the lesser-known names, the up-and-comers, the young artists with incredible talent who just need some extra exposure. Then we also ask one of the rock-star illustration studios to do our cover.
Who are the 2015 artists?
Mieke van der Merwe, Inus Pretorius, Jaco Haasbroek, Elise Wessels, Ben Johnston, Robyn Mitchell, Dylan Jones, Pearly Yonn, Ian Jepson, Pola Maneli, Isaac Kosmides and the cover is by Radio.
Where can people buy the almanac?
The 2015 Artist's Almanac is sold online for R400.