Mohawk Blog

Cheers to a Happy Holiday

Ariel Smullen

We can’t think of any better way to wrap up another year but to give all of our customers, colleagues and friends a warm, heartfelt holiday greeting. Our 2016 Mohawk holiday card does just that, by celebrating the artful craftsmanship of design, illustration and printing…and of course paper!

This year’s Holiday card was designed by Joya Rose Groves, a lettering artist, illustrator and designer working in Carpinteria, CA. The illustration on the card is a collection of things that symbolize the holiday season; snowflakes, wreaths, Christmas lights, etc. The card was letterpress printed by Thornwillow Press on Strathmore Pure Cotton Letterpress and was paired with and A7 Curious Collection Metallic Gold Leaf envelope.

Joya’s work is natural and “perfectly imperfect”…and we can’t get enough of it. We sat down with Joya to learn more about her work, inspirations and her favorite part about the holidays.


How did you get into lettering and illustration?

I was just starting to study graphic design, thinking that the only practical application of my interest in commercial art & lettering was in computer generated art, when I heard Holly Dickens speak at an AIGA event. She got up on the stage in black & white striped Beetlejuice pants, and introduced herself as a lettering artist. It was the first time I’d heard that job title, and from that moment I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I immediately focused all my studies on scanning & manipulating hand painted work in the Adobe suite.


How would you describe your lettering and illustration style?

My work is line-work rendered in brush & ink, with a whimsical/wonky look. There’s nothing I love more than perfectly imperfect letterforms. I almost exclusively work in india ink or gouache on watercolor paper.

Who do you draw inspiration from?

From so many people! Instagram is one of my favorite ways to be inspired quickly, but I love looking through books as well. My favorite letterers are almost always painters. Maira Kalman is far & away my favorite, for her use of honesty, whimsy, and color. Oliver Jeffers is a favorite letterer of mine, for his ability to bring elegance to letters made with crayons (among many other things).

How do you think paper influences your work? 

I LOVE paper. I think to be an artist who makes anything for print, loving paper is a requirement. Materials make a huge difference for me, as I do everything with brush & paper (rather than on a computer or iPad). Each brush makes a different mark on a different texture of paper, so having the right combination is important. I prefer the thickest, most textured cotton paper I can get my hands on.


 What was your favorite part about creating Mohawk’s holiday card?

Creative freedom! Mohawk approached the whole project with joy, encouraging me to just do what I do.  This is the biggest gift a client can give, and always produces better results than pushing someone else’s creative vision on an artist.

What’s your favorite part about the holidays?

Basically everything on the card (which is why it was so fun). I love the colder weather (as little as I get in Carpinteria!) and the cozy things that come with this season that centers around time with loved ones.