Girl w/ Knife: A Cut Above
Elicia Castaldi's work as Girl w/ Knife is a cut above — think greeting cards with an edge.
Girl w/Knife is the Los Angeles based brainchild of Founder and Creative Director, Elicia Castaldi. Think greeting cards with an edge — and not just the edge of the X-Acto blade Elicia wields with surgical precision to create her work, but also the edge of a black stiletto heel, a perfectly manicured nail, or a witticism that’s somehow simultaneously sharp and loving.
Aided and abetted by her snow white cat Princess Vespa and "Stock Boy" husband David, Elicia’s cards are undeniably feminine, authentic and unapologetic — a natural repository for the sentiments of the inimitable 21st-century woman.
But Elicia is no newcomer to the world of design. After graduating from Rhode Island School of Design, Elicia established herself in New York as a fashion art director and illustrator. She began illustrating children’s books for Penguin Putnam, Simon & Shuster and Random House, and, after making the cross-country trek to LA, she wrote and illustrated Food Parade for Henry Holt & Co.
Apart from her illustrative successes, it’s stationery where Elicia has really hit her artistic stride. I interviewed her to learn more about her inspirations and approach to epistolary, as well as why she chose Mohawk papers as the medium for her greeting cards.
You have enjoyed success in so many design fields, what made you decide to venture into greeting cards and paper goods?
I’ve always been drawn to paper: fashion magazines, children’s books, gift wrap, stickers, you name it. So, it’s been a dream of mine to create my own line of paper products. It’s the perfect vehicle to combine my quirky point of view with the edgy visuals I like to create. Also, I love that I’m in control of every aspect of the process — from concept, to design, to manufacturing, to marketing and beyond. It’s a thousand percent “me.”
What gaps in the greeting card and stationery market do you see yourself filling?
The response I’ve been receiving is that there’s a level of quality and sophistication in my work that you don’t often see with the more irreverent card brands. People seem to appreciate all the subtle details, such as a black manicure, fierce jewelry, stilettos and snakes — it’s girly girl, but unexpectedly edgy and powerful.
How does it feel to be part of such a fierce, predominantly female creative community of makers?
I’m simply blown away. I’m so proud to be part of a community of women who are so brilliantly living their dreams. I exhibited at the National Stationery Show for the first time this year. Let me just say that an astronomical level of female entrepreneurship and creativity rang through the Javits Center. The papersphere (I think I made that word up…) is an exciting place to do business.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
So many things inspire me: my travels, the cities I’ve lived in, fashion, my girl gang, and even the shoes in my closet. All of those elements collide in my designs in a way that seems to work.
I want to learn more about your collages. A lot of collage enthusiasts use scissors — why the X-acto knife?
Not to start a fight with scissor-enthusiasts, but the X-acto blade offers more precision, in my opinion. It’s the stiletto of cutting utensils. My illustration process has evolved over the years. At RISD I painted mostly with designer’s gouache and acrylic paint, adding collage elements either cut or torn from magazines. After moving to New York City, I started working digitally quite a bit, but now my collages are primarily created with elements I’ve painted. I like to experiment, but there’s always a knife involved.
Which Mohawk paper do you use, and what elements made you choose it?
I use Mohawk Superfine Smooth White 120 Cover for my greeting cards. I find it’s the perfect amount of weight, it looks rich, and the smooth surface is fabulous to write on.
Can you give us a sneak peek at anything you are developing?
You can expect some fun, girl-power-infused products for Holiday 2019, including more gift wrap selections. I’ll be launching some designs with foil elements in the coming months because, shiny stuff — self-explanatory.
Follow your new BFF in paper goods @girlwknife