Mohawk Blog

On the Wire: Designer to Watch, Sarah McCoy

Sarah Schwartz

This week, guest blogger, Sarah Schwartz, editor of Stationery Trends and The Paper Chronicles, chats with three of Stationery Trends’ Top Ten 2015 Designers to Watch about their careers, inspiration and thoughts about paper.

Today, Sarah introduces us to Sarah McCoy of The Permanent Collection.

Starting in 2010, in every Winter Issue of Stationery Trends, I have showcased a cavalcade of 10 Designers to Watch. There are no strict criteria to my selection process, rather I just know a perfect fit when I see it — and I sense that each person in every year’s special 10 is on a most interesting and American-made upward trajectory. Today it’s a real treat to share three of their personalities and stories with Felt & Wire readers.

Sarah McCoy is the founder of Des Moines, Iowa’s The Permanent Collection. This full-service design studio prints any custom letterpress piece you can imagine, all encompassing the timeless appeal of the craft while still feeling fresh.

Sarah McCoy in her shop
The Permanent Collection

What is your favorite social media outlet & handle?

Facebook, The Permanent Collection

How did you get into stationery & paper design?

I went to graduate school for my M.F.A. in Graphic Design at The University of Iowa and took an Introduction to Letterpress Printing in the winter of 2002. I mostly loved typography and letterforms so I thought it was a natural class to take…and boy was it!

My first print was handset metal type. My second print was printed using Polymer Plate. I realized I could design elements digitally and get a plate made to print the images. I found I really enjoyed mixing old and new technologies.

Atta Boy Card
The Permanent Collection
Atta Girl Card
The Permanent Collection

What role do you see paper playing in your work?

I really like to explore colored paper and the new color that emerges as you overlap ink and visual elements on paper.

What types of papers are you drawn to most these days & why?

I am drawn to cotton papers, they have a nice feel and allow the letterpress impression to shine on the page. The first paper I ever letterpress printed on was Mohawk Superfine so that is always a good printing paper. But lately I have been purchasing Strathmore Pure Cotton Chino, Smoke Gray and the lovely Strathmore Hemlock.

Which Mohawk paper is your favorite and why?

Strathmore Chino Pure Cotton Letterpress. The color and the texture make for a lovely paper!

Strategic Print
The Permanent Collection
Velo Print
The Permanent Collection

What recent release of yours best represents your personal style?

I find that most clients say I have a “look” that they can immediately tell it is from The Permanent Collection, but I have to say that some days I love to explore just imagery and other days I love to play with type. I don’t have a set style except for the fact that I print on lovely paper and allow the impression to be at the forefront. Recently I worked on a poster for a high-profile event in Des Moines, a two-day music festival called 80/35 and this poster refers back to historical roots of early concert posters.

Farm to Table Print
The Permanent Collection

Can you give us a sneak peek of a project you are developing?

Because of the 80/35 poster I am working on a new series of early Americana posters and clean instrument prints.

Sarah and her family
The Permanent Collection

What are your hobbies outside of work?

Hiking, biking, trying craft beers and just being with my husband and girls.

What blogs/books/publications do you find yourself getting lost in?

When it comes to blogs, I really only follow a few: Felt and Wire, and Cup of Jo — I really like reading the “beauty uniform” and the “motherhood posts.”  Since I work with so much paper and design, I really like to step away from the computer and get inspired by travel, fashion and books.

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