Sustainable Letterpress Design by Pepper Press

Brooklyn Map Print by Pepper Press

Is this Brooklyn? It is… or it was, in the 17th century. Pepper Press created this amazing map of Brooklyn (available as a large print, set of folded cards or postcards) based on a vintage map from the time when Brooklyn was actually five independent towns. Designer Ursula Jaroszewicz has a passion for old maps, and used to spend hours at the New York Public Library just looking through old treasures.

Maps are just one of the many sources of inspiration for Pepper Press. Typography, nature and our environment play an important role in their designs. Oh, and whiskey.

Celebrate Card by Pepper Press

Ursula began working with letterpress in 2010, and printed her designs at a local studio. After a few months she was totally hooked, and Pepper Press was officially launched on Valentine’s Day 2011. Ursula began the daunting search for her own press. Good working presses are scarce, and hers was waiting a good trek upstate, stored in a (wait for it) school bus. “It was like an episode of hoarders”. The press was pretty beat-up but Ursula was able to restore it, and now her C&P Pilot press works non-stop along with a vintage Vanderhook, producing amazing cards like this one:

Birthday Tree Rings by Pepper Press

Sustainability is a central part of her business. Pepper Press uses recycled and eco-friendly materials as much as possible, such as cellophane packaging for single cards (instead of plastic) or post-consumer recycled envelopes.

“I strive to have as little environmental impact with my work as possible, because I don’t want to contribute to depleting the natural resources nor add to the load of trash. I feel that the planet is a living, breathing thing, and already has to deal with so much harmful stuff – landfills filled with toxic materials, spills and trash in our waterways, air pollution, pesticides – I could go on (I watch waay too many environmental type movies, etc), but you get the point. When I’m out in nature, it feels immediately restorative to the psyche. I work with an outdoor adventure company, Brooklyn Outfitters, where we take people out of the city into nature, and it’s so gratifying to see people’s moods alter, from busy city types to calm and serene, all in a matter of hours. Who wouldn’t want that? And who wouldn’t want that to be there for the next generations to enjoy? It can’t be all about “all about me and all about right now” but should be more of “for everyone and sustainably – nurtured, preserved and able to self maintain).

I’ve always felt connected to the earth and have a deep appreciation of how great the natural world is. Until I was about 11, I grew up in Poland, in a world where people were much more conscious of nature, it was a big part of people’s lives, people knew that it was necessary to have these undisturbed natural environments (or at least the way I saw it, and the way I reflect on it now), and it certainly rubbed off on me. There was no special ‘organic’ food sections, for example, because everything was organic by default (no one even used that word – it just was natural and really good). That was greatly highlighted and apparent, because when I moved here with my family, we moved to New York (City), where the contrast to my previous setting was so opposite.”

Brooklyn Brownstone Note Card by Pepper Press

Ursula lives in Clinton Hill and keeps her studio in Prospect Heights, two adjoining neighborhoods that she loves. She makes a little neighborhood guide for us:

Urban Vintage Cafe (Clinton Hill), a superbly curated half cafe, half vintage furniture, knick-knacks and design ephemera, artfully mixed into what some call Clinton Hill’s “living room”.

Fulton Grand (Clinton Hill), my neighborhood bar with chilled out, cozy atmosphere and friendly bartenders, and great outdoor seating in the warm weather, perfect spot to watch the sunset straight down Fulton Street.

Brooklyn Flea, the outdoor weekend market in Clinton Hill / Fort Greene border is a constant source of great finds and inspiration, as well as awesome people watching. The food vendors are the icing on the cake!

BAM doesn’t cease to surprise, entertain and educate. My favorite movie theater in the city – plays the finely curated ‘nationwide’ films, as well as priceless retrospectives, shorts, revivals series, talks with directors, etc. I like going to their live performances in the cafe sometimes, as well as concerts and their theater on Fulton St makes it very accessible to go to plays more often.

Gen Sushi (Prospect Heights), creative and fresh sushi made by a Japanese Rastafarian chef. It’s soo good.

Brooklyn Botanical Garden (Prospect Heights). It’s kind of hard to believe that this massive garden space is there, and not a bunch of luxury condos! Seriously, what’s not to love about an ode to nature, gardening and botany (not to mention their dedication to educating the masses on sustainability!). Best place to relax is while sitting on the viewing platform overlooking the Japanese Pond – and watching the huge koi fish swim by (and the turtles vegetating on the rocks under the sun). Also, don’t miss the Cherry Blossom Festival in April, the Bonsai trees collection (year round) and the ‘climate’ pavilions – my favorite is the ‘tropical’ pavilion – I love heat and humidity, and the variety of lush plant life that thrives in it.

Pepper Press cards and prints are available on our Brooklyn Makers Shop.