Designer Q&A: Fugu Fugu Press

I love it when I receive a letter and it tells me something about that person I didn’t know about.

We sat down with Shino of Fugu Fugu Press and asked her a few questions about how she got started and where she sees the future of letter-writing heading. Be sure to check out the rest of our Designer Q&As after this. 

Write_On: Tell us about yourself!  What’s your background and what drew you to design cards and stationery?

Shino: I was an illustration major at a college, then a freelance illustrator for a number of years when I started working for my friends who owned a letterpress greeting cards company.

Write_On:  How would you describe your design aesthetic?

Shino: I love Scandinavian designs, vintage children’s book and advertising illustrations, and Japanese character designs.  My Japanese upbringing definitely shows through when I design our cards. I try to design cards that communicate immediately, and evokes some sort of emotion.  They tend to be more of ‘illustrations’ than ‘designs’.

Write_On: How do you use your designs to inspire people to connect in writing?

Shino: My hope is that people see our cards and somehow make them think of specific people in their lives, and inspire people to send the cards.  When I design, I usually have specific person in my mind for that particular design.

Write_On: What does your process look like for creating a new card or stationery design?

Shino: I have so many papers and half-filled sketch books lying around everywhere - printshop, computer desk, dining table, on a night stand… I brain storm constantly. Once I have a rough idea, I sketch it out, and sometimes do a finished drawing to scan it into Photoshop, or I re-create the image in Illustrator, depending on what feels right.  

Write_On:  How have hand-written letters shaped your life and relationships?

I used to write long letters all the time to my friends when I was a kid.  My family and I moved around within Japan and then from Japan to Texas when I was 13, and there was no Skype or email then, so I wrote.  I’d check the mailbox everyday to see if my friends wrote back.  Then when I started college in California, the rest of my family moved back to Japan, so again, I wrote to them.  My mom would send care packages, I still have many of the letters my mom sent to me from those days.  After college, some of my friends and I sent little comics to each other about what’s going on in our lives.  I still have those as well, and they crack me up.  We were pretty silly.  I also made zines for a short while, and it was exciting for me to receive letters from total strangers requesting to purchase them.  I think I sold them for something like $3 each.

Write_On:  What do you find most difficult about writing a letter?  

Shino: It’s really weird, because I used to LOVE writing letters, and now I don’t know what to write about!!  

Write_On: What does your letter-writing practice look like?

Shino: I still write to my friend from college (she is an avid letter-writer and a mix CD sender), but other than that, they’re pretty limited to writing notes to our customers and also birthday and Christmas cards to friends and family.

Write_On: Modern times have made digital correspondence increasingly available and convenient. Why is it important for people to send handwritten cards and letters?

Shino: Both personally and professionally, a hand-written note or memo immediately makes whatever that’s written so much more personal.  When I receive a hand written note, I can imagine the person behind the writing.  Not as much with emails or texts.

Write_On:  What’s the best advice you’ve ever received about letter-writing?

Shino: I don’t remember if I ever received any advice about writing letters.. but I love it when I receive a letter and it tells me something about that person I didn’t know about. So I try to do the same when I write to other people.

Write_On: What’s the next letter you’re planning to write?

Shino: To that college friend/pen pal. I owe her a response.