On the next leg of our letterpress city tour series, Jamie and Allison Nadeau of Ink Meets Paper gives us a relaxing tour of their beloved Charleston, South Carolina community. From the colorful Rainbow Row Georgian houses to the great treats & eats, the historic city is a mecca for printers and artists alike. Jamie and Allison share with us their must-sees, gallery gems, and beyond.
ATLANTIC COAST COMFORT We moved to Charleston, South Carolina in 2006 after Jamie graduated from SCAD for a job opportunity (unrelated to letterpress). We fell in love with the low-country and southeastern coast during our time in Savannah that we couldn’t resist an opportunity to put down deeper roots in Charleston. We love it here.
(photography credit: amarisphoto.com)
FRESH AIR + INK Our studio is located in the Park Circle neighborhood of North Charleston, and we live less than two miles away. We’re lucky to be able to commute by bike and enjoy the fresh air and charm of our neighborhood during the ride in.
During a typical week, we’ll grab an iced latte and pastry at Orange Spot Coffeehouse in the morning (or when those afternoon blahs creep in).
We’re all pretty heads down and focused during the day, so it’s always a treat to meet friends for happy hour at our neighborhood fave: Stems & Skins.
Lately, they’ve been hosting a burger pop-up with Pub Fare food truck on Mondays, so happy hour usually turns into dinner with friends. On Thursdays, we stop by the neighborhood farmer’s market for veggies and produce (and most recently duck eggs!). We’ve also really gotten into cycling, so we usually work in a longer ride on the weekends— we especially love heading out to Sullivan’s Island and Isle of Palms.
VIBRANT NEIGHBORHOOD Park Circle (and, really, the Charleston community as a whole) is especially wonderful about supporting local businesses, and we love sharing the letterpress process with them.
When we decided to move our letterpress studio out of our house in 2015, we knew we wanted to stay in Park Circle. We love the charm and quirk of the neighborhood— it’s not filled with big-box stores, and it’s community minded.
The studio is located off the main retail and dining area of Park Circle on a busier street that was pretty much surrounded by empty buildings (including a dilapidated auto repair shop that was later demolished). We were one of the first businesses along our stretch of the street, and we like to think it encouraged other vibrant and creative businesses to this area.
Our studio itself was a former convenience store and has big front windows for lots of natural light. The press room is behind a wall of windows, so customers are able to see the presses in action when they pop in for a greeting card. I think there’s really something wonderful about knowing the people and process behind the product (and people are naturally curious about these big old machines).
LOCAL PRINTING EVENTS We hosted Chris Fritton of the Itinerant Printer this past spring during his book tour. He filled our studio with prints from the road, and it was a blast to hear his stories. We also held a “For the Love of Print” event where we invited the public into the studio to learn more about letterpress printing (and to pull their own print, a “Greetings from Park Circle” postcard).
LETTERPRESS COMMUNITY ACTION Last fall, we designed and printed two limited-edition greeting cards to support the Women’s and Gender Studies program at the College of Charleston. Their “Yes! I’m a Feminist” party is a fundraiser for the WGS program and supports student/faculty activism and research, allowing them to work on issues like mothers of the Flint water crisis, women in politics, campus sexual assault, and municipal responses to the United Nations’ Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women.
ONLY IN CHARLESTON Our “Greetings from Charleston” postcard is definitely a celebration of our city, and highlights perhaps one of the most iconic (and photographed) areas of Charleston: Rainbow Row. A series of thirteen Georgian row houses along East Bay Street, Rainbow Row gets its name from the houses’ bright and cheerful colors. We used the split fountain technique to create our Rainbow Row postcard version.
LOCAL SUPPORT Since our primary focus is wholesale, we’re so thankful for the local shops in Charleston who stock our cards . It’s such a treat to connect with them in person and to see and support their shops as well.
ENJOYING THE NEIGHBORHOOD Of course, we’re partial to Park Circle because we live and work here; however, we love heading into downtown Charleston to meander through the cobblestone streets of the historic neighborhoods like South of Broad and the French Quarter.
Downtown can feel overwhelmingly touristy at times; however, there are plenty of streets to meander where you’re not always surrounded by so many people (and then you’ll just see the occasional local who’s out for a walk or enjoying tea on their porch). It’s in these quiet streets that Charleston really charms.
EATS + TREATS Charleston is known for its culinary scene, so it’s really hard to pick just one favorite restaurant. In Park Circle, we’re partial to EVO Pizza’s wood-fired pizzas and enormous salads, all featuring produce and meats from local farms.
(photography credit: evopizza.com)
As we mentioned previously, Stems & Skins is our go-to for happy hour. They have an incredible wine list and cocktail menu and also offer a selection of tinned seafood and other bites.
Brunch is a Charleston way of life, and our faves include High Thyme (Sullivan’s Island), Millers All Day (downtown Charleston; Jamie’s in the photo enjoying one of their amazing bloody marys), and Daps Breakfast and Imbibe (upper Charleston peninsula).
And, of course, part of the draw to living on the coast is the fresh seafood! Bowens Island has fresh off-the-dock seafood with some of the best marsh views in Charleston (and you’re definitely in luck if it’s oyster season!).
We also love The Darling Oyster Bar in downtown Charleston.
SHOP TILL YOU DROP When we moved to Park Circle in 2007, there were so many empty storefronts and buildings along the main business district; however, years later the neighborhood has really expanded in terms of independent retail shops, and we couldn’t be happier to have more local businesses to support.
Itinerant Literate is another women-owned independent business. It’s a bookstore that got its start by doing pop-up shops around town in an Airstream-like trailer. We’re friends with the owners, and their trailer used to have a regular spot in the INK MEETS PAPER parking lot before they opened their brick-and-mortar location.
Another good friend opened Iola Modern, a modern home goods and furniture store.
Just down the street from our studio is The Station, which features over 30 vendors and local artists. It’s a great shopping destination with everything from mid-century modern furniture and handmade candles to plants and original artwork, so it’s a great place to find a gift for someone (or yourself )
FESTIVAL FUN Each year in May, the City of North Charleston puts on its annual Arts Festival with exhibitions, workshops, and art installations all throughout the city (and they really work to make art accessible to everyone). I love seeing the large-scale outdoor sculptures that are installed throughout the neighborhood (one year, an artist did an installation in a neighborhood park of giant gummy bears— definitely fun and memorable). We also always head to the block party, where the city closes cars off the main street in Park Circle and fills it with vendors and performers. It’s a fun celebration of art.
(photo credit: North Charleston Arts Festival )
St. Patrick’s Day is another huge neighborhood celebration. The city closes down the streets for a parade and all sorts of merrymaking in the streets (and lots of Guinness drinking!).
(photo credit: North Charleston FB )
A GROWING CITY Charleston and its surrounding communities have seen lots of growth over the years (it’s hard to believe we’ve been here for 13 years now!). Since Charleston is a peninsula, it can only expand so much. We’ve seen big changes to the skyline. In addition, the ever-increasing commercial rental prices have pushed a lot of independent shops out of downtown. King Street used to be filled with independent shops and boutiques, and now national retailers are pretty much the only ones who can afford the rent. Service workers also feel the pain from this growth, as it’s expensive to work downtown (those parking meters and garages add up quickly). More people also mean more cars on the road, and, as a historic city, Charleston roadways aren’t necessarily made for all of the big modern cars (cobblestone was for horse and buggies!), and it can be dangerous to bike around the city as well.
In terms of the growth our neighborhood (Park Circle) has seen, I think it’s been primarily positive. The neighborhood is a bit of a “hidden gem,” and there aren’t a lot of big streets and thoroughfares to bring extra traffic. If anything, it’s been really wonderful to see so many independent businesses open up in the neighborhood. There’s also a recent movement called Park Circle Unchained, and their mission is to prevent chain retailers from taking over the character of the neighborhood.
NOT TO BE MISSED Cypress Gardens – Swamp boat rides, walking trails, native plants— Cypress Gardens is worth the drive to experience the beauty of the lowcountry (and you might recognize the scenery from movies like The Notebook and The Patriot).
Casual Crabbing with Tia – Experience the beauty of the lowcountry with Charleston native Tia Clark, whose family has been crabbing and casting for fun and food for generations.
(photo credit The Casual Crabber)
REDUX Studios – Contemporary art gallery and studio space on upper King Street.
Robert Lange Gallery – One of our favorite art galleries in Charleston. Lots of amazing local artists, and the entire gallery space is really inspiring and engaging.
Gibbes Museum of Art – Beautiful and well curated art gallery on Meeting Street with an emphasis on American art that incorporates the story of Charleston.
Candlefish – Located on King Street, this charming candle shop is filled with all sorts of beautifully fragranced candles (and their exclusive candle library guarantees you’ll find the perfect scent). Not to mention, they also host candle making classes.
J. Stark – High-quality bags, backpacks, and totes crafted by hand right in their Coming Street shop. (We carry one of their backpacks every day!)
Abide A While Garden Center – Our favorite destination for all things plants! This family-owned shop is truly a botanical experience, and their knowledgeable employees can help you pick the perfect plant.
Magnolia Plantation – It’s a little drive away from downtown, but they have amazing gardens and grounds (filled with all sorts of SC native plants). The train tour is a nice way to see everything.
Middleton Place Plantation – Along the same road as Magnolia Plantation, Middleton Place has an entirely different feel— their gardens are much more planned/structured.
Sullivan’s Island – Our favorite pick for a beach because it’s usually pretty chill (and there’s a lighthouse!). There are great food options out here as well if you decide to make a day of it (Poe’s Tavern, High Thyme, The Obstinate Daughter)
Meandering anywhere south of Broad Street will be lovely. There are all sorts of beautiful houses, and eventually you’ll get to the Battery at the tip of the peninsula surrounded by water.
Cooper River Bridge and Mount Pleasant Waterfront Park – The suspension bridge that connects Mount Pleasant to downtown Charleston is an awesome way to get a bit of exercise (walk/bike) along with an amazing view of the harbor and city.
LAST THOUGHTS Southern Charm (the reality tv show) is not us. lol. We are a ‘unique’ southern city that is culturally aware of its past, and actively working to build a better future.
We hope you enjoyed our featured installment of the letterpress city series guide! Interested in shining a spotlight on your hometown? Contact us today!