Foreignspell’s handmade cards for Mother’s Day and beyond!
Welcome to Favvve Interviews — a weekly series that features stories from creative friends and professionals about the things they love and how they stay true to their passions.
We are very excited to introduce our first interviewee, Niki Baker! She is a printmaker, music zealot, animal lover, expert whistler and competent juggler. Under the name Foreignspell she makes art, paper goods & textiles for music lovers, foodies & hippie dippies.
1. How did you get started doing what you love?
One of my most prized possessions is the first rubber stamp I ever carved as a junior in high school. It’s of a wide-eyed chameleon & I call him The Flagship. I never thought when I was learning the craft over a decade ago, that it would become the foundation of my art & livelihood.
2. Can you tell us about your creative process?
Usually it starts when I hear a lyric that gets stuck in my head so hard it drives me a little crazy or a song that’s so wonderful it conjures imagery & viscerally stuns me. Either way, the only solution is to put it on paper somehow. Then I hand-press each piece one by one from hand-illustrated, hand-lettered, hand-burnished, hand-carved & hand-inked rubber stamps.
3. What do you enjoy most about your job?
Listening to music is technically research. Because my work is inspired by song lyrics, I’ve always got my ears open for exceptional phrases. I’m also incredibly lucky to work from my apartment & have my cat as my coworker.
4. How did you come up with the name, Foreignspell?
When I was living abroad in France, I noticed that I got musical frisson all the time. It was then that I started exploring putting that awesome auditory & physical experience into a visual one. Not sure why I felt like I had to name the project, but because I was in a foreign land I chose “Foreign” & because I’m obsessed with Harry Potter/magic I chose “spell” and just smashed them together.
5. What kind of work are you most proud of?
I love it when people ask me to design their wedding stationery. To create a truly perfect suite, I get to know the couple & what makes their story special. I try to make sure every single element speaks to them visually & emotionally. For greeting cards specifically, my favorite is when I get specific song requests. Several designs in my deck have been brought to me by friends, family & sometimes strangers at craft/trade shows.
These projects are really rewarding because they have a narrative & significance built in. Plus, I get to see super happy faces when they get the finished product.
6. How do you stay competitive in our digitally demanding world?
Because my handmade method is pretty much the antithesis to the digital world, my work thrives. It speaks to people looking to disconnect & have a tangible means of communication. We’re tactile beings by nature. People will always love snail mail!
7. Tell us about a memorable object or place from your childhood.
Musée Mécanique! They’ve got one of the world’s largest collections of coin-operated mechanical musical instruments & antique arcade machines. It was (and still is!) my happy place. Growing up as an only child predestined me for a love of video games. I’m obsessed with the cacophony, color & aesthetic of retro / old-timey contraptions. Musée Mécanique has it all. My husband even proposed in one of their vintage photo booths!
8. What is the best gift you’ve given or been given?
My husband & I took a month long honeymoon. We drove across the country hitting a bunch of National Parks & cities. Along the way, I collected paper ephemera : tickets, pamphlets, postcards, stickers, etc. For our 1st wedding anniversary, for which you traditionally gift paper, I organized my paper collections by place & made collages for him. He also followed the theme & got me a beautiful handmade paper frame with our wedding photo in it.
9. Is there such thing as good etiquette when it comes to sending a greeting card?
I’m honestly not well-versed in stationery etiquette & don’t think there’s any wrong way to send letters. I feel like we should all write each other as much as possible — no matter how short or inconsequential the message. We need to let the people we love know we’re thinking of them.
10. Can you share with us what is next for Foreignspell?
I hope to have Foreignspell on lots more shelves around the country & world! Each year I do 1 trade show somewhere outside of San Francisco — hoping to hit the London Stationery Show in the near future! I also want to delve further into the fine art world. Given the political climate, I’m working on how to assist the resistance artistically & as a small business. My best friend & I are also developing a candle line that I’m extremely excited about — we’re calling it Lumeows!
Check out Mother’s Day cards and click here for more options.
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