Summer Market New & Featured Artisan, West Park Creative, Creates "Sweetly Offensive"
A little belly laugh is all West Park Creative's Bill Bubenik needs to hear to keep him pouring his talent, heart and humor into his letterpress business, creating tongue in-cheek greeting cards and beautiful custom designs for special occasions.
In Bill's words...
My daily mission is to create the best work possible. My favorite part is the joy I give to people. My passion is to create. The truth is that I can’t stop making.
Honestly, I’m not sure that the question of “why I started” is as interesting as “why I kept going.”
Why did I start? I fell in love with letterpress - so cliche, I know. I had no idea what it was and then discovered it in a friend’s college curriculum (I’ve still never taken a class in letterpress!). I tried to convince them that they should let me do their homework. But they wouldn’t let me.
So I turned to finding letterpress in the big, wide world. I started doing work for clients and started making some of my own products. The first product I ever made was a Mother’s Day card, followed shortly by Christmas cards. At this point I had a pretty shoddy line-o-scribe proof press that wasn’t technically made to produce fine art quality work.
Its main purpose was to quickly create sale signs at big box department stores. And here I was using it to create these beautiful Christmas cards. But I didn’t know any better (and I’m not sure it would have stopped me if I had!). Luckily, that was short lived and I bought a Chandler & Price platen press and that’s what I’ve been printing with ever since.
Somewhere along this wild adventure, I discovered that I wasn’t in love with letterpress anymore. Or, probably more accurately said, I was becoming disenchanted with the work I was producing. My own dang fault, I know, I know.
But I decided I wanted to continue. I wanted to be in love again. I took a step back from my work and really tried to understand where I was and where I wanted to go.
I looked at the greeting cards I was creating. I was spending a lot of time creating cute illustrations with multiple colors and tight registration. Now, none of these things are negatives on their own. But here’s what I did next: I looked at my customers. And I discovered that they didn’t know what letterpress was and often, didn’t care. And that was the real kicker: the thing that made all of my efforts feel sort of futile.
FINE. Who needs ‘em?! Well… I do. If I’m gonna make a living selling my crap then I’m gonna need people to buy them. Dang…
Okay, fine. So what if I make things truer to who I am. (I know, I know, I’m full of clichés.)
Then I had this amazing idea. What if I just tried to offend people for a living? My top selling greeting cards at the time were what I have now coined “Sweetly Offensive.” They’re mean… but you kind of like it. (You know you do.)
And hello! Welcome to my present day. Here I am, doing what I love. And, bonus, people love being offended, or probably more accurately, they love thinking about how they can offend the people they give my greeting cards to.
But as silly or cliché as all of that might sound, the best advice I can give to new makers or creatives is this: “Don’t make what you think will sell because it’s trendy. Make what you want to buy.” It will take you further.
Visit and shop with Bill Bubenik of West Park Creative at Firefly Handmade Summer Market, July 15-16, 10am-4pm, Twenty Ninth Street shopping district, 29th Street (between Canyon & Walnut) Boulder, CO!