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Meet Adam Smith of Life Is Funny Press in West Adams

Today we’d like to introduce you to Adam Smith.

Adam, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I moved to Los Angeles (West LA) from a small town in Massachusetts when I was 22, a month before we invaded Iraq in 2003. I spent a lot of my time playing guitar and writing/playing anti-Bush/anti-war songs, and didn’t have too much career direction beyond that. I ended up working for a small commercial printing company in West LA, doing customer service, cutting paper, and other bindery/finishing work. I met two women who were our customers that would sometimes bring in print jobs for me to cut, that had just opened a letterpress stationery store called Sugar Paper. After a couple years of asking them for a job, they hired and trained me to run a letterpress printing press, and I ended up running their pressroom for about 8 years.

In 2009, I started messing around after hours on a friend press in a garage in Venice with my own designs, and in 2011 started reaching out to retailers to sell my letterpress greeting card line wholesale. In 2012, I bought by own press and in 2013 left my job to pursue Life Is Funny Press full-time. After running a small shop out of a studio in Santa Monica, I recently moved the press operation and a small retail shop to a neighborhood of converted shipping containers in the West Adams neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The biggest struggle I think in this particular business, of designing and printing a stationery line while running the company, is saving enough time and energy to concentrate on the necessary marketing it takes actually get the work in front of the retailers.

My wife Andrea and I have a 2-year-old daughter and a 10-month-old son, who have of course been our biggest blessings. Both of our schedules are flexible and one of us is always with the kids, which is great. Being able to make my own schedule as a small business owner was definitely a big factor in deciding to have kids, and while I don’t think ‘struggle’ is a term I would use to describe it, balancing family life and growing a small business can definitely be trying!

Life Is Funny Press – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I like to tell people that both my handwriting and sense of humor peaked in 3rd grade and I’ve been able to turn that into a business. Life Is Funny Press is a letterpress printing company, specializing in creating original greeting card designs that are sold at stores around the country, though we also take on custom projects; business cards, stationery, invitations, announcements, etc.

All of our greeting card designs use my handwriting and sense of humor, and then are made into letterpress plates, and printed by hand on a printing press built in 1953. Letterpress printing uses the relief method, (the pressure of the press closing on each sheet of paper actually pushes the artwork into the paper), leaving an awesome impression you can feel, something that cannot be replicated by modern technology.

I am most proud of my little company every time I see or hear about someone cracking up at one of our cards. In a very serious world, my goal has always simply been to make people laugh, using original ideas and the highest quality materials and printing.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Continuing to create original ideas, make people laugh and feel good is pretty much how I define success. Of course, to be able to do that, certain financial goals have to be met, but I think that if I the creating part of the business is in my heart, everything else will continue to fall into place.

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Image Credit:
Andrea Pasquini
Diana Relth

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