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En Famille - A morning with Jesse Levison of Gold Teeth Brooklyn

We were thrilled to collaborate with Jesse on a capsule collection featuring three of her signature fun and vibrant designs.  We visited her home and studio in LA, which is as bright and cheery as her art, to chat about her inspiration, life + business during (and hopefully soon after!) the pandemic and moving from NYC to LA. 

CREATING GOLD TEETH BROOKLYN: 

I went to school for photography but started to get more interested in printmaking while I was there.  I set up a little screen-printing station at my kitchen table when I moved to NY after college, washing screens in the bathtub.  I love that it is such a tactile process, mixing the inks, burning screens, working with cotton papers. I love that prints and cards are an accessible way for people to own art.  After just making art for fun I started the business a few years later in 2010.

THE DESIGN AND PRINTING PROCESS 

My favorite part is the testing process; it’s so exciting to see new designs come to life in color! I'm pretty analog with how I design so the images aren’t in color until the very end.  Sometimes the designs don’t work out and end up looking flat but hopefully most of the time they turn out great and the colors just make them pop off the page!

 DRAWING INSPIRATION

I draw inspiration from daily life and my everyday surroundings mostly. When I lived in Brooklyn I was designing cards inspired by the Northeast, woodsy cards with a lot more blank space around the images.  Now that I live in LA I have been more inspired by the desert and beaches of California.  I’ve been leaning into the saturated colors and groovy vibes I’ve been surrounded by.  I also just love designing anything food related! It’s such relatable imagery, everyone loves food! 

THE PANDEMIC AND ADJUSTING TO THE NEW NORMAL

Our new normal is a constant juggle! Sonny turned one in March when the pandemic hit and she was just about to go into full-time daycare so it’s been a balancing act managing work and making sure she’s getting enough of that toddler energy out while we’re at home.  We feel really lucky that we are in a pod with a family that is creative and adventurous like us.  It’s one family with a kid the same age as Sonny.  It's been really magical seeing them grow up together and learn how to play and communicate.  We all love to go out hiking, letting the kids play in the dirt, pick flowers and roll down hills! Making it work however we can during this strange year.

RUNNING A SMALL BUSINESS DURING A PANDEMIC 

    We’re hanging in there! It was a full stop for a handful of months when the pandemic hit.  Since so much of my business is wholesale, lots of our accounts stopped ordering during the shut down. No one knew what the future of retail was going to be so it was a really scary time professionally, besides of course trying to stay healthy. It's picked up a lot and we’re inching back to our pre-pandemic production, which has been a relief for so many small businesses. It's still tough finding time to get it all done since we have a smaller crew and no full-time childcare but I feel really lucky to have the orders come back.

    I would love to put out some more prints! They've been well received and it’s fun to work in a larger scale than what we’re used to. I love seeing the vibrancy of the colors when everything is blown up. Hoping to release a couple more in the near future, as well as our usual seasonal card and ornament releases throughout the year! It was also so fun to see our work on your comfy clothing, a completely new medium for me, which was a thrill! 

     

    WRITING CHILDREN'S BOOKS

    (check out her new book!) 

    I'm really excited about my new children's book!  The last one I put out was in 2014 so it's great to get to design a new book! My aesthetic is already fairly playful and kitschy so it lends itself well to children's books. It's such a trip seeing my designs in print form, and it’s fun to see kiddos interacting and finding joy in the books, too. I would love to illustrate more books in the future!

     

    SILVER LININGS

    How great my family is.  Not that I didn’t know already but sheesh you really get pushed to your limits during a global pandemic, and I feel incredibly lucky to have our little family to get through it with. We were able to go on long hikes and cook tons of meals together. We've been able to spend so much more time with Sonny than we normally would have. It's been a real silver lining getting to watch her grow up in real time! 

    REUNITING WITH FRIENDS + FAMILY

    I can't wait to travel to see friends and family! So many babies have been born this past year, and I’d really like to meet them and hug their parents! I really miss in-person connections with lots of laughs. Oh and eating in restaurants again!

    MOVING FROM NYC TO LA

    I really miss how walkable NYC is, I used to walk from our apartment to my studio in Greenpoint, and it was great grabbing a coffee with our pup, running into friends along the way, picking up bodega flowers, catching a peek into a cute apt, and walking by interesting shops. Just seeing all the hustle and bustle of the city. It was really energizing. With LA, I love the architecture, there's so much variety and incredible landscaping. When I first moved here I couldn’t get over LA's light, it seemed like the evening light was just better than anywhere else! I also love the proximity to tons of nature, there's so much great outdoorsy stuff to do here. There's also nothing like the diversity of LA neighborhoods, so much culture, community and delicious food!

    THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR INVITING US TO YOUR BEAUTIFUL HOME AND STUDIO, JESSE!   WE WERE SO EXCITED TO COLLABORATE WITH JESSE ON A CASULE COLLECTION. YOU CAN CHECK OUT AND PURCHASE JESSE'S CARDS AND PRINTS AT GOLDTEETHBROOKLYN.COM

     

    Photographed by: Lucia Tran

    En Famille

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