Artisan stamp maker Meagan Lewis, 31, of Brown Pigeon fell in love with relief printing—the art of carving into an object and printing with it—in college. “Nothing else looks like it—it doesn’t look like a painting or a pencil sketch,” explains Lewis, who has a degree in printmaking. That love has translated into a successful business designing and fabricating ready-to-use and custom-made rubber stamps for businesses, weddings, crafters and more. She’s even published a book of darling do-it-yourself stamp projects, “Put Your Stamp on It.”
Hand carving is the “heart and soul” of Brown Pigeon, says Lewis. Working from a sketch or printout, Lewis employs lino cutting tools to carefully whittle designs into carving rubber. “It’s like carving into cold butter.” A complex design with text and swirls can take three hours to complete.
ART WITH UTILITY
The functionality of stamping is a big draw for Lewis. “I knew I didn’t want to be a gallery artist. Instead, I get to create something that somebody else is going to use so that they become the artist. I love that I’m a part of this DIY energy that has become so popular in the last few years.”
“I definitely like a fresh, modern, simple look, but I also derive a lot of inspiration from vintage advertisements,” says Lewis. “I love old letterpress type and typography. I’m interested in playing with different fonts and hand-lettered texts and things like that.”
FINDING HER FOOTING
Lewis, who moved to Sacramento last year and operates out of her home workshop in East Sacramento, has found her place in the city’s creative community. “I came here not really knowing anybody besides my family but quickly started getting plugged in with other makers and small businesses that I’ve collaborated with or done trades with,” she says. “Sacramento has this collaborative vibe going on. I’ve made some really great friends.”
BEHIND THE NAME
Lewis named her business for a lone hazel-hued pigeon amid a flock of gray pigeons that landed outside the window of her former studio in San Francisco’s Mission District. “It just stuck out to me, and it reminded me of what makes art so special: that you’re seeing something unique amid the ordinary.”
Lewis is developing a sister line of hand-stamped onesies for little ones under the Brown Pigeon Baby label. And customers will soon be able to purchase new stamp designs, custom bookplate stamps and stamps that replicate their children’s drawings. She’ll also continue to offer her popular stamp-making and design classes at Delta Workshop.
WHERE TO BUY
Lewis sells her ready-to-use rubber stamps at Delta Workshop and at her Brown Pigeon shop on Etsy.com. Prices start at $7. Customized stamps run $20 to $75 depending on the size and complexity of the design. Lewis’s book of DIY stamp projects, “Put Your Stamp on It,” is sold at University Art and in her Etsy shop.