Meet Anna Savoie of Passepartout Press Letterpress Studio in The Hague, Netherlands
Anna Savoie, the founder of Passepartout Press, was my roommate in college. Although she now lives much further than down the hall (she and her business are based in The Hague, Netherlands), I have greatly enjoyed watching her build a thriving business from afar. Lucky for me, in addition to being an amazing designer, printer, and teacher, she is a phenomenal hostess—my son and I had the pleasure of staying with Anna at her home in Den Haag for a week this summer. And while we were there, we got a private tour of her intimate studio where she creates, presses, and teaches her craft.
Hi, Anna! Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business:
So I live in the Hague. That is in The Netherlands or Holland as it were. I run a design and printmaking studio called Passepartout Press. We focus on letterpress printing, but we also do silkscreen, digital printing, and whatever the occasion calls for, really. The majority of my work is invitations, birth announcements, and stationery. I also have an online shop where I sell whimsical stationery and greeting cards. Last but certainly not least, I teach letterpress to excited and enthusiastic entrepreneurs, designers, craftspeople, and hobbyists.
What’s your design background? How did it lead you to letterpress?
I’ve been designing and art-ing for as long as I can remember. I enrolled in Parsons School of Design early acceptance because I was so damn sure of what I wanted to do. The education and interactions there were top notch. Loved my teachers and my peers. After Parsons I worked in fashion and beauty luxury markets in NYC for years, but then I moved to The Hague and started looking for work… And couldn’t find anyone to letterpress my business cards! So that got the gears turning. And seven years later, here I am, still at it!
What is letterpress?
Letterpress is in its truest sense, deboss printing or printing that presses into the paper or medium. In the US it has taken on a wider swath and essentially includes foiling, embossing, and a host of other bespoke type of printing processes. “Fancy textural printing” is a good summation.
What inspired you to build your own studio?
Seeing the dearth of letterpress options in the Netherlands compared to the letterpress market in the US being at a saturation point got me thinking. The only way I could see to approach the idea was to do it myself. It took more than a year to amass all the knowhow, vendors, materials, and machines to make it happen. The information here was so limited and shipping everything from the US was not an option, so it took time to build the studio. Once everything was in place though my first thought was, “I need to teach this.” I have a background in teaching from NYU and hosting online tutorials, so that was a natural progression for me.
Where does the name Passepartout Press come from?
Passepartout means “go anywhere.” Also in the Netherlands it’s a commonly used term for a pass or ticket that grants all access. I wanted this idea of the sky is the limit, plus we can work/ship globally regardless of your location or time zone and I wanted that to be in the forefront of people’s minds. Also, it’s French. And I have a fondness for French things!
How is your studio/approach unique in the letterpress world?
My studio is unique because it is a working and a teaching studio—which is not as common as you might think! Also my work and design aesthetic runs to the quirky, sassy, wink-wink end of the spectrum which is a bit of a fresh approach. A lot of letterpress tends towards uber-classic, restrained design or super-feminine floral and wedding-y. We like to inject humor and not take ourselves too seriously over here.
What should someone look for when hiring a letterpress studio?
First and foremost, customer service. How are they treating you? If they treat you like your time and inquiries are important to them, then that is a very good start. You don’t want to just be a number. Letterpress is a delicate, fussy, precious process and it’s okay as a client to also be a bit delicate and fussy about what you want. Your printer should understand and respect that. Secondly, quality of work. Don’t be shy to ask for samples or even a studio tour. A studio that has great customer service will undoubtedly produce great work as well and vice versa.
What kind of projects are you looking to work on these days?
I love custom invitations, particularly a suite; coordinating paper goods gets my blood pumping! I would keel over with excitement at the chance to do the identity and print work for a restaurant. Food is a passion of mine and designing the menus, business cards, and promotional pieces for an eatery would be a joy untold.
If anyone is planning a trip to the Hague or Amsterdam and is interested in learning the art of letterpress, they can also contact me to take a full-day intensive.
How can someone work with you? How should they get in touch with you? What information do you need from them?
Email me at email@example.com. I love working with someone from scratch, but if you already have your own design or designer, I also love a good collaboration. Information I generally need is occasion, quantity, and budget and we can get started from there! And if you’re interested in a workshop, let me know your ideal dates.
Waylon enjoying the view from Anna’s Passepartout Press Letterpress Studio