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Check Out Sara Hagstrom and Steph Bulante’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sara Hagstrom and Steph Bulante. 

Sara and Steph, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
We started Lucky Pocket Press in January 2019 as a passion project, while we were still in school (where we met)! As illustrators and printmakers ourselves, our goal in mind was to form a press that allowed us to print and distribute our peers’ inspirational sequential work. Risograph printing is a medium which many working artists have no access to, and we really wanted to showcase different voices by utilizing a skill we were both privileged to learn. We then ran a crowdfunding campaign to purchase our own risograph printer and bought our own MZ790 model. Since then, we’ve published several zines and comics, which we print, assemble, and bind in house! We’ve also acquired a studio space for our collective in Hampden; we share it with our amazing studio mates and community of friends. Having a physical space opened up a lot of doors for us–we held our first event in October of this year, Hallowzine, in which we had 35+ zine makers and artists sell their work outdoors! We really love having safe and accessible events; exposing people to risograph has always been our biggest goal, so getting to do that in Baltimore has been a real dream for us. 

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Running our own press and collective has definitely come with its own set of obstacles! During our first year of operation, we worked remotely, with one of us living in the West Coast and one of us with the risograph machine in Baltimore, which then made us realize that there were so many things that could be easier if we lived in the same city. As of right now, we definitely have so many large ideas that are simply not attainable for us at the moment, as we operate with solely two people and the help of our studio mates and friends during our free time. Achieving a balance of devoting enough time to our passion project while also working jobs that pay the bills is definitely its own challenge. We also run into a lot of problems that are solely due to the mechanics of this 2000’s-era machine from Japan. The parts and technicians just aren’t as ample in the US, so we’ve really had to learn the ins and outs of the hardware. We both really love learning and problem solving, so challenges like that are kind of the fun part! 

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
Lucky Pocket Press is an artist collective and risograph press. We publish comics from amazing artists, illustrators, and cartoonists from around the globe! We assemble, print, and bind artbooks, comics, and zines entirely in-house, that we then distribute at small press comic events and on our online platform (we ship nationally and internationally). We also offer risograph printing on-demand for artists and makers. What we try to really do is provide a platform for artists, particularly marginalized artists, to tell their stories- by making the book entirely, we are able to let artists share their work and narratives freely, while we take care of the assembly and printing. Getting to print and construct these finished books feels like a true privilege- our artists are incredibly talented, hardworking, and unique! We are so proud of them- their outstanding books have been nominated and awarded two Ignatz comics awards so far! 

What quality or characteristic do you feel is most important to your success?
Sincerity, care, and intention are extremely important to us. We approach all of our interactions with artists from the perspectives of artists ourselves- we take care in hearing their hopes and goals for their finished books and work hard to make the final product evocative of that. We also try extremely hard to take care in each step of our production- be it a book or an event. We want the readers as well as the artists to feel cared for and considered! Like our namesake, we really just want to make items feel as lucky and special as possible, which is why we hand make them all. 

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