Artists ~ Melysa Bortone ~ Bristol

Artist’s name: Melysa Bortone
Shop name: Ink Meets Paper Design
Instagram: ink meets paper design
Etsy Store:

1. Tell us about your work
I started Ink Meets Paper Design in 2011, after a career change. But I had been planning to start my own paper and design shop for much longer. The original focus of IMPD was on creating custom handmade books. But I quickly realized I wanted to do more. I expanded my offerings to include paper-based jewelry, greeting cards, and other novelties. Eventually, the primary focus became the custom printing and card lines I specialize in today.

At the end of the day, I consider myself a stationer. But more importantly, I also aim to be an artist and creator. I try to use my designs to point out “the little things” that everyone experiences, but which no one seems to discuss. For example, the “Obligatory” line of holiday cards, and the “Laughing Birds” line all seem to evoke the same response from customers – “I thought I was the only one who noticed this!”

2. Is there a story behind the name of your business?
In an era of more and more digital connection, I firmly believe that when ink meets paper, wonderful things can happen. I love the tactile feel of paper. I love the act of sending and receiving cards. I love the personal touch of it all.

Anyone can shoot off an email. It takes effort, caring and devotion to put ink to paper and connect with people on a more personal level. And I hope my customers are using my cards for those very reasons.

3. How did you come to be a professional artist/crafter/designer?
I think it’s always been a part of me. I always enjoyed experimenting with different art disciplines. And when it was time to choose a college, I had no doubt I would go to art school.

When I arrived at Pratt Institute, I immediately knew I belonged. I was surrounded by people that thought like me, and saw the world in similar ways. Even in the late 1990s, the world was all about “e-this” and “I-that.” But at Pratt – surrounded by Brooklyn’s excess of brick and concrete – were people who aimed to find beauty and meaning all around them.

My current love of paper and design comes from one of my first positions after college, when I ran the custom printing department for a paper retailer. It became a passion that has never left me.

4. Where do you draw your inspiration?
I am inspired by so many things. I could spend hours in paper stores, fabric stores, and craft stores just browsing and coming up with things to do. I could also spend hours looking through design and fashion magazines. So much of the stationery world is directly related to the fashion industry. Colors and patterns are so easily shared, it only makes sense that you would find similar looks in both industries.

Most importantly, I love to simply listen to people. Even passive conversations can inspire heartfelt designs.

5. What’s your favorite item to create?
Like so many artists, I hope my work can make people feel something – move them, inspire them, make them laugh or cry. It’s probably what I love the most about what I do.

I don’t think there’s anything more enjoyable in this business than delivering a custom wedding invitation order, and seeing the smiles on the couples’ faces. It is worth every ounce of effort! To many couples, it is the first time the wedding – and the lifetime of love to follow – becomes “real.” I see that as both a huge responsibility and a tremendous honor.

6. What’s your best seller?
My custom work takes up the lion’s share of my time, but in my regular lines, a locally focused line is far and away my best seller. I decided to make themed greeting cards of several, smaller geographic locations, such as Hog Island, Prudence Island and other RI areas. They’re simple designs with little-known facts that only true Rhode Islanders would know.

Some of them required a little research and homework. But most of the ideas came from talking with locals. Since moving here from New York City, one of my favorite things about Rhody is how every town has its own culture … its own story. I feel like these minimalist cards help convey these stories, and remind people of why these places are so special.

7. How long have you been in Rhode Island?
Though I still feel like a newcomer, I have been in Rhode Island since late 2006. First in Providence, and the last nine years in Bristol.

8. What do you {heart} about Rhode Island?
Water. It’s all about the water. I can’t imagine living anywhere else. I love that living in Bristol, I smell the water throughout the day. I especially enjoy walking the little town beaches with my children and collecting sea glass.

9. Favorite place to take out-of-towners?
Even in the smallest state in the union, there are too many places to visit. But I particularly enjoy showing off this side of the bay. From Mount Hope Farm to Tiverton’s Four Corners, and even the East Bay Bike Path. (And we always seem to end up taking people to Sunday breakfast at Cindy’s Country Cafe in Portsmouth.)

10. Any advice for new/wannabe makers?
Find what inspires you, and run with it. If you find something you love to do, find others that have a similar passion, support their businesses, and network among similar makers. And most importantly – listen. Listen to your customers/clients, listen to advice, and listen to your heart.


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