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Opening Up: Q&A With Indigo Envelope

Estimated Read Time:
4 minutes

The collaborative team at Indigo Envelope have been honored time and again for their award-winning designs by the likes of The Knot, Wedding Wire, Durham Magazine, Bride & Groom and many more.

Posted By Discover Durham Staff on Aug 23, 2018

A Sustain-a-Bull member business with a deep local presence, Indigo Envelope was the perfect selection to serve as our featured artist for the Fall 2018 Seasonal Activity Guide. Their art is spectacular, and so is their story. Dive into Indigo Envelope and enjoy this Q&A with owner and creative director, Christina Headrick.


1. Who, and what, are your influences?

Our team at Indigo Envelope is definitely an eclectic bunch. We adore nostalgic, vibrant old postcards; 500-year-old monogram "cipher" books, and ornate, letterpress, vintage advertisements. We have "rescued" some beautiful, historical images over the years, finding these treasures in local university archives and repurposing them to tell new stories that stretch between the past and the future here in Durham. So many of our invitation customers are looking for a way to celebrate their love of Durham, and we are happy to help them. We have immersed ourselves in the visual history of this town for inspiration.

But we are definitely not stuck in the past. For the most part, all of us also love modern, bold, crisp typography; delicate abstract watercolors; and modern art that challenges us and demands thoughtful consideration. You might find members of our team soaking up whatever is new at the Nasher Museum of Art or the 21c Museum Hotel in Durham on a weekend. Even though we find ourselves grounded by our love of our city's grit, we all like to be surprised by what's new. We enjoy being startled by art. We appreciate creativity that is innovative, playful, or just completely unexpected, and we find a lot to inspire us in local museums, galleries, and maker events.

2. What role do you think art has to play in Durham's development as a city?

The arts make Durham a damn fine place to live. It is clear that they have fueled an enormous economic reinvestment. When we think about all the opportunities here – world class film festival, dance festival, Broadway shows, concerts, museums, galleries, artist live/work spaces, and funky maker culture, we are really proud of how the arts have contributed to a renaissance of the Bull City.

There's also a lot of entrepreneurial economic opportunity to be found at points where the arts and technology intersect, and that spirit of invention and creativity is very positive for the local economy. The creative community in Durham has certainly been a place of opportunity for our small graphic design studio over the past ten years. We love celebrating Durham with "Bull City" themed designs in our ever changing invitation collection. And we also have enjoyed branding new, locally-grown businesses, that become a part of the community.

The concern we have now is how Durham can preserve its artsy coolness, especially as real estate becomes more and more expensive. We are concerned about seeing working artists priced out, and also, seeing new barriers to small businesses being able to start up. We worry if all members of the community are able to take advantage of the new opportunities in the creative economy.

There's a lot of change happening right now, and that's both exciting but also worrisome. I hope that local artists continue to challenge us to stop and think, even as their work is fueling our creative culture.

3. Tell us a bit about the symbolism and thought process behind the objects, location, and figure you drew for our fall seasonal newsletter cover.

Our artwork for fall was created in a series of individual, hand-drawn pencil and pen-and-ink sketches, which three of our team members initially started working on as a little project to create images for new letterpress backgrounds and screenprint designs. We see the Bull City as a vibrant, changing, "work in progress," so we were trying to capture that. We assembled the paper sketches, merged them digitally, painted the image, then did further digital work to complete the piece.

We tried to design our fanciful deconstructed skyline so that before the fold, as you open it, you see more icons of authentic, grounded, "old Durham." Then the idea of the newer, growing, future-forward Durham appears as you unfold it, represented by the new One City Center high-high-high-rise development.

We kept the quadrant with One City Center purposely "unfinished" as we hope the best is yet to come for our beloved Bull City and there is still more left to create. But we hope that whatever else gets added, Durham can retain some of that authentic grit. Our final fanciful cityscape was a total team effort, and we hope it also reflects the vibrant energy we feel here.

4. How does Durham pique your creativity and inspire you as an artist?

Our company was founded with two ideas. First, we wanted to create meaning and tell stories. Second, we wanted to empower creativity in the world, and make life a little more beautiful.

We all connected with Durham because this town has got stories. Durham's got soul because it has had booms and busts, heroes as well as rascals. We are inspired by the history of the city (even the parts that are less savory), and we have been very influenced by vintage typography and historical documents in local archives, as well as by the historic architecture of the town itself.

The other way that Durham inspires us is in providing a big group of creative people who are all together in the same place. That gives us the chance to encounter art and ideas that inspire us – as well as business opportunities – just by virtue of being in the same vicinity. Call it synchronicity.

5. What are your favorite places in Durham, or places you take visitors to?

There are too many to list! We all like to eat and drink our way across the city for sure. Our favorite places are really varied: Mateo Bar de Tapas, Guglhupf Bakery, the Chirba Chirba Dumpling Truck, KoKyu BBQ, Saltbox Seafood Joint, Toast, Pizzeria Toro, Watts Grocery, Motorco (even better if we can catch "The Monti" or a small concert), and Bull City Burger. We like brunch at Rue Cler and donuts are appropriate at any time of day from Monuts.

Many of us like to treat visitors to a stroll through new art at 21c, maybe with an old-fashioned cocktail in hand. Maybe there would be some sampling of beers at Unscripted Hotel's Pour Taproom, Fullsteam Brewery, or Ponysaurus Brewing Company, too.

We also enjoy taking visitors to see friends' art shows and installations or to browse interesting art at Golden Belt or the Durham Arts Council. There's always lots of music, dance, and theater to pick from. For families with kids, favorite places would be to hit the Durham Farmer's Market, play in Central Park, or catch a family day at the Nasher Museum of Art. There are a lot of places just to wander and lots of lovely things to see, especially downtown.


Cover art by
Indigo Envelope

Interview with:
Christina Headrick, owner and creative director, Indigo Envelope

Full credit for the art:
Collaborative artwork by Indigo Envelope team members: Christina Headrick, Luis Benitez, and Whitney Sherman.

Indigo Envelope is... a local graphic design firm that offers bespoke, Durham-inspired, customized invitations, in addition to a full slate of creative services for both social and corporate clients.

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