Interview of the Week- Zida Borcich

7 years ago

To me there is nothing quite so memorable as a unique and beautiful business card. My interview today is someone who has a huge passion for all things letterpress and beautiful. From gorgeous foiling to edge painting Zida’s work is truly one of a kind and beautiful. Zida Borcich of Studio Z Mendocino based out of the gorgeous state of California.  I am so excited for her to be my interview today. We’ve had the pleasure of working together and I reccomend her to anyone I meet. I’ve received so many compliments on the cards she made me.  She is so authentic and honest, and it shows in her work. One of the nicest people to talk to on the phone. Take a look below to read a little more about Zida and what she does. I know I learned some things about letterpress I never knew about!

CC- How did you start your business?

ZB- I started it after my mentor and employer, Al Moise, died suddenly after my having apprenticed with him for ten years. I rented a little six-hundred square foot shop and bought some very old, beat up equipment. As soon as I put my toe in the unknown waters of entrepreneurship, you would not believe the amount of support and encouragement that came my way. But, let me tell you, it was so scary…I was hallucinating and lost fifteen pounds thinking about, “what if I throw this party and nobody comes.” But twenty-six years later, somehow, they are still coming.

CC- Tell us a little bit about what letterpress is?

ZB-It’s basically the same kind of printing with movable type that Gutenberg invented in the 1450s, updated with slightly more automated machinery and now polymer plates, but it still uses an inked, raised surface that presses the images into soft, thick paper, leaving an exquisite impression around each letter or line drawing. The shadow cast by the impression gives it richness and that hand-of-the-artist look we have all come to love and crave. In the eighties, when all the type foundries were closed or closing down, it became imperative to find a different way to do this business besides hand setting lead type. The type would degrade over the thousands of impressions, or a number would get smashed or something, and then you could not replace the individual letters because the foundry had folded years before and you would not be able to set a whole phone number anymore. It became frustrating and impossible. Luckily, somebody discovered polymer plate makers and now we can design everything on computers — which is far less limiting, of course, than cases and cases of lead type and incredibly labor intensive – that can be made into these raised plates that print really beautifully. I love the modern world.

CC- Tell us a little bit about Studio Z?

ZB- Studio Z Mendocino officially went into business on November 1, 1984. I had been printing for ten or eleven years by then, but had never run my own business. We moved to my present shop four or five years later. Then this darling eleven hundred square foot building became too small for what was going on then (my card line had really taken off), and rather than move out, we lifted the building up and added a floor underneath, thereby doubling its size. We are what’s called a “job shop,” which means we do jobs, not art printing or book printing: business cards, invitations, stationery, envelopes, wine labels and other packaging, lots of design work too. We do a lot of rack cards and ads for the hospitality industry around here. And we do collateral for non-profits like the Mendocino Music Festival, which is a fabulous local event that’s coming up in July. We also do make websites, like, and, and It’s kind of a one-stop-shopping experience. But really, tons of business cards and stationery and wedding invitations… that is the mainstay of what we do. Design is design, however it manifests, and we have sort of organically grown into a lot of different areas, not just letterpress. But letterpress is where our hearts are and what we are really known best for.

CC- Do you feel the look of one’s business card can leave a lasting impression on a client for better or for worse?

ZB- Well, of course I am going to say yes. But if you look on my blog, you will find there lots of testimonials from my clients to corroborate this. I always say your business card is your little ambassador and it has to be very, very good at its diplomatic work and stand out from the rest of the crowd like crazy and speak eloquently about you in your absence. This is especially true in a super-competitive business like photography or interior design. These are artful pursuits and the business card must reflect that artfulness, attention to detail, beauty, moxie, refinement, etc. Conversely, a bad business card can definitely lose you business. Our business cards pack a wallop, may I just say. We use this insanely thick paper and various treatments like foils or edge painting. They are fabulous. Ask anybody.

CC- What is your biggest passion behind what you do?

ZB-Hmmm…so many passions rolled into one thing: I would have to say I started out just adoring typography and this amazing old craft of letterpress printing. Hand setting each letter, one at a time, then the magic of watching the press put it onto paper, the stacks of stuff I had made at the end of the day. Very satisfying. I would go home and go to bed and dream about typesetting. Honestly. Then I went on to adoring the graphic design aspect of it. That is so absorbing – you have to be a sort of medium…between what your clients dreams are and what it will take to make the dream come true. When I had my Ladies Who Lunch card line, I adored the creation of these concepts that were all about connection and relationship and communication – inviting every sort of togetherness, like “Why Don’t You Come Over and Wash My Car.” That was one of my faves. Or, “Shall We Prey.” Very popular card about going out with your girlfriends and meeting men – but it’s naughty, not nasty, you know; there has to be a little wit or it’s just cheap. Hee. So anyway, to get back to your question: As a business owner, all those passions still apply, and it’s really morphed into more — or anyway, the importance of this has intensified — how much I adore working with people. My clients are so interesting and fun and I usually end up totally falling in love with them. Like with you, Annette. You know. So many of my clients I have had for ages and we are friends, really. Sometimes we even go out to dinner and stay overnight at each other’s houses when we are in each other’s towns. It’s always so great when they call for reprints and we get to catch up, and you know, we have been working for them for decades. It’s amazing. An amazing relationship that happens when you work on these projects together that have meaning in people’s lives. Who had a baby or grandchild, who started something new, who made a new movie or wrote a new book or had some not so great thing happen and survived it …well, you know. Time marches on and things happen. So, it’s the connection, always: everything I do is about this. My tag line for the card line was, “Find the party hidden in every day and invite everybody over for it.” And that’s really how I feel life is. And work is the same. Even after all these years, I keep on liking the creative trance that leads to some sort of discovery, some sort of one more way to be in community, one more big opportunity for another big step, another learning moment or teaching moment.

CC- Who has been your #1 biggest support?

ZB-Lately the photographic community has been a great support for my business. Photography is a huge, huge industry and the competition is fierce, yet at the same time, I have never met a bunch of people who supported and encouraged each other so enthusiastically. It is beautiful to get to work with these incredibly talented, ambitious, smart people from all over the country, and the world, who really “get it” about what letterpress can mean when applied to a marketing plan. My mentor, Al Moise, taught me to print and changed my life, way back in the seventies – that was some support. And my Ed and my beautiful daughters Zoe and Alicia completely lift me up all the time. I am really lucky too to have my Women’s Group and great friends and a community that nurtures and supports me so very much.

CC- What advice do you have for someone trying to start their own business and follow their dreams

ZB-Oh gosh…what can I say? I mean, it’s not a piece of cake, but there is just no way I can imagine working for some corporation and doing stuff for other people and not having my own magical, passionate love for doing my own business. If you want to have a business, what’s the worst thing that can happen? Just go do it. If it doesn’t work out, you can do something else or go back to the job market. But if you don’t do it, you will never know how much fun it is to be that scared. No, really. It’s risky, and half the time you are just going crazy trying to make deadlines or payroll or whatnot, but it is so amazing, no matter what. I always call up the image of the Tarot deck “Fool” – a smile on his face, a blooming rose in his hand, as he steps right off the cliff…You’ve got to be the Fool or life is so drab.

CC- What fires you up?

ZB-My kids. They are so beautiful, inside and out, so smart and fabulous and creative and funny. Both of my girls are pregnant at the same time right now. My grandson Enzo, totally. OMG. He is so cute you would not believe it. And hilarious. Brilliant. He’s two. And Zoe is going to have “Little Zida” in July. Yep. And Alicia is having her second baby in December. So it’s a baby boom around here. My Ed. Family dinners every Wednesday – I always try to knock myself out to make something super- yummy. Cooking fires me up like crazy – I love to feed people. My business and the people whom I get to work with, and my clients, of course, as I said.  What gets me really sweaty, though, is singing. I’m a jazz singer. Did you know? Torch music. I play with a fantastic piano player named Ira whom I love. He is a genius. There is just nothing like the magic that happens when you are really making music with somebody. Writing fires me up, except I don’t do it enough. But I am a published poet, though. Creating. That is the big fire. And Scrabble. I’m a maniac.

CC- What is something about you that many don’t know?

ZB-As I just divulged, my alter ego is a torch singer. She lives in the 1940s and goes crazy over the Blues.

CC- What is your favorite word?

ZB-Today, it would be ADORE – it has in it “love” and “appreciation,” “respect,” “admiration,” and “esteem,” and is over-dramatic and filled up with ultra-ness. I never thought about this before so you better ask me again tomorrow.

CC- What do you like most about wedding stationery?

ZB-This kind of stationery is spelled with an E. Stationary means standing still. So, what I like most about it…well, I don’t want to be a one-note samba, but it’s working with the brides and grooms and their moms. Designing something that talks about who they are, what they dream of. It is such a significant moment in a life and the fact that I get to participate in it is such a big privilege. And we get to go a little over the top, of course, sometimes anyway. You want to pour on the lux when you are letting people in on the big day for the first time. So we really have a great time with weddings. My favorite thing is printing my daughter Zoe’s designs up. She is also a brilliant genius at designing and her ideas are so fresh and gorgeous, plus I get to work with my kid. The best.

CC-If you had all the money in the world and could do anything, what would you do?

ZB-I would probably do what I am doing right now but I would have better clothes and I would go to Italy for lunch tomorrow.

CC-What has been your all time favorite piece of stationary you have made and why (please provide a picture if possible.

ZB-That is a totally impossible question to answer. I absolutely fall in love with what I am doing in the moment and that is always my favorite thing in the world. After thirty-five years of making stuff, there are way too many things to count and far too many to think of only one I like best. You can see a lot of pretty things on my blog though.

Thank you so very much Zida for our interview! Below, I’ve picked a few of my favorite Zida cards, take a look at the fabulous Foil technique as well as edge painting. Simply Beautiful!


  1. Jeanne Chapman says: on July 9, 2011  5:08 am Reply

    I just love Z! She designed my business cards several years ago and we have since started a new business which we gave her the full run of designing our business cards and stationary. I love the anticipation of the arrival of her designs. It is like Christmas morning. You want to pick every design she has because they are all so incredible. Both my husband and I have received rave reviews re: our business cards. There is NO ONE as brilliant and talented as Zida when it comes to design. I believe she has the spirit of the old world artists inside her. Where on earth do you see such beauty and elegance except, when you look at the artwork of those masters who have long past. We are so fortnuate to have Zida's talent and creativity in this present day! - Buffalo Road Design & State Certified Valley Roofing Inc

  2. Pingback : “Getting to Know Me” : New Interview About Me and Letterpress on Chaviano Couture! « Studio Z Mendocino

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.