The Five Questions: Leslie Moak Murray

Although you may not have ever heard her name, you most likely have already seen the work of  Leslie Moak Murray.

That is because over the past 20 years, it has graced an enviable body of work — 1,000 greeting cards, as well as 50-100 designs of beverage napkins, magnetic note pads, pocket note pads, sticky notes, mugs and coasters. Oh, and don’t forget gift tags, shopping list pads, t-shirts, calendars, Christmas ornaments, floaty pens and plastic tumblers. Leslie has also illustrated two little humor books (written with her sister), Playing With Matches, about bad dates, and Aging Disgracefully.

“Wow, no wonder I’m so tired!” she told me.

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You can shop Leslie’s expansive range of greeting cards, mugs, and magnetic list pads, available through Leanin’ Tree, here. Meanwhile, let’s find out what makes this funny lady tick!


1. SS: How did you get into this crazy business?

LMM: I’ve been making greeting cards to give to my friends and family since I was 10, and was still doing that when I met my husband, an ad agency guy. One day he said, “Don’t give these away, let’s sell them.”

Through his business, he knew printers and engravers, and he taught me how to prepare art for printing, something I never learned in the Fine Art department in college — there, the mindset was “if you mass-produce or earn money from your art before you’re dead, you’re a sellout haha.” We borrowed capital from our families with a contract promising to repay them at 12% interest, which we were able to do in the first few years.

Jim’s ad agency guys made us a nice professional show display, and we went to the New York National Stationery Show for the first time. We left with enough reps to cover the U.S.

2. SS: Are there any design or lifestyle trends you are finding yourself particularly intrigued with these days?

LMM: I’m very happy to see hand-drawn art and lettering enjoying renewed favor. I think it’s a reaction against all the years of vectors, and I’m glad to see it. Digital is great, and thank goodness for Photoshop, but it’s good to see evidence of the human hand getting some appreciation.

I was the last artist in the Industrialized World to learn Photoshop, and still consider myself a beginner, but I sure don’t miss those days of having to FedEx oversized original art to the publisher and spending thousands on art supplies.

I love the chalkboard style of hand lettering, I love letterpress, and I love flat design. This past year, I found myself going back to my old psd files and clearing all the “bevel and emboss” layer styles. Also the gradient overlays. Suddenly they look so last year.

3. SS: What letter, card or invitation first comes to mind as the best you’ve ever received?

LMM: I loved getting the beautiful formal invitation to my sister’s wedding.

4. SS: What are your three favorite paper lines aside from your own?

LMM: I love Jonesy, The Chalk Shoppe (which I discovered through Stationery Trends!), and Paper D’Art by Claire Mitchard and Mark Everdell.

5. SS: Is there anything you do personally to keep letter-writing, card-sending and invitation using alive?

LMM: Whenever anyone sends a gift or does something nice for my daughter, I stand over her until she writes a thank you note. A HANDWRITTEN note. With a STAMP on it. She used to try to tell me nobody does this anymore, but this ploy doesn’t work on me. And of course I write thank you notes, because my mother was from the South. Also, when a credit card company or store asks if I want to go paperless. I always say no so they’ll have to mail it. Any small thing to keep the post office going.