Join us to Welcome a new BK Team Member // Amanda!

Join us to Welcome a new BK Team Member // Amanda!

Greetings from Baum-kuchen! I am beyond thrilled to introduce you to our new team member, Amanda!!!  I LOVE their genuine enthusiasm in life, creativity, and of course stationery and I can't wait for you to meet them through this interview story Eunice faciltated. 

I hope you enjoy getting to know them!


BK: Could you briefly give us an introduction of who Amanda is in a nutshell and where you are from? 

Amanda: Hello everyone! I’m Amanda, and I’m an artist, designer and a maker of things. I’ve always had way too many interests and not enough time, but nowadays I’ve managed to narrow my focus (a little). My current fixations are printmaking and drawing, and I look forward to trying out woodworking for the first time later this year. I also love traveling, fashion, anime/manga and when I have the time, video games.

I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area with my younger brother. I studied design/media arts at UCLA, after which I moved home for about 5 years while working out of San Francisco, then decided to move back down here again. 2024 marks the fifth year since I moved back to Southern California, and while I still have a soft spot for the Bay and where I grew up, I find that my feelings of home have now shifted to where I am now, and the community I’ve built around me here.

BK: While also being a valuable team member at BK, you also have your own business. Would you please share a little bit about it?

Amanda: I started getting really into zines as well as the Risograph printing process around 2019/2020 and I quickly became obsessed with both. For those of you who don’t know, zines (like “magazine”) are independently published works covering topics ranging from personal stories to deep dives on a chosen subject matter to educational material meant to spread awareness, and more!

Risograph on the other hand, is a Japanese brand of digital duplicators that is likened to a copy machine that can screen print onto paper very quickly and efficiently. It was actually designed for office use at first back in the 80s, but it has since gained popularity with artists for its use of vibrant spot colors to create unique prints and its democratic accessibility for self-publishing.

All that said, at the end of 2021, I decided to purchase my own Risograph machine and start my own print studio. I felt that being able to oversee the entirety of the publishing process, from ideation to design to production to binding/finishing, and even to distribution, would not only help me further my own creative practice, it meant that my print studio could potentially become a vehicle for others to further their practice too. And so “a to zee press” was born! (I am the “a” and “zee” is what I named my Riso.) The name reflects the wide range of genres and themes my work typically encompasses, but also represents the diversity of work I hope to help bring into the world for my clients.

When I’m not at BK, I typically split my own work time between helping clients with their print projects, developing my own publications and other products, and participating at zine fests and art book fairs as a vendor. I eventually would like to teach more as well, to pass on some of the knowledge I’ve gained from my experience with zines.

BK: Have you always pursued a creative career or was there a pivotal moment when you decided that was what you wanted to pursue?

Amanda: Though I’ve always been interested in art in some form growing up, I couldn’t really foresee what a career in art would look like. It was so different compared to how it is now, where there’s so much information readily available online about how to pursue any kind of career in the arts. I think in my mind, I really enjoyed being creative and making art, but I wasn’t confident that I could make a living off of it, especially because my exposure to realistic, sustainable jobs in art was so limited. It’s funny because I originally intended to apply to culinary school after graduating high school because I was obsessed with baking at the time. It was my mom who urged me to attend a university that would give me a more general education instead so I would have more options in case I changed my mind later down the road. I’m honestly very grateful to her for that, especially since her compromise with me was that I could still study something I liked that was art-related.

But for years even after graduating college, I still struggled with understanding what I wanted out of my creative career. The only clear conviction I had was that if I couldn’t make art, life was meaningless. I know that sounds really intense but I still feel very strongly about it, and it truly was a driving force for me during all the times I felt lost. Frankly, I’ve only felt that I was going down the right path around the time I turned 30, which is when I both got into zines and decided to start my own print studio. And while I still consider there to be unresolved business with other aspects of my creative career, I finally feel good about where I am right now and look forward to all the things that will come next.

BK: Do you have a memory of when you first became interested in the analogue process? 

Amanda: I’ve always been really into character goods, particularly from Sanrio and San-X growing up. My pencil boxes, writing utensils, folders, notebooks that I used for school were often from one of these two brands. I was especially obsessed with their letter sets and have amassed a sizable collection over the years, which I used to write notes to friends and send snail mail.

But aside from stationery and letter writing, I’ve always been interested in the physicality of tangible objects, particularly with objects that have developed more advanced, convenient and digital counterparts. For example books v.s. e-books, typewriters v.s. computers, film cameras v.s. digital cameras. Obviously, technological advancements are important, but while more and more things become digital and intangible, it is becoming even more important to reconnect with our surroundings using all our senses. This translates heavily to my own work too, both in the past and now, as I often seek to incorporate some kind of interactivity in my pieces to get the audience to participate in some way. I believe that kind of physical engagement leads to a deeper and more memorable connection, and honestly I don’t think anything can ever beat the magic of analogue.

BK: You recently became a Traveler’s Notebook fan! Was there anything special about this system that drew you to decide to start your adventure with it? 

Amanda: My family and I have been traveling to Hong Kong since I was little to visit relatives and started making side trips to Japan early on. It must have been on one of those trips that I first discovered Traveler’s Notebook. I remember being very drawn to them, from the aesthetic of their store displays and products themselves, the packaging, and thought behind the brand. Back then, I was still young and couldn’t afford much from Traveler’s, so the only thing I bought from them until recently was their 5 year anniversary sticker set, which I still have! I also didn’t have a regular journaling habit at the time, so as much as I wanted a TN, it was hard to justify trying it when I didn’t know if it would work for me.

Now, however, I think my current journaling habits fit very well within the TN system, which is what made the jump into the rabbit hole even easier (and more dangerous!) Getting to finally start my own adventure with a Traveler’s Notebook has been really exciting, particularly because I had pined for one for so many years. I love the fact that the entire TN system is so modular and customizable because not only can a notebook be personalized to each individual’s preferences, it can shift and change with you over time too, as your life shifts and changes.

I also love the community aspect of being a Traveler’s Notebook user. After I started using my TN, I had various really touching interactions with fellow TN users, both while traveling, and while chatting with our customers on Sundays! I realized there was a certain camaraderie and immediate understanding between each other that could occur, and it was something that could even surpass language and cultural barriers. This isn’t something I expected at all, and it feels really special to be able to instantly connect with others in that way.

BK: Do you have a ritual for planning or journaling or more when the mood strikes? Could you explain in more detail what that looks like?

Amanda: I’ve tried so many methods of journaling throughout the years, switching back and forth between analogue and digital when it suited my needs. I actually finished a 5 year “one line a day” journal and had started a new one when the pandemic hit. The “one line a day” journals felt nice and low commitment but the space allotted for each day was very limited, so if there were days that I wanted to write more, it was difficult to do so. And of course, with lockdown in full swing, each day was blending into the next, and it started feeling pointless to record these uneventful days, so I stopped using that journal, and stopped journaling in general.

At the beginning of 2022, I decided to try daily journaling again. A small serendipitous moment happened one day, and I felt inspired to make a record of it. I used a blank notebook and actually filled the page with thoughts I had from that day, plus a drawing from that encounter. And I kept the habit going as a small defiance: I wanted to stop the days from blending together, and to make each day stand out in my mind, even if only slightly. For a stretch of time, I filled one page a day with words and doodles, and when not as much happened, or when I had less energy, I would write less and would continue the next day’s entry on the same page, and so forth. I filled a bunch of notebooks like this, and at the beginning of this year, I finally transitioned my daily journaling to my Traveler’s Notebook.

Around the same time I got my TN, I also decided to reinstate a journaling and reading nook in my room. The table I’m using is a foldable wooden one I bought from a Muji in Japan probably something like 15 years ago. It’s been with me since high school so it holds a lot of memories for me. On the table I have drawers to store washi tapes, stamps, stickers and my fountain pen inks, as well as a felt basket to hold some TN goodies (the rest of the spare TN inserts are in a small box under the desk!) And I’m sure many of you will recognize the Classiky toolbox that holds some of my more frequently used tools. Making this dedicated analogue space for myself where everything is close at hand and satisfyingly organized really has made a difference in my journaling ritual, and it’s definitely led me to feel more inspired every time I sit down to write or draw.

BK: What are your favorite writing or drawing utensils?

Amanda: I used to collect all kinds of nice pens and markers and have tried all the different pen and pencil weights. These days I mostly stick to 0.5 for both pen and pencil. For pencils, my brother recently introduced me to the Mitsubishi Hi-Uni and I’m super in love with it. I’ve been trying to get back into drawing with just a pencil in a sketchbook and this pencil is great: it’s lightweight to hold, has excellent point retention and it glides like butter over the paper.

For mechanical pencils though, my favorite is probably the Pentel e-sharp because it can use lead until it’s only like 3mm in length! It holds the lead tightly so it feels really sturdy while writing too. And I recently got a Hi-Tec-C Coleto multi pen body but I’m using it with 3 pencil inserts because I wanted to have different color leads on hand, but not have to carry around 3 separate pencils. Oh, and the Faber Castell dust free eraser is the best eraser I’ve ever tried. It’s super smooth and the eraser crumbs clump, so you don’t have a huge mess after erasing.

For pens, my favorite is the Tombow Fudenosuke hard brush pen. It’s super fun to write and draw with and works well for me because I’m not experienced enough with regulating the pressure when using normal brush pens. I also started using my TWSBI Eco again, with ink that Emil gifted me! This one has a 1.1 mm stub italic nib which allows for some nice calligraphic writing. My every day go-to pen though are the Sarasa dry series. Because the ink dries so quickly, it’s great for taking quick notes or using in my sketchbook to draft ideas for zines. A bonus one I’ll mention is the Molotow liquid chrome marker that has a mirror effect when the ink is applied to smooth surfaces. Metallic inks exist of course, but I had never seen a chrome ink before, it’s mind-blowing!

And lastly, I probably use my Olfa utility knife just as much as any writing utensil I have, so that’s why I included it in my picture. In case you were wondering :)

BK: If you could only use 4 analogue artifacts for the rest of your life, what would they be? 

My TN, my typewriter, a film camera (it doesn’t have to be the one in the picture, this is just what I have right now, which is a Kodak Duaflex that shoots medium format film) and the Olfa utility knife I mentioned earlier. I think having these 4 things would allow me enough flexibility in both record-keeping and art-making for the long term.

BK: Do you have a favorite memory so far working at BK? 

Amanda: I really enjoy the times we get to all hang out as a team, and so far my favorite was probably our BK potluck at Wakako and Frido’s house. I’ve never been to a house quite like theirs before so I was rather enamored. I think the way the house is built and where it’s situated really satisfies the kid in me who wants to explore and adventure around every nook and cranny. Plus it was really nice spending the evening with everyone, chatting and eating all the good food everyone brought. Other than that, I’ve just been really enjoying the many small moments of getting to know everybody at BK better, as well as sharing moments of genuine connection with our customers on Sundays.

BK: What is your favorite food? Do you have any local restaurants that you recommend?

Amanda: I’m a huge sweets person—I love cake, pastries and ice cream the best. But if we’re talking savory food, then noodles are my number one favorite. If there’s an option to have a dish with noodles instead of rice, I’ll usually always pick noodles.

Some recommendations!

  • Artelice Patisserie in Burbank: They have a variety of fancy pastries and I haven’t tried them all but their croissants are some of the best I’ve had (specifically their Gianduja croissant). They sell out of their croissants pretty quickly though, so I would recommend going earlier in the day to get the fuller selection.
  • Bopomofo Cafe in San Gabriel: I love their black sesame milk drink and their honey walnut shrimp burger. Their menu is a fusion of Chinese, Taiwanese and American flavors and one of the founders, Philip Wang, is also the force behind Wong Fu Productions.
  • Marugame Monzo in Little Tokyo: I’ve only managed to go here once but a lot of people recommend this place for udon, and I would agree! They hand make their udon, AND they have cold udon, which I like, and is usually hard to find.
  • Boloniya Bread from Hamada-ya Bakery with Coconut Cracked Almond Butter from Sue’s Butters and Baskets: This one’s kind of like a secret personal recommendation but I am obsessed with this combo. Hamada-ya has a few bigger locations but some Mitsuwa Markets also stock their bread, and I usually get mine from the San Gabriel Mitsuwa. This bread is almost croissant-like and is amazingly crispy and flaky when toasted. Paired with the coconut almond butter from Sue’s, I die, hahaha. Sue’s almond butter is made with only 7 ingredients and no added sugar. You can usually find their booth at the Pasadena Victory Park Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings, otherwise you can also buy it online from their website.
  • And lastly, for my Bay Area people, Alexander’s Patisserie and Maison Alyzee make some amazing cakes and pastries, and Udon Mugizo is also another delicious udon spot. All of them are on the same street in Mountain View!

BK: What is one thing that people may find surprising about you?

Amanda: This is more of a fun fact than a generally surprising thing about me, but in 2019 I took a character sculpture class at Gnomon, and over the course of 10 weeks, made a clay sculpture of Alucard from Castlevania (an animated series on Netflix based on the video games series of the same name). I had never sculpted anything before, but I was excited to try the class after my brother had also taken it a previous term and told me about it. The instructor for the class, John Brown, is one of the best out there, not just because of his incredible skill and understanding of his craft but his personal life philosophies and methods of teaching really resonated with me. Thanks to his help I was able to make something that actually looked pretty dang good! AND I was noticed by the creators of the show on Twitter. It’s a highlight in my creative career for sure, haha!

This or That?!

  • Sweet or Savory? Sweet for sure!
  • Bright or Muted colors? Bright
  • Coffee or tea? Coffee, only if in ice cream form, otherwise tea (though I don’t drink very much tea either actually.)
  • Early bird or night owl? Night owl. I will keep ungodly hours if left to my own devices.
  • Dancing or Singing? Singing, I am a very uncoordinated dancer.
  • Beach or mountains? Beach! I love being near the water when I can.
  • New or vintage? Vintage
  • Rain or sunshine? Rain (if I don’t have to be outside!)
BK: Any closing words that you would like to share with our BK community? 

Amanda: I have a habit of acquiring and hoarding really nice supplies, whether they are art supplies like good paper or journaling supplies like good pens and notebooks, and tend to save them until I feel justified in using them. I realized over time that I was creating a mentality that my artwork or self-expression wasn’t good enough or worthy enough to utilize these “nicer” supplies, and I felt upset at myself that I let it come to that point. So I would like to encourage the rest of the BK community to use the good pens and paper for yourself! It feels really meaningful when you are intentional about the items you buy and use when it comes to something very intimate like expressing yourself on the physical page, no matter what form that takes. So, don’t worry about messing up or that it might look ugly, let the imperfections be part of the process!

Lastly I wanted to say thank you to everyone who took time out of your day to read about my story. And an especially big thank you to Wakako and everyone at BK for welcoming me into the team, and also for giving me this space to tell you all more about myself. I feel really grateful for these past several months and it’s been inspiring for me to see how BK is run with such love, mindfulness and intention. I look forward to continuing my journey with BK from here on out! :)

- Photos by Amanda, and profile photo by Hikita Chisato.

Where to find Amanda: 

Bk Artifacts Featured: 



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