February 12, 2016

Alumni Update: Interview with BGSUGD Falcon Flames Blake & Irene Martin

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Blake & Irene Martin | Graduated Dec. 2008
Owners of Sparkvites, a Creative Design Shop specializing in Wedding Stationery, Cards, and Stamps

How did you meet? // When did you know it was love?

We both transferred in our sophomore year and met in Amy Fidler’s Intro to Graphic Design class our very first semester. We started hanging out between classes but I think that was because Blake wanted somewhere to go during breaks and I always lived in town. After we graduated I moved back to Indiana and I guess he missed me because in 2010 he got me an interview where he worked in Findlay and I ended up moving back to Ohio. That’s when we finally started dating after being great friends for five years. After that we were engaged within about a year, and started Sparkvites and got married in 2012.

Did you take classes together?

We had most of our Graphic Design classes together but not on purpose.

What was the best/worst part of having the same major?

We have always worked really well together, actually. We took a digital photography class together our last semester and Blake ended up “helping” me with my final project which was nicely framing a photograph. When I turned it in our professor made a big deal about how much better mine was when we were both standing there. We still laugh about that. I guess Blake just did it better the second time.

Were you/are you competitive?

I think we’re more honest about helping each other than we are competitive. We have no problem saying something when one of us does something that sucks.

Tell us about Sparkvites… how did it start? What is the best thing about working together? What are the challenges?

Sparkvites started as an Etsy shop for wedding invitations and address stamps in Feb. 2012. We were also interested in letterpress printing so we saved up to buy a Chandler & Price press and started developing a line of letterpress greeting cards that we started selling wholesale in 2014. Since we first released our collection we have sold to about 60 retailers across the United States, we have two cards in Paper Source stores Nationwide and last Valentine’s Day our T-Bone card was featured on BuzzFeed. We work together really well. Blake is our creative half and he does all of the illustrations and most of the creative as well as all of the printing and I do our custom wedding invitations and more of the day to day business tasks like customer relations, bookkeeping, and business development.

Where do you see yourselves in 10 years?

We love the freedom we have with a creative business. You can always change what you offer or do something different altogether to keep things fresh. Since it’s our brand, if we want to sell dog portraits tomorrow instead of letterpress greeting cards we can try to do that. We probably won’t though :)

What advice would you give for students currently in the program?

Always do what you love. If you’re not having any fun doing what you do, then you aren’t doing the right thing. Life is too short to waste on something if it’s just to make a quick buck.


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