Hi! I’m Niki Baker.
I'm the illustrator behind Foreignspell. In 2006, I started exploring putting to paper my visual & visceral reaction to music. Since 2012, I've been creating stamps & pressing them to various surfaces. Each design starts as a hand-illustrated, hand-lettered, hand-burnished, hand-carved & hand-inked stamp made by me. I use locally-sourced & earth-friendly materials. This shop is a dream project that’s been literal years in the making & I’m super pumped you’re here!
I really want to inspire people to navigate the world with more kindness, and to show more love to the people in their lives. I’m hoping the cards and crafts in my shop encourage people to celebrate life moments both big and small.
I am committed to running my shop in a way that's compatible with a healthy and thriving planet. I only work with artisans and suppliers who are also committed to following sustainable and ethical business practices. And, honestly, that shit does cost more, but it’s so worth the extra investment.
I also believe it’s important to give back. I donate a percentage of every sale to a nonprofit organization that is working to bring more kindness into our world. You can read more about them here.
When I started Foreignspell as an art student, I was interested in figuring out how I could express the experience of listening to music in a visual medium. Listening to music has always been such a visceral, colorful experience for me and I really wanted to get what was going on in my head onto paper somehow. So I created three little paintings inspired by song lyrics. And that became the foundation for Foreignspell.
In some ways I feel like I was fated to make art inspired by music. Growing up, my mom’s home was never silent - she made sure our lives had a constant soundtrack. And some of my earliest memories are of dancing around the living room with her to Van Morrison songs. My dad is an incredible singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist of his own. And to this day he likes to drive me around San Francisco to point out all the different venues he’s played at. Maybe if I weren’t so afraid of the stage, I’d be a musician too… Alas, I’m far too scared of performing, so this is my way of paying homage and being part of the music world in some small way.
I take pride in touching every part of the process when it comes to producing a product for my shop - from ideation and illustrating to shipping. The whole thing usually starts when I’ve got a song lyric stuck in my head, or I hear a song that conjures up some strong imagery. Either way, once the thought is in my mind, I can’t shake it until I get it out on paper. After illustrating the idea onto paper, I transfer the design to a blank rubber stamp and get to carving. Once the design has been carved out, I ink up the stamp with lots of color and press it onto each piece one by one. Starting in 2018, I also scan the finished print and chop it up into even more handmade elements. Then I send the piece off to local artisans for reproduction. And finally, I package each delivery by hand and schlep it up a giant hill to the post office. If you want to know know the nitty gritty details of my process, you can read more about it here.
visit nicolecarmelbaker.com to view my full portfolio.