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The UBB Artist Series: Aftyn Shah of Rise + Wander

When we first met Aftyn Shah, the self-taught printmaker behind Rise + Wander, she was in the middle of something — a few things, actually. On top of designing her hand-cut piece for United By Blue, she was preparing to move out of her suburban Philadelphia rental and seven months pregnant with her second child. But all was calm in her carefully composed studio, which is filled with natural light and healthy succulents (despite Aftyn’s insistence that she has a black thumb).

Constant change is actually the norm for Aftyn, who moved a ton as a kid and split her school years between Naples, Italy, and the Midwest. But years later, when she was working a high-stress, corporate job in DC, she was suddenly sidelined by a traumatic car accident. She left her job — and hated leaving her house. In an effort to curb her anxiety, she started turning back to two of her oldest loves, nature and art, as therapy. It worked.

Aftyn is a lifelong doodler, but she didn’t try her hand at printmaking until after her accident. She picked up tips from Instagram and YouTube videos, but she’s learned the most from trial and error. “No one can teach you as well as what you discover for yourself,” she told us as she walked us through the process of creating a hand-carved, hand-pressed print.

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Aftyn's Process


While most printmakers sketch out designs on paper then transfer their work onto a block, Aftyn prefers to draw directly onto rubber. She always retraces her designs in ink to prevent smudging.


Once the design is complete, Aftyn uses a variety of gouges and cutting knives to carve out shapes and create texture. (Experimenting with different tools is her favorite part of the process.)

rolling paint

Once Aftyn is happy with her carving, she uses a roller to add a layer of paint.

hand pressed print

Each print Aftyn creates is evenly hand-pressed onto a sheet of paper (and occasionally a pennant, tee, or tote).

aftyn desk

When Aftyn isn’t hand carving and hand pressing in her home studio, she’s hiking outdoors with her growing family in tow, searching for textures in nature to inspire her next print. In fact, she considers each of her pieces to be a personal reminder to get up, go outside, and find those moments of calm amid chaos — or, as she puts it, to rise and wander.

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