Meet the Maker: Folk Art

There’s a lot that goes into making each notebook and cute card you see in-store and online. Probably more than you would think. In fact, there’s a whole creative team bursting with ideas, who are busy working behind the scenes to inject a little Paperchase magic into each iconic product and charming collection.  

Our new series, ‘Meet the Maker’ gives you an opportunity to take a peek behind the curtain, meet our incredible design team and see how we craft our collections. To kick things off we sat down with Laura Bertinelli and Meagan Wells, two brilliant designers who worked on Folk Art, our enchanting new collection. 

 

 

AboveFolk Art

 

Where did the inspiration for Folk Art come from?

Meagan: When we were looking at the trend books and forecasters for the season, we saw lots of woodland illustrations, but it was very much aimed toward kids. We thought, ‘How can we translate that and turn it into an adult collection that's giftable?’  

When I was pulling mood boards together, there were a lot of diaries – ones with locks attached, with loads of detail. Honestly, one of the references was the journal from Princess Diaries. I thought, ‘We need to design something like that!’ with lots of really intricate details, nice foiling and so it just feels special. We wanted to create a collection that is super luxurious, super intricate and shows that a lot of handwork has gone into it. A kind of random idea, but we're really happy with how it turned out. 

 

What are some of the defining details of the collection? 

Meagan:  Around Christmastime, our Paperchasers love woodland characters. Wanting to keep this a grown-up collection, we decided to create a sort of woodland lino print. It’s super cute, and we knew it would print well, and could be embossed or stitched well It's just two colours, black on white, to give the etched, lino print look. 

 

Can you take us through the creative process from the initial idea to how the finished collection came to be?

Meagan: There's so much planning before you even get to draw. 

I did a lot of my illustrations digitally. You don't get much pen to paper anymore, but this is a great way of hand-drawing and getting it onto the computer to work into the details.  

I started with the animals, and we decided we definitely needed a fox because a fox is always a winner for everyone. But the hardest thing was figuring out what the face of the fox is going to look like because a small change could make it look childish or turn it into something super traditional. Once we whittled down the options, I built all the characters and drew the rest of the pattern around them. After that, I brought it into Illustrator and made it into a print which was given over to Laura.  

What aspects of the collection did you enjoy working on the most?

Laura:  A lot of it was about figuring out the right materials to use. Because the illustrations are quite simple, we needed to find a way to make them look special with other things, to bring the characters to life through other details – the tactile elements that really make it. We work together with the Buying Team, and they always have good suggestions because they know from a manufacturing POV what we can and cannot do. So, it's a lot of collaboration and that's the part I enjoyed the most! 

 

 

When you were going through the process, was there anything specifically you were hoping that customers would notice? Or that they would really pick out of the collection?

Laura: I think I was more careful about making sure that there wasn't one animal more prominent than the others. I wanted to give a good balance to all the elements and to ensure there was a good mix of heavily patterned items and some simpler, in the hope that everybody can find something they enjoy. 

 

Once the collection was completed, how did you feel?

Meagan: It takes time for samples to come back, so you almost forget about it. But once they do, and the pieces are in production, it’s such a nice feeling! The embroidery on this collection makes such a difference and when you see the foiling in real life, you're like ‘Aaah, right! This is what I had in my head’.  

Laura: I was super happy with how everything turned out because it was quite a smooth process overall. Almost all of the things we originally designed are part of the collection. So, it was overall a very enjoyable collection to work on. And then in the end, because of the different characters we used, it looks very consistent, while still having a lot of different things going on. It really stands out when it's all together on the table. 

 

 

Above: Folk Art Notebook Library

 

How do you envisage Paperchasers using this collection? 

Laura: Some items, like the pencil case and the jewellery box, are just lovely things that people would be happy to use because they're nice to have and to hold in your hands. And then there’s a lot of beautiful stationery I think people who love journaling or meditating or making gratitude lists would like. I think that kind of person would really enjoy using the notebooks we created for Folk Art. 

 

Do you think that this range also appeals to kids?

Laura: Yeah, I think girls from like maybe 10 to 12 could really love this as well. Especially the girls that are starting to get a bit tired of pink and fairies, and they want to feel like they're grown up now.  

 

What does Folk Art remind you of? What were you thinking of as you were designing it?

Meagan: Since I started at Paperchase, I've always loved the freedom we have to create. Here, we are so free to draw whatever we like. This was the closest opportunity I could get to draw storybook characters. When can you ever do that in a job now? It's amazing! I really wanted to tackle the storybook element of it. And when I look at it now, I'm really chuffed because it gives that feeling of magic you get from fairy tales in a grown-up way.  

 

 

Above: Laura Bertinelli, Midweight Designer

 

Are there any fun facts you would like to share about creating Folk Art?

Laura: I loved collaborating with Meagan. She designed all the assets and the illustrations, but then some products were in a shape we didn't think about, so she had to create new things, for the custom shapes that we were working on. We also got to innovate a lot! Spending plenty of time beforehand, researching interesting design details that we suggested to the buyers.   

 

What are your favourite products from Folk Art?

Laura: Definitely the notebook library. That is probably my favourite because it's something we've never done before. Having this set of case-bound notebooks in a really fancy box, covered in fabric with copper foil on the edges shows the extra effort we put into developing this range. It’s these tiny details that make so much difference. Each of the notebooks has a different name on the spine – one for 'thoughts', one for 'ideas' and so on. It's a very thoroughly developed design. For someone like me that likes writing, it’s one to appreciate.  

I also really like the fabric pencil case that has an embroidered fox on the front. It uses simple materials, like royal canvas, and then we added copper embroidery on top. It's simple yet very elegant.  

 

Meagan: My favourite product is either the little jewellery box (I think that's super cute) or the recipe file. It doesn’t have the animals on it, just the flowers with the foiling, so it's more paired back. It gives the feeling of the whimsical forest but can also translate into spring/summer as well, which is really good because it can be in your kitchen all year round. No matter when you pick it up, it'll be just as beautiful. 

 
Above: Meagan Wells, Print Designer 

 

Can you sum up Folk Art in three words?

Laura: It's difficult to pick only three. I would say that for me, it feels very dreamy and magical, and it feels also a bit nostalgic —reminiscent of fairy tales from childhood. 

 

Meagan: I would say luxurious, intricate and British. We tried to get as many British details in there as possible – like the woodland animals, leaves or other natural details, all of which can be found in England. It helps customers relate to the collection a bit more, and really shows that our products are designed in London.  

 

We hoped you enjoyed learning more about the creation of Folk Art. Discover the full collection for yourself here.

 

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