Artist Spotlight - Meet Mélanie Johnsson

We spoke to Mélanie Johnsson, to find out a little more about the illustrator behind the box.

Mel’s Papergang box echoes themes of mindfulness and positivity, which is just as well because we’ve also partnered with the Blurt Foundation!

This charity helps by providing a support network for those living with and suffering from depression. For every box sold this month, we’ll be donating £1 to this amazing cause.


Mélanie Johnsson Papergang artist and illustrator



Hey Mel! It’s clear mental health is very important to you; self-care and inspirational messages are recurring themes in your work. What else inspires your illustrations?


It might sound cliché, but I think it is pretty universal: my biggest inspiration for my illustrations is the natural world. Everything about our planet is inspiring and that’s why I love travelling and experiencing new places and cultures, getting inspired by what I see and who (or what!) I meet.


What’s the nicest reaction you’ve ever had to any of your designs?


I don’t really remember one specific amazingly nice reaction to my designs, but I do love it when people reach out to me to say that my art makes them happy and brightens their day. That is exactly what I’m trying to do, so that is the biggest compliment ever.


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I assume there’s quite a lot of overlap in your work as a graphic designer, illustrator and letterer. But of those three, is there one that you prefer working as?


It’s so tricky to pick one! As you mentioned, they overlap all the time in my work, that’s one of the things I love most about my career so far. But if you said I could only do one for the rest of my life, I would pick illustration. I love how fulfilling and therapeutic creating images is. It’s the most rewarding physical and mental activity I’ll ever do!


What’s your creative process like in terms of going from concept to finished piece?


I always start by sketching ideas in a notebook or a loose piece of paper. I let my mind wander a little bit and my hand do what it wants to do on the paper. I like to make it a very organic and special time of creation. Then I start painting the ideas I’ve come up with, with some black ink on paper, playing with a lot of different brushes to find the perfect stroke.


“I love how fulfilling and therapeutic creating images is.”

After this phase, I usually transfer everything to my computer to order, refine and make sense of everything. I mainly use Photoshop to edit and colour my illustrations. I love being able to play with colour palettes and details once the drawings are digitised.


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We saw on your Insta that you’ve got a new studio fairly recently – that’s got to be exciting! Have you made a start on making it into your own unique place, or if not, what have you got planned for it?


Yes, I have! I moved into this amazing industrial 430 sq ft space in Margate and I’ve started filling it with a lot of plants and colourful stuff. I’ve bought some cute second-hand furniture and painted it all up. I’m partnering with an Eco-friendly paint brand to create these pieces, I’m also going to do a mural on the toilet door! It’s all very exciting. I can’t wait to turn the space into a joyful, eclectic, colourful design studio/surf shack/plant haven. It’s going to be very me!


What’s the one piece of stationery you couldn’t live without and one thing in general that you couldn’t live without?


The piece of stationery I couldn’t live without is a notebook. Essential to jot down ideas as they come! (Often at the most inappropriate times). The one thing I couldn’t live without in life is the sea. It makes everything better. That’s why we ought to protect and preserve it.


October Papergang artist  Mélanie Johnsson with a surfboard



And finally, could you give us three quick pieces of advice you might give to your younger self?


Keep following your gut, try not to overthink too much, and love yourself more!


Thank you so much for speaking with us, Mel. And thank you for creating such a lovely Papergang box! You can check out more of Mel’s work from the links below:

Instagram: @melanie.johnsson


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