For the first time, Papergang has been designed by a collaboration of artists!
Each of our in-house designers at Ohh Deer has created their own unique box design for this milestone Papergang month. While there are four box designs, all the contents will be the same except for one lucky Papergangster who will also receive a golden ticket for £200 off at Ohh Deer inside their box!
Creative Director Jamie Mitchell, Lead Designer Jade Walsh, Creative Artworker Chloe Hall, and Design and Product Developer Jack Carter all shared with us their experience of creating this monumental box and revealed a little about what goes on behind the scenes of Papergang.
You’ve all designed a Papergang box before. Would you be able to tell us just how much work goes into these boxes each month?
Jack: There's a lot of planning that goes into a box before you even start to think about the design. You have to consider the month, the message you want to get across and, in my case, which charity to work with. Then you think about what products would suit your design but won't conflict with other boxes before or after yours.
Chloe: When designing my box, a lot of work went into creating the perfect illustrations/patterns and making sure they worked across a variety of products, not just for the box design. There's also a lot of work that goes into making sure each box is different and keeping the products varied and exciting for our subscribers.
Jamie: A lot of energy goes into product development since we only want to be delivering the best quality products. Fortunately, the team are excellent at this now! In terms of the design, that part is a bit more fun. You can pick a central theme and then, based on the products, apply that main idea in different ways, maintaining consistency but also adding variety.
Jade: We design products every day for retail; it’s exciting knowing something is going into a store, but then the customer ultimately has the choice of whether they pick it up and buy it. With a subscription, the customer has already committed to buying often before seeing it, so I would say designing a box is extra nerve-wracking because you know it’s going into thousands of people’s homes and you want whoever receives it to love it!
Were there any challenges with Papergang at any point that you managed to overcome?
Jack: Sourcing great content is always a challenge. We strive to supply the best stationery possible so we might turn down a lot of products before finally settling on something we’re happy with. Customer feedback is also important to us and we try to implement it in upcoming boxes.
Jamie: I think there’s a constant challenge to keep people interested and not feel like they’ve received a lot of the same style of product - whether that’s the artwork or the product itself. Finding a happy balance for those who have been subscribed for years and those who are new is always a challenge!
Papergang has supported lots of vastly different charities over the years, The Marine Conservation Society, the Blurt Foundation and the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home to name a few. How do you decide on which charity to support?
Jack: Before we select a charity, we consider what’s important to us and the designers we work with and what issues our customers might relate to. Once we know that, we work to find a charity to accommodate.
Jamie: We always pick charities that resonate with us as a group of people. Papergang supports Tree Aid as an on-going partnership with us having planted thousands of trees. A lot of the decisions we make are considerate of the environment and mental health is something we’re strong advocates of looking after.
Could you all explain a little about each of your designs for the 50th Papergang boxes?
Jack: I decided to base mine on what Papergang is all about: working with and supporting independent illustrators, focusing on all the different tools and stationery they use.
Chloe: For the 50th Papergang box, we decided the colour palette would be the element that ties all of our styles together. I'm mostly inspired by nature and normally paint my illustrations using watercolours and gouache, so it was great to work not only digitally, but also using a new colour palette.
Jamie: We thought, wouldn’t it be great to get all of us to work on something together, with the unifying element being the colour palette. I love eclectic projects where you can bring several ideas or styles together and there’s a common thread. In terms of inspiration, it very much was a ‘illustrate whatever you want.
Jade: Pretty much my first week at Ohh Deer (just over 4 years ago now)! I remember Jamie giving me the induction and then casually mentioning: “By the way, we’ve got this idea for a stationery subscription.” Not long after, we’d designed and ordered the first box, with a nervous wait to see if it would be a hit or not. It’s so rewarding to look back now at how far we’ve come, and also that Papergang is shipped around the world!
I wanted to illustrate something which celebrated this, so I created a little stamp for every country Papergang ships to. I drew a couple of stamps every week (for what felt like forever), but I loved researching a few little facts about each one in order to make the illustration. My favourite facts were about Finland, for example, they have National Sleepyhead Day, where the last person to wake up in the family gets thrown into the sea or a lake (there are 187,888 lakes, so I guess this is a possibility?!).
With each Papergang illustrator interview, we usually ask about the creative process, desk space, style etc. of the individual, but as this is a collaboration, what’s it like working as a creative team day-to-day?
Jack: Although we might all be busy, it's still key to communicate and bounce ideas off one another. Some days, the ideas just flow through and, as a team, we can produce some amazing products. And planning is a key part of our job; we have to know what’s coming up and prioritise our work accordingly.
Chloe: It's great working as part of a creative team! It's good to be able to talk through ideas for a bit of advice or feedback and to be able to discuss ideas as a group. We all have unique styles too, so when it comes to creating in-house work it helps to make our products varied. It also means that each outcome offers something different to our customers!
Jade: Our creative team is a wonderful mix; we all bring something different to the table which is why we work together so well. Working in a team makes it so much quicker when it comes to solving creative problems.
Now Papergang has been around just a little over four years and we’ve seen some amazing boxes come and go. To end on, what have been some of your favourite boxes from the past?
Jack: Mine, of course! (Just kidding!) It's hard to pick a favourite as there have been so many great ones. But if you’re pushing me to decide, I'd go with Melanie Johnsson's box for October 2019. I loved the content and the colour palette with the simple illustrations, plus it was for a great cause!
Chloe: I think my favourite is Siobhán O’dwyer, I love how bright and colourful her work is! I also love Oana Befort's box, the design had a lovely Autumn feel to it and I loved her illustrations!
Jamie: I’ve had several, my top three were the January box from this year by Siobhán O’dwyer, it’s the first time we’ve used foil on the external box and I thought it really made it pop, and the contents felt very substantial. The second was the box from the Pitch a Papergang competition (we’ll be doing another one of these this year, so keep your eyes peeled!); it was a beautiful dinosaur pattern created by Beth Tibbles. And number three was a box about positivity in association with the mental health charity Blurt Foundation where we collaborated with Melanie Johnsson… It just feels gorgeous, all of it!
Jade: I have to agree with Jamie, I really loved Melanie’s box. It was also wonderful to read all the feedback from our subscribers. There was someone who’d been inspired to start their own creative business because of it!
You can sign up to get one of these milestone Papergang boxes now! The box design you receive can be any of four, but the contents will always be the same. And don’t forget, for one lucky subscriber, they will find a golden ticket for £200 off at Ohh Deer!