A Look Behind the Scenes of Pen on Paper

by | Nov 29, 2013 | Industry Interviews

Take a Look Behind the Scenes of Pen on Paper

Say hello to …

Lucy and Millie from Pen On Paper

pen on paper cards and gift wrap

Tell us a little about yourself and your company? 

Pen On Paper is made up of Lucy Kirk and Millie Popovic, who met whilst studying at Brighton University. Lucy was studying Illustration and Millie was studying printmaking. Soon after graduating, they embarked on separate projects but soon realised there were many similarities between their work and decided to test out working collaboratively. The first project was based on British Lidos and lead them to create notebooks illustrated with their drawings. From here the collection grew to include cards and wrapping paper.

Describe your typical working day … 

Having the studio on a farm means no matter what time you get up, someone or something has already beaten you to it! The short walk to the barn is usually a cold and sometimes muddy one, so arriving to the warm studio space is a lovely welcome. We usually reply to emails, go on twitter and sort out the tasks for the day in the morning. By lunch time the farm is in full swing with lots of people about and so we like to go and make ourselves busy in the print room. Using our semi automatic printing machine makes the job a little easier, although we still have to wear full overalls which by now are covered in our inks.

What is the best thing about your job? 

We get to spend hours drawing what we like, and then use them to create great products. The satisfaction of creating something from scratch is wonderful, and even better when they are then appreciated by others too.

Do you use any specialist techniques? 

All of our products are printed in the UK with most of them screen-printed in our very own print rooms. Millie’s degree would have been a fantastic foundation in screen-printing, had she listened in her tutorials, but thankfully remembered just enough to get us through our first 6 months! Having any new machinery is always a learning curve however, and we have been very grateful to have help from industry experts.

What would you like to do next with the business? 

We are currently working on new projects to expand our range with a few exciting new arrivals for Christmas. We will hopefully be extending into furniture at some point in 2014 but stationery and paper goods will always be our passion.

What tip would you give to someone starting a business? 

It is really difficult to start out on your own but if you have already decided to do so, it doesn’t really matter how many times someone else says it, you will go ahead anyway and good on you! The most important thing for us has been the support of our family and friends. They have been completely behind us and have encouraged us when we wanted to give it all up. Surround yourself with your biggest fans – doubters should be dumped.

Your Products …

What is your personal favourite product in your collection?

Millie: My personal favourite product is our notebooks. It is where it all began and I still love them to this day. They are of exceptional quality and wonderfully tactile.

pen on paper notebooks

Lucy: My favourite is the Dancehall Card Set. The drawings we made to produce this set were really fun to research and I think the humour of those images comes through in our illustrations.

pen on paper cards

What inspires your products? 

A large part of our products begin with a need for a new piece of stationery. We usually keep a bank of illustrations behind that we work on all year round. When we decide to embark on a new product, the manufacturing process and quality of product comes first. This is core to our values as we feel usually the older techniques and projects hold quality whilst modern alternatives can produce the kind of volume we need.

What other card and gift designers do you admire? 

We love Marimekko for their amazing use of colour and pattern. We would love to one day look back on our career and have created so many design classics.

Thank you Lucy & Millie.

Visit the Pen on Paper website.

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