Papio Press Blog
Since 2018 we've been developing our packaging range to try to eradicate single use plastic from our shop, and make sure our packaging is entirely eco-friendly. It's something that the two of us believe strongly in, and we've also been on a personal journey to reduce our single use plastic consumption at home at the same time. I wish that this process had been easier than it turned out to be, but it's gradually gotten easier as over the last year we've seen more alternative packaging products start to become available as the world starts to lean more in this same direction.
Part of the trouble of being a small business is that you don't usually have the buying power to create custom packaging, where the MOQ's are often in the thousands, and also often only become financially viable in the tens of thousands. We've been working around this, trying to think outside of the box and use products that are available to us. In most cases it has meant packaging has become a bit more time consuming, and it has consistently been more expensive than the plastic alternative, but we think that the trade off it completely worth it, and we're 100% committed to this no matter the cost.
Here's what we came up with!
Product: Art Prints
Packaging: Tissue Paper & Presentation Folders
We package our A4 prints flat, and our A3/A2 prints rolled, as we found in the early stages of Papio Press that sending large prints flat often lead to bent corners. So we had to come up with two different kinds of packaging for this product.
A4 prints are sandwiched between two sheets of greyboard for protection and then this is put into a beautiful illustrated presentation folder, which then is packed into a hard Lil Envelope. This idea was actually a happy accident! We did Top Drawer a few years back, and bought a lot of presentation folders to hand out to clients, and ended up not using 90% of them. When we switched to eco-packaging we found these in a corner of the office and put two and two together!
A3/A2 prints are rolled up in our gorgeous tissue paper from NoIssueTissue and sent in cardboard tubes. The tissue paper is really reasonably priced with them, looks stunning, and they plant a tree for every order they receive. Win-win!
Product: Enamel Pins
Packaging: Business Card
We used to get enamel pins pre-packed on business cards packed in cello bags. Pins really need to be pre-packed in something or they will scratch each other in transition from your manufacturer, so our first problem was how to remove the plastic on that end. It ended up being pretty simple! We just emailed our manufacturer and asked if they would consider packaging up our pins in paper bags instead of plastic ones, and they agreed with an extra cost of 5p per pin. We're hoping that one day this will be standard and we won't have to pay the extra, but until then we're happy to pay it knowing thousands of little plastic baggies aren't polluting the earth. The business cards arrive separate, and we have to put the pins on the backs ourselves which definitely takes more time, but again it's worth it.
Product: Enamel Necklaces
Packaging: Presentation Box
We've always packed our necklaces in beautiful black cardboard presentation boxes, so this was one we didn't need to switch. The only thing we did change was asking our manufacturer to switch to paper bags again!
Product: Postcards & Cards
Packaging: Paper Envelopes, Paper Bags & Nothing!
Our packs of postcards are now packaged in lovely paper envelopes instead of cello bags, we found some gorgeous ones with little string ties that look awesome.
Our mystery packs of 10 cards are packed in fun striped paper bags and sealed with a paper sticker. And our greetings cards are sent naked! So with no cello bag or packaging at all. We haven't had any complaints yet...
It is worth mentioning that we still currently have to offer wholesale cards packaged in cello bags, because that's what the industry currently expects. There are a few amazing big businesses trying to pioneer naked cards in shops, and hopefully we will be able to transition this way once the industry as a whole gets used to this idea.Product: Patches & Tattoos
Packaging: Tracing Paper Envelope
I might be wrong on hoping this is an eco-friendly option so please feel free to correct me! But we found that tracing paper envelopes can be a good option to replace cello bags where you need/want to see the product inside. This isn't so important when you're selling online direct to consumer, but when you're wholesaling and things need to not get damaged and look nice in shops, this could be a good option!
Envelopes & Outer Packaging
The other important switch was in the envelopes we use to post things out in. The main thing we needed to replace was the padded enveloped that have bubble wrap inside them. We eventually found Jiffy Green padded envelopes, which are filled with a recycled paper in the walls to pad it out. They're a little heavier (which can translate to a little more postage cost in some orders) and slightly more expensive than the padded envelopes, but we love them! We use them for pins & necklaces. Other than that we use Lil Cardboard Envelopes in various sizes for cards, postcards, patches, tattoos & A4 prints. We have Cardboard tubes for large prints, and a selection of card boxes for larger orders. No plastic involved! Yay!
So there you have it! No more plastic packaging in our online shop. This whole journey has been awesome, and it's honestly felt like such a weight off to know we're not contributing so much plastic to the world. Overall this experience has really highlighted how important it is to support small businesses - we're not the only small business we know that has been going above and beyond and taking hits on profit margins to make this happen. It frustrates me endlessly that big retailers have the buying power to switch over to plastic free packaging on a lot of their products pretty effortlessly, and they're choosing not to, or dragging their heels. If we can do it, they definitely can!
So please keep supporting those small businesses! Every order means the world to all of us.
Thanks so much for reading,
Zanna & Harry xo
Recently I did a little illustration Q&A on Instagram, and a few of the questions were about style. I've done a number of talks in Uni's and Colleges over the years, and I've had a lot of students contacting me with questions, and the question I get asked the most has always been about style. How do you find your style? Well, although I hardly feel qualified to answer, I always want to do what I can to help, and you never know when your words might resonate with someone, so here are my two cents.
When you look at the illustration world it’s hard to avoid style. Its pervasive, the reason people get hired. When you’re starting out it can also be completely overwhelming. When I first began my Illustration BA I found myself asking the same question, much like a child wonders how on earth you turn from a kid to an adult, I wondered how you go from someone who hasn’t got a clue what they’re doing to a full fledged professional with an ever illusive ‘style’. Like, do you just happen upon it one day? Do you just pluck it from thin air?
My teachers all told me the same thing – forget about it and just learn how to draw. I didn’t understand for a long time how on earth that would help, and I felt the same way everyone does at the beginning of a long ass journey. Frustrated. But I had no choice, so I drew. I drew people in life drawing classes, I drew people reading in the library, I drew people selling fruit at markets, I drew fishermen mending nets on a boat, I drew people waiting for trains, I drew people making cakes.
We went all over to all kinds of museums. I drew old rusting farm equipment, I drew ancient weaponry and armour, I drew beautiful combs and hand mirrors, I drew keys, I drew shrunken heads, I drew the patterns from pots and tapestries, I drew typewriters and clocks, and I drew animal after animal. I filled endless sketchbooks with awful drawings of anything I could find, not caring what they looked like and not caring about style, until one day I realised the drawings weren’t so awful anymore.
As well as drawing I tried every method of creating I had the facility to. I’ve drawn in pens and pencils, I’ve tried every kind of paint & ink, I’ve screen printed, mono-printed, made etching plates, I’ve worked on paper and on canvas, I’ve learned how to create art digitally with a tablet and an iPad. Watercolour was the first that really resonated with me, where I felt in control of my marks, and the first thing I felt really able to use to bring the ideas in my head to reality. Later I expended into gouache, I learned how to scan my paintings in and clean them up in Photoshop, and now my work is made from a combination of paint and digital work.
And through all this I never particularly chose a style, after all those years of work and experimentation my style was the result of this very long and personal journey I had taken. My style is me. It’s the colors I love, the shapes I’m drawn to, the subject matter I am inspired by, and the techniques that I mixed together. It changes, it evolves, I am always trying to learn new things and get better at what I do. Still, I see myself shining out of every new piece of work because it’s all a result of my own very personal creative process.
There is a tendency in the creative world to assume that people are naturally talented; that somehow they burst forth from their mothers womb, paintbrush in hand, able to paint a beautiful sunset over the mountains from their own imaginations. This attitude totally dismisses the YEARS of hard work that all of us had to go through to get where we are today. Art is just like anything else, you learn how to do it by grafting. People who are extremely ‘talented’ at what they do are often just the most obsessed. They are the people who eat, sleep and breathe it. It’s the same in almost every career, not just illustration.
There is no shortcut to finding a style. Much like musicians have to learn their scales, illustrators too need to learn the fundamentals of our craft. If you try to pick a style and emulate it then you’ll be selling yourself short. Like a chef who learns how to make really good eggs and nothing else, you will be boxing yourself in to only ever making eggs for the rest of your life. You will also always be ten steps behind the person you’re trying to be.
I think sometimes style can look like a choice because a lot of illustrators work can come across quite similar at first glance. But to me I think this is less because people are actively copying each other, and more because we all live in the same world. Lots of us live in the same or similar cultures as well, so we are all bound to admire the same colours, and to be inspired by the same things. I love nature, animals and flowers, I love blue and pink, I love pattern, and I love detail. I can think of tons of other illustrators who would probably say the same things. I can think of tons of other people who would say the same thing and maybe that’s why they like my work.
Illustration is visual storytelling; it’s a way to reflect the world back at itself from your own unique perspective. Every time you put pen or paintbrush to paper to draw something you’re making your own set of choices about every line and stroke, you’re putting your own feelings and emotion into it all, and it all comes as a result of everything you’ve tried and everything you’ve learned. That’s why people will connect with it. That’s why they’ll love it. That's how they'll know its you.
So that's the long and the short of it, in my humble opinion. It’s a long, frustrating and amazing journey. Enjoy every minute.
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