Illustrator Zanna Goldhawk tells us why working with her husband Harry as Papio Press is a labour of love…
From whimsical floral prints to fantastic foxes, Papio Press’ illustrated goodies are both magical and eye-catching – so much so we asked them to produce the illustrated papers in Mollie Makes 76!
Husband and wife team Harry and Zanna Goldhawk met at university while studying illustration and started Papio Press in 2014 after discovering their shared love of drawing flora and fauna. Now based in their studio in Cornwall, the couple create everything from calendars to prints filled with wild animals. We caught up with Zanna to find out what it’s like running a business with your other half and discover the biggest learning curves they’ve encountered since setting up Papio Press three years ago…
Hi Zanna, why the animal theme with your makes?
Both of us just love animals! We feel very passionately about nature and the environment. I think when you’re drawing something you love it’s always going to produce your best work, which is what we try to do every time we sit down to draw.
What’s in your sketchbook at the moment?
I don’t think either of us have a conventional sketchbook anymore. We mostly just paint onto random bits of paper. I think this is because there’s something nice about it being a piece in it’s own right, and also because it’s way easier to scan in to the computer that way! At the moment we’re creating prints inspired by mythical creatures and expanding on our natural history print line.
Describe your studio and why it works for you?
We’ve just moved house, so at the moment we have two office spaces. We have one beautiful room in our new home where our desks overlook the harbour where we create artwork and do any computer-based work. Then we have a stock room, which is currently in my parent’s attic until we can find a better solution. I think it’s important for people to know that not everyone has an Instagram-worthy office space – ours is a mess at the moment! Although some people are lucky to have beautiful, big studios, lots of us are just making things up as we go along.
How do you find working with your other half?
One of the first things people always say when they find out we work together is, “Oh my! How do you do that? I think I’d kill my other half if I had to work with them”, it always makes us chuckle. We can see why it wouldn’t be for all couples, but Harry and I have a very chilled out relationship. I admire people who start their businesses alone because I don’t think I could have done it without Harry. When things get stressful it’s such a nice feeling to be able turn to him for support. And, when something good happens, he’s always the first person I want to share it with anyway.
How do you split the workload?
We always split jobs according to our strengths. Artwork is split half-half as much as possible, although sometimes I do a bit more than Harry because I create work a bit faster; Harry labours over every leaf in a way that I would never have the patience for! Harry usually takes product photography, editing, accounts and wholesale, while I take customer services, social media and packaging. There are a million more jobs, but we always just have a chat about who has the most time.
Who are your favourite makers?
William Morris is, of course, one of our favourites. We also love pretty much everything that NoBrow produce – the colours and printing quality is just amazing. In terms of illustrators: Marc Martin, Monica Ramos, Robert Hunter, Laura Carlin, Isabelle Arsenault, the list could literally go on forever!
What’s been your proudest project?
It would probably be creating our rainforest calendar because we illustrated animals that the charity Rainforest Concern help to protect, and then donated 10 per cent of the profits to the charity itself. It’s felt really good to put our money where our mouth is in terms of the environment. I believe very passionately in fighting climate change and stopping the cutting down of the rainforest, and it felt good to actually be doing something that might make a small difference.
…and your biggest craft fail?
Failure is super important for all businesses, and we’ve had our fair share! There was one greeting card, which we bought 200 of and I think we only sold two. We also spent hours screen-printing tea towels once, and sold hardly any. Then, when we put ours through the wash a couple of times, we realised they were really horrible and felt terrible about the few we had sold!
What are your top three illustration tips?
- Draw what you love is definitely my number one tip.
- Observe what you’re drawing and create lots of rough sketches before you start a finished piece. For example, if I’m drawing a fox I might watch a few videos about foxes and watch how they move and their expressions to help me get some of their character into my drawings.
- Be yourself and find your own style. This is the hardest part, but it will come to you the more you experiment with your own ideas. That’s what will make your work unique and covetable.
What does making mean to you?
Making is pretty much my whole world now. It’s always been an outlet for me, to express myself and to get lost in a different world, but now it’s also the way I make my living so it sort out encompasses my life in a way I hadn’t ever imagined possible. It’s everything – it’s how I feed myself, and it’s also how I feed my soul.