THE MANY WAYS OF PAPER - A DESIGNER SPOTLIGHT: with Amanda Wells, Inker Tinker

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hello, I’m Amanda, a designer and letterpress printer working from my home studio in the peaceful rural area of Plummers Point in Tauranga, New Zealand.

My background is in design and I worked as a graphic designer both in New Zealand and abroad for about 15 years before leaving the corporate design world almost seven years ago when I had my first baby. While working as a designer I fell in love with letterpress printing and took a weekend class learning the basics of typesetting and printing on a small table top press. Then my search for a press of my own started and finally I found a fully restored 1920’s Chandler & Price platen press which I bought when I was 8 months pregnant! That’s when my journey into letterpress began and I started Inker Tinker, working around one and then two small children, the best of both worlds you could say. I love the hands on nature of my work, designing wedding invitations, a collection of greeting cards, corporate stationery and seeing it all come to life in beautiful letterpress detail.

Show us one of your favourite designs and tell us about how it came to be.

One of my favourite designs in the semi-custom wedding stationery collection is the Flora Suite. When I was designing it I took inspiration from my garden and the beautiful trailing star jasmine plants that have the most exquisite scent. I took some cuttings from the garden and spent some time illustrating and then transferring those illustrations onto the computer to create the invitation suite pieces. All of my semi-custom suites have a blind deboss detail and the jasmine is the perfect element for this letterpress printing style. Combined with classic typography it is a suite that can be customised by my couples to be subtle and pretty or bold and moody. I love this version letterpress printed on grey tones of Eliv Rosenkranz handmade paper.

What are your favourite colours to work with right now? And why?

I love working with neutral tones as the base of my design and adding in pops of bright colour with an envelope, wax seal or silk ribbon detail.

Your all time favorite colour in Hex and how would you describe it?

It would have to be metallic antique gold, Pantone 873. It’s the perfect shade of gold that prints beautifully on light papers and shines on dark paper.

Which of all our colours of handmade paper do you like best if you had to chose one?

Slate blue.

 

Colour combination that will never go out of style? Colour combination that will make a comeback?

Black and white is always beautiful and can be interpreted as very traditional and ornate or modern and minimal, it’s all in the design and paper choices. I have been seeing a lot of bright colours coming through in wedding florals lately and I’d love to see more couples use this in their stationery with bold pinks, reds, blues and yellows.

 

What are design elements that you use consistently in your work?

I love using blind deboss letterpress details in my work. It adds a subtle texture and works equally well with both intricate illustrations and bold minimal text.

 

How do you see handmade paper? Is it a more modern or a more retro design element?

I love combining handmade papers with letterpress printing, two beautiful old fashioned art forms that can be used to create a modern aesthetic.

 

What inspires you?

After many years of working in design and advertising and adhering to client briefs and guidelines it is so refreshing to create freely and produce work that is beautiful and doesn’t need to conform to a set style. Inspiration can strike at any time and it’s great to have the flexibility of working from home, test new ideas and experiment.

Your dream design project?

My dream project would have to be designing a sample pack for a paper company using every printing technique, die cut and binding option imaginable!

If you had to use only one font on handmade paper for the rest of your designer's life, which would it be?

Mrs Eaves, it has the most beautiful small caps and italics!

Are you secretly a serif or sans serif person?

Serif.

Which three words best describe your style?

Detailed, pretty, thoughtful.

 

Did you teach it yourself or dd you go to school for design?

I studied Media Arts and have a degree in Graphic Design. This was in the mid 1990’s and we didn’t have a lot of access to computers with any design software so all of our assignments were very hands on and included a lot of drawing, sketching and collage. I didn’t know much about computer design until I got my first job and learnt everything from watching those around me and figuring it out for myself. Letterpress is something I have mostly taught myself through talking to other printers, watching thousands of hours of You Tube and practice, practice, practice! I love working on the computer and creating beautiful designs with all the latest software and then getting my hands dirty, mixing inks, selecting papers and creating something tactile and luxurious.

How did you learn calligraphy?

I would love to be able to answer this question one day! I adore calligraphy and would absolutely love to spend hours practicing and creating my own unique style. Maybe once both of my children are at school I will have a little more time… Until then I am happy to employ the services of the experts when required.

Your guilty pleasure in design?

I have a bit of an addiction to stationery items which I guess doesn’t really come as a shock as I am a stationery designer. But I have so many pencils and pens in every weight and colour that I will never use them all, they just call to me when I am in a stationery shop and I can’t leave without buying at least one… or five to add to my collection!

Why do you like working with handmade paper? 

Each piece is unique and it prints like a dream!

 

See more of Amanda's work on her website.

 

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