THE MANY WAYS OF PAPER - A DESIGNER SPOTLIGHT: with Anna Hellmann, Germany

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Hi there, I'm Anna, a passionate wedding stationery designer from Germany and founder of AnnasArt Paper & Design. I love the art of beautiful letters, I am crazy about modern calligraphy and big fan of handmade papers.

I have a bachelor of arts in graphic design and since 2019 I have been accompanying wedding couples with my individually designed stationery on their big day. In May 2021 I decided to specialize in fine art design. I have a passion for modern and minimalist designs. Nature is my biggest source of inspiration here. I combining organic, minimalist and elegant elements that creates my unique fine art style. In addition, my absolute love for the details flows in all my designs. This makes my wedding stationery very timeless, natural and esthetic.

My area of expertise is to finish paper with letterpress and hot foil stamping. There is no printing process that can refined paper more beautifully and with higher quality like this. Here comes an old printing press, the „Original Heidelberg Tiegel“, for use. For now I work together with a beautiful letterpress manufacture from my area. But in the future I would like to have my own „Original Heidelberg Tiegel“ and print my designs by myself. Using the Heidelberg, the smell of freshly printed paper and the haptic end result makes me so happy.

 

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

One of my favorite designs is my first „big“ project from 2021 after my decision to specify on fine art designs and I love it so much. It was the stationery for my own wedding and there was no question at all about doing it myself.

Images: Mona Bergmann

I wanted to create something very special, reflecting our personality as a couple. We love Italian food and the sunny Tuscany mood with olives, so I create our personally wedding theme. One of my area of expertise is the hot foil stamping and I am so in love with handmade paper, too. That is why I put both together and create a special romantic and modern look for our wedding stationery. For the special details I use a modern calligraphy font and combine a fine art illustration of an olive leaf that runs through the whole stationery like a red thread.

To get the invitation more interesting for the user, I decide to play with different paper sizes. So I mixed the formats to make a very special open letter experience. For the main and the detail card I used a classic size, but the reply cards should have been a little bit different. I wanted to deviate slightly from the traditional size, that's why I used a smaller paper format. I love to see the reply cards come back with the stamped postmark. It’s so cute!

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

At the moment I prefer to work with soft and mat colors. Natural tones, which occur in nature, have done it to me particularly.

I'm generally not the type who uses a lot of color. For me, it may be rather discreet and reserved, than colorful and gaudy. I prefer to set accents with modern calligraphy or fine art illustrations.

 

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

That's not so easy to answer...

So my all time favorite is clearly gold! Not the printed gold, but gold hot foil in all its beautiful shades. Gold is always going. It doesn't even have to be gold hot foil. Also golden sealing wax, fine thread, golden eyelets or delicate gold leaf details simply enhance any stationery.

That's why I can't even say which color is my favorite. But if I had to choose, it would probably be #E9E5E4

This is a soft nude tone that goes a bit into gray. Not bright but matte. I like to use this color for delicate backgrounds on transparent envelopes or in the envelope liner.

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

It's easy because there's nothing like your soft cotton white. I just love using it because it's so timeless. My designs are usually very minimalistic, the soft white paper enhances that style and makes it stand out without being overbearing. That's what I love so much about it. My all time favorite, the gold hot foil stamping comes out especially well on this paper, too!   

 

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

The combination of white and gold really always works. It's not only my favorite combination, my customers love it, too. They can't get enough of it. I think this combination will not go out of style so quickly. It’s definitely timeless.

I just noticed that pastels are coming back. It's all in the mix: pale blush in combination with slate blue and dusty rose is simply fabulous. Especially for spring weddings, the soft colors are particularly well suited. Together with flowery table decorations, they are an absolute eye-catcher!

 

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

My favorite things to use are botanical fine art illustrations, modern calligraphy fonts and not to forget: wax seals. Almost every design among the last year was finished with a wax stamp. I think it’s because I love to create individual wedding logos, illustrations or symbols which run through the entire stationery like a red thread.

Images: Stefanie Triebenbacher

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

I don't think you can make that general statement. The creation of paper has a long tradition and is therefore rather "classic" or "retro". In the end, however, it always depends on the design and the final result. For example, if modern calligraphy meets handmade paper, a beautiful end product is created that makes every designer's heart beat faster.

What inspires you? 

I love to be outside. So it’s typical for all my designs to be inspired by nature. During my lunch break, I go out every day and take a little walk through our fields and forests. Fresh air and the rustling of the trees clear my head and encourage creativity.

 Image: Stefanie Triebenbacher

Your dream design project?

My dream design project is to attend a large Destination Wedding in Tuscany, Italy, which is followed by an outdoor ceremony. I can be there from the beginning and coordinate every last detail of the stationery.

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

I can’t life without Garamond!

Are you secretly a serif or sans serif person?

To a very very large part I am a serif person! But sometimes a design also needs the calmness and simplicity of a sans serif, so I can't suppress this little part completely and use it now and then ;-)

Which three words best describe your style?
natural. minimalistic. modern. Image: Stefanie Triebenbacher

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

I did a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design at the University of Applied Sciences in Hildesheim. That prepared me very well for my professional life as a designer. But the really important things, you learn only in the real agency everyday life. It wasn't until 2019, after 6 years of professional experience, that I had enough confidence, registered a trade and worked only 4 days a week. From then on, I couldn't stop educating myself in my new free time. I tried a lot of things and only did what I like. Most of it I taught myself, like handlettering, watercolor and calligraphy. Basically, you can't learn design. You have to have talent and a certain eye. And I've been able to sharpen and expand that over the last few years. 

Similar colours to the ones shown in the picture: our Dusty Rose and our Greige
Images: Nelli Brinkmann

How did you learn calligraphy?

I have always had a great fondness for typography and fonts. I took many typography courses during my studies. Unfortunately, there was no calligraphy course, so it was somewhat forgotten. It was only when I had more time for hobbies due to my part-time work, that I discovered handlettering and calligraphy for myself. But at some point handlettering was too gob for my fine art stationery. So I searched the internet for calligraphy books and landed on Clara Riemer's website. She was launching her first online calligraphy course at the time and I was hooked and booked it. From then on it was just practice, practice and practice. Especially with calligraphy it is important not to get out of practice and to take the pen in your hand every time. Preferably every day! But I don't manage that either. Still it is the greatest thing for me when I receive calligraphy orders. Especially labeling envelopes is the most fun for me!

 

Your guilty pleasure in design?

I have a weakness for beautiful notebooks. No matter where I am, there is always a notebook that I can't pass by. For example, I have books from Amsterdam or Berlin. I think these are also beautiful souvenirs. Unfortunately, the notebooks then always end up in my closet and fall into oblivion... Most are also still empty and waiting for the first scribble. It is always an overcoming to write on the first page, isn’t it? That's why I still have many many books waiting for their first entry.

 

Why do you like working with handmade paper? 

Image: Katharina Haupt

My designs should not only be beautiful and aesthetic. They also be a haptic experience. I love to play with different materials, formats and structures. That's why I prefer to combine handmade paper with letterpress or hot foil stamping and classic envelopes.

The feel of handmade paper is simply unique. Due the high cotton component, it is not only super soft and fluffy, it’s also very strong and robust. Optimal properties for finishing with the printing press (as you now know, my favorite finishing method). Through the high pressure on the paper, you can "feel" every single letter at the end. A result to touch that you will definitely not want to let out of your hands.

 

See more of Anna's work on her website.

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