The two youngest siblings in a set of six, Rosa-May and Stella Rutherford were born in the Far North, schooled in Auckland, spent their gap year in Sydney and studied in Wellington. There Rosa studied Photographic Design at Massey University, and Stella obtained a BA (Hons) in Film and English from Victoria University. Stella reveals what makes Frank and Dean work so well…
What do you make?
We are currently building up our first line of illustrationery (hand-illustrated stationery). We make lots of other things too – for instance, both of us are keen crochet-ers, though possibly with more enthusiasm than skill. We can be pretty adventurous when it comes to making things and will try anything once, but it does always seem to come back to drawing. There’s security there you know, if you’re having a bad crafting day, there’s always the comfort of knowing that your pen will (almost) never fail you.
How did you get into your craft?
It all really began with childhood summers spent drawing endlessly with our felt tip pens. We used to draw families and families of paper dolls, and then we both went through a lengthy phase of drawing jellybean people, which were basically jellybeans that had stick legs and arms and little dots for eyes. The jellybeans drove tractors and climbed trees and lived in huge mansions. It’s pretty weird when I think about it actually.
More recently though, it was our mutual love of quirky stationery that got us back into drawing together. We were tired of searching for the perfect products and so began to make our own which was where the idea for our Birthday Calendar was founded (hopefully soon to be available on Felt), as well as our envelope templates, week planners and so on. We knew exactly what we wanted, but no one else seemed to be making it precisely as we envisaged it.
Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
Rosa-May has completed a Design degree at Massey, majoring in Photography. Illustration was quite a prominent aspect of her degree and she’s been freelance illustrating ever since. My tertiary qualifications aren’t in this area at all, but I sure do love to put a pen to paper.
Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
Staedtler pigment liners. My preferred sizes are 0.1 and 0.05. I remember one art teacher who was constantly trying to make me use big thick pencils and do more gestural work, rather than spending hour upon hour carefully etching teeny tiny lines onto my page. I think it frustrated him no end, but I just couldn’t do it. I always add each line and each patch of shading very softly, slowly working it up until I’ve reached my preferred contrast level. It can be a slow process.
Rosa and I work really differently I think, but love using the same materials. In fact, we have been known to argue endlessly over the rightful owner of certain pens! I feel more confident if I have an image in front of me to work from, whereas Rosa seems to have all these amazing images sitting there in her head. Even perspective and stuff is really easy for her, and that’s something I can struggle with quite a bit. I think we both envy each other’s abilities to a degree, but rather than a negative this has become a really positive aspect of working together. We absolutely fall in love with each other’s drawings, which can be really encouraging, and I think the fact that we produce such different pieces is what makes Frank and Dean work.
What inspires you?
Everything vintage. Particularly vintage children’s books, they have the best illustrations and provide a constant source of inspiration. We are also constantly inspired by other creative people, and there are sooo many amazing creators out there! It can be like opening Pandora’s Box sometimes, browsing amazing blogs or touring marketplaces.
You’re almost like, “stop it now with all your amazing making-ness!”
For my own work, in particular my drawings, I find I am most inspired while I lie in bed at night trying to get to sleep. Quite often I find myself designing envelopes at this time. And of course the best and most inspiring times are when we are hanging out together. Sometimes we intimidate each other into creative silence though, when one of us is a little too full of ideas.
Describe your workspace:
Very messy. I work from our living room and am constantly fighting to maintain the balance between housekeeping time and creative time. The two are mutually exclusive unfortunately, and when I’m working I’m creating so much untidiness, it’s almost ridiculous. I dream of one day owning a lovely big excessively organized studio that’s always perfectly tidy. Tidiness is another thing that inspires me, I just wish our house experienced it more often…
What are you currently listening to?
The Cure – Best of, Ryan Adams – Gold, The Smiths – The World Won’t Listen, The Shins – Oh, Inverted World, Ben Harper and The Blind Boys of Alabama – There Will Be A Light. I guess I need some new music, but I do love listening to old favourites!
Recommend an album:
Old Crow Medicine Show – self titled album. Even better, watch them live. Never before have I desired to play a string instrument quite so desperately.
Your favourite childhood book?
Little House in the Big Woods – Laura Ingalls Wilder. I loved Brambly Hedge and The Borrowers too. It’s all the little details that get me. Laura’s Christmas presents, and the bolts of fabric and jars of sweets at the General Store; the tiny tiny kitchen cupboards in the tree homes of Brambly Hedge; the eclectically decorated home of Homely and Pod, with its cotton spool stools and things. Those details just made my imagination come alive when I was little. I think they still do really.
What are you reading now? Kes – Barry Hines
Your hero/heroine: Jane Austen. And Christopher Guest.
A favourite quote: “Piracy is our only option.” – Jane Austen (Sense and Sensibility)
If you were a crayon, what colour would you be? Yellow.
Both sisters are now based in Auckland, where Stella cares for her 11 month old daughter Eleanor and Rosa is newly engaged. The Frank and Dean duo are planning their debut at various local and not so local markets very soon – watch this space!