Melissa Boardman is the creative force behind The Paperbird Society. Based in Wellington, Melissa was inspired by her love of birds to develop a range of bird-themed eco-friendly papergoods, which has evolved to include prints and tote bags featuring some of New Zealand’s favourite native birds.
What do you make?
I make native bird themed paper goods – greeting cards, hand stitched notebooks and notepads. The majority of the products I make are stationery items but more recently I have begun introducing things like tote bags and giclee prints to the range.
How did you get into your craft?
I have always collected notebooks and greeting cards and dreamed of one day designing my own stationery range. I had been doing a lot of bird photography and printmaking which I wanted to use for something practical, I wanted to find a medium that would allow me to combine my love of birds, photography and printmaking, stationery was that medium.
Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
Not in my craft as such, but I took printmaking papers as part of my Bachelor of Design, which gave me the skills I use to create the prints that form the imagery of my stationery. I majored in photography, which plays a big role in my processes, as all my designs begin with a photograph.
Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
I love all kinds of printmaking processes, especially linocuts and drypoint etchings. I enjoy putting images on paper in ways that are completely hands on and personal. No two prints are exactly the same and I love this aspect of printmaking.
I have always been into photography, and have always been drawn to the features of olden-day photography like antique cameras, rounded corners, sepia tones, and photo corners. But I can’t deny that new technology plays a big role in bringing my designs together. As much as I’d love to continue using film cameras, digital is much more practical.
What inspires you?
Birds, birds and more birds, I love traveling to bird sanctuaries, and especially love Zealandia. All my designs derive from original photographs I have taken, so I’m always looking to capture an image of a bird that I haven’t yet photographed. Anything vintage inspires me, things like letterpress prints, antique frames and baroque patterns, which you can see elements of in my designs.
Describe your workspace:
A cluttered mixture of old and new. I use a vintage printmaking press and typewriter, but have a shiny new Mac that I use to put my designs together. An inspiration board hangs on the wall in front of my workspace that I pin anything and everything onto to keep me constantly inspired.
Is there a philosophy behind your work?
To be as environmentally friendly as possible. Knowing that what I’m doing isn’t impacting negatively on the environment is important to me, I use only recycled paper, natural binding thread, cotton tote bags and natural jute bags. I also value being original, as I think originality adds value and I design my products completely from scratch.
Your favourite childhood book? Brer Rabbit is the one that springs to mind. But I liked anything with animals.
If you were a crayon, what colour would you be?
Something neutral like an earthy brown, or maybe clean and green.