HUNTER PAPER CO.
Hunter Paper Co. is a letterpress stationery brand based in Northern Ireland. With a slight obsession for the beautiful tactility of letterpress printing and a modern, minimal design aesthetic, designer Emma Jackson established the brand fresh out of a degree in illustration to continue to explore her own visual style. Recently Emma hired my first staff member, bought a second printing press to introduce hot foil into production as well as letterpress and vastly expanded her stockists. They're now stocked in nearly 100 independent shops across the UK, Ireland, Europe and America, and nationally in Oliver Bonas stores across the UK, and Selfridges in London.
Emma told us a bit about her studio life and her stationery brand!
Tell us about your studio!
I set up my business just over 3 years ago and in that time I've adjusted my studio and workspaces lots to accommodate the growing business. I started out of a tiny box room studio I rented in Belfast as soon as I graduated. I started freelancing and found the need for a dedicated space and a routine, so rented a little studio and got to work. As the business came to fore and I found my interests were definitely leaning more to pursuing it rather than freelancing, I found myself outgrowing the space really quickly. I was incredibly lucky to have the support of my parents who were willing to let me put a large shed/studio at the back of their house, and my Granda who built the studio for me! It's great to be working in a space that has not only an obvious connection to home, but was also purpose built for me by family. I'm now starting to outgrow that space, and am cramming shelving and storage into every usable space possible as well as taking over much of my parents garage to house my ton-and-a-half 1960s letterpress printer. At the moment I'm a team of one, although I do call in favours and get the help of family and friends when I have big orders going out and need a little extra packing help!
How do you incorporate handmade processes in your designs?
I'm completely obsessed with printmaking and giving my work a really tactile quality. I've always loved letterpress but never imagined I'd actually get to play around with the process myself, never mind actually own a printing press and make it the focus of my business. When I started the company I had been producing lino prints and started printing onto cards as a little extra offering at fairs and on my online shop. This quickly took over and the range really naturally and quite quickly grew and I knew it was going to be the main focus. As I got busier, block-printing became less realistic as it was so time consuming, so I took a screen printing class and switched to screen printing. After about a year I started to outgrow that and knew I couldn't scale the business any further while I was hand screen-printing everything myself, so I looked into letterpress and after a few months research I had a press of my own and was getting to grips with the process. It's much faster, yet still retains all of the texture and perfect imperfections I love so much about printmaking and is still a really hands on process, which I love. From start to finish I decide every step of the process, from hand drawing the illustrations and typography to mixing the Pantone colours, applying the ink to the press and printing each colour on layer by layer to create the final image.
What is the most important piece of knowledge or advice you have gleaned from setting up your own business?
Honestly, just get to work and do it. It sounds cliche, but trusting your gut is hugely important. I knew buying a letterpress printer was the best thing to move my business forward, but on the surface it could have been seen as extremely risky. It was expensive, I'd never printed on one before and I didn't really know where to begin, but I was driven and determined to make it work and it has grown my business already beyond what I thought it could be!