Q&A with Emily of Cabin Journal

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Q: We love your vintage aesthetic – please tell us about some of the inspiration for your designs. 

A: Thank you! Antique and vintage shows are my favourite hunting grounds for sources of inspiration; there was such an attention to aesthetic details then that I find is lost today. The most mundane objects and products were given beautiful tins alive with florals and scrollwork, gold accents and gorgeous typography. I collect milk glass (which inspired the Milk Glass Tea Towel) and am currently researching vintage tins for some upcoming products. I think risograph printing lends a the perfect vintage feel to anything it prints because of its delicate visible benday dot that mimics those found on old lithograph prints.

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Q: Your colour palette is gorgeous, at once muted and bright, and stunning colour pairings – how do you select your colours?

A: Printing risograph can be a blessing and a curse – there are limited flat colours to print with, but with overlaying the colours the possibilities can be endless. There are colours I am naturally drawn to, colours like fresh grass greens, blush pinks, bright poppy reds, blues. I tend to use those colours a lot.

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Q: Nature features heavily in your designs. What are some of your favourite spots to visit and sketch?

A: I have two favourite places, both of which are out of the city. A few hours north of Toronto my family has a farm; there are apple trees and bee hives, bubbling creeks, thick forests and fields of wildflowers in the summer. A lot of projects are dreamed up there first, and brought back to the city to be put into production. Likewise my annual trip to the Maritimes to visit my family out east; I find so much inspiration there being completely surrounded by nature.

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Q: Dessert also seems to be a source of inspiration for you. What is your go-to when you want something sweet?

A: I grew up having tea parties, pouring illustrated children’s books that heavily featured sweets, and have been drawing treats as long as I can remember. My go-to dessert … ah that’s difficult, probably pies (fruit, but I don’t really have a favourite).

Q: What made you decide to create your own stationery line?

A: Creating a stationery line seemed a natural progression from my own illustration work and my love of paper goods. There is something unique to letter-writing and sending that is so special; it forces us to pause in our busy lives and set aside time to a task that will (usually) bring some happiness to someone else (the snail-mail receiver). The sentiment of cards is hard to relinquish.

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Q: What do you love about paper, and snail mail?

A: Paper products allow us to take a moment away from our screens. They require a certain degree of attention and there is a thoughtful gesture inherent in paper goods – it takes effort to set aside time, sit down and write, and then go and mail it. It is so different from email, which barely requires you to pause what you are doing to send one. These days receiving something in the mail, for most people, that is not a bill or flyer, is an unexpected surprise. I think the small gesture may make people’s day – it’s like finding a tiny gift waiting for  them. There is also the tactile experience of paper products; the different weights of paper stock, the subtle colour variations, the surface texture and the way ink sits on a sheet depending on printing method … I love all of those things.

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Q: In addition to your stationery line, you also work as an illustrator and surface designer. Any dream projects? 

A: Oh there are always dream projects and dream clients! For surface design, I think it would be amazing to create surface patterns for Anthropology (home textiles or packaging design), Land of Nod (children’s textiles – home goods) and Cloud Nine (quilt fabrics). As for dream illustration jobs / clients, it would be lovely to illustrate for Frankie Magazine, Martha Stewart Living … the list really goes on. There are so many great publications and potential clients out there!