Q&A with Melissa Chan of Olive Branch and Co

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Q: What is the one stationery item you couldn’t live without?

Notebooks! I have tons of notebooks, one for whatever category I can think of – a notebook to keep track of books I’m reading, a notebook for passwords, a notebook to leave in my bag just because. Notebooks are probably my go-to stationary item – I’m constantly on the hunt for a lovely new notebook, and I always have some extra blank ones lying around just in case a new category comes to mind… 

Q: Who are some of your favourite Canadian designers/artists? 

Robyn Ng is one of my favourite illustrators and also, coincidentally, one of my favourite people (we’ve known each other since we were 10!). Her illustrations are thoughtful, whimsical, and always witty – which match with who she is too. For calligraphy, one of the first Canadian calligraphers I was so inspired by was Karla of Written Word Calligraphy. She has an incredibly elegant and modern style, and I really see her as a leader in the calligraphy world! In terms of Canadian product, I love the Montreal based company Baltic Club – they do such wonderful line-based illustrations! Simple, clean, and I can’t get over their hand lettering style. 

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Q: What do you do when you hit a creative roadblock?

When I hit a creative roadblock, I’ll often go do something else that’s creative, just to get the creative muscles moving, even if it’s not in what I’m working on. Sometimes that means writing, or inking up something just for myself (as opposed to for a client or for a product), or even pulling out my guitar for a little bit and playing around. I find often it’s helpful for me to just step out of that mindset and take a break, which could look like reading, making a cup of tea, going out for coffee, or browsing a bookstore. 

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Q: Name five spots you love to go in your city.

Ooh, so hard to pick just five! Montreal has so many lovely spots. But my current top five:
1. Librairie Drawn and Quarterly – I love this small bookstore for its carefully curated selection, the amazing kids section, and just for being a general aura of awesomeness. It’s hard for me to go to the Mile End without somehowww making my way over here – I’ll always find some kind of excuse to pop in. They’re known for their graphic novels, which I have an affinity towards, but their fiction selection and recommendations are also perfect!  

2. Boucle et Papier – I stumbled on this stationer one summer day, not knowing how much I’d end up coming back here and or knowing that I’d get to develop a partnership with the kind proprietress of this establishment! Montreal has been in need of a good paper place, and this is definitely filling the void! I’ll often come to do calligraphy workshops, or even just to drop by and say hi and browse what’s new. Sometimes, what’s new even includes some of my stuff on the shelves (!), and that’s always a shocker/delight! 

3. Pikolo – I am a ridiculous coffee fanatic, so much so that my best friend knows to buy my coffee beans whenever she goes on trips; thus, getting to live walking distance to this coffee shop is just incredible for me! They’re always pretty packed, but their coffee is fantastic – they have Phil & Sebastians, and a local Montreal roast, Saint Henri – both which I love! They’ve also got this cozy loft/balcony space – perfect to read in! 

4. Nota Bene – And right next to Pikolo is another wonderful paper establishment, Nota Bene, which carries mostly European and Japanese notebooks and paper. They’re also where I bought my first (and only) fountain pen! They also carry Stendig calendars, which we are a big fan of. 

5. La Musee Des Beaux Arts – One of the things I love about living downtown is the proximity to the fine arts museum! They’ve got a pretty vast collection, and every time we go, we try and look at something different. I always linger in front of their impressionist collection, but my husband’s favourite is definitely the wing devoted to Napoleon…

Q: Fill in the blank: Snail mail is…

… a little glow, knowing that someone is thinking of you. 

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Q: What does your creative space look like?

I work in our little apartment, and I’ll just say now that it’s a pretty humble space! I change up the decor around my desk every now and then just to get some fresh inspiration, but we recently put up some prints above my desk – two from the amaazing Ladies of Letterpress book which we picked up on our trip to NYC this past year, and the middle one from my friend Allison from Set Forth Studio – she does linocuts and did a great series with different hairstyles, this being one of my favourites! We get a lot of light in our apartment, and it overlooks Mont Royal – my favourite things about our apartment! This little space often pretty messy, with paper and piles everywhere – when I’m working on a project, I spread out the paper all throughout the apartment to let the ink dry.. so it looks quite different when that’s happening!

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