Archive for October, 2011

Behind the design: 10 questions with PS Designer Alanna

Paper Source Designer

We continue our series dedicated to the minds behind our designs with PS Designer Alanna. Since her early days as an invitation designer in our stores, Alanna has designed a number of Paper Source products like our calendars and stationery. But Alanna is also instrumental in bringing designs to our website for you to customize, working with the web team to launch custom stamps, wedding invitations and our new personalized note pads. We hope you get a feel for the energy she brings to the office every day – it’s infectious!

custom stamp

Name: Alanna Backus
Years with Paper Source: 5 Years
Expertise: Project Management

Q: What inspires you to Do Something Creative Every Day?
A: The people in my life; learning, observing, and new experiences – in general, a little bit of everything!

Q: How did you start designing?
A: As a kid, my parents always encouraged creativity… my sister and I were always making craft projects, playing outside, cooking with mom, or “working” with dad (tinkering with his tools!) I never really considered art to be anything beyond a hobby—I actually started out as a pre-law major my first year in college!—but when I realized I could make a career out of something I loved, it seemed like a no-brainer!

Q: If you weren’t designing, what would you be doing?
A: That depends, are we talking business or pleasure? If business, then either something in the event-planning industry, interior design, or social services… maybe even art therapy. If pleasure, definitely all of the things that I love to do and wish I had more time for like cooking, reading, running, hanging out outside or in the city, and spending as much time as possible with family and friends (and my dog, Brix)!

Q: Who was your favorite art teacher?
A: Definitely Mary Russell from Robert Morris University! She was the first person I met with when I decided to check out design school, and I remember her great creative spirit and friendly personality being magnetic, so I was really excited about college and the choice I had made. I remember thinking, “I want to be like her someday!”

Q: Where do you seek inspiration?
A: Blogs, magazines, and just being out and about in Chicago – this city is full of inspiration everywhere you look, whether you’re going to a museum or checking out a little shop, walking down the street, window shopping, people watching, or simply the parks and lake, little refuges of nature within all the hustle and bustle.

Q: Do you have advice for budding designers?
A: Immerse yourself in everything you can! Interact with a wide variety of people, build and strengthen relationships both for networking and also for your own personal development. Do a variety of internships to see what you like and what you’re good at. Explore, ask questions, learn, do and create – and keep creating! Not everything you do is going to be great (some of it won’t even be good!) but that’s all part of the process.

Q: What is your favorite PS design, not created by you?
A: Wow, that’s a tough one. I work with some pretty amazing designers and their work always blows me away! But I think if I had to pick a favorite, it would be the artwork calendars (Wall Art & Art Grid) – that technically gives me 24 pieces of art that I like, not just 1 or 2… is that cheating?!

Q: What’s your favorite Chicago neighborhood?
A: Rodgers Park – the perfect blend of artsy, urban & diversity.

Q: PVA or double-stick tape?
A: I’m definitely a double-stick tape girl… I’ve even been known to carry it in my purse upon occasion!

Q: What do you love about paper?
A: That it’s a tactile media. I love that there are hundreds of varieties, how you can feel and sometimes even see the fibers that make it up, all of the different colors and patterns and textures. How it has a story behind it – not just the history of the creation of paper itself, but also of the specific paper you’re using – who made it, where it came from, how and what it was made with.

–Alanna B., PS designer
PS color: gravel, pool, paper bag & rhubarb
Latest fave: PS Calendars

Behind the design: 10 questions with PS Designer Karen

Paper Source Designer
As part of a series dedicated to the fabulous minds behind our designs, we are kicking things off with Paper Source Designer Karen. One of our senior designers, Karen has played a hand in many designs and products over the years. Her work is found in Paper Source calendars and she helped conceptualize the latest customer favorite – Paper Source Owls! Karen’s love for Paper Source is felt in every design and in any interaction you have with her. She an absolute joy to be around and we hope these 10 questions will help you get to know the warm and creative spirit behind many of your favorite designs.

file folder2012 calendar

Name: Karen Davis
Years with Paper Source: 7 Years
Expertise: Drawing & Doodling

Q: How did you start designing?
A: I started with note-taking in class – organizing my notes with hand-drawn titles and illustrations to coordinate with the discussion of the day. Then, my mom put me to work creating posters and banners for every possible occasion in our lives – sporting events, birthdays, dad home from a 1-day business trip, you name it, we needed a banner. In high school I had my first opportunity to learn about graphic design and loved it. I couldn’t decide whether I would prefer to be a designer, or to teach art so I could do more painting and drawing, but I’m so glad I chose design.

Q: What was your very first job?
A: Babysitting. I took it very seriously. I started out babysitting for my 3 little sisters, so with that as experience I had a lot of credibility in the neighborhood!

Q: Do you have advice for budding designers?
A: Practice, practice! And try to find time and space to let yourself be inspired – going to museums, going outside for a walk. We create a lot of work under pressure and it’s great practice for working better & faster, but it’s also good to slow down sometimes and recharge, and take another look at something you’ve been working on.

Q: What is your favorite PS design, not created by you?
A: I love the typography layout for the Booklet Calendar that Alanna did this year!

Q: How do your fellow designers help you through product development?
A: Our team is great at giving good feedback – I always walk away with a great idea of how to improve a design that isn’t quite there. They are also really nice and great to work with, which just makes designing with them all the more fun!

Q: Is your home decor totally kick ass?
A: No… I’m pretty 2-D, not 3-D. My mom is awesome though – I’ll send her to your house if you want!

Q: What do you love about paper?
A: I love paper that is printed. I love pattern. I love color! I love that something printed on paper can convey so many different things.

Q: What is your favorite Chicago attraction or landmark?
The Russian Orthodox Church designed by Louis Sullivan. And really anything Louis Sullivan, I adore the ornate detail he applies to buildings – I can’t believe how many of his buildings have been torn down.

Q: Who is your biggest inspiration?
A: My mom. She is, as she laughingly says, “full of it.” She’s always full of crazy new ideas, every event has an accompanying theme, pun, tshirt, poster. I often run card ideas by her and ask her for ideas on sentiments.

Q: Do you line your envelopes?
A: Sometimes, I really love it when I do!

Q: What is your favorite Paper Source product?
A: Our envelopes. I remember as a customer many years ago, reading in the Paper Source catalog about how Sue, Paper Source founder, modeled the pointed flap of the envelope on a European style envelope, and I thought it was just so beautiful. Also, I met my husband Sean at Paper Source when he was in charge of envelope production and distribution. The first note he wrote to me he signed, “Seanvelopes.” So envelopes for me will always be love!

–Karen D., PS designer
PS colors: persimmon, moss, paper bag, papaya (jadeite, I still miss you!)
Latest fave: PS Envelopes

Behind the design: The Paper Source Design team

Paper Source Design

Many of you have grown to love our products through the 300+ associates who work in nearly 50 store locations nationwide. These folks have introduced you to so many unique products and designs – but have you ever wondered who dreamt them up?

Our very own Chicago-based Design Team is behind the Paper Source exclusive products and designs you see in stores and on our website. This team may be small in numbers, but they are certainly big in ideas, handling everything from designing our invitation and stationery lines to dreaming up new kits and products to providing exceptional photography services.

Managing this talented group is Cindy Prangl, who has been developing our product offering since 2002. She worked closely with Paper Source Founder Sue Lindstrom to develop our original aesthetic and has been expanding the offering with the help of many talented designers.

To help you get to know the people behind the designs seen in our stores, we interviewed each of our designers to let you in on the memories, experiences and every day occasions that keep them inspired.

Check back daily as we post interviews with Karen, Alanna, Leslie, Malcolm and give you a behind-the-scenes look at our Crafts Team. It’s time for a glimpse inside Paper Source designs.

How-to: Happy Jack & Spooky Cat Halloween Card

Halloween Card

Wish your friends a Spooktacular Halloween with this adorable Happy Jack & Spooky Cat Halloween Card.

Materials Needed:

Put A Name On It – New Personalized Note Pads!

custom gifts

We’re singing the praises of good design with the newest addition to our personalized gift offering – custom note pads!

Personalize fabulous and functional note pads sets with a name of your choosing. Pads in each set contain 70 sheets of recycled paper and feature exclusive designs that are sure to grab the attention of office passersby. At $35 a set we’re pretty sure you’ll find them perfect for plenty of occasions.

Fellas, this new office accessory features plenty of masculine styles too. Our designers infused the collection with fun illustrations and stately monogram designs that are sure to uphold your desktop swagger.

personalized gifts

Whether it’s your name or someone else’s, we are certain you will find the perfect statement piece for your notes and lists. Choose from note pad sets, list pad sets or a mixed set of note pads, list pad and mini note pads. With more than 90 designs to choose from it might be hard to pick just one!

Only available at!

Announcing: Couples Photo Contest

engagement photos

Hey all you love birds, the Paper Source Design team is looking for a few great couples to represent our new line of save the date photo cards set to launch with our 2012 Paper Source Wedding Collection this spring. The photos will appear in card samples on our website, in our catalog and in Paper Source stores nationwide, and one lucky couple will be selected at random to receive a $100 Paper Source Gift card – perfect for for wedding invitations, reception favors or gifts!

We are looking for couples of all types, who will inspire our customers to do something creative upon their engagement. Your photograph should be print quality (ideally 300 dpi) and approximately 5” x 7” when printed. We do insist that you own the copyrights to any image submitted. A photo release and consent form will be required for all selected photographs, so confirm copyrights if submitting images that are not your own.

Send your hi-resolution photographs to by 0ctober 19th to be included in our drawing. We are looking for photos where the couple makes the statement. Limited accessories and muted backgrounds work best. Multiple submission are encouraged, but only one name will be included in the drawing. Purchase not necessary to win.

UPDATE: We have extended our couples photo contest through Friday, October 28th. We look forward to seeing more wonderful photos from our Paper Source fans!

Season’s Greetings! Holiday photo cards are here.

holiday card sale

‘Tis the season to be smiling and the Paper Source Design Team has given us plenty of reason to grin. In fact, there are more than 100 ways to show off those smiles in our 2011 Holiday Photo Card Collection.

Our holiday assortment features dozens of festive styles, and new this year you can personalize the back of your card! With the option to choose your favorite backing style, we’ve given you more ways to do something creative – add a stylish pattern, more photos, even include a holiday letter. Between the clever designs and the exclusive Paper Source color palette these holiday greetings are sure to become a wonderful keepsake.
Holiday Photo Cards
We also invited PS Fans to submit photographs for our new holiday photo card line. From hundreds of lovely photographs, the Paper Source Design Team featured several families in the latest collection. Today we’re congratulating Grace K. and her beautiful family as the winner of our $100 Paper Source gift card drawing. You can find Grace and her family in the New Year multi-photo card featured here and other samples online and in our stores.

Browse our newly designed holiday assortment online, and save by ordering this month – through October 31st enjoy an early bird discount of 25% off your holiday photo card order.