If you've ever found yourself itching to start a business out of your creative passions, then we've got a special treat for you. We were lucky enough to be joined by Rifle Paper Co.'s very own Co-Founder, Creative Director and Illustrator Anna Bond where she takes us through her journey.
Anna shared with us some beautiful stories from her childhood, her proudest achievements, what it was like to start Rifle Paper Co. and the piece of advice she'd tell her younger self.
To get started, I’d like to know how it all began! What were you like growing up? Were you always artistically inclined?
I grew up in New Jersey just outside New York City and I always remember being artistically inclined. One of my earliest notable memories was entering a drawing contest at a local supermarket when I was five years old. I won a gift card to a local toy store and I think that taught me something about the prospect of earning money from art!
As a kid, I always took art classes either focusing on painting, photography or graphic design. I also collected stamps and had a love for paper and stationery from a young age. I even took some weekend art classes in New York City. When I went to college, I decided to study graphic design rather than fine art because I had an interest in incorporating my painting work into designs.
I was always an introvert and very quiet in school, but at the same time I have always been very driven and ambitious about creating my own path and finding a way to pursue art as more than just a hobby.
I see that Rifle Paper Co. is run with your partner in both life and business. Can you tell us more about this experience?
Nathan and I were both 23 when we were married in 2008 and founded Rifle Paper Co. a year later while living in his parents’ garage apartment. Since then, we have come a long way and I do believe we balance each other out in both our personalities and our strengths that we bring to the brand. We come together and are on the same page about the things that are most important like the creative vision, our perspective on running a business, and what types of collaborations we should do. Back when we met, Nathan was in a band and I was a freelance illustrator. I used to create art for the band’s posters and merch so in many ways we’ve always worked together and it’s always been a part of our relationship. Anna and Nathan Bond
I saw you were asked to illustrate the 150th edition of Alice in Wonderland - that’s huge! Congratulations. With achievements in mind, what have been your proudest one/s so far?
I absolutely loved illustrating Alice. I was pregnant with my first son when I started illustrating the book and it is special that just a few weeks ago Nathan was able to read it to him (he’s now 5).
My biggest achievement personally feels like the USPS postage stamp design because designing a postage stamp was my dream since I was a little girl and I never thought it would happen. With the brand, it feels so meaningful that our products have resonated with people around the world and I feel very fortunate and grateful that I get to do what I do each day.
You have such a distinctive illustrative style and it’s amazing you’ve been able to create huge waves with your art. I’d like to know what your journey was in finding your style - can you tell us more about your experience?
It took me a while to find my style and I experimented painting with different mediums before finding gouache which changed the way I painted. After college, I created a lot of band posters that helped me discover who I was as an artist. When I started designing wedding invitations and stationery, I found that I had a different aesthetic than what was on the market at the time.
As Rifle Paper Co. has grown, my style has evolved, but I am continually inspired by travel, flowers, nature, fashion, and architecture. Rifle Paper Co. is all about color and I try to use a consistent base color palette that helps tie everything together and create a cohesive brand story. Each design begins with a hand-painted illustration and the goal behind all of my work is to create patterns and designs that make people happy.
The creative industry, especially when you’re trying to make it on your own, is so daunting. How was it starting Rifle Paper Co. especially in the beginning?
Starting Rifle Paper Co. was a learning experience and we just dove right in. We didn’t know much, but we worked very hard. We were lucky to have a unique aesthetic that really resonated with people and we received wonderful support from the blogging community, as well as retailers and loyal customers. Since the beginning, we have been committed to creating quality products and staying true to who we are as a brand especially as we continue to grow our product assortment from stationery to home and lifestyle. We always strive to create things that bring beauty to the everyday.
And finally, if you could give your past self advice what would it be?
If I could give myself advice at the start of our business it would be to quickly learn how to delegate and ask for help. I took on a lot of things and overstretched myself often. It took me years to figure out how to let go and free up my time to focus on the things that I loved the most.
About Rifle Paper Co. Co-Founder & CCO Anna Bond:
Anna Bond is co-founder and chief creative officer at Rifle Paper Co., a stationery, home and lifestyle brand based on Anna’s hand-painted designs. Together with her husband Nathan, Rifle Paper Co. launched in 2009 as a two-person operation and has since grown into an international brand with products carried in over 6,000 stores around the world and employing over 100 people between their Winter Park, Florida and New York City offices. Born and raised in Summit, New Jersey, Anna received her bachelor’s degree in graphic design before making her way to Orlando, Florida to work as an art director and later as a freelance illustrator before starting Rifle. She has been honoured as an ADC Young Gun, spoken at Facebook HQ, designed a USPS postage stamp, and is featured in Grace Bonney’s best-selling book In the Company of Women. Anna currently lives in Maitland, Florida with Nathan and their three young sons.