Graphic Design, Inspiration, Papercut

Making time for creativity

When I started Papercut I imagined I would always be designing for my clients. Nearly eight years later, my role as director has grown in responsibility and business skills yet not so much in design. These days I’m off the tools and in some regard not as confident to be back on them.

Last year I decided that in order to feed my creative juices I needed to give myself some time and space to do so. I booked into an art class at the ANU Art school on Mondays, and it’s there that I lose myself in watercolour and gouache and feel creative again.

My art teacher is a talented lady for whom we have just completed a website ( Her work is detailed and layered and inspiring.

As a business owner and creative person the best decision I made was to go back to my art and feed my passion. This important time out from the business allows me to maintain my energy the rest of the week, and bring renewed ideas to Papercut.

Here are a few of my artworks.




Graphic Design

Recipes of reminisce

My eldest daughter moved out of home last year, and for the first time she started to get interested in cooking. Her request for a particular recipe of her (recently passed) Grandma’s sprouted a creative idea in me.

My children have grown up with their Grandma as a major part of their lives; from the time they were born she fed them, and the last 10 years she resided with us and continued to nourish us with her cooking and her love.

I decided that a recipe book was in order – a collation of her most favoured recipes, things my girls always loved and remembered from childhood.

Much scanning and sifting through her books, typesetting her words and categorising her recipes occurred for many hours in my spare time in the lead up to Christmas.

Included in the book is artwork created by Grandma, yes she was a woman of many talents. Selecting the artwork from her large collection also gave me much joy.

photo 2photo 1What resulted from this inspiration was a 60 page recipe book containing five categories, printed, bound and wrapped up under the Christmas tree for two unsuspecting young ladies. Their reaction on opening this gift was pure priceless gold, and worth the time it took to produce.

This story is not just about a creative idea, it’s about preserving our family treasures and memories in a format that can be shared and handed down. It’s also about preserving the family tradition of sharing a meal around a table devoid of electronic devices and distractions, filled with conversations and debates over nourishing food.

This year, I wish for you connection and creative discussion shared over meals prepared with love, and being present with the people you are with in the moment.


Papercut website


A ceiling full of wishes

During my recent American travels I stayed in a beautiful out-of-the-way place called ‘Bend’. Bend is located near the centre of Oregon at the foot of the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains. Bend was developed around the bend of the river in 1905 – hence the name. It is noted for its scenic setting, mild climate, year-round recreational opportunities and growing economy.

I loved the town centre and the architecture. But what I wanted to share here was the creative inspiration I found in Thump Coffee shop. This intimate space intrigued me with the hundreds of timber tiles hanging from the ceiling. When I inquired about the meaning of the tiles, I was told that it began as an artists installation a couple of years ago, and it was so loved that it remained as an ever changing ceiling of customers wishes.

The coffee shop supplies blank balsa wood tiles and coloured textas on the counter free for anyone who wants to create a wish. Of course I didn’t need much encouragement and I took to the blank tile with great gusto drawing away like a 5 year old. Apparently the shop owners revolve the tiles so that all the wishes get a chance for display, and the installation is always changing.

I loved the whole concept of merging art with coffee and allowing people the freedom to participate in the installation. I hope my wish is suspended from the ceiling of Thump’s as a tiny creative mark I left behind in the USA.

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Graphic Design, Inspiration, Papercut

Inspired by pictures

Instagram sky photos

I am a graphic designer, but these days running my business means doing everything but design. To stay inspired and maintain some form of creativity I’ve discovered ‘Instagram’. I’ve always enjoyed taking photos and I’ve found the perfect medium to do this with my iPhone, whenever and wherever I happen to be. Instagram has some simple editing choices to change the look and feel of the image without going too far. Some basic lighting effects, a blur, and a few frame choices to finish the photo – then you share your image with your followers!

I love that I can view images taken by people all over the world. There are some amazing photographers who have mastered this medium with a snap of their phones. I am inspired by real home style images of other countries, cities and people that are not glossed up for the tourist industry.

I particularly like taking photos of the sky because it’s an ever changing canvas of colour, light and movement that never bores me.

By Claire

Graphic Design

Chocolate cake and drawing games

The Papercut team had a planning day a few weeks back that was spent at the lovely Olims Hotel in Ainslie. The whole day was devoted to creating a vision and purpose for the business and setting some major goals.

One of the ideas that came from the day was a team inspiration session every week. Currently a team member is responsible for the house duties each week and part of this is to provide afternoon tea.

Last week it was Tamar’s turn and she provided home baked chocolate cake (gluten free) and coloured textas to draw pictures – using the Samitomoto drawing game.

The cards are such fun allowing an easy transition into drawing. As you throw the dice and turn over each card you reveal another word to form the image. The first drawing we all did was that of a ‘determined purple snail drinking tea’ and the second was ‘a noisy hot pink dolphin in a hammock’!

After our initial inhibitions, we finished up laughing and sharing our silly drawings and feeling very relaxed. We enjoyed so much this creative process that took us away from our computer screens, that we agreed to make it a weekly event. I think wine and cheese on a Friday afternoon would work equally well.

It’s very important for designers to have regular creative time out. Another idea that stemmed from the planning day was to take a two-hour block once a month where we down clients work and produce an inventive piece, purely for creative indulgence, with no limitations or restrictions. I believe a US design company started this idea and called it the ‘Fedex hour’, so everyone has to deliver in the given time frame, but there is no brief so you can go creatively crazy.

This is the sort of stuff that keeps our designs fresh and nourishes our creative right brains. If we allow ourselves to be inspired and free to imagine, then when we come back to our computers we can continue on because we’ve had a creative fix.

Graphic Design

The irony of Unions ACT requesting graphic design firms to work for FREE?

Recently several graphic design studios were invited to tender an expression of interest for a large branding job and subsequent ongoing work for UnionsACT new National Museum of Labour. Two studios were selected and short-listed to the next stage. Stage two required the studios to research, produce and present creative concepts demonstrating branding and logo for the museum as a free pitch.

Papercut were one of the two initially selected studios requested to produce this free work. Papercut offered a pitch proposal outlining a fee for this creative labour and were instantly advised by the Chair of the National Museum of Labour Board that “the Board is not willing to pay a pitch fee for this next stage and is therefore withdrawing the offer to your company to be involved in pitching for appointment as the creative agency for the Museum.”

Claire Connelly the director of Papercut has said “the practice of free pitching grossly undermines the value of our industry, destroys the professional standing of designers, and delivers short term financial benefit to the client at the direct expense of the designer which can only result in an exploitative business relationship”.

The slogan on the website of UnionsACT reads “United we bargain. Divided we beg”, and the irony is UnionsACT have not considered the division they are creating in the graphic design industry by requesting designers to beg for work in this way.

The Australian Graphic Design Association (AGDA) made a call to action last year with the ACT Government regarding free pitching. AGDA discourages members from predatory pricing practices such as free pitching, loss leading and other pricing below break-even. The Chief Minister’s office were addressing the situation through new policy development. In the meantime this practice continues to elude us.