19 Journals And Counting…Reggie Pugh, Creative Director of Paper Rose Looks Back And Forwards

After 17 happy years with Paper Rose, well-known industry professional Reggie Pugh (pictured above) prepares to leave the company next month, with her eyes, ears and mind open for her next creative challenge. Here, she flicks back through her ’19 journals of ideas’, shares her thoughts on the industry, her inspirations and even her favourite colour.

Take it away Reggie…

“To paraphrase an old joke, “if you want to get there, I wouldn’t start from here…”

From performing as a sausage in street theatre, designing and branding Tokyo’s first ecology store in the 90’s to creating POS, exhibitions and catalogues for Boots (and picking up an international typography award on the way) to then luckily enter the fantastic world of cards wasn’t the most obvious route, but continues to be full of adventures and learning. Having enjoyed 17 great years and wishing Paper Rose lots of future success, I now sadly leave my role as its creative director, but am ready to explore new adventures.

Above: A stack of Reggie’s 19 ‘ideas journals’ packed with ideas and inspirations.
Above: A stack of Reggie’s 19 ‘ideas journals’ packed with ideas and inspirations.

What better world for a creative to be in than one full of great people creating amazing design work, looking for new artists, developing work in collaboration, trend spotting and being inspired by newcomers every year at the trade and design shows… what’s not to love?

Our industry is fascinating and challenging at the same time. Finding the right balance between making sure the business is always innovating – not too far ahead of the curve – but never standing still, can be the biggest challenge. It’s easy to get excited about something new, but it’s just as important to nurture and reenergise those best-selling ranges, keeping them fresh and in the top spot. It’s inspiring and fun to be a creative, but the trick is to fully understand the business needs at the same time. I’ve been really fortunate so far to have had great mentors who’ve taught me how to pitch an idea at all levels of business, analyse the sales and manage costs and budgets (some aspects definitely more challenging than others but non insurmountable!)

Above: Reggie (left) caught up with Alan Hawkes (the previous owner of Paper Rose) and industry chum, Bev Cunningham (formerly creative director of Abacus Cards, now head of Ginger Bee Studios, her own freelance creative and photography business) at last year’s Spring Fair.
Above: Reggie (left) caught up with Alan Hawkes (the previous owner of Paper Rose) and industry chum, Bev Cunningham (formerly creative director of Abacus Cards, now head of Ginger Bee Studios, her own freelance creative and photography business) at last year’s Spring Fair.

At Paper Rose I instigated a project called “On the Cards”. This was a collaboration between retail, publisher, production and university students to build awareness of our industry as a way forward for new designers and illustrators – resulting in live card ranges. We’ve always invested in creative thinking in the studio along with other artists and workshops to kickstart new ideas, techniques and formats. This has always been a highlight and is something I’m really keen to develop further in the industry.

While I find Instagram and Pinterest a useful tool for colours and trends, I find creative inspiration comes much more from exploring other avenues and occasionally allowing ourselves to get a little lost. I drive my husband mad if we’re ever away, I refuse to walk back down the same street in case I’ve missed something amazing on the next one. This makes for some very long walks!

Above: Reggie (far left) with some of the On the Cards student winners at PG Live, as well as Paperchase’s Gemma Clooney (second right) and (second left) Hazel Walker (then Paperchase, now Waterstones), GF Smith’s Mark Jessett, both co-sponsors of the initiative as well as Gale Astley (PG’s former deputy editor).
Above: Reggie (far left) with some of the On the Cards student winners at PG Live, as well as Paperchase’s Gemma Clooney (second right) and (second left) Hazel Walker (then Paperchase, now Waterstones), GF Smith’s Mark Jessett, both co-sponsors of the initiative as well as Gale Astley (PG’s former deputy editor).

I do love retail, galleries, parks – you never know what you’re going to find to inspire! I wonder though how this will be impacted in the immediate future, post COVID. I’m sure we’re all looking more at our own personal spaces and being inspired more by plants, gardens and pets.

I spent a lot of lockdown getting back into my passion of calligraphy, illustration and ceramics, having time to play with ideas has definitely been food for creative thought.

And now a confession… and the whole team at Paper Rose will testify… I’M A HOARDER! It’s a bad habit I know, but there’s a joy to rediscovering stuff – like my 17 years of journals and my very first card design pitch to my boss at the time (Alan Hawkes, the then owner of Paper Rose, which was then dismissed as being “far too graphic and much too wordy”!). Oh, how the world of cards has changed!

Above: Reggie’s first card idea she pitched to Alan Hawkes back in 2004, but was told it was “too graphic”. “I think I was ahead of my time!!” says Reggie.
Above: Reggie’s first card idea she pitched to Alan Hawkes back in 2004, but was told it was “too graphic”. “I think I was ahead of my time!!” says Reggie.

Revisiting those 19 journals is just a snapshot of my love of the industry, my learnings, workings out, some good (and some not so good drawings), but always, most importantly lots of ideas.  Now I’m at another junction in my career, as I’m sure others may be too, but what’s really exciting is the potential for more creativity, new opportunities and potential collaborations.

Safe to say the new ‘ideas journal’ is already started… it’s orange, as always my favourite colour… which goes well with my orange mug in my new studio so I’m set and ready for new challenges… whatever those may be…so if you have a challenge for me, please drop me a line! reggiepugh65@gmail.com

Above: Reggie’s new studio wall, which features a mix of Reggie’s own collage work, memorabilia and others’ splendid work.
Above: Reggie’s new studio wall, which features a mix of Reggie’s own collage work, memorabilia and others’ splendid work.

Top: The ever colourful Reggie Pugh has 17 years of industry experience and a wealth of creative ideas.

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