Thanks for dropping by for the next addition of our creative Q&A!
This week we’ve been chatting to designer Michaela – the creative brain behind London based greetings card & gift wrap company: Blackcat & Bumble. Michaela’s punny illustrations pair familiar images of a few of our favourite things (hi Maria von Trapp) with a gorgeous muted colour palette to create a match made in gifting heaven!
JANEY: Hello lovely! Thanks so so much for answering our questions! First can you please tell us a bit about yourself and Blackcat & Bumble?
MICHAELA: So a little bit about me and my background: I studied textiles at uni and this was where I developed my love for print and pattern, by exploring mostly silk screen printing. Once my degree had finished I decided to move to London and do an MA at UAL [University of the Creative Arts, London], where I completed further research into sustainable textiles. This was because I felt like there was more to design than its appearance.
J: So is sustainability still a theme throughout your present work? How do you ensure your products are environmentally conscious?
M: Yes sustainability is something I’m still very much conscious of, I use a supplier to get products printed and I ensure that they are sustainable, as well as considering the packaging I use myself. All my greetings cards are wrapped in tissue paper instead of plastic cellophane bags – in fact the paper which the cards come wrapped in was originally going to be thrown away, but I dug it back out and managed to give it another life. Even if it is only small, it made no sense seeing it go to waste when I knew I could use it for something!
J: And where did the idea for starting Blackcat & Bumble come from?
M: I’ve always had an interest in stationery – when I was younger I used to collect rubbers, pens and all things that looked pretty (honestly it was an obsession!), but in terms of designing, I had only ever really worked with fabric. This was until I took part in a greeting cards project during my last year of uni – I designed a collection called ‘Bee Mindful’ which aimed to raise awareness of the decline in bees. Before this I was very much fabric based.
However the beginning of Blackcat & Bumble came around about a year or so ago, when I had my laptop stolen and therefore lost almost all of my work. This meant I had to redo a lot of it for job applications and it was a heartbreaking time, but as a result, I realised my style and skills had developed and improved massively over that year – I decided that designing greetings cards and gift wrap was what I wanted to do!
The name Blackcat and Bumble came later into my business because I really wanted it to be something which reflected both me personally, and my interests – this took some time. The word ‘Blackcat’ is simply a reference to my own cat back home, then the ‘Bumble’ stemmed from my love of bees – they’re so beautiful and are such good assets to our environment, which represents my interests for a more sustainable future.
The first product I designed for Blackcat and Bumble was the ‘Dad of All Sorts’ card for Father’s Day.
J: Right so bumble bees, not the dating app. I can imagine having all of your digital work stolen must have been devastating – but kudos to you for seeing the silver lining, and look what came of it!
Where do you find inspiration for your illustrations?
M: This comes mostly from my everyday life – living in London is daily inspiration: the places I visit or have visited; what people are wearing and drinking etc. London is such a vibe on every corner and I take inspo from that!
J: What would be your dream print to design?
M: That would have to be a really big print that sits perfectly in your living room, where it takes centre stage – the colours are bold and ties in all of your other belongings together.
J: Sounds fab, sign me up! And what about your favourite print you’ve designed so far?
M: My favourite has to be ‘Bitter Sweet’. I decided to incorporate type within this illustration and to be honest typography is something I’ve only ever dabbled with before, so this felt like a risk. But overall it turned out well!
J: I mean, I’m a massive fan, so would definitely agree that the risk paid off! Has anything changed about your business as a result of the
corona virus pandemic?
M: Blackcat & Bumble is only a small, part-time business and during the pandemic I was still working, so personally I didn’t notice any big changes. But as a whole I noticed the support online for small independent business was stronger, and it was super refreshing to have been a part of that community – to help share other small businesses as well as stumble across others that I perhaps wouldn’t have found otherwise.
J: I absolutely love your optimism, and would definitely have to agree on that – I’ve discovered hundreds more creatives and small businesses purely as a result of others sharing the love. I even received your ‘quarantini’ card for my own lock down birthday! So what can we expect from the future of Blackcat & Bumble?
M: I’ve been wanting to introduce prints to my business for a while and have since just dropped a couple [‘Peachy’ & ‘Banana Crush’, along with ‘Bitter Sweet’ mentioned above!]. I’ve enjoyed working on a bigger scale and using type, so the future looks like more prints, plus more wrap and more greeting cards!
I would absolutely love to design more stationery to reminisce about my obsession with pens and rubbers when I was younger, so pencils and pencil cases are always a possibility for the future!
J: All sounds super exciting! So for now, where can we get our mitts on your current work?
M: I am on Etsy, where you can find me under the name ‘BlackcatandBumble’!
J: Amazing, well you heard the nice lady – go and have a peek at the products on offer at www.etsy.com/uk/shop/blackcatandbumble, and show her some love on Insta @blackcatandbumble
And that’s all folks!
Thanks again for reading – can’t wait to see you next week for our next Q&A!