Behind The Design: Papergang

This month I've had the pleasure of releasing some exclusive products in collaboration with stationery brand Ohh Deer and I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to introduce a new series to my blog, "Behind The Design".

I'll be talking through some of my thought processes and I think this will be a nice way of getting to know me as a designer as well as a person. It is because of this blog, and those of you reading, that I'm able to do freelance design work. It is because of your support that I am attracting the interest of brands around the world, and I'm very grateful for that. Thank you for helping me to get the word out.

I was so excited when I received that initial email from Ohh Deer, saying that they wanted to work with me. They were the first brand to approach me, and it's been a secret for a long time. I'm so glad I can finally share about it now that the products have launched!

Ohh Deer is a UK-based gift and stationery brand, and they run a monthly subscription service known as Papergang. Each month they send out a box of products designed by a different independent artist and I'm honoured to be February's designer. Here's a look at the different products included and what they mean to me.

A photograph of a dark green embroidered patch on a mustard yellow backing card. The patch design features some cream handwritten text that reads "inhale and exhale".
Patch - Image credit Ohh Deer

1 x Embroidered Patch

This is an iron-on patch, ideal for bags or jackets. The design features the phrase "inhale and exhale" to serve as a reminder to take a breather. Sometimes life is overwhelming, particularly if you suffer from chronic health conditions. There's so much to keep track of, and when you're living your life in pain sometimes your fuse is short. It's perfectly understandable, pain puts you on edge, and sometimes it gets too much. That's allowed.

You're allowed to feel negatively about negative situations, surprisingly enough. It's not about minimising what you're going through, or pushing it down. This patch is a reminder that through feeling all those things, remember to breathe. Breathe through it. In, out, inhale, exhale. When everything else feels too much, that is enough.

1 x Wooden Ruler

This ruler features some more handwritten text, this time with the phrase "this is tricky". I'm a firm believer that you should be able to voice concerns, or when you're having difficulties. It should be safe for you to do so. Saying you're struggling doesn't mean you're taking things for granted, or ignoring the good things. It doesn't mean your ignorant to the fact others are dealing with things too, maybe more difficult things, different things. You don't have to be struggling the most, to be struggling.

This ruler is also a reminder that using an aid to make a difficult task easier for you is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Drawing a straight line freehand is tricky. Measuring by eye is tricky. No one talks down to you for using a ruler. No one should talk down to you for using any sort of aid, whether that be a wheelchair, a walking stick, a shower chair or an electric can opener. It's all valid. You are worthy. You are worthy of help, no matter what form it takes.

A photograph of an open cardboard box in a mix of stationery items inside. It includes a blue notebook, a wooden ruler, a pink eraser, pink washi tape, a green embroidered patch and an information booklet.
Full box - Image credit Ohh Deer

1 x Eraser

This pink eraser features the word "nope" for a similar reason as the ruler features it's text. Mistakes happen. We're not perfect. We change over time, and are constantly learning and relearning. If something isn't working for you, I believe you should be allowed to stop, to go back. To change your mind. Backtracking is okay, it isn't automatically failure.

There's so much out there that tells you that it doesn't matter how slow you go as long as you do not stop. Well I'm here to remind you that stopping is allowed, and sometimes it's absolutely the best option. You don't have to carry on for the sole fact that you started. If you know better, you know better. It's okay. If something feels like too much then it probably is, and that is not something to be ashamed of.

A photograph of a hand holding a pink roll of decorative tape. The background is blurred to put emphasis on the product
Washi Tape - Image credit Ohh Deer

1 x Washi Tape

This pink washi tape features many of the designs that are found on the box exterior. It includes phrases such as "rest counts", "oh bollocks" and "compassion over comparison please". Again, in a running theme of the box, it's to encourage honesty. It's another reminder that you're allowed to share how you're feeling, good or bad. Sometimes life is tricky, and you should be able to say so without being told you're ungrateful. Sometimes life is wonderful, and you should be able to say so without being told you're misrepresenting your condition or situation.

This tape could be used for a whole manner of things, and I like to think you'll be able to use it in different crafty projects, from your bed if need be. I'll be using it in my scrapbook, but you could also use it in a bullet journal, diary or as decoration in a variety of other ways.

an open notebook on the first page. The page is white white handwritten text outlining sections for filling in. The sections include "to remember", "something that made me smile" and "something that was difficult".
Notebook - Image credit Ohh Deer

1 x A4 (ish) Notebook

This blue notebook has text on the front that reads "Awake-ish". It is a reminder that no one is on top of everything all the time, no one is faultless, and no one can go full steam 24/7. We're not machines. I've also designed the inside pages to facilitate reflection, and give you space to take note about your day. I've given equal spacing for the good parts and the bad parts, because if you couldn't tell already I think it's pretty important.

The pages are undated, so you can feel free to dip in and out of completing it without guilt or pressure. There is a section for notes "to remember". I deliberately wanted to avoid a "to do" section, as sometimes being chronically sick you can't actually do anything, and you shouldn't feel guilty for that. You could fill this section in with work bits, or appointments to be made, or medications to be taken. It's entirely up to you. There is space for reflection on what you're grateful for, and things you've found difficult. It's a space for you to be honest with yourself, and take time for yourself. The page ends on some self-care checkpoints, which I hope prove useful in a relateable and honest way.


There are some extras within the box, including a one-month calendar sheet. There is also an information booklet featuring an interview with me, and some writing from the chairman of the M.E Association. For every box sold £1 will be going to the charity, and I'm very grateful to the Ohh Deer team for this. M.E is such a misunderstood condition, and raising awareness of it in unexpected places is important and needed. Last but not least there is a booklet on Tree Aid, a non-profit that Papergang continuously works with. For every 4 boxes sold a tree will be planted, so a lot of good comes from these little boxes.

I'm really proud to be a part of it.

If you'd like to order one of your own, you can do so here. There are different options for subscribing to give you more freedom. You're not tied into anything, and the rolling subscription can be cancelled anytime, including after you've received your first box.

I wanted to end with a massive thank you to the Ohh Deer team for being a dream to work with, and being so open to being more inclusive. They've started adding image descriptions to their social media posts, as well as adding capital letters to hashtags to make them easier to read. They've taken my point of view into consideration at every stage, and have made me feel welcome and like I have important insights to share.

It's been a pleasure to work on this box, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. I've loved creating a box full of stationery inclusive of those with illnesses and disabilities. Free from clichés surrounding productivity, mind over matter and work hard play harder. We've created a range of products that are designed to reassure you that you matter, and that you're enough.

This box isn't aimed specifically at those with health issues, but everyone, and it means so much to me to be entrusted with the job of bringing out a collection that unites us all.

We deserve nice things too.