Q&A: Avery Thatcher of Juju Papers

We discovered designer Avery Thatcher's sweet line of eco-friendly wallpapers, Juju Papers, back at ICFF and promptly fell in love. Below, we chat about sustainability, craft vs. design and life in Portland, Oregon.

(Photos courtesy Avery Thatcher, Juju Papers)What prompted you to start Juju Papers? Was it the lack of an eco product on the market that resonated with you, or did you not see designs that you really liked?

I initially approached wallpaper from an artist's perspective, not a business or manufacturing perspective. I saw a lot of designs that I really liked, but the majority were not contemporary Western designs. The interior spaces that inspired me were all real-life interiors in Africa, Spain, South America, Asia, and also historic wallpapers, especially ones that were printed imperfectly.

Can you tell us a little bit about the production process for your papers?

My wallpapers are screen printed by hand on sustainably harvested paper with water-based inks, and they have a natural clay coating to enhance their durability. Making the wallpaper as sustainably as possible was a foregone conclusion for me. I live in Portland, Oregon, after all, where design has a focus on the "handmade" and "eco-friendly".

What is your personal background in design?

My past work has been all over the map—sculpture, painting and drawing, and printmaking. I have also worked professionally in art roles as well—stop motion, theatrical puppets, film, set building, graphic design. I would describe myself as a craftsperson first and a designer second. Being paid for your time to make something teaches you to take the proper steps to make a quality finished product. Haste makes waste is the oldest adage in the book, but it's also the most important rule to follow.

Why wallpaper as opposed to other products?

I have SO many ideas for other products! Both in wallcovering and otherwise. But for now I just want to focus on making a high quality wallpaper and to continue to create inspired designs. That's enough.

Tell us a little about Portland - why you're running your business there and how you've been received in the local design community.

I moved here 12 years ago, and it was a very different Portland. Punk was alive - secret cafes, basement shows, zines and print art, and crazy fashion! I used to have a little stand where I sold homemade pickles and my own "fashion" line at the street fairs (which back then were sparsely attended).

Portland has definitely grown up since then - the restaurants, the art, the design, the fashion, the shopping, etc. But the cool part is that a lot of the people who have created the businesses that put Portland on the map are the same people who were at the basement shows, making crazy clothes, printing zines, making music, etc., and now they're "all grown up", along with Portland. I am very happy to feel that I am part of that scene.

For more information on Juju Papers, visit their website.
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