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T&W Guest: Jo Neville of Paper Couture

Our Murobond and Paper Couture feature is now live. Make sure you don't miss out on some Chalkboard Bunting or the Paper Couture dove decorations or garlands - we know these will be really popular.

Chalkboard bunting

We're thrilled to have the lovely Jo Neville, paper artist and the creator of the Paper Couture dove decorations and garlands, as our guest this week.  Jo's workshop is now part of Murobond's Artarmon showroom, and you can visit her there.

Paper Couture wreath door

Jo, what inspired you to take the leap from being a corporate graphic designer to creating bespoke paper products and art?
I think the frustrated artist in me wanted to break loose – having to design to client restrictions started to take its toll on my creativity. Having those restrictions definitely made me a better designer, but I was always happiest mocking up designs when I could use more colours, expensive papers and special effects, which would usually end up being canned by the clients due to budgetary restraints! As an artist, I can give free rein to my creativity and decide for myself how far to go with effects and colour. That said, my approach to design is pretty old school – "less is more" – and I impose restrictions on myself by insisting on my products being homegrown in  Australia.

Where do you source your paper?  Do you have a favourite?
My favourite source is 'upcycled' old papers I've collected, especially sheet music, old books, atlases and wallpapers.  I source new papers from local Australian merchants and I also travel to overseas paper shows (yes, they exist!). I've found some incredible stationery and paper stocks and products at the National Stationery Show in New York and Paperworld in Frankfurt.

Where do you find inspiration for your creations?
I find travel to be the most inspiring way to observe how we as people consume paper. I believe we need to leave our desks at least once a year – and I mean really leave our desks! I love visiting the Maison & Objet trade fair in Paris, which has the most amazing trends exhibitions. I need to move out of my work every so often, create some space around me and focus on nature and the seasons, whether it's fresh falling snow at the beginning of winter or dipping under the water in our amazing local marine reserves. I dive often at Shelly Beach Manly - wow - and love bushwalking and our native flora.

What are some of the most challenging paper projects you've taken on?
As an artist I am always learning about how to push paper beyond its natural boundaries - I sew it, oil it, tear it, fold it, and of course cut it. One of my biggest projects, but also one of the most boring, was to create 500 tissue pom poms for a fashion show. One of my biggest challenges was to make a paper dinner set for Vogue Living, although sadly they didn't end up using it. The biggest challenge I face as an artist is that I have so many ideas but never enough resources to make everything I love. I end up making everything I sell; even my paper doves, while die cut, are sewn into garlands by me. I hope you enjoy them!

Do you have any tips for Christmas decorating or wrapping?
My tip for Christmas wrapping is to keep it simple – less is definitely more at this time of year! I like to use the same material to wrap the base of all my pressies. Pick something like newspaper, maybe even a foreign language paper - Spanish or Asian papers look great - or use plain brown or white paper. Then find a detail, be it a touch of coloured or metallic paper, or maybe a natural element like a twig, shell or feather you have collected while away from your desk. Place your chosen feature on top of the present and tie down with lots of natural jute wrapped around the gift many times. Lastly, add your personal input - a brown cardboard tag with your recipient's name written by hand. Simple and quick while enjoying a glass of wine or two!

I hope Jo's passion for her art has inspired you too.

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