Talking Travel With: Anna Bond of Rifle Paper Co.
In six years, Rifle Paper Co. has evolved from a two-person outfit crafting wedding invitations in their apartment to an almost 200-employee operation that has monopolized your Pinterest feed, one cute floral illustration at a time. The increasingly popular stationer is churning out much more than invitations and notecards these days, venturing into the lifestyle category with apparel in partnership with Paper Crown, a line of LeSportsac bags, a series of classic books published by Puffin, temporary tattoos, iPhone cases, and more.
We couldn't help but notice (and fawn over) the abundance of travel-centric products on offer from the brand, from map art prints and destination-focused calendars, to pocket notebooks and weekender bags. To find out just how travel has inspired her, we caught up with Anna Bond, Rifle's co-owner and Creative Director, at an event celebrating the brand's latest collaboration with Paperless Post.
How did you first decide to incorporate travel into the brand?
It all stems from my own love of travel. The city map illustrations were one of the first things I really did. I just loved making those and people responded so well to them—they've become a huge part of the brand. Travel is really one of our core themes. It also allows me to look at a million travel photos and dream of all the places I want to go.
How do you decide what to feature for a particular destination you're painting?
I do a lot of research. The maps take a ton of research—it takes more time than the actual painting, just trying to figure out where everything is, making sure I'm getting all the right landmarks and not missing something vital. I use Google Maps and reviews from people who spent 24 hours in a city naming the top things people should see. It's a lot of work, but it's worth it, hopefully. I'm always so nervous somebody from that city is going to say I missed something!
What about the color scheme? I'd imagine a certain city might make you feel something, which might affect the palette.
Definitely. Moscow has a bright red background. Cairo is a little more sand-colored. I try to incorporate the mood of the place with the colors.
How do you work on the road (or in-flight)?
I have a whole travel set-up. I usually have a small suitcase with a scanner, all my paints, everything. I take it all with me if it's longer than a two-day trip—something could come up last minute! I use gouache paints, so they're small and all stashed in a pouch that's maybe 8 inches by 8 inches.
Have you been able to take a trip recently where you didn't have to work?
I'm always working. There's one trip I could think of where we went to Mexico for 48 hours and I didn't bring a laptop, which was the weirdest thing ever, but also very freeing. Our work is our life so it's not that bad. I'm pretty good at turning off on vacation, but Nathan, my husband who runs the business side of things, is always in work mode.
Take us through the process from sketch to finished product.
I'm actually not a big sketcher. I usually just start painting and dive in. Then, I scan the piece and do a lot of post-work. With the maps for example, I'd paint individual things and move them around on the map in Photoshop. I do a lot of work on the computer to make the painting part faster. We print everything in full color and spend a lot of time making sure the colors print beautifully.
What are your favorite travel destinations?
That I've been to? I love Mexico—the Playa del Carmen area—and Paris. I also love going to the Adirondacks because I went there with my family growing up, so that to me is the most nostalgic place. The number one destination that I haven't been to yet is Japan. Kyoto, especially. Some friends and I are trying to plan a girl's trip, but we all have kids now. I'm trying to figure out 'travel-with-kids'! I left my son for the first time with this trip up to New York. [frowns]
What's in your carry-on?
Anything I don't want to get lost! One time, I flew to Paris and it was the first time I decided not to bring a carry-on, just brought a purse on the plane to make it really easy, and that was the time they lost my luggage. I spent the first two days with the same outfit on. That's when I learned to put a couple outfits in my carry-on, and make sure to have the vitals in there.
What's the one thing you can't travel without?
Right now it's probably a Kindle. I don't really use it at home but I use it a ton while traveling, reading at the airport or on the plane. That, and the essentials, like chargers. Chargers now are the number one thing to not forget.
As the queen of stationery, you'd know best: what makes the perfect travel notebook?
I love pocket notebooks. They fit in your bag ... easy to jot stuff down. There's always one in my purse while traveling.
Any other travel products coming down the pipeline at Rifle?
We're looking into doing passport covers and luggage tags. A lot of people have been asking for those.
With the Paperless Post collaboration, do you have further plans for destination-specific postcards, perhaps? It might be fun as a traveler to send a postcard right from a laptop while on-the-go at a specific destination.
They are actually designed as Save the Dates, but there are 7 or 8 different cities that can be customized to be used as anything you want.
Danielle Berman is the senior web producer at Travel + Leisure.