Dusty Boy| Marie Varley’s Design Column
Irish Artist Marie Varley searches the country for the very best in Irish design to bring to you here on HeadStuff. This week she spoke with Dusty Boy Design’s.
DUSTY BOY DESIGNS ARE A HUSBAND AND WIFE CREATIVE DUO BASED IN WEXFORD. A RELATIVELY NEW BUSINESS, THESE TWO ARE COVERING A LOT FROM GREETINGS CARDS & PRINTS TO BESPOKE WEDDING INVITATIONS. I CAUGHT UP WITH KATE & JUSTIN THIS WEEK TO DISCUSS STARTING THEIR OWN BUSINESS, THEIR DESIGN PROCESS AND EXCITING PLANS FOR THE FUTURE…
Can you tell us a little about how Dusty Boy Designs began and what you do?
Dusty Boy Designs is a luxury paper goods company and was very much a concept that grew with myself and Justin over time … we had a long distance relationship for a while and when the time came to decide who was moving where, it was Justin who upped sticks and moved from his home in South Africa to Ireland. Once he moved here, he went back to college and studied Visual Communications … his obsession with technology, books and graphics coupled with my love of beautiful art, design and colour meant that the the birth of Dusty Boy, a luxury paper goods company, was inevitable!
Together we create and produce seasonal collections of design led greeting cards, notebooks, wall prints and deskpads for paper and stationery lovers out there. Most recently we have added an entire BABY section to our business which has been really successful and an exciting addition to our business!
What advice would you give someone looking to turn their creative hobby into a business? What motivated you to take the leap?
We both always wanted to work for ourselves AND work from home to give us the freedom to etch out the lives we really wanted to live. The idea of building dreams for somebody else really didn’t appeal to us so we gathered our thoughts, focused on all the things we loved in life and set about building our own dream. We very much wanted to do something that we were passionate about so that we didn’t feel that life/work separation too much. From that, Dusty Boy began to grow into the creative company it is today!
If you are somebody that is already thinking about making your own dreams come true, I would say do it. Just jump. It’s the best feeling in the world. But before you do, draw out your ideal life. What does it look like, what are your priorities, where are you living. Painting that big picture is SO important because when the sh*t hits the fan (and it will!) this is the best place to to go back to, to keep yourself moving forward and motivated to push through. Once you have the big picture in place, set about working backwards in smaller stages until you find yourself back where you are today. Then you start from the ground and start working up. The road is long but there are a LOT of invaluable lessons to be learned along the way. (We are still learning each and every day!) Every challenge is a learning opportunity so make sure to embrace them and use them along the way.
Where did your love of designing beautiful stationary stem from?
Before Justin moved to Ireland, he had owned and ran second hand bookstore in South Africa for years and so had a natural love of all things considered and slow paced. I have always loved the idea of using paper to make plans, emptying thoughts and creating dreams. There is something truly cathartic about putting pen to paper and really letting go while truly connecting mind to body at the same time.
We live in a world very much driven by social media and technology and I think we had become exhausted from the tumult of information landing on our phones and computer screens every minute of every day. Stationery slows things down. The art of writing, making lists and creating dreams with pen reconnects our minds back to our bodies and I think we were really craving that. Reconnection. It’s simple, grounding and very natural.
You also design template and bespoke wedding invitations, how do you find working collaboratively with other couples?
Working with couples who are about to tie the knot is fantastic. Designing stationery that not only expresses their day, but two people, as a couple can be really inspiring. We get to tell a little piece of their story and it feels great to be a part of that process.
You are a husband and wife team yourselves. How does this dynamic work for DustyBoy Designs?
We both really love creating products that people can use everyday and express themselves through. Designing new collections from scratch with the intention of developing them into a range of paper goods is really exciting and probably what we love doing most. We get to bring a lot of ourselves into the project without limitations which is always fun!
Having said all of that, things can get definitely get heated from time to time!! Our office is small and is very much part of our home life so lines can get a little blurry from time to time, especially when the pressure is on if we have a big project due or we’re near the end of releasing a new collection. But I think as time goes on, we have very much learned to play around with each others strengths and weaknesses and we really work with that.
Describe your design style in three words.
Painterly, Fresh, Playful!
What inspires you? What is your design process from beginning to finish?
The beginning of a project can often start out as a particular feeling, an experience or something visual that really sticks in our minds like a skyline, natural textures or a beautiful piece of art. It can even be something as mundane as the shape of a blanket on a chair! We both have very different visual concepts – I love much looser design while Justin definitely likes structure and I think you can see elements of both seeping through our projects. As a rule, I drive the aesthetic of the brand and product from initial concept as far as the design stage. Once I’ve had an idea, I’ll start gathering images and materials to stick onto the master moodboard in the office. I’ll then refine, refine and refine again until we’re left with a much more condensed, drawn out idea with definite patterns/colourways, feeling words and lettering. We then both sit down at the design process and work through graphics and layout together. Justin, who very much runs the production end of the business, takes over, pulls the final concept together and finishes the project.
But it doesn’t always work out as seamless as that of course! There are times in design when everything flows beautifully and then there are times when we get stuck, and it takes a little back and forth to unearth ourselves and move forward. Sometimes this means roles overlapping so we just go with that.
Can you give us any teasers to upcoming additions to the collection in 2016?
Yes! We are hoping to add some really exciting products to our paper goods line. 2017 also looks really promising with a possible collaberation in the pipeline! After that, the possibilities of growing the Dusty Boy brand even further are absolutely endless and we are EXCITED!
A RANGE OF DUSTY BOY DESIGN CARDS ARE AVAILABLE NOW AT INDUSTRY AND CO, DRURY ST.