As designers, we are inspired by everything under the sun. PaperSpecs is a huge source of inspiration in all things print, paper and design. They help designers create their most engaging print design by offering industry information on trends, tips, insights and more via their magazine, PRO and VIP memberships — all with a combination of passion and depth you can’t find elsewhere. PaperSpecs recently interviewed our own Ellen Bruss to find out more about what inspires her and how her passion for art, design and paper influences the work at EBD.

1. What other designer or designers truly inspire you?
Design today comes in so many forms, I don’t just get inspired by graphic designers. I read a lot and follow historical and current design and architecture, fashion, photography, hand lettering, contemporary art —anything creative—it all inspires me.

I find creative genius in old and new, and everyone from designers Paul Rand, the Eames and Louise Fili to artists Marilyn Minter, Frohawk Two Feathers, Federico Solmi and architect David Adjaye, to someone I’ve never heard of. With the information that we have access to now, it seems like there is someone fresh and new every day. I study the patterns, shapes, colors and forms of art, design, architecture and everyday objects. I’m cleaning out my mother’s house right now and I found a ’70s bottle of Jergens “Gee, your hair smells terrific” shampoo that is triggering something for me. I’m not sure how it will manifest, but it somehow seems very current at this moment.


2. Of all the different papers out there, what is your absolute favorite?
All of the Gmund papers are so rich and beautiful. They are also expensive, so we haven’t used them that often, but when we have, they performed exceptionally well. We just did a project on Mohawk Options which I love, and we did an identity package for a clothing company on a Crane’s cotton paper that came out beautifully. The feel of cotton paper always makes my heart happy, and it communicated the business of textiles really well.


3. When the ideas just aren’t coming, do you have a particular thing you do or place you go to get the creative juices flowing?
After as long as I’ve been in the business, if you don’t have a large file cabinet in your head, you have a problem. When I’m thinking about a new project it follows me through the day, including after the work day ends. Creativity doesn’t have a time clock. The answer might come at dinner, in a dream, or in the car. I often wake up in 
the morning with an answer. I woke up the other morning after having a hilarious dream about a grand opening project. This wasn’t the usual solution dream, it encompassed everything that we shouldn’t do and everything that could go wrong. It wasn’t the typical happy design dream but I was thinking it all through in my sleep.


4. What is your favorite printing technique?
This is like picking a favorite child. Letterpress, hand binding, engraving, split fountain (we used this a ton when I started out), adding metallics or fluorescents to make custom colors, lenticular, die cuts, pop-ups….what we do is so much fun, there are endless things to experiment with.


Read all of Ellen’s Top 10 Inspirations and get access to hundreds of designer resources about binding, paper and packaging by becoming a PaperSpecs PRO member!

Leave a Reply