An interview with graphic designer Hannah Bidmead

I met Hannah of Nancy & Betty (named after her Grandma and her Grandma's twin sister) in Whitstable a couple of years ago and have been a fan of her gorgeous stationery ever since. Hannah Nancy & Betty

What’s the most important thing to know about you?

I own one too many typewriters - 11 at the last count! I can also be found in the Liberty Stationery Room – I could quite easily spend hours in there (and the rest of the shop).

Describe a really good day and a really bad day in the life of the Hannah Bidmead.

Really good day – being very productive! Designing stationery for future collections, I’m thinking about 2013 already. Other things include doing a good photo shoot and getting lots of orders! I love crossing things off my to-do list. Bad day – Not feeling very inspired, so when this happens, I often just leave the studio and go for a walk into Canterbury to think and buy a copy of Vogue. I’m off to Copenhagen soon and can’t wait for a change of scenery to inspire me. I love Scandinavian design.

Nancy & Betty British box set

What inspires your ideas?

I love colour, so that’s often a starting point. British themes often crop up, like the crown for the ‘you rule’ wrapping paper and card. My designs are whimsical and hopefully make people smile through a pun, an object or theme or an unexpected twist on a product like the mix tape sticky tape. Inspiration comes from retro objects, fashion magazines, architecture and the seaside – to name a few.

Nancy & Betty you rule wrapping paper

Describe the process you go though to turn your ideas into products.

I have a sketch book and lots of post-it notes that I write ideas down on. I will often come back to them, which gives me time to think about to an idea and realize that it was or wasn’t a good one! I will then sketch ideas out and play around with composition and type. Ideas come from everywhere, you just have to open your eyes and have a look around. My Pantone Formula guide is also very helpful!

Nancy & Betty pink typewriter and polaroid notebook

What advice would you give to an aspiring graphic designer?

Try and find your own unique style/image. If you’re original, your work will stand out. And never under estimate the importance of a decent business card – always carry them on you and give them out often

Desert island design; which three designed items could you not live without?

Kitchen Aid (so beautiful and great for baking – my downtime!)

Olivetti Lettera 22 Typewriter (for letter writing and for the text on the designs)

Satchel (from The Cambridge Satchel Co, bought a few years ago, I wear it all the time and get so many compliments!)

Nancy & Betty practically perfect sticky tape

What are you most proud of?

Our stockists list, which includes Liberty, Heal’s, Urban Outfitters, Paperchase and Saatchi Gallery. Liberty was one of our first stockists and I’m proud that they stock Nancy & Betty Studio stationery.

What’s next for you?

Launching a wedding collection of stationery in Autumn 2012, called MR & MRS. Designing the 2013 collection (more designs and more products) and offering more vintage stationery/office supplies in our shop. Oh, and adding some more marvellous shops to our list of stockists!

Nancy & Betty you rule card

And, finally, what’s your favourite colour?!

Too many!! At the moment, gold and a dirty navy colour (294U if you’re interested!), but it might change next week. I have a weakness for paint colour charts too. Farrow & Ball have some great names, like Elephant’s Breath!

Nancy & Betty you're just my type