Annabel Hawkins & Patrick Hickley new project Paradise Press bucks the trend of quick-hit eCommerce endorphins by starting slow art movement. The two flatmates saw a need for a platform that connected young talent with young buyers in a sustainable way. ‘The concept came from the lost possibility of travel. Everyone’s spent so much time within their walls this year, we wanted to bring a piece of paradise into that space. We know so many talented people making amazing art on the side, we knew it deserved to be seen,’ says Hickley. It’s a circular initiative where artists and a nominated charity get paid in a way the duo describes as, ‘celebrating the humble art of just making’. We caught up with the founders to learn more…
With thanks to our DA partners Portfolio Recruitment for the heads up on this phenomenal project.
Can you tell us a little about your backgrounds and career milestones prior to founding paradise press?
Annabel: I started out at design school before I switched studies and finished a degree in Communications at Massey in Wellington. After that I sort of fell into advertising, working first in media intelligence and an agency before switching to working as a strategist in a creative agency in Melbourne.
When I was 23 I had my poetry anthology This must be the place published, which was surreal and wonderful and I still run my poetry blog each month. I’ve worked really hard as a freelancer around the world and have been lucky to work on some amazing projects; from shooting in the Californian desert to helping create a documentary with an Oscar-winning director.
Being a freelancer means life is full of hustle and surprises and landing a new project with a genuine and ethical kaupapa always feels like a new milestone for me.
Patrick: I studied at Massey University taking a broad range of papers over Photography, Graphic Design and Fine Arts. I saw that the role of the designer was fast changing and becoming skilled across multiple areas was an area I was interested in. Post-Uni, I freelanced around for a while before deciding to move to London to push myself into using my degree further.
I landed a job as an in-house designer/photographer for British audio company Orbitsound. This role threw myself into a vast array of outputs, from brand identity, packaging, website design, audio WiFi app design, product & lifestyle photography, product UI development, all marketing collateral… the list could go on. I basically became their ‘go-to’ for all things visual. Three years quickly flew by and I was ready to move back to NZ.
Since my arrival back in NZ I worked for myself again executing a large scale identity for Auckland based Foundation Coffee (formally Coffee Distribution Ltd), designed a smart water app, a couple of small identity jobs. I am now working for design studio HeyYou. Recent work I completed for them was the rebrand of Neon TV. Feeling lucky to be back in NZ and working for nice people.
Paradise Press publishes exclusive limited-edition collections of Art that are only available once because, after all, Paradise is hard to find. Tell us about your ambitions for Paradise Press:
We founded Paradise when we’d both returned from our respective travels and lives overseas and saw a real gap in the market for accessible art. We’re both artists in our own right – Pat’s a designer and photographer and I’m a writer and poet, so we know the value of things and are not interested in mass-producing anything to scale. That’s when things lose their magic.
It was also really important that we worked with an organisation that was giving back to the community. Mental health is a cause really close to our hearts and we’re also extremely aware of our privilege to even launch an initiative. The work of The Kindness Institute is really inspiring to us and something we’re trying to support as much as possible.
Paradise has been designed to be both experimental and supportive to the emerging arts community so our ambitions for it are boundless – we’d love to become an esteemed platform making interesting, unique and beautiful work that can also become a revenue stream for creatives and charities alike. We’re really fluid in how we work and what we’d like to achieve. Things change quickly. If anything this year has really taught us that.
You are working with NZ artists worldwide… How did you curate the artists and select your charity for this collection?
We’re lucky to have a lot of great mutual friends making cool art who were really open to taking the leap with us to be a part of our first collection. In a way that’s where our inspiration for Paradise came from – the art we want on our walls is out there, but it was on our social media feeds and in the rolls of film being developed behind-the-scenes. We believed it deserved to be seen and made accessible.
Alongside our digital gallery is our partner charity, The Kindness Institute. and supporting them was really important for us as a business. They run all kinds of programmes for mental wellbeing in marginalised Kiwi rangatahi, and design their causes around Te Whare Tapa Whā as a holistic framework. It’s so inspiring.
We’re not running Paradise to make thousands of dollars so we can sit around on yachts in the near future. It’s about fostering a creative community and making a platform that shines a light on amazing work and ideas.
We love that environmental stewardship is also important to the project and that you are working using biodegradable packaging, local businesses and zero waste wherever possible. What were the challenges (if any) to source products and services that aligned with your sustainability goals for the project?
It’s been one of the biggest challenges setting up Paradise – at every step of our journey there’s a challenge and the solutions split into two; a cheaper, easier (most often plastic) way and a riskier, more time-consuming but overall significantly more sustainable way. Most often this is around packaging and logistics (bubble wrap, printed collateral, plastic shrinking etc). We always opt for the latter. Even if it keeps us up to midnight problem-solving!
Tell us about your slow art notion – why is this non-instant gratification important to the Paradise Press Kaupapa?
Our kaupapa is around slowing things down to realise the value of things. Paradise supports the humble joy of just making. All of the creatives in our first collection make their art in the side hours of their lives – after work or on the weekends.
The quick-fix endorphin hit of e-commerce has put tremendous and unsustainable pressure on our planet and our expectations of how quickly we can get what we want. When we slow the whole process down, we’re able to think more about what we’re buying and who we’re supporting.
This is also why we wanted to slow down the whole business model; enabling ourselves to print to order means we don’t have rooms of ‘stock we must shift’ – it shifts the mindset completely.
You are also doing Q&A’s to profile the featured artists (https://paradisepress.co.nz/blogs/journal) – what has been your favourite insight learned from your creatives responses thus far?
Annabel: As a writer, I’m always fascinated by the story in things. I love learning about the creative process people go through to get to their final image/output. It’s so unique to everyone but also underlying it all is often just a really humble and passionate compulsion to make and explore and see what comes of it.
Patrick: That the artists are inspired by the many different ways their lives are shaped. They’re all people who work full-time but find the time in-between these hours to be creative by following their gut.
Who did the Paradise Press identity and site design?
What has the feedback for the project been so far?
We’ve been really humbled by the overwhelmingly positive feedback we’ve had on both Paradise as a platform and a kaupapa. It’s definitely not an easy climate at the moment to be launching something new! But we believe deeply that art and the humble process of art-making can be a huge source of hope and joy in life.
How can people get involved, learn more and support Paradise Press?
By purchasing our prints 🙂 We’ve recently made shipping to Australia possible + you can purchase them unframed as well. The more prints we sell, the more we’re able to donate to The Kindness Institute and continue supporting the mental wellbeing of marginalised Kiwi rangatahi.
Plus, sharing our work is so appreciated – we don’t run much-paid advertising because it comes out of our own pockets. We also sell gift vouchers if you want to buy a print for someone but aren’t sure what they’d want! We’re also really open-minded about commissions and bespoke projects. We want to take all the admin out of the project for the artists, so are happy to hear from you if you have a Paradise dream you’d like to chat about.