Interview with Jo Hill Founder of Art Star
Jo Hill is the founder and the maker behind the vibrant and sustainable brand Art Star. We caught up with her to find out more about her journey and the mission behind her craft, focusing on the mental health benefits of making and the accessibility afforded by paper crafts.
How did you get into making things using paper?
It was a bit of a happy accident really! I’ve always made stuff since I was very young and was fortunate enough to have parents who loved art and encouraged me to be creative and explore different crafts, but any of that pure creative stuff was always a hobby for me and I saw it as being more about pleasure than a possibility for a business. Over the years I’ve dabbled in photography, collage, textiles, surface pattern design, printmaking and ceramics, but I didn’t seriously start exploring paper until the first lockdown last year. I was working as a freelance graphic designer at the time and the work dried up just a the pandemic hit. I found myself with lots of free time on my hands and began to properly explore papercraft for the first time....the next thing I knew, I'd set up a business!
Could you describe Art Star’s mission?
My mission is very simple really, I want to share my love of craft, pattern and colour in the hope of inspiring people to enjoy the benefits of getting absorbed in the process of making. Papercraft is very accessible, the materials are cheap and you don’t need many tools so it’s a great way of starting out if you don’t have much craft experience. The stakes are low!! One of the things I really noticed during lockdown was the huge mental health benefits I experienced by spending so much time exploring ideas, sketching, decorating bits of paper (potato stamping is my new favourite thing!) and figuring out ways of constructing different shapes. It fully absorbed me and got me away from my computer for long periods of time and I definitely noticed the positive difference that made to my state of mind. I think as adults most of us don’t tend to be in the habit of ‘creative play’ when actually it’s probably one of the best things we could do for ourselves! For every Hack Pack I sell I donate one to a kids' art club, it's another way to share my love of papercraft with others and it means that every customer's purchase is making a difference.
How does your practice centre on sustainability?
One of the things I’m most excited about at the moment is working with materials that already exist in the world to avoid this cycle of bringing endless new things into circulation. My Hack Pack craft kits are made using leftover paper from the printing industry and I find it really wonderful to be creating beautiful things out of waste paper. I’m really lucky to work with a great printer in SE London who is very enthusiastic about saving and reusing all their excess and waste paper. I’m planning another kit for next year using some of the heavier paper stock, with an emphasis on decorating and embellishing paper in different ways.
What is the favourite project that you have worked on to date?
My favourite project so far was creating my Yodomo course! There were so many different elements to the project, from developing and deciding on a decoration, styling and photographing it, and then working out the best way to communicate the stages to someone who maybe hadn’t done anything like that before. It’s such a great opportunity to share what I love with other people so I wanted the tutorial to be as logical and simple to follow as possible so anyone doing it would end up with something fantastic to hang on their wall at the end of it! I have to say that getting in front of a camera was a very big challenge and well out of my comfort zone but it’s good to do scary things from time to time and I really enjoyed the filming in the end!