We continue our series dedicated to the minds behind our designs with PS Designer Alanna. Since her early days as an invitation designer in our stores, Alanna has designed a number of Paper Source products like our calendars and stationery. But Alanna is also instrumental in bringing designs to our website for you to customize, working with the web team to launch custom stamps, wedding invitations and our new personalized note pads. We hope you get a feel for the energy she brings to the office every day – it’s infectious!
Name: Alanna Backus
Years with Paper Source: 5 Years
Expertise: Project Management
Q: What inspires you to Do Something Creative Every Day?
A: The people in my life; learning, observing, and new experiences – in general, a little bit of everything!
Q: How did you start designing?
A: As a kid, my parents always encouraged creativity… my sister and I were always making craft projects, playing outside, cooking with mom, or “working” with dad (tinkering with his tools!) I never really considered art to be anything beyond a hobby—I actually started out as a pre-law major my first year in college!—but when I realized I could make a career out of something I loved, it seemed like a no-brainer!
Q: If you weren’t designing, what would you be doing?
A: That depends, are we talking business or pleasure? If business, then either something in the event-planning industry, interior design, or social services… maybe even art therapy. If pleasure, definitely all of the things that I love to do and wish I had more time for like cooking, reading, running, hanging out outside or in the city, and spending as much time as possible with family and friends (and my dog, Brix)!
Q: Who was your favorite art teacher?
A: Definitely Mary Russell from Robert Morris University! She was the first person I met with when I decided to check out design school, and I remember her great creative spirit and friendly personality being magnetic, so I was really excited about college and the choice I had made. I remember thinking, “I want to be like her someday!”
Q: Where do you seek inspiration?
A: Blogs, magazines, and just being out and about in Chicago – this city is full of inspiration everywhere you look, whether you’re going to a museum or checking out a little shop, walking down the street, window shopping, people watching, or simply the parks and lake, little refuges of nature within all the hustle and bustle.
Q: Do you have advice for budding designers?
A: Immerse yourself in everything you can! Interact with a wide variety of people, build and strengthen relationships both for networking and also for your own personal development. Do a variety of internships to see what you like and what you’re good at. Explore, ask questions, learn, do and create – and keep creating! Not everything you do is going to be great (some of it won’t even be good!) but that’s all part of the process.
Q: What is your favorite PS design, not created by you?
A: Wow, that’s a tough one. I work with some pretty amazing designers and their work always blows me away! But I think if I had to pick a favorite, it would be the artwork calendars (Wall Art & Art Grid) – that technically gives me 24 pieces of art that I like, not just 1 or 2… is that cheating?!
Q: What’s your favorite Chicago neighborhood?
A: Rodgers Park – the perfect blend of artsy, urban & diversity.
Q: PVA or double-stick tape?
A: I’m definitely a double-stick tape girl… I’ve even been known to carry it in my purse upon occasion!
Q: What do you love about paper?
A: That it’s a tactile media. I love that there are hundreds of varieties, how you can feel and sometimes even see the fibers that make it up, all of the different colors and patterns and textures. How it has a story behind it – not just the history of the creation of paper itself, but also of the specific paper you’re using – who made it, where it came from, how and what it was made with.