Hi, we're Joel and Ashley Selby! We're the husband-and-wife creative duo behind This Paper Ship. We recently went through a big change with our studio that prompted this new shop site! Here's a brief story...
Two Businesses, One Roof
We started This Paper Ship 2008 as a freelance illustration studio, and in order to stay afloat, we had to get creative about making a living. Through the years we supplemented our income with a lot of different creative odd jobs, including wedding photography, branding, calligraphy, and copywriting. (One time we even got to write copy for a few Show Your Disney Side ads, but since we were subcontractors and therefore not under contract with the Mouse House, you didn't hear that from us.) The two big guns that stuck with This Paper Ship were freelance illustration and selling paper goods.
It wasn't until our 9th year, upon signing with an illustration agency and having to use our real names and not This Paper Ship on their website, that we realized we had actually been running two businesses under one name: 1) a freelance illustration studio, and 2) a paper goods shop.
It's a fine point, especially since our drawings are the core of both businesses, but it's an important distinction to make! T he stationery and gift industries are pretty far removed from the freelance illustration world, so running those respective businesses looks pretty different most of the time. Take marketing, for example—we aimed half of our Instagram posts at our paper goods customers and the other half at our illustration clients. While we tried to use the strengths of our illustration style to woo everyone, those are two groups with very different needs. We always had the sneaking suspicion that we were watering down both our paper goods catalogue and our illustration portfolio in an attempt to please everyone.
What does that all mean? Now that we've separated the two businesses and created a much more streamlined shop website, we can really focus on what we love to do with This Paper Ship: whimsical paper goods! You'll be seeing a lot more print and card production, with illustrations that are a lot more marketable and customer-friendly (read: simpler designs, more limited color palette). We also won't be bogging down our shop with experimentations on children's book-style scenes, character development, and fan art that we can't sell because of copyright law.
We're super excited about this development, so stay tuned!