Finding Inspiration, by Cindy Tomczyk of Paper Parasol Press June 13, 2014 04:00

Last year, I dedicated one notebook as my “idea/inspiration” book for my company, Paper Parasol Press. Before this I was one of those disorganized designers who had 2-3 sketchbooks floating around with all types of randomness, scrapes of paper, iPhone notes, and posted notes. I was having a hard time streamlining my ideas or even coming up with new designs. I needed something I could easily locate! It’s hard to miss an Orla Kiely notebook on a messy desk. 

I love traveling, so even if it’s just a weekend getaway, I bring my inspiration book with me. Earlier this year, we took a road trip to Ojai, California. It was the perfect getaway, as I had just wrapped up a busy holiday season and was in need for new designs. Here is the process of my cacti design from rough sketch, to computer, to the final card:

One of my favorite tools, I have been using for over 10 years is my Wacom tablet. This is what I use to clean up my line work once I scan the sketch into my computer. I usually clean up the sketch in Photoshop and then bring everything into Adobe Illustrator, where I redraw it with vector lines. At first, the Wacom tablet was awkward, but with practice, I became comfortable with it. I have used the small and large sizes, but I feel like the medium size works best for me. I switch back and forth between a mouse and my Wacom tablet depending on the line work.

We recently got back from a trip to Hawaii and I was able to sneak in some sketch time while drinking rum and POG on the lanai. Here is the progress from sketch to computer and soon to be letterpress printed! So even while I was being casual about sketching, I was able to come up with some hand lettering for a new design concept and it wasn’t on the back of a napkin or receipt that I would ultimately end up misplacing. 

Sketching and jotting down ideas encourages me to spend more time working on concepts. It also helps when I am in a creative rut. Sometimes, ideas I had months ago come to fruition when I revisit them. Inspiration can strike at any time, so be ready!


Paper Parasol Press is design and letterpress studio based out of the San Francisco Bay Area. Our cards can be found in metropolitan boutiques around the country and a few in Canada, Japan, and Australia. We find inspiration in Americana, European Folk Art, and Mid- Century Design.