Everyone loves typography these days. There are many companies, and individuals, creating posters, tshirts and homewares based on cute or clever sayings and designs. But there are only a few that have managed to not only get the thumbs up from the design community, but also be commercially successful. Enter Bold & Noble, a UK company set up by Jane Tobitt and David Wardle after 12 years of creating designs for others. Meet creative director Jane Tobitt.
Which five words best describe you? I'm probably not the best person to put forward the personality suggestions – hard working, optimistic, frustratingly over ambitious about what can be achieved in a day, erm… perhaps you should ask the people who know me best.
How did you get your career start and what path have you taken since? At the bottom, working as a junior designer, making the tea and doing the donkey work at a design company in London - I should add that it was brilliant and I loved the people and opportunities. I left there after seven years, as a senior designer having worked with some lovely clients like London College of Fashion, Royal Mail and the British Red Cross on everything from art direction to designing badges. I then joined Hoop associates and enjoyed two years working as their senior designer before leaving to have our son, Wilf.
We struggled to find lovely wall art for Wilf's room, so the idea of setting up a business that sold screen prints came to the fore. David and I had always toyed with the idea of collaborating on projects, but were wary that it didn't affect our family life. David already had an illustration/design business called Designed By David, the main bulk of his work was book covers and he'd become very established in that arena, you couldn't walk into a bookshop without seeing his designs on the shelf. People would often email David to tell him they loved the cover he designed for such and such book, so we were mildly aware there was this positive vibe about his designs. Plus, as designers you have all the right skills to set up a business – you can design a logo, website, shoot the product photography and create the products, in the past I'd worked on branding campaigns so was familiar with the background to launching new ideas and getting press coverage. We launched Bold & Noble with twelve designs, six created by David, and six by me.
Within the first few weeks of launching the website, I started approaching the press. We were incredibly lucky Elle Decoration, The Times newspaper and Living Etc… ran features on our work within the first few months and that helped to get our name out there. Slowly shops and galleries started approaching us about selling our prints and sales directly on our website were picking up too. I look back fondly to those first few months were I'd walk down to the post office with my poster tubes propped up on the buggy to dispatch our orders, nowadays it is a much bigger operation but I like to think we haven't lost any of the personal touches or quality. If anything we've improved and streamlined the process for our customers and having Sarah and Harpreet to help us has been a godsend.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learnt along the way? I think you can't go far wrong with Anthony Burril's poster "work hard and be nice to people".
What’s your proudest career achievement? There isn't one that sticks out, of course the success of Bold & Noble is a wonderful achievement and having our work featured in beautiful magazines is a huge buzz. But I would say being a mother is and will always be my greatest achievement.
What’s been your best decision? Easy to say now, but starting Bold & Noble. It was a gamble, we had a new baby and invested all our savings not knowing if it would fall flat on it's face. A lot of hard work and late nights have gone into making it a success and we're constantly evolving.
Who inspires you? Anything and everything. A news story, the nature around us, other artists, a piece of beautiful typography, a colour, a flea market nick knack, a funny saying or quote. What is tricky now we're running a fully functioning business with employees and overheads is to switch off the business brain and give ourselves the time to be creative, to be inspired. In order to come up with new, creative ideas you need to have the time to play, to be a kid again and it isn't easy getting to that place if you're worrying about the tax return. Thankfully our great team means that there is some time off for the new collection in the pipeline.
What are you passionate about? That we're as kind to the environment and each other as we can be. And on a more basic level, spending time with my family and friends, getting may hands dirty in the garden and at the allotment and getting out in the countryside for a run.
Which person, living or dead, would you most like to meet? No one famous though I imagine Gandhi would be very insightful and I could quite happily pass a few hours in his company. Probably my ancestors, it would be great to hang out with your great, great grandparents and watch your granny as a little girl. To see where you came from and to experience their lives.
What dream do you still want to fulfil? It is a joy to work in this industry, so to continue producing great work would be a real dream.
What are you reading? Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood - I am four months pregnant, so every night I pick it up and fall asleep about two sentences in, so I'm only on about page 10 at the moment so can't give a very good synopsis. The last book I read was The book thief which was a gripping read, albeit a bit melancholy.
images courtesy of bold & noble