Artist Janna Willoughby-Lohr of Paper Craft Miracles presents her fascinating portfolio of handmade paper and books. She speaks about her inspiration and her art.
ABI: How would you describe your handmade business?
JWL: I specialize in handmade paper and book arts of all kinds. My products range from wedding invitations and guest books, to custom journals and sketchbooks, to intricate artist’s books and gallery works. I also create customized handmade papers for all sorts of occasions and these papers are made into invitations, gift tags, cards and more!
ABI: What is your most exciting direction?
JWL: My favorite things to create are artist’s books where the form, design, materials, text, images and structure all work together to create a larger idea or concept. I love that they have to be experienced, not just viewed, allowing a conversation between myself and the “viewer” where I can challenge them to view their own reactions to the art as part of the piece.
I have made works to address several aspects of social and political issues. One such book is called Abandon–a mirror-filled box with a scroll built into the lid and accordion books and lights inside. There is a poem printed on the scroll that the reader believes to be about an abandoned abused woman, but in actuality she is just a shopping cart tipped over on the side of the road. The viewer is surprised at the end of the poem with the line, “What kind of person feels sorry for a shopping cart?” which challenges them to decide if they are that “kind of person.”
My goal was to shed light, not only on the male or female aspect of inanimate objects but to human’s attachment to these objects. This work directly addresses the cultural tendency to ignore the abuse of those less fortunate in our society, especially women. I love that art can open a door to discuss sensitive issues and maybe in a small way, create change in the world.
ABI: Tell us about your handmade papers and what is so special about them.
JWL: I have been making handmade papers since college but only recently got my own paper studio with all the necessary equipment to make paper consistently. Since then, I have been experimenting with many different inclusions, mainly seeds.
I love the idea of plantable paper containing flower, herb or vegetable seeds. It’s a special way to encourage the cycles of life, giving back to the earth a bit with all of our taking. I also like how it can make an item so personalized—wedding invitations that grow flowers in the weddings colors? That’s just cool.
ABI: You’ve recently design an artist website. What strategies did you use to make it?
JWL: I spent a long time planning what features I wanted my new website to have and it did take me a while to implement them all. I wanted to make sure that the focus was on my art and not on flashy backgrounds, so I worked hard to learn to take better photographs and to leave all the background clean.
I made sure to put my social media (Instagram) presence on the front page so that people coming to the site could see that I was active and it was constantly updating and changing the site with minimal effort on my part. Helps to keep the site interesting. I also tried to make my site have a lot of content but to be well organized and easy to navigate. It’s still a work in progress, but I’m very pleased with the direction that it’s going.