In the latest of our case study series, we talk to one of our long-running customers, Slovenian-born freelance illustrator Nina Stajner. She tells us about her cute animal drawings, the inspiration for her packaging illustration, and how she uses her custom tissue paper to ship her artwork in the most sustainable way possible.

Nina Stajner is an artist of ‘whimsical wild things’ who has been working as a freelance illustrator for the past five years. After graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana in 2013, Nina worked on a variety of projects before deciding to focus on her signature work - her animal drawings, which became the centerpiece of her illustrated packaging design. It was the power of social media in getting her name out to a mass audience that inspired Nina to build a brand around her artwork:

“With social media having a huge impact on our businesses, I decided to work on my own products and develop a brand - a lovely animal and woodland-inspired stationery brand, using only artwork that is close to my heart. My first coloring book with animal coloring pages was a huge success, and that gave me a lot of motivation to create other paper goods such as notepads, prints, notebooks. And I didn't stop there! I made my own enamel pins, tote bags, washi tape, keychains, wall decals etc.”

Building a brand

Nina Stajner Instagram feed

Building a cohesive brand isn’t an easy task for any creative, but Nina hit on a recipe which resonated with her online audience. Her adorable animal drawings in traditional gouache and watercolor illustration have built up a following of almost 250K followers on Instagram, and its strong thematic focus certainly plays a part. This helps to keep Nina on track as she brainstorms for new ideas, often using social media as an inspiration board for future designs:

“I try to paint or illustrate what I want to see in the world, and I design products that I want to use. Because this is so personal, I don’t find it too difficult to have this look and feel throughout my work. I know it’s a cliche answer, but I do get inspired by nature while hiking or traveling. I also really like old picture books - my delicate pastel color palettes, watercolor illustration, softness, and warmth often stem from there. And today, inspiration truly is everywhere. when you browse through Pinterest, Instagram etc. I make sure that I follow inspiring accounts - they also give me the motivation to work!”

Using packaging illustration to create brand recognition

Nina Stajner custom tissue paper

Illustrators are in a pretty unique position when it comes to creating their own packaging. Their brand recognition doesn’t so much extend from their name or a custom logo design - it comes from their work itself. So, designing custom packaging using illustration is a fantastic opportunity to turn packaging into a work of art in its own right. This makes for a true ‘value-added’ addition to a customer’s purchase, which makes a brand experience far more memorable.

noissue’s offline design tool for our custom tissue paper and custom stickers allows businesses to upload an entire finished design and receive a proof within 24 hours. Nina Stajner took advantage of this fast and stress-free way to create the packaging illustrations which best reflected her brand’s identity:

“When I found out about noissue through social media channels, I was immediately inspired to design my own packaging illustrations. Today I cannot imagine running my shop without it! I think my customers really enjoy getting my products in such a lovely tissue paper. I have my animal drawings printed on it, so it really fits in with everything that I ship. My Etsy reviews are very good; five stars! I’m super proud that I’m able to provide such a great service with the help of noissue. My lovely custom tissue paper just ties everything together and adds that little something extra to my packages. It makes my brand even more cohesive and recognizable!”

Taking advantage of noissue’s low minimums

Nina Stajner's latest custom tissue paper design

Rather than just sticking with one design, Nina took the opportunity to experiment with a refresh of her packaging illustrations through noissue’s low minimum order quantities. By creating a new twist on her signature theme, she keeps the customer experience with her brand cohesive, but also fresh and interesting.

Pro tip: Interested in how to accomplish a thematic or seasonal packaging refresh? Check out the guide on our blog!

The challenge of keeping packaging designs sustainable

By sending her goods all over the world, Nina is very aware of the environmental impact of order fulfillment and shipping, especially when it comes to packaging. One of her biggest difficulties is that many conventional packaging designs used for postage still don’t have sustainable alternatives. But her noissue custom illustrated packaging, which is both recyclable and biodegradable, helps to make her packaging as eco-friendly as possible:

“I strive to be an environment-friendly brand - so I mostly print on recycled paper using vegetable-based inks. When shipping my products I try to avoid using plastic, but rather protect my products with my custom tissue paper and ship in hard cardboard envelopes. But my local post office uses plastic sleeve bags for package declarations, which they put on my mailers. Not everything is in my hands! So this is always a challenge, but I always do as much as I can to be eco-friendly. A lot can be done if you change your packaging habits!”

Pro tip: When sourcing paper goods, it’s always a great idea to look out for vegetable-based inks as Nina has done. These are 100% renewable and also produce much more vibrant colors - that’s why we use them for our own custom tissue paper and custom stickers!

Whilst it often isn’t possible to be completely eco-friendly in your operation, this doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth trying! Putting effort into reducing the amount of packaging waste you produce makes a huge difference to your business’s overall footprint. You can read more sustainable packaging in eCommerce on our blog.

“Because my illustrations are inspired by nature, forest and the animals living there, I try to preserve this environment as much as I can!”