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What does it take to run a papercut studio?

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Emily and Grace studied BA (Hons) Fine Art at Norwich University of the Arts, graduating in 2010. The duo have gone on to manage their own business, Rhombus and Pineapple and run a successful gallery based in the South West of England. Read about their journey and how they came to run their own bespoke paper cut stationery business.

How did you come to meet at NUA?

Emily:  We met on our first day, moving into student accommodation at NUA. Ever since that first day, we have collaborated together on everything. I still can’t believe that I met my business partner at University.

Grace: NUA allowed us to collaborate and encouraged us to work together. This meant we could grow together in our practice from the beginning.

How did you find Norwich to live and study in?

Grace: It’s exciting because there is always something new in Norwich and there are always activities to get involved in! We were able to push the boundaries of our work and take risks in our practice at NUA.

Emily: It’s quirky, original, and I miss it. Everything amazing happens in Norwich and Topsham . We were told “build the park and they will come”, we want to bring a bit of the spirt of Norwich to Devon, although there are challenges to that!

How did NUA prepare you for where you are today?

Grace: NUA gave me the opportunity to be independent and I found a best friend and brushes partner!

Emily: NUA gave me my husband, my business partner and identity.

What is key to your partnership?

Emily: The only thing we argue over is colour. Last week I turned the website peach and lilac and Grace was not happy! We both have an eye for colour, trends and to follow our own projects and we are good at different things.

“NUA allowed us to collaborate and encouraged us to work together. This meant we could grow together in our practice from the beginning.”

Emily Powell & Grace Thomson, Rhombus and Pineapple Studio

Where did your journey take you after NUA?

Grace: After Graduating from NUA, I went to study Architectural Engineering for three years. I was keen to be a keen free thinker so we got together and ran market stalls in Cambridge, making trial products to get an idea of what worked.

Emily: I completed a Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) and then went into teaching, I still wanted to further my own personal creative development so we took some time out to launch Rhombus and Pineapple in September 2014 and two years later we have our own galley in Exeter. We now feel that Rhombus & Pineapple is an accurate representation of an extension of our course at NUA.

Tell us about ‘Rhombus and Pineapple’

Emily: Our studio spaces at NUA were next to each other. I made a card computer, it started to build into an installation and a part of it was pictures of rhombus and pineapples; our peers referred to us as ‘rhombus and pineapple’ and we always thought it would be a great business name. It’s stuck and we wanted to keep the fun and nostalgia of that time in our business. It’s our link back to Norwich.

Grace: Our target audience are paper lovers!

Emily: We make contact through paper, we follow trends, quirky movements, people that want to be engaged, those that love colour. We want to be accessible to every one, Fine Art on the high street.

What are your future plans and ambitions?

Emily: We want to carry on making and our creative processes. It’s a bit nerve wracking but we will adapt and we are confident in our ability. We know what sells and we know we can be better. We have also been asked to teach on a local Fine Art course, inspiring future generations.

Any tips for students wishing to start up a business?

Grace: Branding, a clear vision for what you are selling and who you are. Have the confidence to make something original. 

Emily: Art is such a positive skill to utilise, more people need that. Art is underestimated, it shouldn’t be. Realise how good you are and think big!

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