An Interview with Lynn Costello Erskin of The Pear in Paper

Photo of An Interview with Lynn Costello Erskin of The Pear in Paper

Describe a normal day at The Pear in Paper?  

As a mum of three, mornings begin with the school run. I then post my orders at the local post office. Then the music and the apron go on, the ink comes out and the rollers start rolling. The best part of my day is inking up “Florrie” (our letterpress platen dating from 1872) and getting stuck into a print run. Time is then set aside to work on replying to emails, posting to social media, updating the website and fulfilling orders.

Photo of An Interview with Lynn Costello Erskin of The Pear in Paper

How did you learn your skills? 

I am a self-taught printer. I searched the world for a printing press and was lucky to find “Florrie”. Having been lovingly restored, our letterpress platen arrived from across the globe. I love the manual aspect of printing — the ink and the sound of the platen — it is a thing of beauty.

I don’t like to over complicate anything in life and this is reflected in my work. I like to do things simply but beautifully.

How would you describe your style and products? 

I don’t like to over complicate anything in life and this is reflected in my work. I like to do things simply but beautifully

The lino print and letterpress techniques provide a tactile quality that is understated.  I could print out my products thousands of times but I prefer to handcraft each greeting card and lino print. 

My background in environmental management has greatly influenced The Pear in Paper’s ethos in that we use tree-free card, recycled envelopes and biodegradable clear sleeves and we print manually. We make simple, quirky, eco-friendly paper goods which are designed and printed in Donegal.

Photo of An Interview with Lynn Costello Erskin of The Pear in Paper

Do your surroundings in Co.Donegal inspire your designs? 

Nature plays a big part in my lino prints. Living in Donegal means that you don’t have to go far to see stunning scenery.  My family inspires me when it comes to designing my greeting cards. I often ask my mother to repeat herself when she says things. I want to write them down and make cards based on her expressions and turn-of-phrase.

Living in Donegal means you don’t have to go far to see stunning scenery

What have been your most positive moments so far in business? 

The day I found a 145-year-old unloved, rusty letterpress platen and decided it was mine no matter what. Our first overseas order was a positive moment for me that has led to more orders from stockists in places such as Japan, Canada and Australia. Customer feedback also impacts my business at the heart of which is the customer and the idea of bringing something special to that customer.

What are your most popular products? 

The hand-pulled print of the badger is my most popular lino print. He is so striking in his black and white attire. My birthday cards are definitely my most popular cards. People like to send a really unique “Happy Birthday” message and the tactile nature of the letterpress, as well as the recycled materials, the bright colours and simple designs really appeal.

We make simple, quirky, eco-friendly paper goods which are designed and printed in Co. Donegal.

What is your favourite piece of work at the moment? 

I recently worked on a custom, limited edition lino print for the Cait & I store in Sligo. I designed a print of a herring gull and in doing so fell in love with these birds. They can live for up to 32 years, are so clever and resourceful and are now sadly an endangered species in Ireland.

Why are you passionate about what you do?

I get to be creative every day and enjoy the sounds of the letterpress in the quiet of my studio. Just knowing a finished product will go off in the post to make someone as happy as it made me while making it is a fantastic feeling. I would love to restore a second press — a flatbed “Vandercook” press. This would enable me to create large-scale prints using wooden and metal type. Watch this space.

If you weren’t doing this what would you be doing? 

Working in conservation or studying bird behaviour and how our environment is affecting their survival. A couple of years ago I completed a dry-stone wall course which has led to a passion that I would like to, ahem, build on in the future!

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