Images courtesy of Flavor Paper. Left to right: Brownstoner Maquette, design by Ian Hydeon Ferguson, photo by Jon Sherman; Flavor Leagues Under the Sea, design and photo by Jon Sherman; About Face, design by Shyama Golden, photo by Boone Speed

Off the Walls

Jon Sherman talks about designing wallpaper

Scholastic Art: What is your job?

Jon Sherman: I am the founder and creative director of Flavor Paper. We make hand screened and digitally printed wallpaper. I oversee the company’s creative direction.

Boone Speed

SA: How do you design new wallpaper?

JS: Inspiration comes from everywhere. I’m a voracious scourer of content, whether I’m in a museum, looking at Instagram, or just walking down the street. I’m always looking for motivation.


SA: How do you turn an idea into wallpaper?

JS: There isn’t a typical process. Sometimes we develop an idea by drawing by hand. Other times, an idea will evolve through photography. For the project I’m working on right now, we used underwater photographs of fish to create a background. Then we added digitally scanned printouts of 18th-century etchings, and played with different blends of DayGlo inks, color-changing inks, and glitter.


SA: What materials do you use?

JS: It really depends on the desired effect. For something that we want to appear backlit or mirrored, we might print on chrome Mylar. It’s a reflective foil that almost looks like chrome. If we want to create a watercolor effect, we might print on fabric. It’s about matching the design with the right materials.

Boone Speed

At the Flavor Paper print shop

SA: How do you find new materials?

JS: Sometimes we come across new materials at supplier conventions. Other times, we have an idea for a paper that would require a material we aren’t sure actually exists. So we do research to see if we can find anyone who makes it—or who will make it. A while back, we collaborated with a hair salon owner who wanted scratch and sniff wallpaper in his salon. We hadn’t done that yet, but I knew we could figure it out. We found a water-based adhesive that could be screen printed with a scratch and sniff coating. We released our first Scratch & Sniff collection in 2006, and we still print a wallpaper from it at least once or twice a week!


SA: What is your training?

JS: I got into this business with no training. I have a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and a master’s degree in business. I’ve always been into color, pattern, and art. You wouldn’t want me to draw people, but I’m pretty good at playing with patterns and simple shapes. I’m also good at developing concepts and finding illustrators who can execute them.


SA: Other than creativity, what skills are important in your business?

JS: Math is extremely important! You have to understand math to work with repeats in a pattern.


SA: What do you love about your job?

JS: I love seeing people’s reactions when we install a wallpaper in their home or office and they see how dramatically it changes the space. That is really fun!

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