When Woodstock-based photographer Jeffrey Milstein started Paper House Productions 30 years ago this January, there wasn’t really anything comparable on the market. The blank greeting cards and stickers that he designed were strikingly unique, both in the way that the expertly die-cut edges lifted the image out of any context or background, and in the clarity of the photographic images that allowed the object pictured to take on an arresting “realness” that hadn’t been seen in stationery products before.
Although Milstein sold the company in 2000, and is no longer involved with Paper House Productions, the current design team based in Saugerties continues to carry out the same style for which the company was always known while adding dimension to it: literally, as the 3-D greeting cards, stickers and magnets using dimensional elements are currently the top sellers for the company, says Sarah Ardila, vice president of marketing for Paper House and involved in product development as well.
The appeal of the company’s style, as originated by Milstein, says Ardila, is in the way that the images never go out of style. “We have a red rose image, for example, and it’s just the most iconic, perfect representation of a red rose. One of the first images Milstein did was a black Labrador, and you look at it and say, ‘That looks exactly like my dog.’ He created this timeless look: a unique perspective capturing something exactly as it is.”
The current design team works to keep that original vision, says Ardila, while evolving the line to include new elements. “We didn’t get rid of anything,” she says, “just evolved a little bit to go in another direction and deepen our assortment. It all works with the original vision.” The current focus in their thinking, she says, is to present the iconic imagery “as a verb,” meaning that the image isn’t about a particular flower but about the feeling of giving or picking flowers, evoking a feeling of an action.