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Creative Collaborations: Trudy Zhang of Poptsie Paper Co. - Esse

Creative Collaborations: Trudy Zhang of Poptsie Paper Co.

To mark the launch of our new range Foundations and #PlasticFreeJuly, we collaborated with modern calligraphy artist, Trudy Zhang, to create a unique art tote and raise funds for social enterprise, Seven Clean Seas.


Esse for Seven Clean Seas Tote


Trudy is a close friend of the brand, and has been creating many heartfelt pieces in collaboration with us over the years. Her ability to draw from rich and deep emotions and translate that through each work that she creates is what inspired us to collaborate with her for this meaningful project.

Putting our Foundations range to the test, she styles these (hard)working classics while transforming our organic cotton tote bag into a work of art. Read on to learn more about Trudy and the inspiration behind our limited-edition art totes.

Hi Trudy, tell us a bit more about your work as an artist and modern calligrapher?

My work has always been something very personal, and comes from a place of love.  

I’m particularly drawn to relationships between people, the energy we bring to a space, and the connections we are able to form through art. My work was born out of my curiosity and deep desire to create meaningful connections, through art and the written word. 


Trudy at work


When did you pick up calligraphy? 

It was about six years ago when I bought my first calligraphy pen, and began experimenting with inks on different surfaces and scale. I’ve always loved the idea of writing things by hand, and also find it particularly calming as my mind wanders along with every stroke. And how no two words are ever the same makes it that extra special. 


What do you draw inspiration from when creating your art pieces and botanical stationery?

I’m a highly sensitive person, and my innate response to my surroundings such as sounds, rhythms, light, energy, music and memories, is a big part of my creative process.

it’s my version of preserving a memory; a tender moment or one that brings a certain kind of joy. 


Boxy Jacket and Shorts
Trudy wears the Organic Boxy Jacket and With Ease Shorts in Cherry Tomato.


You’ve been mainly focused on wedding stationery and teaching workshops. What other areas are you keen to explore and do you have any plans in the pipeline?

I’ve been working on an expanded collection of botanical illustrations and exploring different mediums to express Over the last two years, I’ve been learning to re-navigate my way round a dark space, and to find my centre again. I’m focusing on more meaningful collaborations this year, and exploring other mediums of art. Now that travelling restrictions have finally lifted, I’m also working towards our first workshop outside of our little island, something I’m really excited about.


Thank you for creating this beautiful artwork and helping us to raise funds to clean up our marine environment. Why is environmental conservation important to you? 

Because, we really only have one planet; our one precious earth that holds our oceans. Together with the amazing work Seven Clean Seas is doing, I truly hope that the generations after ours will be able to witness the beauty that we see today, before it’s gone. And having these conversations now gives us hope that it’s not too late and we can make a difference together, for a better world.


Organic Cotton Boxy Jacket and With Ease Maxi Skirt
Trudy wears the Organic Cotton Boxy Jacket and With Ease Maxi Skirt.


What was the inspiration behind this piece?

I took my first dive in Manado, and it was in Bunaken Island where I witnessed one of the most beautiful coral walls before my eyes and the marine life that resides in this underwater world they call home. This dive, however didn’t come easy, as had to I overcome my fear of drowning and the vulnerability of being in the open waters. Sometimes, all you ever needed was a little nudge, a leap of faith and to just dive right in. 

Our ocean though massive, is also vulnerable, and we have a stake in it to care for it.

I also had the words “beautiful inside and out”, written on the handles of the tote, as I’d imagine each time you look over your shoulder, you’d see those words and be reminded that – beauty isn’t about what it seems, it’s about how it feels like.  

Trudy at work


What materials did you use to create this art tote?

I did a light outline in pencil before adding the colours in acrylic paint. One of my favourite details of this tote is the coral fan which was created with soft brush-like strokes, and thought that the colour of this coral fan is a beautiful semblance to the Cherry Tomato colourway that’s found in this Foundations collection, a nod to Nature.

The illustrations are accented with glass beads and sequins that were upcycled from my previous creative business designing wearable art. Another reminder that our journeys aren’t linear and is ever-changing in our creative pursuits.

Cross Back Top and Boxy Jacket
Trudy wears the Organic Cotton Boxy Jacket, Cross Back Top and With Ease Shorts.


Let’s talk a bit about fashion – what are some of your everyday go-to pieces?

If you would see on the streets, you’d almost always find me in a dress. Though I love a good pair of pants to lounge in, something perhaps in Tencel paired with a breathable tank. 

How do you stay comfortable while creating art?

Breathability, movement, and a state of mind. Something that would bring a certain kind of lightness, a kind of comfort in chaos. I’d light a candle in my favourite scent, put on my favourite playlist and be present.


Organic Cotton Boxy Jacket
Trudy wears the Organic Cotton Boxy Jacket.


Which is your favourite Foundations piece?

This is easy! My favourite Foundations piece is the Boxy Jacket in Cherry Tomato, it’s such a special colourway. I love the silhouette and those deep pockets; enough to hold weight without losing structure; a relaxed fit comfortable to lounge in or slip it on for a pop of colour and good vibes.

Learn more about Poptsie Paper Co. and check out the limited edition art tote created by Trudy.

Proceeds raised from the sale of each art tote will be donated to Seven Clean Seas to help remove plastic from our marine environment.  

Photos by Xinning of Alone Together.

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