Papergang is a monthly stationery subscription box from quirky UK design team, Ohh Deer. Each month they partner with a different artist and have a theme to bring you paper goods and desk accessories. Every month's packaging is glorious and acts as the perfect preview to the theme of the box. This “Nature Calls” box was made in collaboration with artist Benjamin Taylor.
This box was sent to us at no cost to review. (Check out our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we review boxes.)
The Papergang by Ohh Deer subscription box arrives in neat and compact letterbox style packaging, with each box adorning the design elements of its featured collaborative artist. The "Nature Calls" box features a fun "colour by numbers" theme, which really takes me back to my youth - I remember how much I loved doing those types of paintings as a kid (+ a brief phase in my early 20s, when I'd come by a few sets in a dollar store!). I'm kind of a markers nerd, so I was pretty excited to see a set of those in there off the bat. Ready to find out the rest? Read on!
What’s Inside the Box
Inside this box was a folded leaflet that goes into detail about the design and collaboration, an A6 planner, 10 double-ended felt tip markers, an A5 art print, vinyl sticker, sticky tab markers, and a large coloring poster.
Can I confess something? I'm kind of a notebook and planner hoarder. I always find myself picking one up, even if I already have more than I could ever need. Meanwhile, I am no stranger to the old fashioned to-do list. I have 2 legal pads and a giant sticky notepad listing my day's tasks at any given time. This planner is not a traditional agenda book, and I kind of like that about it (takes the pressure off the timing, I think). The pages inside are filled with space for to-dos, key tasks, daily objectives, timetables, notes, and doodles - basically, this layout is exactly my flow. I tend to jot down all of these elements anyway (doodles included), why not do it in style? The blank calendars in the back are a nice touch, and the book construction is flexible but durable. This is by far my favorite item in this box!
Felt Tip Pens
Since the box is a "colour by numbers" theme, this fun inclusion has each of the markers labeled with a number. I love that it's double-sided so you can go fine where you want while also having a broader tip option. As for the quality of the markers... and let me preface this by saying I'm a highly picky marker snob... they're a bit meh. Fine tip markers are my jam, but these ones didn't do it for me. The glide and pigmentation I tend to look for in a fine tip marker wasn't really there. I found it more useful with the broader tip, but I wasn't overly impressed with the performance. It's a fine ordinary marker for people who see a marker for what it is, however I don't hold this set in a coveted spot of my heart. It's also worth mentioning that they bleed pretty easily - my hand was marked up in no time, and I found a bit of excess ink in the caps with many of them.
In last month's Papergang review, I had mentioned that I intend to use this box to connect with other members of the MSA team via snail mail. I was glad to see something I could send through - this color by numbers art print is a little larger than a traditional postcard, but fits the bill for this purpose.
I decided to write a letter to Sanna, one of MSA's editors behind the scenes. You may not be familiar with Sanna, but she has had a hand in delivering a great number of reviews on MSA since the fall of 2020. Sanna is not only a fantastic editor, she is the kind of person that always sees the positive in someone or something. I can recall a couple of occasions where I was ragging on a box a bit following a frustrating experience, and somehow she would gently help me see the situation from another perspective. I'll admit there's been a time or two where I just wanted to be like, "damn it, Sanna, I just want to complain!" but I adore her optimism, and appreciate her endlessly.
But back to this art print. Here's what's a bit strange - and maybe I'm missing something super obvious - the numbers in this color by numbers print go higher than 10... way higher. I'm not sure what I was supposed to fill in for numbers like 68 and 75, but the majority of this print had no corresponding marker. Is there a commonly held notion among the color by numbers community that in these instances you're supposed to blend the digits? Leave them blank? Just go rogue? I triple checked the leaflet for instructions, but couldn't find any indication of what I was supposed to do here, besides color in the lines. I went ahead and did just numbers 1-10 (which only half of the markers were called for), and that left it looking pretty incomplete. Ultimately, I just colored in whatever I felt like, and finished it off.
Colour By Numbers Poster
I taped this poster to my garden door to offer some context as to how large this poster actually is. If you're having trouble making out the lines or digits, I assure you - it is not the photo. They are indeed hard to see. I suppose this is the point - to make the finished product not look as though it were color by numbers, but I'd pull out a magnifying glass for this one.
Ultimately, this poster carries the same issue as the art print with the numbers. I'm not sure how one is supposed to complete this, and I imagine this could turn extremely frustrating given the fine detail. I'll be honest - I could not source the time or will to attempt it, so I'm not sure what will come of this print.
These sticky tab markers are a nice little throw in. They echo the design style of the box (of course), and I think they'll come in handy with the planner for sure. The adhesion is not amazing, but good enough that it'll get used.
Admittedly, I cannot see myself having use for this vinyl sticker, but if you can either crack the code of the excess numbers to color in, or are just happy to go along and ignore the color assignment, it's another coloring project that will take less time to complete. I'm thinking about giving this to my daughter, who will probably feel just as confused about the coloring numbers as I am, and just make the whole thing pink (her favorite color).
The Papergang by Ohh Deer "Nature Calls" box really won me over with the planner, and for that alone, I'll call it a winner. The added bonus was taking the dedicated time to express my gratitude to Sanna with handwritten words and lackluster coloring skills. As for the project itself, I'm more confused than anything else. Had I loved the performance of the markers, I might hold more enthusiasm about them, but I'm happy to keep them on standby for when the need arises. I think this subscription box as a whole is interesting enough to make it worth having, even if not every project or theme lands as a slam dunk. The element of 'what will they send next' really has me intrigued, and I'm excited to unbox the next one.
To Wrap Up:
Can you still get this box if you sign up today? Yes, with Papergang, you choose your first box (while supplies last)!
The Cost: £15 per month (approx. $18.84 USD at the time of publication). Save with quarterly an annual subscription plans.
Ships to: The US for £6.95 (approx. $8.68 USD), free to the UK, and worldwide at varying rates.
Good to Know: Papergang has an ongoing partnership with Tree Aid to make sure that for every four boxes they sell, one tree gets planted in the African Drylands, which helps with vital food and income.
Check out all of our Papergang reviews and more paper & stationery subscription boxes!
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