Through her love of art and storytelling, along with bringing smiles to little faces, Kyla Pawlyshyn has worked over the past year to start up Pippin’s Press & Fine Arts, which launched in October 2015. At the forefront of it all are two aspiring Dutch rabbits, Axel Van Burren and Abigail the Grey, helping out with the creative process.
Pippin’s Press & Fine Arts publishes handcrafted children’s storybooks, prints and cards. Using a whimsical style and colourful compositions, Kyla creates animal–themed, mostly rabbit-oriented, storybooks. As a small quaint press she runs limited-edition print runs keeping these books special. In the studio are stacks of special paper, paint supplies, a commercial printer and the odd rabbit toy. Kyla carefully hand-binds each book with help of her trusty awl and an old book cradle. She uses specialty paper to give the books that artisanal finish. The illustrations are in watercolour and pen.
Kyla has had a passion for books since childhood and she has kept some of the classics such as Peter Rabbit, Alice in Wonderland and The Hobbit. Letting her imagination run wild, she decided it was time to pursue an adventure of her own through self-publication with Pippin’s Press. Since then, Kyla and the rabbits have been busy coming up with fresh ideas for more books.
Her debut storybook, The Peculiar Habits of Little Rabbits, tells a tale through a diary belonging to house rabbit Axel Buckberry, a character based on Kyla’s dear old rabbit, Mr. Pippin. His best bun, Bennie, accompanies him as they go about their daily adventures. Her second book, The Bashful Bunny is a nursery poem book about a shy little rabbit hiding from a bumblebee.
Inspiration comes hopping when you spend time with the rabbits Axel and Abby. Abby is now Chief of Talent and the Creative Director since Mr. Pippin, the great name behind it all, has stepped down and retired. Observing their daily habits, high energy and constant curiosity about the world makes for great characters. Rabbits and the outdoors are the best inspiration for stories. Kyla believes animals have a sense of creativity just like us. Take a short walk in the park and you can see all kinds of critters trying to adapt to suburban and city life. The materials found in bird’s nests are a great example. Mice, raccoons, squirrels, crows and even the Eastern Cottontail have daily routes to and from their homes as they go about their animal business. She never knows what secret stash she’ll find when turning over a rock in the woods.
She paints and illustrates the characters taken from actual photographs of Mr. Pippin in his younger years. His personality brimmed with sassiness as he posed in front of the camera, well, mostly for nose rubs and banana chunks. Animals are excellent narrators – their body language shows their emotions and, if you are observant, you can see everything from the happiness in binkies to the contempt of a rabbit shunning you.
Kyla lives in Victoria, B.C., with her husband and the two rascals. She received her Associate of Arts Degree in Creative Writing from Camosun College and took General Studies at the University of Victoria. Her poem Hills At Dusk, won third place in the Island Writer Magazine’s poetry competition. The poem Purple Locket will be published in the magazine’s upcoming summer edition.
Kyla invites her followers to keep up with what these two rascals have in store for the press. Starting this spring, Axel will be sharing his Tuesday’s cup of mojo – the things he finds inspiring. Abby ‘s duties include everything from testing the right type of watercolour paper to choosing the perfect shade of sienna for background washes. Abby’s ideas have materialized into many wonderful creations, most of which are available in their Etsy shop.
Hop, bonk and binky on!