The Georgia Straight’s Janet Smith sat down with Rollout Custom Wallpaper‘s Anita Modha in this week’s issue and the 2006 New Ventures BC participant credited the competition with giving them some much needed mentorship and a serious business plan.

This is not your grandmother’s floral wallpaper, which is exactly the point. Two local entrepreneur-artists are resurrecting a once-dead décor item, injecting it with a little indie spirit, and making it hip again. Through custom designs and stock prints by local and international artists, Rollout Custom Wallpaper’s graphics are popping up everywhere from Vancouver restaurants to New York design houses to Australian museums. And the duo behind it say they’re only beginning to upend the art form.

“Especially when you look at wallpaper in the ’80s, it was all flowers, but now there’s this whole area of subversive wallpapers,” explains CEO and cofounder Anita Modha. She and fellow founder and creative director Jonathan Nodrick are taking a rare break on the rooftop deck of the Railtown artists’ building where Rollout has its studio. “People are seeing that you can choose something more graphic—they’re seeing that it doesn’t have to be a simple repeat pattern. It’s a whole different way of looking at home space.”

Partial credit for the company’s multifaceted success goes to Nodrick and Modha’s unique mix of expertise. He studied at what was then Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design; she has an undergrad degree in psychology and a master’s in environmental design, and is fascinated by emotional responses to graphics. They’ve also been blessed with excellent timing: after years of sparse minimalism, trends are turning toward statement wallpaper again.

But technology has been one of the biggest factors in starting Rollout. A few years ago, when the couple was still living in their hometown of Calgary, artist Nodrick was given a large-format printer. “It was a good way to get your hands dirty and see what’s possible,” he explains. “So we got the technical aspects down, and then we found a material that worked really well.” He’s referring to the thick, high-quality paper the company uses.

With the technology and art down, the creative pair entered the 2006 Telus New Ventures B.C. Competition, which gave them mentorship and resulted in the development of a serious business plan.

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