WHILE our world gets a little more negative every day, Kristen Drozdowski’s prints with Worthwhile Paper radiate positivity.
The collection of prints and paper goods are made by Drozdowski and her husband Steve in Ypsilanti, Michigan, and sold worldwide.
Her prints are currently on display and available for purchase at Foxy Loxy through July 29.
We chatted with Drozdowski last week about focusing your energy, the closing of Etsy Wholesale, and the importance of making art for yourself.
How did you get started with Worthwhile Paper?
It’s kind of a long story—I don’t know where to start! I’ve been into design and print for quite a while. In high school, I got my first design job and I went to college for graphic design. I got an internship there screenprinting posters. In graphic design, I got really into screenprinting.
I was making posters for a while and doing freelance design. I got into the wedding industry doing calligraphy and designs for wedding invitations. I think being around that atmosphere got me into making smaller things, and I decided I wanted to make my own line of smaller art prints and paper goods.
I had a lot of stuff going on after I graduated. I had lots of things I was trying to do, and I ultimately decided to slowly focus in on one thing. I like the practice of making art that I liked instead of doing client work. I know a lot of people really like client work, and I do some client work still, which is fun, but there’s a joy about being an artist and making stuff you like and crossing your fingers that other people like it.
How long has Worthwhile Paper been around?
We launched it in 2013 or 2014. We started on Etsy as a retail shop, then about a year later I made my own website, around the time Etsy Wholesale started. Ironically, today [June 28] is the last day of Etsy Wholesale.
The platform was one of the main contributors to the direction of my business. That’s how I got into wholesale. I was working at a shop called Rock Paper Scissors in Ann Arbor—they sell a lot of stuff like my stuff. I think that was where I was like, Oh my god, people can make this stuff for a living!
How do you sell your products?
I still have retail, I have my website and I do some local craft fairs but the bulk of the actual business end of everything si wholesale. Right now, we’ve had our 587th shop order from us.
The majority of the shops that carry [Worthwhile Paper] are independently-owned boutiques in cute cities. They’re in big cities too, but they can be everywhere. I look at it as a mutual support system. I’m making the work and they’re supporting me, but I’m supporting them by making work they sell. We’re both independently-owned businesses, and the maker-retailer relationship has been fun to get to know.
What’s your inspiration for your art?
A lot of my art is a reflection of myself and my own healing processes through art—things that make me happy. When I make something, I envision it being in my life first. Would I want this on my wall? Who would I give this card to? I feel inspired to draw this image about this message or something. Then I just make a print out of it if I like it. A lot of the subject matter in my prints specifically involves nature and self-love and healing positivity. I have an intentionally minimal aesthetic because simple is nice. I like to see how simple I can draw it. Some of them are more detailed, like the ones with wildflowers or cataloguing things in nature. That’s a completely different process.
I’m inspired by nature, mindfulness, just overall awareness. I guess I get a lot of that being through therapy since I have anxiety. I do yoga everyday and meditation, and those things are really what fuel my work.
That’s why I create art—I make it for my own self. The practice of making an illustration or writing down something is something that’s actually helped me.
Why is important to make art for yourself?
It’s hard to make stuff just for other people. As much as I want to help other people, it’s hard to make that the focus. It might not be authentic. There’s a difference between selfishness and a truthful way of making.
The original purpose of making it is to make my own self feel better. By putting it out there, if somebody else finds joy in it, or it helps them in any way, that’s a bonus.