Browsing articles in "Inspiration"

Lessons I’ve learned from my dog


Find joy in what is around you in the moment

Anything can be a toy

Take advantage of a sunny spot and take a nap

Make new friends, but don’t let them keep you from where you want to go

Always be able to entertain yourself

Never stay on the path

Chase every opportunity

Be picky with who you love, but generous with those you’ve chosen

Monday Morning Joy : Carrie Marill

The birds are back in Montana! Every morning their songs get louder and more varied and all day long you can see pairs collecting grass clippings and twigs for new nests.

Carrie Marill has a remarkable body of work, but my favorites are her birds.

Magpie by Carrie Marill

Mountain Bluebell by Carrie Marill

Western Tanager by Carrie Marill

Happy Monday!

Monday Morning Joy : Yellena James

I have been a fan of Yellena’s work for years — her designs make me feel like an explorer, peeking into unknown worlds.

Simmer by Yellena James

The worlds they show changes depending on my mood and daydreams — sometimes marine, sometimes inter-galactic, sometimes as close the rocks and moss in my backyard.

Garden by Yellena James

There is a feeling of growth and alive-ness in all of her work, which is maybe why it is especially appealing to me on a moody spring day like today.

Morning by Yellena James

For more of her work, visit Yellena’s website or her Etsy shop.

Happy Monday!

Nature walk

This is going to turn into a nature blog again, now that spring is showing herself … I hope you don’t mind.

In the last week we’ve had days of sunshine and warm temperatures followed by snowstorms that drop 6 inches in town. On nice days, I go for walks with renewed vigor and interest, excited to see what new green things have popped up.

Here is what I’ve seen recently:

I love the tight curl of these leaves as they push through the debris


Pussy Willows! A life-long spring favorite of mine

The ants have woken! Check out the lovely damask stripes on their abdomens

mossy stars

Every day there is more green around town chasing away the muted color palate of winter.

Monday Morning Joy : Mary Temple

Look closely — it will take you by surprise : the brilliance and simplicity of these works by Mary Temple.

Shadows painted on walls — permanent reminders of sunny days.

Extended Afternoon, by Mary Temple

Extended Afternoon, by Mary Temple

Extended Afternoon, by Mary Temple

We’ve had spring snow storms all weekend and this is JUST what I need to remember to take a deep breath and look towards long summer days.

via butter and brass

Monday Morning Joy : Angie Pickman

Despite the snow falling as I write this and the week’s forecast more wintery than springy, spring is undeniably on its way — bird song in the mornings, leaf buds fattening up and an insatiable craving for lettuce.

Little Bird Big Song by Angie Pickman

Since I can’t really see the signs outside my window today, I look instead to the work of Angie Pickman.

No Ceilings by Angie Pickman

Her cut paper birds are so filled with personality and self-satisfaction they exude springiness. It makes me eager to see the robins and chickadees around town again once this storm has blown through.

Bird Song by Angie Pickman

For more of her work, check out her Etsy shop, Rural Pearl.

Happy Monday — I hope you are all surrounded by signs of spring this week!

Celebrating Montana Artists : An Etsy round-up

Can you believe tomorrow is April?! To wrap up this month of celebrating creative Montanan women I wanted to share a few local artists who continue to catch my eye around town. Happily, they all have etsy shops, so even if you don’t live in Montana, you can still find their work at your fingertips:

Belt Buckles by Little Green Things

I’ve been seeing Leah and her buckles at local art fairs for about a year and they always make me stop and look. I love her style and creative repurposing of vintage images. You can find more buckles as well as vintage belts in her etsy shop, Little Green Things.


Jewelry by Yellow Studio Designs

I had the pleasure of working with Melissa and she is as charming as her jewelry. She uses spices and soils from around the country (Montana, Georgia, Maui) to color the resin in her sterling silver designs — brilliant! Check out more designs at the Yellow Studio Designs Shop.


Prints by Paper and Canvas

Annie is a multi-talented native Montanan and one of my favorite artists in town. Her prints always catch my eye and fill me with inspiration. Recently I learned she’s a talented photographer as well. Find her print work at Paper and Canvas and her photography at Art In Mind.


Photos by Art in Mind

This month of interviews has been such a blast. Thanks for joining in the fun!

Meet Sarah Angst, Printmaker

Today we have Sarah Angst, a local printmaker with a remarkable aesthetic and ability to capture her subject in print. For each piece she meticulously carves scenes from the world around her into linoleum blocks, prints each one by hand and colors them with watercolor. She is able to perfectly capture the abundance of a summer garden or the serenity of a calm lake and every time I see her work around town I can’t help but stop and marvel at the details.

Without further ado:

* It can be a big (scary) step to go into business for yourself — What made you take the leap and begin your business?

Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to create things. I remember when I was 5 or 6 years-old I invented this blanket that folded up to become a pillow. I was convinced that this was the next must have item for every household. Then in my teenage years I began producing papier maché covered keepsake boxes that I meticulously cut out of cardboard and assembled at the dining room table. Later, just before college, I had moved onto clothing. I sewed and sold funky bib-overalls using all kinds of unique and colorful upholstery fabrics.

I guess I always knew I would go into business with my creations. It was just a matter of finding the one medium that I could focus on, fall in love with, and that people would be drawn to purchase. For me that medium became block prints. I have always loved its graphic qualities and black contours, and by adding bright watercolors my prints seemed to speak to others as well.

Once I settled on a medium I loved, I spent several years creating a body of work to sell. It wasn’t until I moved to Bozeman, MT in 2007 that I took the leap and decided to try to live solely from my income as an artist. Moving to a new town, and being able to reinvent myself as an artist, is what gave me the opportunity and courage to take the plunge into my artistic career.

Solitude -- by Sarah Angst

* Being self employed requires enormous dedication and self-motivation — Where does the inspiration for your work come from and what do you do to keep the fires going when motivation is low?

Inspiration is less of a problem then time. I have hundreds of ideas I want to develop, but I only hope I have the time to see most of them realized.

Seeing people respond to my work in a positive way is also very motivating. I like creating pieces that seem familiar to people; that help remind them of found memories from their own lives. When I finish a piece and feel it has a timeless nostalgic quality that resonates with others, it drives me to want to do that again and again.

Huckleberries -- by Sarah Angst

* What has been the most valuable tool leading to your success — object/person/piece of knowledge/etc.?

Without a doubt my husband Tim Ford has always been the most valuable asset contributing to my success. He has been encouraging and supportive even when others thought I was crazy to embark on this endeavor. He continues to be my sounding board and cheerleader as I strive to grow my business and develop as an artist.

Secondly, moving to Bozeman was the biggest catalyst for my success. The city of Bozeman and its citizens are so supportive of the arts that it was the ideal place to start my business. It was scary not to have a “real” job and to throw myself into the idea of making a living as an artist, but moving to a new town allowed me to start fresh and go for it.

Evening Drink -- by Sarah Angst

* I have found in my own entrepreneurial adventures that there are certain daily rituals that get me going in the morning or help to signify the end of the work day — What daily ritual(s) can you not live without?

Daily rituals are something I have been trying desperately to develop.

For the past 4 years my ritual has been to work incessantly. I know I should get dressed, eat breakfast, etc. but I am usually so excited to get working on a project or so overwhelmed with all I have to do, that I go straight down to my basement studio and get to work. Often by 3:00 in the afternoon I realize that I haven’t eaten anything yet and I’m still in my pajamas working away.

This is something I am striving to change. I love what I do, but I need to find a way to have more balance with it all. Lately I have been trying to take some time before I get working to read something inspirational, journal a little bit, and eat something before I get to work. I’m hoping to add getting dressed to this ritual, but often I’m still in my pajamas by the time dinner rolls around.

Nothing but Daisies -- by Sarah Angst

* What piece of wisdom do you know now that you wish you had known when you first began your business?

So far I am very happy with the way my business has developed. I’m big into baby steps and gradually growing and developing. Sure there have been plenty of ups and downs, and I am sure there will be several more, but that is part of the process. Part of the excitement and joy of running your own business is learning and growing as you go.

In general I have learned that to start and run a successful business you have to enjoy running a business as much as you love the art, food, product or service you are selling. You’ll spend more time marketing, selling, bookkeeping, accounting, networking, ordering, packaging, etc. than you ever will creating the thing you love. It takes a lot of time and dedication to run a business and the old joke is true…“The greatest part of running your own business is you get to decide which 18 hours of the day you want to work.”

While it is a lot of hard work, it is also the most rewarding career I can imagine.

Cackle of Crows -- by Sarah Angst

Thank you, Sarah, for your thoughtful answers.

To see more of her prolific work, a description of her process, and to buy artwork online,

visit her website.

Meet Anna Visscher of Tart

This week I am pleased to introduce you to Anna Visscher. Anna is the proprietress of the most fantastic local artist gallery in town, Tart. Tart is a burst of fresh energy to the Bozeman gallery scene and provides a place for up-and-coming local artists to sell their wares. The eclectic mix of styles and mediums gathered in a bright, inviting space guarantees there is something to be found for everyone and that finding it will be a pleasure. Behind the counter, Anna fits her shop perfectly — full of vivacity, creativity and warmth. I am honored to be one of the over 50 Montana artists whose work can be found at Tart and I’m excited to have her with us here to talk about her business and passion.

Tart, Bozeman MT

* It can be a big (scary) step to go into business for yourself — What made you take the leap and begin your business?

The smart ass answer is that I didn’t know any better!   There was just something pushing me toward it, it was almost like I couldn’t not do it.  I had always loved doing art and being crafty, since I was a little kid.  I made jewelry for myself and for gifts for years, and people started asking to buy things off me at dinner parties.  I sold my jewelry in a few other shops and did some shows, and when I found myself between jobs I rediscovered the Emerson and got jazzed about the idea of having a shop/studio here.  I basically stalked them until they gave me a space, and then it mushroomed from a small studio to a gallery/shop selling work by other artists.  I opened in February of 2007 with 6 artists, now I have over 50.  I didn’t know I would have it in me to work so hard – I worked another job for 3 years to pay the bills, and logged 70-80 hours/week total.  But I also didn’t know I would love it so very much!  The love doesn’t make the hard work any easier, but it does make it worth it!  The hardest part wasn’t taking the leap, it was showing up every single day and keeping it going.


* Being self employed requires enormous dedication and self-motivation — Where does the inspiration for your work come from and what do you do to keep the fires going when motivation is low?

I’m a verbal processor, I need to talk things out, but only after stewing on them internally for a while.  My husband and my best friend are my sounding boards, my crazy lady-preventers, and my emotional support.  They talk me off the ledge and tell me whether an idea is crazy good or crazy bad.  I have a friend who has a shop in Helena that’s similar to tart, and I bounce things off her from time to time.     I also find that I need a lot of alone time now that I run a very busy, very social business.  I adore giving good customer service but it can be exhausting and I need a lot of time to recharge at home.  Traveling and visiting other like-minded businesses helps juice me back up occasionally, as does looking at other people’s websites and stories in magazines.

tumblers by Courtney Murphy, available at Tart

* What has been the most valuable tool leading to your success — object/person/piece of knowledge/etc.?

I can’t seem to answer this with one answer:

-Don’t overextend.  I’ve watched so many businesses take on huge debt in the form of loans, rent, and inventory, and then not be able to pay that off and have to close.  I started tart on a shoe string and have not carried more than $1000 in debt since opening.  That’s not because I have unlimited personal funds, quite the opposite, but I’ve just been super, super conservative about my spending.

- Be prepared to work your ass off – nobody will care about your business as much as you do, and nobody but you will be able to make it succeed.  That may mean long nights, early mornings, small bank account balances, worry, stress, and exhaustion – but it’s also so incredibly rewarding and worth it when it pays off.

- Know that you are what you are selling.  That might sound rather narcissistic, but it’s true.  People are hungry for connection, for personal touches, for fun, and for something that feels real and genuine.   The more I share about myself and my process the more customers respond.  (This is within limits of course!  They don’t want to know what I had for lunch or what my last doctor appointment was about, but they want to feel connected.)

Papier Mache Elk Trophy by Adair Peck, available at Tart

* I have found in my own entrepreneurial adventures that there are certain daily rituals that get me going in the morning or help to signify the end of the work day — What daily ritual(s) can you not live without?

Hmmm… lots of tea.  and coffee.  and chocolate.   and cocktails.  And I have to read fiction before I go to bed, or I dream about tart all night long.

* What piece of wisdom do you know now that you wish you had known when you first began your business?

The woo woo answer:  It will all be ok.  And it might not look like it looks in your head.  Like a child it will change and evolve and take its first steps and fall and get back up again, but it will be more amazing than you ever could have imagined it because you let it out into the world and let it blossom.  So hold its hand and walk with it, but let it go where it wants at times too.

The technical answer:  Set up systems from the beginning.  It’s so much easier to start them when you’re small, rather than working backwards.  Specifically I’m talking about quickbooks for your bookkeeping, inventory and sales tracking.  Also special order forms, systems for how things move through your business, etc.  And know that you will change them as you go, but having them in place early will save you many hours and headaches.  If you don’t know how to set up the systems you need, hire an expert to do it.  It will be money well spent.

"Nevermore" mobile by Salty and Sweet, available at Tart

Thank you, Anna!

Pictured here is just at TINY selection of the works available at Tart.

To see more, be sure to check out Tart’s website and online store!

Monday Morning Joy : Bert Teunissen

It has been warm in Montana this last week: snow is starting to melt, the first bulbs are starting to push their green shoots up through the soil, the robins are coming back. This is a just a teaser – there will be another snowstorm or two. We still have a month, realistically, until spring arrives to stay. But that is hard to remember that when the sun is shining and you don’t need a down jacket to stay warm.

Photo by Bert Teunissen

At this time of year I always get the itch to move — to go somewhere. The sap starts running in me too.

Photo by Bert Teunissen

It is spring break this week. We are sticking around Bozeman — doing a few local adventures — but these photos by Bert Teunissen make me want to hit the road.

Photo by Bert Teunissen

They are full of possibility and adventure — all the unknowns that lie between you and the horizon.

Happy Monday.


Welcome to Paper Route Designs and a glimpse into my life, my inspiration and my creative process.
I hope you enjoy.

Contact me :
karin {AT} paperroutedesigns {DOT} com


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All images and content © KSN Designs, unless otherwise noted. Images cannot be reproduced or used for commercial purposes without written permission from the artist. Thank you.