Michigan is rich with talent. A seemingly endless supply of makers, artisans, musicians and culinary masterminds are thriving here, calling the mitten state home. A creative community made up of down to earth, humble and friendly individuals live here, constantly innovating, collaborating and dreaming up ideas both large and small. Among these individuals is graphic designer, stationer and illustrator, Alisa Bobzien.
Well known for her witty and wildly quirky greeting card designs, Alisa is part of a larger collective that’s bringing the tangible joys of note writing back into the spotlight. This movement, with roots firmly planted in the past, has evolved from more than just a simple sentiment on a greeting card into a colorful and bold way of personalizing stationery, making it entertaining and enjoyable to purchase.
Upon first meeting Alisa, and after enviously gazing around at her lovingly styled home which she shares with her husband and cat, I asked where she was from. She immediately held up her hand and pointed to a spot near her index finger. Michigan natives always do this, I’ve found, because Michigan is shaped like a mitten and it’s a quick and easy reference that locals understand. It’s undoubtedly charming and such a natural response, I find myself wishing I was a native just so I could take part in this small ritual.
Sol, the fluffiest of Persian cats, rose from his perch, stretched, yawned and greeted me with a few sniffs and a generous ankle rub while Alisa gave me a tour of her home. She’s been self-employed for three years now, and in addition to her greeting card illustrations, she also designs wedding invitation suites, art prints and offers consulting and branding services for other companies. She’s an Etsy pro, taking part in their new wholesale venture which enables her to sell her designs and products on a national level. So there’s a pretty good chance you’re already familiar with her work.
I’m always curious about the workflow of others, and while being a self-employed artist certainly appears glamourous for those of us still rocking the 9 to 5, there’s definitely a learning curve. Alisa spends about twenty percent of her time actually designing, while the rest is devoted to working out the logistics of running a small business. She’s had to learn other skills to stay successful, skills like bookkeeping, tradeshow prep and product photography. She describes her business as a living, breathing dynamic entity that’s constantly shifting and changing. Managing it alone is no small feat. What are the rewards? Alisa says that she gets to set the bar for how her clients are treated, not to mention how she treats herself.
As a way to take a break from spending the day at home working, Alisa’s learning to skateboard. How cool is that? We took a few moments to head down the street to the new skate park so she could demonstrate her skills as I snapped a few photos. When she turned and asked if I wanted to try, I shyly shook my head no, envisioning broken arms, sprained wrists or worse. But I’m reconsidering, so next time, Alisa, I’ll definitely try it out. Broken bones be damned, I’ll throw on those elbow pads and join you.
Written and photographed by Heather of HMN Photography
To see more of Alisa’s work, visit her Etsy shop here.