There are certain tangible items that can recall a fond memory and are therefore hard to throw away. A graduation program, engagement announcement, or heartfelt notes are all paper goods that get tucked away into keepsake boxes, perhaps never to be seen again, but still providing comfort in knowing they still exist. A hand painted variety on the other hand becomes something to not only keep, but to display as well. I was introduced to Rosaura Unangst, the creator of Pigment & Parchment through a series on Instagram searches. Her whimsical painted invitations, menus, and seating cards popped out as a colorful approach to the handmade wedding or party. She takes calligraphy in another direction by mixing the flourished letters with soft watercolors and inky puddles of bright colors. Her menus are accented with tiny illustrations floating playfully through the coursed meal while her invitations can be framed with branches and flowers. I asked Rosaura to share her story about starting a business, being an artist, and her proudest moments.

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Tell us the story of Pigment & Parchment and how it has grown.

Pigment & Parchment didn’t really have one beginning. It’s just been my latest and most successful attempt in a string of different ways of me trying to become a full time freelance illustrator. When I named Pigment & Parchment in October of 2013 I still didn’t even know what it was going to be, which is why I picked a name that could grow with me as an artist and have breathing room since those are the raw materials at the root of all my work in it’s many styles.

The biggest way I have seen it grow has not been about money, number of pieces sold or places it’s been published. The way I mark its growth is by the amount of people whose lives have been touched of through their events and workshops they attend. The game changer with P&P from my earlier attempts at freelancing has been me connecting with community and collaborating.

What are the best parts of hand illustrations and lettering? Do you like the freedom to create your own images?

Making art centers me. It’s my happy place and my meditation. The fact that I’ve found a way to not only earn a living doing that, but also that it brings joy to people as well is the best part. My best work comes when I do have more artistic freedom. When I have the wiggle room in an order to surprise myself & be spontaneous. That’s when the magic happens.

Describe your studio/workspace…messy, neat, full of supplies?

It’s a constant battleground striving towards organization. It’s better than it has ever been but I definitely have systems in place that look like absolute chaos to anyone else’s eye. There are always more supplies than I use. I’m constantly trying new products and techniques. Since I’m mostly self-taught that is how I’ve found what works for me- by playing!

Can you take us through your day? Where would we find you in your free time?

These days (in the height of wedding season) I’m working for a couple hours on my computer on admin/email, then painting, lettering or prepping orders. Often there’s a coffee shop worked in there somewhere with other freelancers I meet with regularly to brainstorm and problem solve. If I’m not working with Pigment & Parchment I can be found at the art house movie theater with my husband, playing board games, walking around the coast of California soaking up the salt air or camping.

It sounds like you have a good support network set up. Is there a local design network that you’ve connected with? What is the community like?

There isn’t a set network, but we’ve created our own community. It’s always growing. I knew how integral it was to my business’ growth and when Dena & Carmen (aka Throne Invitations & Carmen Salazar Photography) took me in, I was able to meet with other new business owners and expand the Ladyboss network in Northern California (and some farther away online).

We even put together an event for our Northern California event vendor community this past February called FRESHbash that sold out in its first year!

Congratulations! That’s a huge accomplishment. What has been your proudest moment with Pigment and Parchment?

This is a tough one. There have been so many moments that are so special for many different reasons. Perpetually my most inspiring moments come during workshops making connections with people and talking about creating artwork as a therapeutic activity. I’d have to say my proudest moment has probably been getting to the point where I’m earning as much as my husband (a scientist with a very stable job) in a month. It’s not coming from a competitive place, but I’m proud that I am able to earn a living following my own path busting through the starving artist myth. That feels amazing after years of self-doubt and not valuing my skills & worth enough.

I think that is every business owner’s dream, good for you! Thank you Rosaura for sharing your story with us!

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All images by Madeloni Photography