Paper Bird – Business and Art with Karla Phipps
by Michell Spoden
Mother, assistant in nursing at aged care facility and now small business owner, meet my guest Karla Phipps, a young Australian woman who has integrated art with business, called Paper Bird.
Michell: Please share with us what the inspiration was in starting your business.
Karla Phipps: Two things in a way – my baby & my passion for art. I’ve always, always loved art – drawing, painting and music. I’ve played flute since I was 12 and I love my music, but creating new things is what I really wanted to do. To have a business doing something I enjoyed every day, just creating things, has been a long-standing dream. I had just had my son and did not want to have to leave him so young to go back to work, so during my maternity leave I decided to make a small business making nursery art like one I’d made for his nursery when he was born.
Michell: Why did you decided to name your business paper bird?
Karla Phipps: Paper art is the style of art, and also because I wanted to eventually put my creations onto cards. And the bird part is because I love birds, especially the exotic ones, and I have always wanted to fly. That will never happen obviously, but I did have African Love Birds & Javanese finches for most of my life… next best thing.
Michell: Were you always into doing art or is this a new adventure?
Karla Phipps: I’ve always been into art, but I’d never tried paper art before. I like all the beautiful papers, so many different styles & patterns and I can combine this with my drawing to make unique things.
Michell: What sort of artist do you consider yourself to be?
Karla Phipps: I wouldn’t really call myself an artist. Drawing is just something I happen to be good at and I really enjoy doing it. I feel very fortunate to be able to turn what was once a hobby into a little business.
Michell: Please share with us how you make your art.
Karla Phipps: Using photos and pictures to guide me, I draw the outline of the object. I then turn the drawing into a template, tweaking as I go. I then use the template to transfer the image onto the paper I intend to use (usually tweaking happens here as well) and then using a small blade I cut around it. I then mount and frame it.
Michell: Do you keep the price range of your art in a certain range? If so why?
Karla Phipps: The price reflects what I feel the quality of the work is without really charging too much for my time, because I do enjoy doing it. I also think affordability is important. Everybody who designs their child’s nursery wants it to be special but it must also be practical so I try to cater to both.
Michell: Why do you think art is important?
Karla Phipps: We’re created with an appreciation of beautiful things as well as a desire to create things ourselves. Art is innate. It’s one of the things in this life that takes people from existing to living. It’s a wonderful means of self expression too, whether one is choosing the art themselves or creating the art… especially for those times when one cannot really express themselves in words at all.
Michell: Do you plan on associating any humanitarian or environmental causes to your business? If not what would it be?
Karla Phipps: I’m currently looking into recycled cards for when I start making the card properly; I’ve even found some fascinating seed cards that grow after they’ve been planted – the gift that gives back! I also want to engage in the Plant a Tree Program in order to reduce &/or neutralize my business’s carbon footprint. This will give my customers an opportunity to help out the environment as well.
Michell: Do you have any future goals for your company?
Karla Phipps: When I have a few spare moments I would like to begin designing my own patterned paper using water colors & drawings. Ultimately too it’s very important to me to make what I do completely carbon neutral or better.
About the Interviewer
Michell Spoden is the author of Stricken Yet Crowned and is also pursuing a transitional housing project for woman with an agricultural aspect. She has a degree in Business Science Administration and is finishing her bachelor’s in Project Management.