Maker: Bess of Bird vs Bird

Today we are featuring Bess Petty of Bird Vs Bird. She has some lovely designs, and in her own words “has been putting a bird on it since 2007”. She’s learning how to balance being mom, and creative at the same time…and seems to be doing a great job of figuring out how to do that! Meet Bess and check out her sweet bird creations!


Please introduce yourself.

Hi!  I’m Bess Petty.  I grew up in Davis, CA, went to college in Berkeley, where I studied studio art, and for a good long while now I’ve lived in Oakland’s Grand Lake neighborhood.  My household includes my husband, Matt, our 8 month old baby boy Silas, and our handsome orange kitty Tucker.  Also a lot of craft supplies, cookbooks and knick knacks.

What do you make or do?

Long story short, I’ve been putting a bird on it since 2007.  To be a little more accurate, I make digital illustrations of birds, primarily those that can be found here in northern CA.  I make all kinds of goodies with my feathered friends printed on them, from magnets and pins to coasters and pillows.  While I outsource some of the printing to companies like Spoonflower, I do all the sewing, fabrication and packaging in my tiny home studio.

Where can we find your creations?

My work can be purchased online from my Etsy store as well as at a number of brick and mortar retailers, which are listed on my website

Is there an interesting story behind the name of your business?

Many years ago someone gave me an old Time Life book about birds that had an awesome photo of a sparrow fighting itself in a mirror.  That’s where the name and my fighting bird logo come from.

How long have you been creating and is it your full-time job?

I’ve been creating all my life and have been doing so in a business-like way for about 7 years.  Bird vs. Bird started out very, very small (I sold at one store on consignment and to friends and family).  The business grew over the years as I started selling on Etsy, doing shows, and making wholesale contacts. I had a full-time day job until September 2014, when I had a baby. (Who is now my full time job!)  So I’m still doing this on weekends and in the evenings.  Once Silas is a bit older I’m hoping to continue to expand, and we’ll see what happens!

When you’re not making things, what do you do?

I love to cook, which I guess is making things but in a different way.  I’m rediscovering Oakland on foot now that I have a wee one and no car during the day–we go on lots of long walks around the lake and through the surrounding neighborhoods.  It’s nice to take things in at a slow pace.

If money wasn’t an issue how would your life change with regards to your art?

I would no doubt pull the trigger on some new equipment I’ve been eyeballing–things like a new computer, some die-cutting machines, a swanky printer.  I think I would feel more freedom to experiment with new techniques and materials without worrying about a fancy idea turning into an expensive failure.  And if I could afford to have a separate studio space and part time childcare I think I’d be able to focus more and give myself more fully to the creative process.  Right now I usually feel pulled in 100 directions and never seem to have enough time to really settle in to something.

What would be your perfect day off?

Leisurely breakfast with husband and kiddo somewhere that has good coffee with free refills, then either a hike in Point Reyes with a delicious picnic or an urban hike where I stop at every weird thrift store, eating place, mysterious grocery store, etc. that strikes my fancy.

BVBCoasters BVBMagnets BVBPouches BVBSewing


  1. Are you the same artist who attended the CSSSA summer program years ago. If so, I purchased two of your oil paintings which we still enjoy. All best wishes to you and yours, RHC, Founding Chair of the CSSSA Music Program

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