maker: risa of papallama

Next time you are looking for the PERFECT card to give to your friends, or your spouse, or your parents, or anyone, go check out Risa’s work. Her prints are amazing. In fact, they are more then amazing. They are awesomely amazing. While browsing through her Etsy shop, I had a person in mind for almost every single one of her cards. They are bright and colorful. They are sarcastic. And they are sure to induce a fit of laughter at just the right time! Meet Risa, and then go buy some cards!


please introduce yourself !

Hi! My name is Risa Culbertson and I’m a printmaker. I was born in Japan, grew up in southern California but have been living in San Francisco for the past 5 years.

what do you make or do?

About two years ago I made my first print after being inspired by my friend’s over excessive use of the word “awesome sauce”. For fun, I put some out at the shop I was working at and well, one thing lead to another and PapaLlama was born. Since then, the line has grown, with more designs, larger prints, totes and onesies. I really like making things that make people smile, or laugh. Not in a oh-that’s-really-sweet-that-makes-me-smile sort of way, but a bit more… unexpected.

where can we find your creations?

The line is currently in over 60 stores in the Bay area and a few in SoCal, Brooklyn, and Austin. You can also buy it on my Etsy store

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

Holy smokes. As of a month ago it’s become my full time job! Yipiiieee!! For the past two years I’ve been printing on a little table top press in my kitchen, so I am beyond excited to have space for my 10×15 C&P Platen Press and hula hooping breaks.  I’ve been making things for, well, all my life. Which was good preparation because making stuff and doing things related to making stuff has become a full time, plus part time, plus overtime job.

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

I’m always on the hunt for inspiration. So when I’m not making things I’m usually walking around San Francisco, looking at things or daydreaming, chatting with strangers at coffee shops and on bus rides, and being goofy with my friends. It helps my creative process when I can get lost in a project that is different from printing. For example, I just recovered from a pom pom and tassle making phase, which was really fun.

did someone in your family, a friend or teacher introduce you to your creative side or have they helped you along the way?

Growing up, both my mom and dad were always making things, and have always encouraged my creative side and self expression. When I got into college for business, it opened my eyes to the possibilities of actually living the creative life I wanted. I interned for Nicole Stevenson (Random Nicole) and she, and Delilah Snell, were a big inspiration as women who not only created successful creative business, but were also leading the way to support and bring together the growing community of artists in southern California.

what inspiring advice would you give to other creatives be they established or just starting out?

I know people say this a lot, but I’m going to say it again because it was so true to me. Don’t give up. There are going to be a whole lotta times you’re going to feel discouraged and freaked out, but if you want it, keep at it. Be open to opportunities, learn new things, and push yourself out of your comfort zone a little. Sometimes it leads you to places you couldn’t imagine for yourself, so keep making, keep believing, and let the creativity lead you.

Daniel Dent's photo 1






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