Making a Living with Your Art in Tacoma with Kirsten Sparenborg

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Kirsten Sparenborg is a Tacoma artist who creates Architectural Map Drawings. Kirsten moved to Tacoma's Stadium District when her husband PCSed to JBLM. After a brief move to New York Kirsten has returned to live and make art here in Tacoma. We talk about how she became a full time artist, creating and selling your art online, and being an artist in Tacoma, Washington. 

About This Episode

Kirsten Sparenborg is a Tacoma artist who creates Architectural Map Drawings. Kirsten moved to Tacoma's Stadium District when her husband PCSed to JBLM. After a brief move to New York Kirsten has returned to live and make art here in Tacoma. We talk about how she became a full time artist, creating and selling your art online, and being an artist in Tacoma, Washington.

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Show Notes

Turn of the Centuries Kirsten Sparenborg

Kirsten Sparenborg is a Tacoma artist who creates Architectural Map Drawings. When Kirsten's husband PCSed to JBLM they found themselves in Tacoma's Stadium District. After a brief move to New York Kirsten has returned to live and make art here in Tacoma. We talk about how she became a full time artist, creating and selling your art online, and being an artist in Tacoma, Washington.

Becoming a full time artist in Tacoma

Kirsten is an architect by training and worked as an urban designer for seven years before becoming a full time artist. She was attracted to Tacoma because of the urban environment and being able to walk around the city and explore. When she was researching neighborhoods in Tacoma before moving here she was drawn to the historic homes and apartments in Tacoma's Stadium District. She could walk along Yakima Avenue, walk to Wright Park, the Farmer's Market, and more. When she moved away and came back she searched for homes for over a year and eventually settled down in Tacoma's West End. Before moving to Tacoma Kirsten lived in Savannah and worked for an architect. She went to grad school in Virginia and studied Architectural History. Before she began creating architectural maps she had been creating streetscapes, "Art that you want to put on your wall!".  She honed her style making original hand painted maps where she creates a line drawing then paints them with watercolors. She now creates maps using different methods like stitching, graphite, ink, different kinds of paper, etc.

Selling online and running a business in Tacoma

"I really love the process of selling and connecting with people. It's a really beautiful human connection..." Kirsten says. Over the past 16 years she's gone from selling things on Etsy to selling things on her website and even selling wholesale to shops. You can see Kirsten's art on her website here. You can also see her Etsy shop here.  Over her career Kirsten has hand drawn over 700 maps! Kirsten shares about selling her art in person at markets. While she's an introvert she finds connecting with people about the city and neighborhoods energizing. "It's definitely my most favorite way of selling." She Urban Craft Uprising Market, An Anniversary Celebration at Parable, and The Tacoma Night Market. In addition to 82 maps of Tacoma's neighborhoods and other locations in Washington, Kirsten has created hundreds of maps for cities across the country. Her favorite is a hand drawn color pencil map of Tacoma's neighborhoods. You can see it here at Tacoma Tones Topographic Map.

Tacoma's Art Scene

What Kirsten loves about creating art in the Pacific Northwest is how much people love living here. People who buy from her love their communities and the nature in the area and are inclined to purchase art and to commission art to celebrate that. "People are quite excited about their place. They're also just jazzed about people using their hands to make art."