My name is Lisa Riddle and I make hand-embroidered paper goods and funny little stickers for my shop, Nowvember. I live in Portland, Oregon. In keeping with proud local tradition, I’m a barista by day and make art when I get home at night.
I’ve been enamored with paper goods for as long as I can remember. I famously started selling stickers, origami and handmade activity books in Mrs. Daup’s second grade classroom. I even offered 25-cent lessons on how to draw a really pretty horse! I never stopped making stuff with paper and scissors, though I did take a twenty-year hiatus from the entrepreneurial side of things. I started Nowvember in 2008.
My processes are self taught and super low tech: I hand-cut all of my stickers and appliqués, and embroider all of my cards and notebooks by hand. I know literally zero about traditional embroidery techniques, so my cards and notebooks are like textured doodles I draw with needle and thread. Analytically speaking, my aesthetic probably has something to do with the love/hate relationship I had with Lisa Frank and Teen Beat Magazine growing up in the ’80s. In practice, though, I make stuff I think is cute, funny or (preferably) both, within the frustrating confines of my actual talent.
I started making my “Your New Boyfriend” and “Your New Girlfriend” sticker sets after I picked up my first vintage yearbook at a resale shop. When I saw all of the pages full of fraternity guys in ruffled shirts and enormous bow ties, I knew they were destined to become stickers. I’ve cut up a lot of yearbooks since then, and I still love flipping through, scissors in hand, hunting for the biggest bangs or the skinniest mustache. There’s something really universal about embarrassing yearbook photos: we all thought we were so cool, but it turns out we looked completely ridiculous. I know I certainly did!
Barista-by-day/crafter-by-night is something of a Portland archetype. I enjoy my day job – I honestly do – but it’s not necessarily an expression of who I am. I had never felt comfortable describing myself as an artist, and I would never have dreamt of applying for a job as a designer. Etsy allowed me to build a creative business at my own pace, on my own scale and connected me to an audience and a creative community I never would have found on my own.
Running my shop has been a huge education for me as a designer and new business owner. I’ve learned so much along the way about, yes, taxes and shipping regulations, but also about colors and materials and my own creative processes. After five years, I am still perpetually astonished and incredibly flattered when someone likes something I made so much that they want to give me their money.
Maker and studio photographs by Eric Von Holten, product photos by Nowvember.