anna brones

writer + artist

Posts Tagged ‘papercut

December Virtual Papercutting Workshops

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Want to learn how to make papercuts? Need a dose of creativity? I am teaching a few different papercutting workshops in December. These are all virtual so you can join from anywhere. We’re heading into a busy season, and what better way to make a plan to slow down than taking a class? 

Thursday December 1, 2022 4-6pm PT: Festive Papercutting with Creative Fuel Collective. This workshop is devoted to covering papercutting basics and exploring a couple different project ideas for papercuts that you can use for cards, ornaments, garlands, and beyond. Come connect with the Creative Fuel community and play with paper! A blade is preferred for this class, but if all you have is scissors, I’ll be giving a few options for that as well. Tickets + more info

Sunday December 4, 2022 10am to 12pm PT: Papercutting For the Holidays with the National Nordic Museum. In this season of Advent we are focusing on slowing down and creating moments of warmth and joy, and the same goes for this class. I’ll be bringing some Scandinavian holiday illustrations and motifs for inspiration and we’ll be working on seasonal papercuts and making a project that you can keep for yourself or gift to a friend. Tickets + more info.

Tuesday December 13, 2022, 6 to 8pm PT: This is exactly the same class with the National Nordic Museum, we just wanted to make sure that we had a couple of time options so everyone who wanted to come would be able to attend. Tickets + more info.

Written by Anna Brones

November 29, 2022 at 07:08

Puns to Tell Your Friends You Appreciate Them

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A few papercut puns that I made for Valentine’s Day, mostly as a reminder to tell your friends you love and appreciate them.

Written by Anna Brones

February 14, 2022 at 08:35

Coffee Outside, on a Walk

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Coffee Adventures Outside is a yearlong, monthly collaboration between myself and Alastair Humphreys, released each month somewhere around the new moon. This is the final installment. We hope that you will continue to partake in coffee adventures, wherever you are. 

As we inch into the new year, this marks our 12th installment of Coffee Adventures Outside. A full year of prompts and encouragement to use our coffee habits as an excuse to get outside. It is perhaps fitting that we conclude this year of microadventures with one of the things that we love the most: a simple walk.

Coffee has a long history as a companion on long walks or journeys. Wilfred Thesiger, perhaps the last of the old-guard of English explorers, crossed the Empty Quarter desert in Arabia with meagre, ascetic supplies but plenty of coffee. At dawn, after prayers, they would bake bread for breakfast and then drink coffee, “which was black, bitter and very strong. The coffee-drinking was a formal business, not to be hurried.”

Whether you are interested in crossing a desert, or strolling somewhere a little less ambitious, we agree with old Wilfred that a cup of coffee improves the experience of going for a walk.

One of the reasons we love to walk is that it helps us to think. Such a notion dates at least as far back as to Augustine of Hippo who declared, 1600 years ago, “Solvitur ambulando: it is solved by walking.” Combine a walk, then, with the brain-fizzing boost of a black brew and you may feel ready to put the world to rights again.

Walking into the woods (or wherever you choose to find your nature), is a stimulating experience. The gentle rhythm of our footsteps encourages our brains to meander, as does the smorgasbord of new sights and sounds at every turn. A cup of coffee on a walk is a gentle, continuous stimulation. It is, we feel, a very different experience to the pleasures of running or zooming along at speed on a bicycle. There is time today for our thoughts to roll around and grow. Whilst your walk may get the blood flowing and raise your heartbeat a little, it is still a meditative, reflective experience. 

As Rebecca Solnit writes in Wanderlust: A History of Walking, “I like walking because it is slow, and I suspect that the mind, like the feet, works at about three miles an hour. If this is so, then modern life is moving faster than the speed of thought or thoughtfulness.” Nature allows us to think, walking allows us to experience the world around us at a different pace than our usual one. 

The poet Walt Whitman asked, “But are not exercise and the open air in reach of us all?” No, not everyone, unfortunately. Those of us who are free and able to exercise in nature would do well to remember and appreciate our good fortune. But the point made by Whitman was that it does not take much or cost much to savour some time in fresh air. It applies to the idea of the ‘Nature Pyramid,’ and the recommended doses of nature at different time scales. We need nature in big chunks and smaller ones, and the pyramid urges us to pay attention to the different quantities of nature we include in our lives on an hourly, weekly, monthly and yearly scale. 

Every walk is different, of course. You may set out with an objective in mind, a goal to march towards. You could choose to follow your nose and see where you end up or toss a coin at every junction. If your walk is a circular route then everything you see will be different, all of the time. How does that change the creative thoughts you have along the way compared to an out-and-back walk where you see familiar things but from a different perspective and with different eyes? Or try sipping your coffee on a well-worn trail and compare how that makes you feel to walking a route you have never done before. 

Our days are so often driven by efficiency and busyness and a pressure to get things done. Walking with a cup of coffee (or taking a thermos and stopping for a break) is a gentle but important push back at that cultural expectation: you are deliberately choosing to do something slow and ‘unproductive’. Immersing yourself fully and completely in a single activity for a chunk of time is a rare experience these days, but it is a vital one for anyone interested in tapping into their creative side. It is surprising, too, how productive such dawdling often proves to be. 

So today we urge you to go on a walk with no goal or schedule—pass the time simply by putting one foot in front of the other. Take your thermos with you, and stroll for the sake of strolling. Find a spot to sit and pour a cup. Take note of where you are. Here your body and mind can wander. 

We have entered a new year. There are hopes and dreams ahead, but there is also the present moment of today. Let your coffee remind you to exist here for a while.

Share photos of your adventures with us: #coffeeadventuresoutside. Various prints, cards, and even a calendar featuring the artwork from Coffee Adventures Outside can be found here.

Written by Anna Brones

January 7, 2022 at 09:14

Coffee Adventures Outside 2022 Postcard Calendar

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Over the past year, Alastair Humphreys and I have been collaborating on our monthly Coffee Adventures Outside series.

I’ve turned the series into a calendar for next year. Every month features artwork from the series and a shortened version of our longer prompt.

The calendar is also designed so that you can cut the artwork off at the end of the month and turn it into a postcard. Consider it a calendar and postcard pack all in one.

You can order here. And there are also a variety of prints and cards from the series available as well.

Written by Anna Brones

December 8, 2021 at 14:06

Coffee Outside, with a Friend

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Coffee Adventures Outside is a collaboration between myself and Alastair Humphreys, released each month somewhere around the new moon. We hope you’ll join us in our coffee adventures, wherever you are. 

Our coffee adventures outside over the past year have helped us bring a sliver of solitude to our busy routines, some treasured physical space, and an espresso sip of mental space in which to allow difficulties some time to filter, sift and sort themselves, as well as the uplifting space to allow our creative ideas to unfurl and reveal themselves. These have all been good things. 

But there is another way to right wrongs, to think differently, hatch plans, and recharge our mojo, another way to pay attention to the natural world on our doorsteps and enjoy a delicious, well-brewed cup of coffee. And that is to do all of these things with a friend. Florence Williams sums up how we feel in The Nature Fix with her succinct summary to, “go outside, often, sometimes in wild places. Bring friends or not. Breathe.” 

Carving out inviolable chunks of time to share with our friends is one of the most important things we can do in our life. (Spending time in nature and pursuing creativity are also high on that list.) So put the kettle on, call a friend, and head outside together to enjoy your brew. Will you choose to ask a friend who already enjoys spending time in the woods, or an urbanised friend who might find the idea surprising but intriguing? That is up to you. 

As end-of-year festivities draw near, we’re easing into the wintry season and darker days. This month we welcome the winter solstice, a celebration of midwinter and a promise that the light will return soon. It’s a time when we often want to draw inwards, physically and emotionally. While we certainly need this hibernation time, we also benefit from the full experience of nature in all her seasons, and the deep connection that can come from a chat with a good friend. 

Thoreau wrote of winter walks, “Take long walks in stormy weather or through deep snows in the fields and woods, if you would keep your spirits up. Deal with brute nature. Be cold and hungry and weary.” So be sure to wrap up well in your warmest winter woolies, for we are at the end of the dark end of the world now, the cold austere days when the world is at its most minimal and stripped back. He continued, “in the coldest day, and on the bleakest hill, the traveller cherishes a warmer fire within the folds of his cloak than is kindled on any hearth. A healthy man, indeed, is the complement of the seasons, and in winter, summer is in his heart.” In his or her heart, indeed. For this cold season is as important to our year as all the others. Katherine May’s Wintering rings true in this moment, “wintering brings about some of the most profound and insightful moments of our human experience, and wisdom resides in those who have wintered.” 

Winter we must, but our hibernation, while encouraging solitude, can also be a welcome time for the companionship of a friend because the world is quiet now, and this allows space for chatter and laughter between friends. “In winter we lead a more inward life,” wrote Thoreau. “Our hearts are warm and cheery, like cottages under drifts, whose windows and doors are half concealed, but from whose chimneys the smoke cheerfully ascends.”

Go outside, together. Celebrate this year that has almost passed, and settle into the winter days. Wrap your hands around the coffee cup, breathe in the warm steam, and savour it, with your friend. What could be better? 

Share photos of your adventures with us: #coffeeadventuresoutside. Various prints, cards, and even a calendar featuring the artwork from Coffee Adventures Outside can be found here.

Written by Anna Brones

December 4, 2021 at 06:00

Coffee Outside, in the Rain

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Coffee Adventures Outside is a collaboration between myself and Alastair Humphreys, released each month somewhere around the new moon. We hope you’ll join us in our coffee adventures, wherever you are. 

“Between every two pine trees,” said environmentalist John Muir, “there is a door leading to a new way of life.” And beneath every pine tree, sheltering from the rain, we hope to find an adventurous creative soul sipping coffee and cherishing the downpour. For that is our challenge to you today: to embrace and celebrate wet winter weather and actively go out and enjoy it.

At this time of year there are many rainy days where we live. Rather than moan about it, we have decided to embrace the season, to make the most of this weather, see the good parts of the rain, and choose joy. 

The rain speaks to us, slowly, joyfully, as Mary Oliver captures so well in her poem Last Night the Rain Spoke to Me

“…the tree

which was filled with stars

and the soft rain –

imagine! imagine!

the long and wondrous journeys

still to be ours.”

It is time to brew your coffee, wrap up well, don your waterproofs and boots and step out to take your coffee in the rain. There is no such thing as bad weather, they say, only bad clothing… 

As you sip the hot drink and feel it warm you inside, notice the fizz of raindrops, the way each one bursts into a crown of water when it lands before a little column of water rears up and an even tinier droplet peels off and falls once more. All this perfection a thousand times a second, landing unnoticed in every rain shower on earth in the vanishing circles of rain on puddles. Have you ever observed that the ring patterns from the rain are different in shallow puddles and deep? Pay attention to the rain ring patterns from beneath your sheltered tree trunk which wears its own lovely rings inside itself.

“I close my eyes and listen to the voices of the rain,” Robin Wall Kimmerer so poetically writes in Braiding Sweetgrass. Out here in the cold and wet, we too can listen. What voices do you hear? Listen to the soft rattling of rain which sounds so relaxing if you yourself are warm and dry, appreciating your dry patch of shelter beneath the trees, or your own oasis of shelter under your umbrella in the rainy madness of the world. 

Today everyone else is hiding from the rain, or enduring it with reluctance and grumbling. Only you are choosing to see its different beauty, opting to be childlike and enjoy the squelch of mud as you jump through the puddles, leaning into the rain and appreciating that there are so many good aspects to it. Take a moment to think of all the creative possibilities that await you when you return to the dry warmth of your home. Mary Oliver again:

“The rain is slow. 

The little birds are alive in it. 

Even the beetles. 

The green leaves lap it up. 

What shall I do, what shall I do?”

We need rainy days if we are to have the rivers and green woodlands we love so much. It is a necessary part of the deal. So too with our art: we need sometimes to push through the seemingly grey, undesirable days of labour, doubt and slow progress before we make our breakthroughs. It serves us well to savour these difficult days for what they are, a necessary part of the process, rather than to hide from them.

Choose, instead, to find pleasure in the tiny beauty of the bouncing raindrops, to appreciate, if nothing else, the merit of something that feels tempting to skip, but which feels great afterwards. 

Share photos of your adventures with us: #coffeeadventuresoutside. Have you enjoyed the Coffee Adventures Outside series? It’s now available as a 2022 calendar.

Written by Anna Brones

November 5, 2021 at 09:00

Coffee Outside, at Sunrise

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Coffee Adventures Outside is a collaboration between myself and Alastair Humphreys, released each month somewhere around the new moon. We hope you’ll join us in our coffee adventures, wherever you are. 

“The sadness will dissipate as the sun rises. It is like a mist.”

– For Whom the Bell Tolls

Up here in the northern hemisphere we have passed the equinox and slipped into autumn. The days are becoming cooler and more windy, the leaves are turning golden and beginning to fall. Our nights are now longer than our days. The good news of all this is that it becomes easier every day to wake up a little before dawn, brew some coffee, and head outside to watch the sun rise. That is our latest little challenge for our year of #coffeeadventuresoutside.

Wrap up warm, take your coffee out into the cool grey pre-dawn, and settle down somewhere with a clear view of the sky facing the direction of the sunrise. [If you like to be precise, you can check this site out.] Wrap your hands around the warm mug, inhale the steam, and be still.

We recently enjoyed reading Nightwalk, by Chris Yates, which tells the story of a night spent walking slowly through the countryside. Despite Yates being a devoted drinker of tea, there is still much overlap with his walk and our coffee. He explains how he likes “…to creep like a mouse in the wood and sit still for maybe an hour, focusing with my ears, using the sounds of paw-patter and antler-click to colour in the invisible shapes until I could identify them or they came into shadowy view.”

 

His words are as much about an appreciation of slowing down and noticing as they are about nature or walking. Yates explains that one of the joys for him, “is the way in which everything in my head gradually clears of mundane domestic concerns and personal anxieties … because I know that apart from the animals I will always, unless I meet a deer poacher, be in perfect solitude. I am therefore able to bring all my attention to bear on the present moment… a place of endless immediacy, a place known to every wild animal, a timelessness.”

This solitude is why we have always preferred witnessing a sunrise to a sunset. Sunsets are easy, commonplace, strewn across social media. But sunrises are different. For most of us they are rarer to see than sunsets because they require a little more effort, and therefore you are more likely to have the whole spectacular show for yourself. 

“Be patient where you sit in the dark,” encouraged the poet Rumi: “the dawn is coming.”

As you wait with your coffee for daylight to seep slowly into the world, try to pay attention to how you deal with sitting still and doing ‘nothing’. Are you enjoying it, or does it feel like a waste of time? Are you content waiting, or are you anxious to get on with the day. In his book Four Thousand Weeks about time and how to use it, Oliver Burkeman refers to the “image of time as a conveyor belt that’s constantly passing us by. Each hour or week or year is like a container being carried on the belt, which we must fill as it passes, if we’re to feel that we’re making good use of our time. When there are too many activities to fit comfortably into the containers, we feel unpleasantly busy; when there are too few, we feel bored. If we keep pace with the passing containers, we congratulate ourselves for ‘staying on top of things’ and feel like we’re justifying our existence; if we let too many pass by unfilled, we feel we’ve wasted them.” 

He compares our modern anxious obsession with productivity and efficiency to medieval farmers who had no such notion. “There was no anxious pressure to ‘get everything done’, either, because a farmer’s work is infinite: there will always be another milking and another harvest, forever, so there’s no sense in racing towards some hypothetical moment of completion.”

For the remainder of our life’s allotted 4000 weeks the sun will rise every day. But no matter how beautiful they are, we cannot cram in any extra dawns. Rushing will not help. Savouring the ones we do have, on the other hand, may well help a great deal. 

In Sacred Time and the Search for Meaning, Gary Eberle defines sacred time as, “what we experience when we step outside the quick flow of life and luxuriate, as it were, in a realm where there is enough of everything, where we are not trying to fill a void in ourselves or the world, where we exist for a moment at both the deepest and the loftiest levels of our existence and participate in the eternal life of all that is. In simpler, or perhaps just slower, times, people seemed to enter this realm more regularly, or perhaps even to live with one foot inside it. Prayer, meditation, religious rituals, and holy days provided gateways into eternity that allowed us to return to the world of daily time refreshed and renewed, with an understanding that beneath the busyness of daily life there was an underpinning of calm, peace, and sufficiency.”

All those things, yes, and coffee too. This is our sacred time. 

The sun will rise, always. It is worth the wait, always. And as the world floods with sunlight, take the memory of the calm, the rising sun, and the steaming cup of coffee into your busy day that awaits.

Share photos of your adventures with us: #coffeeadventuresoutside

Written by Anna Brones

October 11, 2021 at 06:00

Coffee Outside, After Sleeping Outside

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Coffee Adventures Outside is a collaboration between myself and Alastair Humphreys, released each month somewhere around the new moon. We hope you’ll join us in our coffee adventures, wherever you are. 

You’re going to appreciate this month’s coffee more than any other from our adventures this year. A night spent under the stars is unlikely to offer the best sleep of the year, but it is refreshing and restorative in other ways that make up for it. If you simply want to sleep, stay inside. But if you are searching for magic and memories then grab your sleeping bag and head for the hills. (Here’s a little equipment list to help you plan) If that feels too audacious then haul your duvet into your garden for the night as you did back when you were a kid. We’ve done that recently and it is a surprisingly exciting, wild experience to sleep in your own garden, on your deck or your balcony.

Something deep and primeval inside us, plus the boring habits and conventions of modern life, combine to make the feeling of lying down to sleep in nature a mixture of excitement, nerves and absurdity. Nerves are natural, yet irrational: you’re tucked away in a quiet corner of the world, nobody knows where you are, you are completely safe. So that leaves the absurdity of going to sleep out here in nature (the chuckles and sense of wonder), the unfamiliarity of the night and the excitement of such a simple experience. 

There is no moon tonight so the stars are particularly bright. You might not have paid much attention to them for many months now. But they put on a spectacular show of shooting stars and satellites as you fall asleep. As you doze and wake and doze some more you notice the constellations revolving across the heavens. A pair of hooting owls weave in and out of your dreams and consciousness. Perhaps they were in the nearby trees for minutes or for hours; it is hard to know. For a night sleeping outdoors is a confused and busy affair. You sleep lightly and remain more aware of the world than you do at home in your bed. Eventually you notice the first hint of dawn, a slight lightening of the eastern horizon. You snooze a little longer. The next time you open your eyes you can make out the black silhouettes of trees and the dark sky is paling into grey. 

It is a misty morning. The seasons are turning now, summer sliding towards autumn, and this is our final ‘coffee outside’ prompt of the summer. As the sky lightens the grass sparkles with dew. The droplets on a spider’s web hangs like rows of pearls. When the sun rises the colour returns to the world. It is going to be a beautiful end of summer / start of autumn day. 

Time now for coffee. You sit up in your sleeping bag, stretch, yawn and look around you. You reach into your backpack and set up your stove. You pour water into your pan and the splashes ring out in the silence of the morning. Then comes the quiet roar of your little camping stove – one of the loveliest sounds imaginable. And then comes a few minutes of patience as you wait for your coffee to brew. A chance to look closely and notice the minute changes in the light as the morning creeps to life. To pay attention to the bird song and the chirp of insects. To see the leaves tremble in the breeze and remember that in a month or two they will be golden, and then gone. To appreciate the slight chill on your nose and the delicious warmth inside your sleeping bag. 

A hot mug of coffee after a night sleeping outside is a wonderfully restorative thing. Any nerves you had about sleeping outdoors dissolved with the daylight. So the coffee is also celebratory. Look! You’ve woken up outdoors, something that is so rare for most humans these days. The simple warmth of a hot drink feels wonderful as you cup it in your hands and sip it down. (This confession may be heresy to coffee aficionados, but out in the wild we have shuddered with happiness and gratitude for instant coffee, for a tea bag used five times over, even just for a mug of hot water to drink. The simplicity of possessions and experiences when in the great outdoors makes you so much more present and appreciative.)

Now, after your coffee, the day is calling to you. It is time to shove your sleeping bag into your pack and be on your way. There is still time (and always will be) for a sunrise dip in a river or the ocean (or pop inside for a hot shower if you spent the night in your garden). 

Finally it is time to return to a different world—the world of emails, chores, thermostats and electric lights—for after a night under the stars it does not feel much of an exaggeration to describe them as separate worlds. Back to the so-called ‘real world’. A little tired, no doubt. Perhaps somewhat disheveled. But with the reward of an experience and a coffee that you will still remember a year or more from now. If life is about making memories, a night spent outdoors is a simple way to create something a tiny bit special. 

Share photos of your adventures with us: #coffeeadventuresoutside

Written by Anna Brones

September 10, 2021 at 09:00

Coffee Outside, on a Bike Ride

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Coffee Adventures Outside is a collaboration between myself and Alastair Humphreys, released each month somewhere around the new moon. We hope you’ll join us in our coffee adventures, wherever you are. 

“The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets,” wrote Christopher Morley in Parnassus on Wheels. You don’t have to be a novelist or poet to understand the sentiment; the bicycle is the vehicle of dreamers, and as humans, we all dream. 

Whether we learned at 6 or 36, most of us likely remember the feeling of our first time pedaling a bicycle on our own. The freedom, the exhilaration. On a bicycle, we move all thanks to our own power, and while one of the simplest of vehicles, it can have profound effects. There’s creative power in a bike ride too, as movement has been shown to help stimulate our mind and imagination. But there is also the ability to access places in a way that’s different from in a car or on foot. The bicycle falls at the perfect sweet point in between; fast enough to allow us to cover distance, but slow enough that we pick up on all kinds of sensory details along the way. 

We notice the pungent smell of blackberry brambles in the late summer sun, the feeling of a fresh breeze on our face. We can hear the birdsong of an early morning, and spot a hidden pathway we might otherwise have missed if we were separated from the world by the steel and glass of a car. We can stop when we want, perching our bicycle against a tree to go and investigate whatever caught our eye as we pedalled along. 

Whether it’s slow or fast, long or short, a bicycle ride is an injection of energy. You are fueled by the knowledge that it is your force and your force alone that helps to carry the bicycle forward. 

How often do we feel that way? A walk can facilitate a similar sensation, but there is something glorious about the distances we can travel on a bicycle and the swooshing speed of the wind in your hair. After decades of riding, even we often remain amazed at how far we can explore, how much we are capable of. 

But the beauty of the bicycle lies also in the fact that its benefits come in journeys short and long. It is wonderfully versatile. There is as much enjoyment to be found exploring the streets of your neighborhood as pedaling across a continent. In need of a quick injection of good energy? A bike ride just might do the trick. Coasting down a hill, it’s hard not to break a smile. 

If you have traveled by bicycle you may know the power of these small experiences, how a bicycle makes you present for every single moment that makes up a day. There’s no autopilot on a bicycle—you are engaged and aware as long as you are pedaling—and that’s why it encourages us to be in the now. 

This month we are bringing our Coffee Adventures Outside to our bicycles, pairing our love for a coffee break and an excursion on two wheels. A coffee break by bicycle can give even a short bicycle ride the allure of a long bicycle trip; even if it’s just on your normal loop, it makes an everyday ride feel like a small adventure. 

A coffee break on a bike ride: this is the opportunity to find somewhere new to ride to, or make a stop on your regular route that you usually just pedal past. You may visit a local cafe during your ride, or pack a thermos and a mug and find a nice lookout to sit in and enjoy. If you want a full dose of adventure, you could even bring your camp stove and outdoor coffee set up for the freshly brewed experience.

No matter what your approach to your cup or your ride is, use this time to be in the moment. Feel every pedal stroke.

Watch the landscape roll past you.  

Be in your surroundings. 

Let your mind wander. 

Dream. 

Share photos of your adventures with us: #coffeeadventuresoutside

Written by Anna Brones

August 11, 2021 at 09:00

Vote: 2020 Election Posters

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I have been making a collection of vote-inspired artwork over the past few weeks, and I have turned several of them into a series of free, downloadable posters.

All of these posters started as papercuts, made from a single piece of paper.

The posters are designed for 8.5×11″ and 11×17″ paper. You can download and print these posters at home and hang them up wherever you like. You can even color them in!

I want to encourage people to get out the vote, and I want you to do the same, which is why I am making these posters free. They are intended for personal use and may not be sold or used for profit. For those who are able/want to, you can make a donation or support my work on Patreon. And if you want vote postcards with some of these designs, I have those available for sale in my shop as well as the original artwork.

Head here to download. 

Written by Anna Brones

October 19, 2020 at 10:19