Blooming into an independent career with Paper Artist Kathryn Bondy

As a freelance botanical paper artist, Kathryn Bondy brings beauty into this world in a unique way. Katheryn captures the serenity of nature through her elegantly crafted flowers, fruits, plants, and insects. She delicately shapes wire, dyes crepe paper in an array of stunning colors, and sculpts them together. This creates truly alluring pieces of art- all made by hand!  Kathryn embodies what it means to be a freelancer. She fully invests in her passion and lets creativity drive her work. This hard work and talent don’t go unnoticed. Her pieces have been featured in the international press such as Apartment Therapy.  Here, Kathryn shares her tips on being a solopreuner, asking for help, her dreams for the future, and creating multiple income streams. 

To shop her exquisite creations, visit her Etsy Shop!

Let’s make sure you pat your own back… What’s your biggest strength as a solopreneur? 

I’m always in conversation with my work. I consistently ask for feedback from my clients. I spend a lot of time refining and sharpening what I offer, so that my work can best serve the people who need it. I also love researching the history of flowers in art. I think that adds another layer of interest to the work I make. 

What’s the best business or money advice you ever got as a freelance artist?

Be open! Try to stay open to new opportunities, sharing your story, and open to help too. The idea that we should do everything alone is so damaging, and deprives us so that we can’t actually grow. 

There was a devastating fire in my studio last Spring, and I lost everything. All of my supplies, lots of finished pieces, furniture, everything! My community of artists and friends really came together to help me rebuild. That fire forced me to see how closed off I was to receiving help, to opportunities for growth, and to how much more I could share with others. 

I thought that unless I was doing it all myself, I couldn’t say that I felt successful or happy. Accepting help is harder than it seems, but by being open enough to accept it, I can see how it can help me grow, and how it can be used constructively to help others grow too!   

Paper flowers and moth by artist Kathryn Bondy

Now for a moment of realness, what are you struggling with right now in your business?

I struggle with what I’m imagining all solopreneurs struggle with: making enough money! The nature of the work that I make is that it’s time-consuming. Every flower, moth, butterfly, leaf, and fruit I create is made by hand, by me, in my studio. I struggled with thinking that was a downside because if I could just make things faster, I could make more money too. But the time I spend on pieces is actually an advantage, because it brings in a lot of commissions and bespoke work: pieces that have an aspect that is deeply personal and needs to be honoured. 

I’m also coming to realize the power in income streams. I also do commercial work, I teach workshops, I’m developing some online courses too, and I’m doing more writing and public speaking. My creative process can flex to suit the nature of different projects, so that keeps things fun for me! 

As an artist in Toronto, what challenges and advantages do you think are unique to your city?

Toronto is a diverse city, so there are lots of great opportunities to widen your network and work with people who might have different experiences than you, but will teach you so much. It’s getting more and more expensive to live here though, and I hope we can find ways of reigning that in, or we will lose the people and industries that really matter.   

We know the freelancer life is all about the hustle toward incredible goals. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Financially, personally, and with your businesses? 

I hope that in 5 years I’m making work that still speaks to people, and can help them too. I would love to be in a position where I can create job opportunities for others, and that my finances are in a place where I can contribute more, save more, and support more. I also hope that I’ve written a book by then, since it’s always been a dream of mine! So check back in 5 years and I’ll let you know!