Urgent Museum Notice

Modern Makers: Boss Dotty Paper Co.

Blog Category:  Museum Shop
A light-skinned woman with straight blonde held back with a black head band holds up an illustrated Happy Birthday card that features a platter of meat, veggies, dip, nuts, cheese, and bread. It says

Boss Dotty Paper Co. is an independent paper goods company celebrating strong women through playful illustrations laced with humor and a can-do attitude. We spoke with Theresa Berens, founder and illustrator, about creativity, the joys of running a small business, and which women artists inspire her the most.

Shop Boss Dotty in NMWA’s Museum Shop!

A light-skinned woman with straight shoulder-length blonde hair wears bright red lipstick and smiles at the camera. She stands in front of an abstract mural and wears a brown leather jacket.
Boss Dotty Paper Co. founder Theresa Berens; Photo courtesy of Theresa Berens

1. What do you love most about your job?

Connecting with people and being a small part of their celebrations, but my absolute favorite part has to be working with other small businesses. The majority of my business right now is wholesale to other shops—boutiques, bookstores, plant shops, and more (including museum shops). While I’ve worked with bigger chains, my heart is with smaller community-oriented stores. I love getting to know other business owners and the feeling that we’re invested in each other’s success.

2. How would you describe your aesthetic?

It’s ever-evolving! One of my favorite parts about paper goods is the ability to experiment and play. I can definitely trace aesthetic shifts over the years, but what hasn’t changed is a bold, graphic approach combined with strong admiration for fearless women. My background is in journalism, but I’m a graphic designer by trade which definitely influences my work. Right now I’m loving bright, dreamy colors, 1970s typography and playful takes on the everyday—deli bags, trash cans, shipping boxes, laundromats, etc.

A greeting card featuring an illustration of a mass of different people--women, men, Black, white, Asian.
Boss Dotty “Our Voices Matter” card; Available in the NMWA Museum Shop

3. Which great woman artists inspire you and why?

Barbara Kruger, Cindy Sherman, Yayoi Kusama, Frida Kahlo, Judy Chicago, Mickalene Thomas, Corita Kent, and the Guerrilla Girls. I adore the distinct aesthetics of all of these women, and I definitely connect with a design-driven approach to fine art.

4. What advice would you give to emerging female artists?

Be patient with yourself! As an illustrator or product designer, it can take time to find your footing. That’s especially true if you’re working another job full-time, which you’ll probably need to do unless you’re super lucky (or have another way of covering your living expenses).

I also think it’s helpful to remember that you don’t have to turn art making into a job, a money-making side hustle, an Instagram account or anything in between. Worrying about selling—products, or art, or yourself—definitely changes how you work. I highly recommend reading Sara Benincasa’s Real Artists Have Day Jobs for more on this. It really cheered me on when I was first starting out (and it’s also hilarious).

5. Do you plan for the future when it comes to your creativity?

Definitely, but I wouldn’t say it’s something that comes naturally to me. When I was first starting out, I’d rely on bursts of motivation, but when you’re running a stationery line, you need to plan for collections and seasons. I try to keep a schedule that allows me to work in bits and pieces, and a pace that leaves time for things to coalesce

Related Posts

  • Modern Makers: Bianca Negron

    Posted: Jun 10, 2021 in Museum Shop
    Bianca’s Design Shop features creative goods and accessories made by queer Latinx artist Bianca Negron. We spoke with Negron about the shop’s genesis, her hopes for a more inclusive future, and more.
    A medium-skinned woman with her short, black hair worn in a pixie cut wears a black shirt with the phrase
    Blog Category:  Museum Shop
  • Modern Makers: Boss Dotty Paper Co.

    Posted: May 06, 2021 in Museum Shop
    We spoke with Theresa Berens, founder of Boss Dotty Paper Co., about creativity, the joys of running a small business, and her favorite women artists.
    A light-skinned woman with straight blonde held back with a black head band holds up an illustrated Happy Birthday card that features a platter of meat, veggies, dip, nuts, cheese, and bread. It says
    Blog Category:  Museum Shop
  • Modern Makers: Océanne

    Posted: Apr 08, 2021 in Museum Shop
    Océanne is a line of minimalist modern jewelry and apparel by French designer Anne Harrill. We spoke with Harrill about her mission and more.
    A small, circular brass keychain pendant is engraved with the phrase
    Blog Category:  Museum Shop