Hello, hello! I am very pleased to be bringing you an interview with one of the most amazing multi media craftsmen I’ve ever had the honor of knowing. I will have all of Steve’s links down at the end of this post. Be sure to check him out.
What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Stephen Kropf and I’m from Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
What type of crafts or art forms do you do?
I make cards that feature Copic coloring, I crochet, I spin, I weave, and I quilt.
What do you enjoy most about card making?
I am a Copic colorist first and foremost so all of my cards feature an image that has been colored with Copics. I love the process of watching line art come to life with color. I never plan my colors out ahead of time which means that the image evolves as I color it. I color a lot of images for Stamp Anniething and I love watching her people images come to life. For me the act of coloring quiets my mind. There are very few things in life that do that for me. We all need some quiet in our heads from time to time.
How did you get started in card making?
I am a dog groomer by trade. I often joke that I am a dog groomer by day and a maker by night. In 2014 a very special client of mine lost her dog. I saw this dog and her pet parents every week and as a result I had forged a great friendship with them. Their dog passing away meant that not only would I not see their dog anymore but I wouldn’t see them anymore either. That made me very sad.
I wanted to do something special to show them how much I cared. I felt the best way to do that would be to make something for them. I immediately thought of making a card and turned to trusty YouTube. I searched “how to make a card” and thousands of videos came up. The first one that I watched was by Kristina Werner and was one in which she was doing some Copic coloring. I thought, “Hey! I can totally do that!”
I headed to the store and once there told them what it was that I wanted to do. They sold me a stamp set, paper, markers, etc. I left the store with a small bag filled with $350 worth of goodies. I went home and created my first card. That is how I officially went down the card making rabbit hole.
Have you always been creative?
I grew up in a small town of 900 people. There wasn’t a whole lot to do which meant you needed to get creative in order to keep yourself entertained. My dad was an artist and I would often try to duplicate the things that he was drawing. I also loved making friendship bracelets and working with plastic canvas.
Card making is considered by some to be a hobby in which only females participate. Have you ever experienced any judgement or discrimination based on this outdated stereotype?
Since a lot of the things that I am interested in tend to be female dominated it has never been an issue for me personally because I am accustomed to being the “only guy in the room”. If something catches my interest I do it. My parents raised me to follow my heart and I am so glad that they did. I got into card making in 2014 and have never experienced any judgement or discrimination. Instead I have been welcomed with open arms and that has been the most amazing feeling ever.
What has been the highlight of your card making journey thus far?
The friendships I have made are hands down the highlight. I am shy by nature and meeting new people isn’t something that comes easily to me. I have made some of my best friends to date through card making and being on design teams.
What changes, if any, would you like to see happen in the card making industry?
The products being released month after month severely lack diversity. When I go to stamp expos I see an amazing rainbow of people there but the stamps that are coming out rarely showcase that diversity. I have talked to many people who feel left out or completely unrepresented in that way.
What experiences, attributes, or perspectives shape your card making?
I love clean and simple. As I said earlier I love coloring and I spend a lot of time coloring images. I don’t like my card layouts to be too busy because I feel that that would take the focus away from the colored images.
What is the best thing about being a male card maker? What is the most challenging?
I think that one of the best things about being a male card maker is that you do tend to get noticed. A lot of companies want men on their design teams or they want a “male take” on their products. I think that that can be a bit of a bonus as well as somewhat of an unfair advantage. Which actually brings me to the most challenging part of being a male card maker; I think that the door opens a bit easier for male card makers. For myself I feel like I need to prove myself worthy of that because I don’t ever want someone to think that I got things easily or that I didn’t work hard for the success I’ve found.
How would you describe your card making style?
Clean and simple with a focus on colored images.
What is something that you struggle with in terms of creativity?
I work 50 plus hours per week with my business and sometimes I struggle to find the energy to create.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
From my heart. I have an internal need to make and create and I often find myself making things just for the sake of making things. With my spinning for example, I have made skeins of yarn with no purpose in mind. When I create woven pieces I love pulling from my hand spun yarn to add to my handwoven projects. It’s sort of improvisational and from the heart; to me that is what creating is all about.
What words of encouragement or advice do you have for crafty guys or anyone else?
Do what YOU love and don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Follow the path your heart takes all while being fearlessly creative. Crafting and being a maker has no gender.
Stephen, thank you for your incredibly thoughtful and insightful responses. I feel like I could have written a lot of what you said myself because I agree so wholeheartedly with it. You are absolutely deserving of all the success you have received in your creative journey and it is my hope that one day you will no longer feel as though you need to prove yourself worthy of the opportunities provided to you.
If you’d like to see more of Steve’s work you can find him
On his blog
Until next time,