January 4, 2018

Giving artfully: Where to Donate Art Supplies in Chicago

Filed under: Community Outreach,Design & Art — Tags: , , , , , , — lidia @ 4:00 pm

Updated 7/23/21. Please check websites for any COVID-related donation restrictions.

If you (or your kids) love working on art and craft projects, you’re bound to end up with lots of supplies that you no longer need. Don’t let all that good stuff go to waste: donate it!

After an office move, I loaded up my car with boxes of paper, books and art supplies and distributed them among several local organizations (as well as my son’s school). I had less items to move and I felt good knowing that a student, teacher or artist would make good use of the supplies—it was a win-win!

Where to donate?

There are several organizations in the Chicagoland area that accept donations of new and gently-used art, craft and design supplies and books. I have donated to these organizations and can attest to the good feeling that comes along with sharing with those in need—especially right here in my own community.

Art Makers Outpost

Art Makers Outpost (Evanston, IL) is an environmentally conscious art makers-space for young artists and adults to create art by repurposing items in an imaginative way. They accept donations of a variety of art materiel that can be reused in art classes and art kits. See their donation list.

Creative Chicago Reuse Exchange (CCRx)

Creative Chicago Reuse Exchange (CCRx) is a start-up nonprofit dedicated to creative reuse. They take surplus materials headed to the landfill, and put them in the hands of educators, artists, and community groups. See their donation list.

Creative Pitch

Creative Pitch (Chicago, IL) collects donations of paper, classroom and art supplies and distributes them to local teachers in need. My paper habit (obsession) leaves me with stacks of unused paper—which is put to good use by the Creative Pitch team. I’m proud to be a Creative Pitch supporter for many years. See their donation list.

Inklude Studio

Inklude Studio (Downers Grove, IL) offers an open, creative, and collaborative studio environment for adult artists with autism and other developmental challenges. They welcome donations of art supplies, fabric & sewing materials and photography or computer equipment that can be used in their programs. See their donation list.

The WasteShed

The WasteShed (Chicago, IL) is a creative reuse center that collects art and craft materials and makes them available in their retail store to artists, students, teachers and anyone else at a low price. Their store is a treat to visit and they also host art events. See their donation list.

Upcycling Colors

Upcycling Colors (Chicago, IL) collects leftover, used and unneeded art, craft and school supplies and reconditions them into attractive “like new” kits for children in need. They collect everyhting from paper and pens to loose puzzle pieces and toys. They have several drop-off locations across the city. See their donation list.

Open Books

Open Books (Chicago, IL) provides books and literacy programs to children throughout Chicago. Funding of their programs comes in large part from the sale of donated books in their stores. This is a great place to donate your art, design and craft books (and don’t be surprised if you walk out with a few books after dropping off your donations!) See their donation guidelines.

Making your efforts count

As a veteran “donater,” I can share an easy way to manage donations (and get more organized, to boot!)

  1. Label a cardboard box in your office “art donations.”
  2. Once a week, go through your office drawers, cabinets and shelves.
  3. As you come across items you no longer need (but are still usable), toss them in the box.
  4. At the end of the month, drop off your donations.

Make an even larger donation by combining your efforts with co-workers and colleagues, or start a donation drive at your business. Some organizations will also provide a donation letter for tax purposes. Happy donating!

Know of any other Chicagoland organizations that collect art & craft supplies? Please let me know!




January 20, 2012

Bright spot: people prefer print and paper

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion — Tags: , , — lidia @ 11:50 am

paper, glorious paper...

Now, here’s a story that warms my heart: a recent survey commissioned by Two Sides showed that people prefer to read print communications rather than on a screen. As a print designer—and someone who still gets excited when a magazine arrives in the mail—this makes me happy.

And now that I’m a new mom, I’m buying more books than ever. Frankly, I would rather have my infant chew on a colorful board book than an iPad. And according to this story by Two Sides, I’m not alone: most parents agree that children should read good ol’ fashioned books, not electronic gadgets.

The Two Sides survey also found that many respondents believed electronic communications were more “green” than books, magazines and mail. Two Sides President Phil Riebel says “The fact is that both electronic and paper-based communications have an environmental footprint, and making both smaller is the right environmental choice.”

So keep on buying those books or hit the library. And don’t stop sending brochures or direct mail to potential clients—just be smarter about it. Use a smaller page size, print a lower quantity, link to detailed information on your website, clean up your mailing list to include only true prospects.

Thanks to Print in the Mix for sharing this story.

Have your print habits changed? Share in the comments!

June 30, 2011

Got creative ideas? A few vendors you should know

Filed under: Creativity — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 6:17 pm

You have a great idea for a book, tee shirt, invitation, app or other creative project. But how do you make it?

Here are some of the vendors I met with at the HOW Design Conference. One of them is bound to match your creative needs.

Vendors for creative projects

Blurb Books

Are you an author, photographer or designer? Blurb Books is for you. Make your own book using their easy-to-use software or create a custom design. (Designers: an InDesign plug-in is coming soon!) Create a softcover or paperback book—or a hardcover book that can rival any store-bought book. For high-end projects, they now offer a “Proline” that includes premium papers and linen endpapers. I’ve made many a Blurb book…and have several in the works!

My business cards—printed by Jakprints


In addition to printing business cards and other paper goodies—like my super-cool square business cards with rounded corners!—they also print apparel, including allover printed full-color tees.


Moo has developed a cult following among artists and designers for their ability to print multiple back designs on a business card. Go to a craft show and you’re bound to see some Moo Cards. To add to their coolness factor, they are now offering stickers. Yes, you can print multiple designs—and even create a sticker book.

The Paper Mill Store

This is the “candy store” for paper-loving kids. I’m a frequent shopper here, as papers can be purchased in small quantities. Perfect for that party or wedding invitation you may be working on. Specialty papers such as perforated papers are also available.

Uncommon iPhone Cases

You stare at your phone all day, why not have a  case that’s nice to look at? Uncommon lets you create your own iPhone case by simply uploading your artwork.

Felt & Wire Supply

Need blank notecards, twine, rubber stamps, or other goodies for your crafty projects? Check out this new shop from Mohawk and Felt & Wire. I adore the rice paper masking tape.

Method Apps

Have an idea for a mobile app? Their turnkey system makes it easy to create and maintain your very own app. Custom apps also available.


Need to brush up on your art or design skills? Looking to take your creative hobby into a business? Find the books you need here—as well as Moleskine notebooks to jot down your great ideas.

Know other great vendors for creative or artsy folks? Share in the comments!

October 22, 2010

Paper sells: the comeback of paper

Filed under: Design & Art,Marketing & Promotion — Tags: , — lidia @ 1:30 pm

Paper is making a comeback.

Though the last few years have seen an increase in digital and online marketing channels, people are now realizing: paper sells.

Whether it’s a direct mail piece, catalog or marketing brochure, printed pieces are a way for businesses to stand out in the digital age.

This is great news for a print designer such as myself. I do strive to be be green, going paperless when possible. But being a longtime fan of paper (OK, paper junkie), I can’t deny the joy of seeing a printed brochure or announcement on a fabulous paper I selected.

And why not use paper? Most paper companies have responded to customers’ requests, offering environmentally-friendly options. Designers can create a design that uses less paper more creatively (saving trees and money). And there’s no substitute for experiencing the tactile quality of a printed piece.

According to the recent Deliver Magazine, direct mail generated the majority of donations to nonprofit organizations in 2009. Marketers are also realizing the value of combining print with online channels.

Several paper companies have launched recent campaigns to promote paper. NewPage Corporation launched the Paper Sells More Product” campaign, giving away $100,000 in print services to help catalogers, magazine publishers, and retailers sell more product.

Domtar Paper launched the “PAPER Because” campaign to highlight the key role paper plays in our lives and the reasons why it’s an environmentally sound choice.

Several paper and printing companies have also partnered with The Print Council. By providing education, awareness and research, they aim to promote the importance of print and the role it plays in your business’ media mix.

So, when you work on your next marketing or promotional campaign: think paper!

September 15, 2010

A few of my favorite (office) things

Filed under: Goods & Wares,Small Business — Tags: , , , , , — lidia @ 9:41 am

decorative file folders from Paper Source

As I pack up my office for my move, I’m inspired to spruce things up in the new digs.

I’ve already replaced my unattractive, vinyl 3-ring binders binders with cool-looking, recycled ReBinders, but I thought I might pick up some more attractive office supplies—many of which have the added bonus of being good for the environment.

top office supply picks:

Why should kids be the only ones to get brand-new school supplies?

February 25, 2010

Take a new look at recycled papers

Filed under: Green,Workspace — Tags: , , — lidia @ 3:45 pm

When people used to think of recycled papers, they envisioned a brown paper bag or worse yet, a dirty white flimsy sheet. Well, welcome to the new world of recycled papers!

And here’s proof that more people are using recycled papers—from the latest New Leaf Paper newsletter:

…the number of leading environmental printing and writing grade papers produced in North America has more than doubled from 97 to 228 in the past 18 months (according to information released today by Canopy, a Vancouver based non-profit organization that works to improve the environmental performance of paper and wood companies, and a Steering Committee member of Environmental Paper Network.) The sharp increase in eco-paper options is the result of large paper buyers demanding more papers with ecological attributes, a growing trend despite recent troubles in the North American paper industry and global economy.

As I’ve been transitioning my line of greeting cards and stationery to 100% PCW recycled paper, I’ve done exhaustive research in this area. I’ve compiled a list of what I consider the best and brightest (literally!) recycled papers easily found in the marketplace now. Many are available in colors, in addition to white and off-white. And many are surprisingly affordable. So now there’s no reason not to think green when choosing paper for your business needs.

100% PCW recycled paper stocks:

(in alphabetical order)

A few recycled paper tips:

  1. Where can I buy them? recycled paper can be purchased in small quantities from online paper retailers such as The Paper Mill Store, which has a handy page showing all 100% recycled papers at-a-glance. You may also order directly from the paper mills—follow the links above for ordering info.
  2. How do I know it’s 100% recycled? Look for “100 PC” in the name or “100% postconsumer waste fiber” in the description
  3. Let your clients or customers know! If you’re using 100% PCW recycled paper to print your marketing pieces, you may want to let your customers know by printing the recycled symbol on the piece. This guide from The Paper Mill Store explains the correct way to use the various recycled symbols and provides a link to download the logos.

If I have forgotten any 100% recycled paper stocks, please write a comment and I’ll add to my list. Happy (recycled) printing!

January 20, 2010

Your (print) life in digital

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion,Uncategorized — Tags: , , — lidia @ 10:23 pm

At the Unisource Paper Show in Chicago last year, I was delighted to discover lots of new paper stocks for digital printing—and thrilled that many of them were also recycled (30–100% PCW).

photo by jaxxon on flickr

As many small businesses are printing short runs digitally—or even printing in-house on their trusty laser printers—I thought I would share my digital paper discoveries.

Digital papers can be purchased online either directly from the paper mill or at online retailers such as The Paper Mill Store. Some papers are available at local retail stores too. Check each paper manufacturer’s site for specific purchase information.

Print no more on boring white laser paper!