Maker Profile: Kristin Northup


Generations of creativity fueled this St. Pete designer’s hand-crafted career

Creativity is in Kristin’s Northup’s DNA. She comes from a family of artistic women–her grandmother, mother and two sisters. As far back as she can remember, she and her sisters spent their time creating things. If they were outside, they used twigs and leave, but indoors they turned to paper and origami. “We were always making things. It’s just part of my nature.”

St. Petersburg must also be in her nature. Her parents are both from the neighborhood, and while Kristin grew up in Fort Myers, she remembers visiting St. Pete a lot as a kid. When it came time to raise her own child, she knew the Burg was perfect.

Building a business, one drawing at a time

Kristin’s creativity was more than a hobby; she also made it her livelihood. It led her to University of Florida where she earned her BA in Graphic Design and then a career as a graphic designer and illustrator. By 2014, Kristin found herself so busy that she had little time for her own artistic endeavors.

“I realized it wasn’t allowing me the creative freedom I needed — the opportunity to develop my own ideas. I get an idea and I want to act on it. I want to try things,” she said. This realization also led to quick action: she left her job and started her own business.

“I just decided to jump into it.”

Brand is an homage to childhood fun

The Paper Zoo features Kristin’s original artwork of vibrant, fun and whimsical illustrations. The name is an homage to the fun she and her sisters had making little paper animals as children. “As adults, we’d visit each other’s houses and see we all had little animal tchotchkes. We were talking about that and how we used to make origami animals and then the name just came to me.”

Kristin continued to provide branding and marketing for companies as well, under the name Craft Brands. Her work can be seen at legendary local businesses such as O’berry’s Succulents and Green Bench Brewing. “What’s cool is I still get to do a lot of illustrations and creative work. That’s one of the things I love about those kinds of clients — I get to do a lot creative work and it’s fun.”

Local love inspires a new creative outlet

Local is part of Kristin’s artistic drive. She created an illustrated shopping map for Strands of Sunshine featuring 27 local shops. She was also a contributing artist in the My Sunshine City campaign, designing one of the many beautiful murals that turned a section of the Pinellas Trail into a local art exhibition. Her work on the mural inspired the In The Sun design on St. Pete Threads. “I became more active in T-shirt design back in October when I created a Nasty Woman shirt–before they were everywhere,” said Northup. That design was featured in Creative Loafing.

An entire community of creativity

When she’s not designing beautiful labels for breweries or kick-ass branding for local bands like The Hip Abduction, Kristin still keeps it local. She and her family love to walk the downtown area, visit other independent shops and restaurants. The small business community, she says, is one of her favorite things about the area. “I love the sense of community, especially as a small business owner. Small businesses here are really collaborative and supportive. Progressive and innovative people everywhere!”

Creativity really must run in Kristin’s blood. The artistic legacy of her family continues in her son. “He makes little books and little animals out of paper. It’s cool to see him doing the same thing I did as a kid and being creative.”