NEWBURYPORT – A local woman, who began her career as an artist in the 1970s creating greeting cards using screen printing, has donated her stock of cards to Pennies for Poverty and Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity last year, which generated over $3,100 in revenue. for non-profit organizations.
Jan Roy, a Newburyport resident since 1980, grew up just outside of New York and spent much of her childhood accompanying her mother, a fashion designer, to showrooms and art galleries from the city.
In 1973 Roy, in his early twenties looking for his own passion that could bring him an income, started using screen printing to design blank note cards and soon after someone suggested he sell them. She packed up her Volkswagen bus and drove to art shows along the East Coast to sell them.
From there she moved on to wholesale exhibitions where her art caught the attention of major accounts including Bloomingdale’s, the American Museum of Natural History in New York and other art museums. She also sold her cards at a number of craft stores, which she says were prominent in the 1970s.
“I kind of needed cards that weren’t Hallmark cards — handmade cards,” Roy said. “It’s really become a big business and a lot of work.”
The images on the cards also reflected his surroundings. They include the salt marshes around Newburyport, the woods of Maine, the cat she grew up with, and more.
Speaking of discovering her love for screen printing, she said, “I loved the shape and the color – the intense color – and the screen printing has a really intense, saturated color.”
Roy received his first commission from the Portland Symphony Orchestra around 1980 and this work caught the attention of an established poster company in Boston and Paris. She began designing posters with commissions from organizations around the world, quickly moving into the international landscape.
In 1992, Roy said he missed the small size of those blank note cards. She started a small business, Salt Marsh Graphics, and got back to what she loved. This time, she had the cards printed commercially to save her time as her business flourished.
After much success, Roy became less interested in running the card business around 2000 and turned to painting.
Roy, now a full-time painter, approached his friend Sue McKittrick, board chair of Pennies for Poverty: 2 Cents 4 Change Inc., last winter when she decided to empty the boxes of greeting cards that he still had left in his Haverhill studio.
“I wanted to clear my studio of this part of my life a bit,” Roy said, saying it was time the cards found a new purpose.
Since Roy had switched to commercial card printing in the 1990s, it was much easier for him to store them. While she couldn’t estimate the number of cards she gave to nonprofits, Roy said it was definitely in the thousands, if not tens of thousands.
“It was a lot of cards, a lot of cards,” she said.
Pennies for Poverty sells the cards at Greetings by Design at 6 Market Square, where owner Deb Green does not charge the charity a consignment fee. Merrimack Valley Habitat for Humanity sells the maps in its ReStore at 647 Andover St. in Lawrence.
So far, the combined sales have brought in more than $3,100 in revenue for nonprofits and those sales “are still going strong,” McKittrick said.
“I’m really pleased that the cards are appreciated and that they are helping local organizations, especially at this time when they are so needed,” Roy said.
To learn more about the artist, visit http://janroy.com.