This Paper Ship

American Made Since 2009

Joel Selby & Ashley Selby

Saxapahaw, North Carolina
We're a husband-and-wife illustration, writing, design, and photography team of dreamers and storytellers, creative consultants and crafters.
North Carolina

Tell us about your business.

The vessels in our fleet are illustration, creative writing, books, printed goods, graphic design, and photography. We’ve both been drawing and writing ever since we could hold a crayon. We met in drawing class over a fabric study, completed Graphic Design BFAs at Shepherd University side-by-side, and together launched This Paper Ship in 2009 when the well of jobs ran dry. We believe that living creatively is empowering. We love to dream big, work hard, and take advantage of opportunity. We love our clients, their ideas we’ve helped make reality, and the journeys we’ve taken together over the years. We’re always keeping a weather eye on the horizon for new adventures and always looking to grow as creatives. We believe this grant would bless us with opportunities to discover new materials, network our paper goods and other products at trade shows, and publish books we've been working on in the last few years.

What makes your business stand out?

We've spent the last five years developing a This Paper Ship style by literally drawing on each others' work. We've been not only learning how to be in a healthy marriage, but also learning to be a successful creative team. Our style and work are products of our two hands and minds, combined. We use a full range of tools in our work, from the latest high-powered software to the most trusty old-fashioned art media. We’re passionate about the learning from the masters, from Renaissance painters to Disney animators, so we use pencil, ink, paint, and paper whenever possible. We believe in faith, hope, and love, and we want the bright colors, whimsy, and joy in our work to reflect that worldview.

What's the best business advice you've received?

"Make good art." In Neil Gaiman's famous commencement speech, he compares an artist's career to a mountain. Any jobs drawing the artist closer to the mountain are worth taking; the jobs that don't, aren't. As freelancers, we have to balance survival with passion, and the mountain analogy with the accompanying mantra, "Make good art," have guided our creative business by reminding us what God put us on this earth to do.

Mark Your Calendar

  • Nominations
    June 3–Aug. 29, 2014

    Nominate yourself or other aspiring makers.

  • Judging
    June 23–Sept. 8, 2014

    Judges will select finalists throughout this period.

    Meet the judges
  • Online Voting
    Sept. 15–Oct. 13, 2014

    Vote for your favorite American makers.

    See the finalists
  • Winners Announced
    Oct. 17, 2014

    2014 Award Winners and Audience Choice Winner announced.

    See past Award Winners
  • American Made Event
    Nov. 7–8, 2014

    Join us for our annual event in New York City.

    Buy tickets now

More Nominees

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  • MichyLou

    Michelle tan
    MichyLou was created to fill the need for well made clothing that has a retro and classic flair. Clothing that is flattering and fits well.
    Style, Fashion
  • Beach Frames, LLC

    Chris Tanner & Michele Tanner
    Beach Frames is a family owned & operated business that handcrafts repurposed & reclaimed wood picture frames & sell to over 500 stores in the US
    Crafts, Recycled, Upcycled, Vintage Crafts
  • 2014 Style Finalist

    Syd and Pia NYC

    Fernanda Medina
    Syd & Pia NYC symbolizes an organic artistry through simple metal based work, producing original pieces out of minimal materials.
    Style, Jewelry