Along with his business Puff Cards, Buttner’s art can be found all over D.C.
We spoke with 15 innovative creators around D.C. to learn more about their work. Check out the full roundup here.
Artist, designer and photographer TJ Buttner is a staple in D.C.’s art scene, from creating for restaurants and organizations to offering cards with a green surprise inside. We caught up with him to talk his card company, creative process and advice to up-and-coming artists.
District Fray: What was the inspiration behind Puff Cards?
Buttner: Puff Cards is a collaborative project between my partner Elizabeth Kim, my sister Chelsea Buttner and myself to make gifting cannabis normalized, easy and exciting. A cannabis gift for birthdays was a tradition between my sister and I growing up, so we wanted to create a greeting card design that holds the cannabis inside as a surprise. It’s been a wild ride since creating this brand in 2016, but now that cannabis is starting to become more mainstream, I’m excited to see what the future holds.
What’s your creative process like?
After 10 years of finding my style, I think I finally figured out the process that suits me best. I make stream-of-consciousness sketches where I try not to think too much and just let my pen flow. My work is inspired by graffiti, surrealism and cartoons, so you will find elements of these throughout my drawings. To start a new piece, I’ll flip through my sketchbook and find one that resonates with me at the time. From there I transfer that idea to canvas and layer colors to make it pop — I love for my pieces to be bright and bold.
What advice would you give to aspiring D.C. artists?
Create art that makes you happy. Go to more museums and art shows around D.C. Inspiration is everywhere. Try not to be so hard on yourself if it doesn’t work out right away. Positivity and confidence in yourself are everything. Meet more artists. It’s important to branch out of your comfort zone and interact with your peers.
What’s been your favorite collaboration with a local restaurant and why?
My favorite collab so far is the custom rolling papers I made for Ellē in Mount Pleasant. Since they have a fascination with cats, I made an illustration of a cat smoking a joint, looking real cool with a background design reminiscent of classic orange zig-zag papers.
Catch Buttner at the Made in DC artist market near Union Market every first and third Sunday, selling original art, prints, and other trinkets. You can also shop Puff Cards at puffcards.com and follow them on Instagram @puffcards. Follow Buttner on Instagram @tjbuttner.
Looking for local artists and creators to follow? Join the District Fray community for exclusive access to content made and curated by some of the city’s most talented residents. Become a member and support local journalism today.