Kristie Vargo follows her bliss as the illustrator, painter, and bookbinder behind Bliss Books & Paper.

If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.
— Joseph Campbell


For some it takes a lifetime, for others it may never happen, but for Kristie it all came together so beautifully. She is one of the lucky ones that figured out her true calling early in life. As a child, Kristie slept with a box of crayons. She invented board games. She wrote fanciful stories. She drew colorful pictures. She painted with water on the sidewalks. She created wooden sculptures in her father's workshop from scraps. She was a creator. She still is.

Kristie’s studio is her sanctuary, residing just outside of Chicago; it is filled with many sentimental items. She does almost all of her creating on a handcrafted table dating back to the mid-1800's, allowing her to draw inspiration from the past and those who made durable, long-lasting items. The guest chair, the place she often sits to sketch and work out new ideas, belonged to her grandfather who lived to 96 and always had great advice. An old wooden toy chest handcrafted by Kristie’s father now holds memories inside with books and materials on top. The walls are filled with original photographs from her travels around the country and across the pond. Her life is filled with creative bursts. Everything around her is a potential inspiration, a seed of an idea. She never knows where they will come from, but is grateful for each one. Kristie prefers to create using timeless methods and traditional materials. 

Creating every day is this little girl’s dream come true and she is doing it with “joie de vivre.” She harnessed her passion from a young age. It’s her bliss and she’s following it!


It's blue, not red, but it is still a cardinal! When Kristie was four, her grandfather passed away. From what she knew of him and what she had been told, he was the best Papa ever. Kristie remembers his warm smile and laugh the most. When he passed away, all the grandchildren were told that every time they saw a cardinal it was Papa. When Kristie is happy or sad, excited or nervous, alone or with loved ones, he appears. When she has questions that she shares with no one else, that cardinal arrives with an answer.

Kristie always feels comfort and great happiness knowing that he is always with her. The bird has deep meaning for Kristie and is the image of love, happiness and joy...all the things we should celebrate every day. All the things that Bliss Books & Paper embraces. It's only natural that this bird be around to remind us of living fully.