It all started one frosty January morning when Sarah Kaiser’s bus was running late. She had picked up her weekly box of treats from Union Square Donuts to share with her office and as her commute stretched longer and longer, she began to draw on the box.
“I carry my markers and pens with me everywhere,” said Kaiser, who lives on Highland Ave. “I like to sketch a lot on the side, it’s always been a hobby for me.”
By the time Kaiser got to her job at Involution Studios in Arlington where she works as a user interface designer, she had drawn “a snot genie.” “I was feeling kind off mucus-y that day, so I drew snot genie as a joke,” Kaiser said.
Her boss, Juhan Sonin, and the rest of the studio team loved the box so much that Kaiser started drawing illustrations each week when she picked up her doughnuts. The project eventually became Union Square Doodlebox.
“I just wanted to do something kind of cool for my studio,” Kaiser said. “People started liking them so I started putting more attention to detail.”
Given the season in which she started doing the drawings, many of Kaiser’s illustrations have focused on the seemingly never-ending winter (like one featuring someone sledding on a doughnut). More recently, signs of spring have crept into the illustrations in the form of fairies watering a garden and a bird’s nest full of eggs.
The drawings take her about a half an hour depending on what she’s creating that week. Kaiser said she draws inspiration from many places. Sometimes she plans the drawing in advance, even taking requests from co-workers and friends, while other times she simply sits and stares at the Union Square Donuts stamp on the box until inspiration strikes.
“In the shop it’s been cool, people do get curious,” Kaiser said of doing her sketches each Friday morning. “It’s been pretty sweet.” People have even started approaching Kaiser about commissioning illustration work after seeing her drawings, but she’s been passing those requests along to other local artists so as not to conflict with her work at her day job.
In addition to Union Square Doodlebox, Kaiser exercises her creative muscles at her Artisan’s Asylum studio where she works on projects related to her interest in games like Dungeons & Dragons and Warhammer.
“I have a studio space there and I’m friends with a lot of folks there,” Kaiser said of Artisan’s. “For now it’s where I go to work on my costume stuff and crazy props.”
While Kaiser originally came to live in Somerville out of necessity four years ago after landing her job and needing an affordable place to call home, she now treasures the community she’s found.
“I just love the neighborhood so much,” Kaiser said. “My favorite pub is nearby, Union Square Donuts is nearby.”
And with interest growing in her Doodleboxes–and her office looking forward to their weekly doughnut fix–Kaiser sees no end to her project. If you want to see her in action, she’s usually at the Union Square Donuts (20 Bow St.) on Friday mornings around 8:30. I met her there last Friday, where she created the illustration in the slideshow below. And some of her work, like the image above, is on display at the shop.
“Union Square Donuts is always a real treat to stop by, they’re always real kind,” Kaiser said. “This is my favorite place I’ve ever lived.”