Photograph by Kristen Boehm

Art has always been a part of Kathy Bastow’s life. No matter where she is or what she’s doing, she’s always managed to keep her artistic juices flowing. It’s simply a part of who she is. Whether she’s painting, doing
collages, constructing pieces of furniture, or creating baskets, Bastow has been actively putting the right side of her brain to work since she was 14, when she made her first pair of earrings. Soon after, she began selling jewelry in a small art hub in New Hope, Pennsylvania and has since had the opportunity to show her work at galleries across the country, including at the prominent American Craft Council exhibitions.

As an on-and-off Bellinghamster for 45 years, Bastow has co-owned a co-op restaurant called Celebration Cookery and a bike shop called Kulshan Cycles. At one point she swerved to “climb the corporate ladder” in Seattle. Throughout all of these occupations, Bastow always maintained a strong desire to be an artist. Looking back, she’s noticed one prominent theme that stands out in both her work in business and her artwork: ordered chaos. In her career, she was constantly creating structure and order in organizations that lacked it. Likewise, in her artwork, she often takes “disparate objects and [puts] them together and [comes] up with an order that makes sense to [her].”

After leaving the corporate world behind, Bastow settled back in Bellingham, where she creates artwork in her home and in her studio space located above the Pickford Film Center under the name “Bastow Designs.” She uses her creative energy everywhere she can in her everyday life. She has a “drive to create beauty in the way that [she sees] beauty” while aiming to avoid adding to the modern problem of too many useless objects. One way Bastow has been able to strike that balance is by taking up singing with a partner. You can find them belting out anything from Brandy Carlile to The Wailin’ Jennys at Greene’s Corner, Kombucha Town, and other open mics around town.

When she’s not singing or creating other art, Bastow also works as an advisor for the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Western Washington University. Funded by local organizations and the U.S. Small Business Administration, it strives to aid in the success rate of small businesses. Through the SBDC, small business advisors like Bastow are able to give “free and confidential advising services to small businesses.” They collectively help for-profit start-ups, growth businesses, and businesses in transition with creating business plans, financial plans, human resources, marketing, and much more across Whatcom and Kitsap counties.

Whether in the art community or the business community, Kathy Bastow has made a difference. Entrepreneurs and art lovers alike can benefit from Bastow’s experience by visiting her at the SBDC office in Barkley Village to learn how to cultivate a thriving business or by making an appointment to view her artworks at either of her studios. Bastow Designs at the Pickford Art Studios, 1318 Bay St., Ste. 208, Bellingham, 360.220.7744,