Five Influential Women to Know About

Five Influential Women

These five women have certainly left their mark on the world in a myriad of ways. We decided to go with women who are creative, strong, bold and brave. Here’s our list of five influential women to know about, in no particular order:

First: Iris Apfel

If you’ve been around for a while, you’ll know all about our love for Iris Apfel. I mean what. an. icon. Earlier this month, we dedicated this post to Iris Apfel in all her bold, colorful glory. If you’re unfamiliar with Iris, she’s a fashion icon famous for defying stereotypes of age and proving that it’s never too late to follow your dreams and do what you love. Did I mention she’s almost 101 and still going strong?! Oh, and don’t forget about that H&M collection, launched TODAY. You heard me right. An H&M + Iris Apfel collab, lauched today!!

Need some Iris Apfel merch? Here’s an ornament, print, and bookmark from our shop!

Iris Apfel June Book Club Artwork

Here’s a whole host of other things inspired by Iris Apfel:

Second: Alma Thomas

You’ve also probably heard a decent amount about Alma Thomas from us. To kick off Black History Month this year, we did a spotlight on Alma Thomas. You can also check out this In the Mood For: Alma Thomas post where you can get inspired by her amazing, colorful artwork. If you’ve never heard of Alma Thomas, she’s a color genius and amazingly talented artist. To learn more, check out our Great Artists course! For a complete list and the link to the Alma Thomas class itself, click here. If you’d like, you can also purchase the full course here, which gives you access to courses featuring six different historical artists, including Alma Thomas, Rembrandt, Frida Kahlo, Andy Warhol, Claude Monet, and Michelangelo.

Here are some things to get the Alma Thomas inspiration flowing:

Third: Michelle Obama

It’s no secret that we love Michelle Obama. That may have something to do with her book, Becoming, which we read a few years ago for our book club. Her words have since inspired us to start our Becoming blog series, where we interview creative women about how they became who they are. Here’s an inspirational print for your wall featuring one of my favorite Michelle Obama quotes.

Fourth: Ruth Bader Ginsberg

RBG is a must-have on every list of influential women to know about! What a strong, determined woman. Ruth Bader Ginsberg is one of those women I think most of us want to be like. She has a remarkable, triumphant story of overcoming gender discrimination in the workplace and showing that it’s always worth it to make a stand. If you’re interested, check out her book, My Own Words.

Collecting ornaments? Add this Ruth Bader Ginsberg one to your collection! Interested in dressing up for Halloween later this year? Try this Ruth Bader Ginsberg collar.

A white paper lace collar on a black background.

Fifth: Frida Kahlo

Last but definitely not least on our list of influential women to know about is Frida Kahlo. I’ve been obsessed with Frida Kahlo for as long as I can remember! What an important female artist in history. Here’s a post where we talk about her life and how influential she is. We also give you some Frida-inspired fashion help! Here’s another post where we complied DIY projects inspired by Frida. If you’re still looking to learn more about Frida, remember our Great Artists course! Here’s the link to Frida Kahlo’s class, and here’s the link to the full course.

Our shop is full of Frida Kahlo. Try this print, bookmark, and ornament, to start!

Here are some more things inspired by Frida Kahlo:

More Inspiration

Loved this post and want to learn about other influential women? Try our Becoming series! Also see this post about what Iris Apfel can teach usshop prints featuring women we love, and our female author booklist.

Female Author Booklist

Female Author Booklist

We’re excited to share this female author booklist with you! There are some amazing classics in here. While I haven’t read all the books on this list, I have read a few. The ones I haven’t read are highly recommended from multiple sources, which tells me they deserve to be named. We tried to pick a variety of books, ranging from older classics to more contemporary reads, and from a variety of genres. Hopefully there’s something for everyone here!

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

This book is the ultimate classic that every woman (and man!) should read. We need more books with strong, female protagonists. This is definitely a frontrunner in that category. Jane Austen is such a legend, we couldn’t leave her off this booklist.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Speaking of strong, female protagonists, Jo March is a role model for every young girl (and woman!). I grew up reading this, so maybe I’m biased, but I had to add it to our female author booklist. This is a beautiful book if you want to read a civil war era book about the struggles women faced written by a women. Louisa May Alcott’s perspective just can’t be paralleled by the male authors of her time.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

This isn’t the first time this book has made it onto our blog. We LOVE Michelle Obama, and we LOVE her book. In fact, when we read her book for our book club, it inspired our entire becoming series. You can read the interviews in our becoming series here.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Another one of my all time favorite books, Jane Eyre is a moving story about a fiercely independent orphan and her journey to find freedom. I love the strength of women this book shows. And did I mention Charlotte Brontë? I mean, all three of the Brontë sisters are essentials to the category of strong, independent women. The fact that three female authors all came from one family at the time they did, historically, is a feat to be reckoned with.

My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsberg

We couldn’t make this female author booklist without including RBG. I mean what. an. icon. I think she speaks for herself. The legacy she left behind is remarkable and we would all do well to take a leaf out of her book. Or at least read it.

Circe by Madeline Miller

Looking for greek mythology with a strong, female heroine? This is the picture of female empowerment. A 2018 New York Times bestseller, this book has proven itself. And dipping your toes into greek mythology is always a pleasure.

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

Joan Didion died in 2021, and what an iconic writer she was. This is a beautiful memoir that I haven’t read yet but is 100% on my list! It delves into the year following her husband’s death and how she had to deal with her daughter’s health issues in addition to her own. Just reading the summary feels powerful, so imagine getting to read every word from the source itself.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Another book I haven’t read yet but that definitely piqued my interest! This one delves into the sexual abuse facing fertile women in near-future New England.

The XX Brain by Lisa Mosconi

This is the perfect book to help you understand your brain and body as you age. It contains groundbreaking research on women’s health and how our hormones affect brain and body well-being as we age. More importantly, what we can do about it.

The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimimanda Ngozi Adichie

Nigerian writer Adiche explores women in relationships in a series of powerful short stories. It doesn’t take very many pages to write something impactful when you write like Adiche.

Housekeeping by Marilyn Robinson

This is a must read (really, any of hers can’t go wrong). They’re definitely on my list! Arguably America’s greatest living literary author, Robinson has won nearly every major literary prize, including the Pulitzer. Her novels explore the human condition, faith, and the origins of our modern discontents.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Schaffer

New York Times bestselling historical novel about a group of people on the Isle of Guernsey under German occupation and how books connected them and gave them hope during a time of darkness. And that movie?! I mean, come on.

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin

This is a classic sci-fi novel set on a planet where every person is gender-neutral and the implications of how that plays out in society.

The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World by Melinda Gates

We had to include Melinda Gates on our booklist. This book is an eye-opening memoir that explores, among other things, the horrors and hardships experienced by women worldwide, and the ripple effects when efforts to eliminate poverty focus on lifting women.

A Midwife’s Tale by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Ever seen Call the Midwife? I’m the first to admit I’ve watched every episode. Well A Midwife’s Tale is also a diary, this time of a female medical practitioner and ancestor of Clara Barton. Laurel Thatcher Ulrich is thoughtful and intentional in her research and explorations of the diary. The information she exposes throw open a window into the life of an 18th century woman and the society she lived and worked in. 

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

National Book Award Finalist, the story centers on a Korean woman in Japan. It’s also soon to be made a film!

More Inspiration

Looking for more books to read? Here’s a list of books and media by black creatives. Here’s a list of a few more book recommendations we made a few years ago, too! Interested in what we’ve read for book club? Here are the posts.

 

Becky Edwards Inspired Art

Becky Edwards

If you missed it, here’s the post where we made pomanders with Becky Edwards! For a full summary of our other classic Christmas guests, see this post. Before we get into all this amazing Becky Edwards inspired art, let me tell you a little about Becky. She’s a Utahn at heart, not to mention an avid crafter! She practically does it all, and with flair. She’s confident, spunky, and talented. What a refreshing change it would be to have her in office!

Without further ado, here’s a list of these amazing artists and their Becky Edwards inspired art:

Becky Edwards Inspired Art

Amanda Jane Jones

We love Amanda Jane Jones! And of course we love her design work. The proof is that we sell it in our very own shop! Here’s her Becky Edwards inspired art:

Oh, and here’s a video of her process, which we loved seeing!

 

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A post shared by Amanda Jane Jones (@amandajanejones)

Natalee Cooper Chilton

You all know we love our florals, and Natalee out did herself on this one! We love how it turned out.

Ann Chen

Ann Chen‘s work is bold, bright and fun! We love what she did for her Becky Edwards inspired art.

Becca Clason

Becca Clason is to thank for getting everyone together to make all this art. And we love how her stop motion video turned out!

 

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A post shared by Becca Clason (@beccaclason)

Justin Wheatley

Here’s Justin Wheatley’s rendition of Becky Edwards inspired art:

Jill De Haan

And what about Jill De Haan? We love how hers turned out!

Paige Crosland Anderson

Paige Crosland Anderson made a lovely Becky Edwards inspired art piece. Here it is:

John Connors

Here’s John Connors’ art! Isn’t it nice?

 

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A post shared by John Connors (@owenjohn)

Matisse Hales

Here’s Matisse Hales‘ artwork. We love the floral theme, yet again!

Danelle Cheney

Danelle Cheney‘s stop motion video was impeccable. We loved it!

 

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A post shared by Danelle Cheney (@danellecheney)

Michelle Christensen

Michelle Christensen‘s Becky Edwards inspired art piece was also a stunner.

Jesse Draper

Jesse Draper also made a lovely art piece. Here it is:

Sylvia Bunker

Here’s Sylvia Bunker’s Becky Edwards inspired art. Punch needle was a clever idea!

Olivia Knudsen (@okolivia)

Olivia Knudsen also made a lovely ink drawing.

 

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A post shared by Olivia Knudsen (@okolivia)

Ashley Collett (@ashleycollettdesign)

Ashley Collett’s designs were jaw dropping. Plus she overachieved and made four instead of just one. Amazing!

 

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A post shared by Ashley Collett (@ashleycollettdesign)

Lori Van Wagoner (@icanmakeit_lorivw)

Here’s a lovely stained glass piece by Lori Van Wagoner.

Genevieve Bryan (@genevievebryan)

We love the bold graphic feel of Genevieve Bryan’s design! Here it is:

Loni Harris

Loni Harris‘ Becky Edwards inspired art piece feels reminiscent of a chalk board, doesn’t it? Love the way it turned out.

Rebecca Knudsen (@rcknudsen)

Rebecca Knudsen for the win with yet another beautiful stained glass piece!

 

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A post shared by Rebecca Knudsen (@rcknudsen)

David Habben

David Habben wowed us with this trippy and very fun rendition inspired by Becky.

Brooke Smart

We loved this whimsical edition of Becky Edwards inspired art by Brooke Smart. Definitely feels on brand!

Sara Harding

Sara Harding‘s floral rendition was magical to say the least.

Megan Trueblood (@megantruebloodart)

Another floral take, we love this simple design by Megan Trueblood.

That’s a wrap. We loved getting to see how creative people got with their art. Now spread the word: let’s unseat Mike Lee, people!

Becoming Nina Cosford

Please write a short, 3rd-person bio about yourself

Nina Cosford is a freelance illustrator based in the seaside town of Hastings, UK. Her work centres around storytelling and capturing the woes and wonders, ups and downs of everyday life – particularly themes experienced by women. She loves to travel whenever possible and never goes anywhere without her sketchbook!
Nina Cosford illustating

What do you consider yourself? Example: Artist, designer, illustrator, maker, business person, educator, etc.?

Overall, I’d refer to myself as a creative. Professionally, I’m an illustrator.

Where did you grow up? Were there aspects of your childhood that have influenced what you do now?

I grew up in a small Surrey town, about an hour away from London. My bedroom window looked out onto the North Downs – chalky cliffs and wooded hills – which I would draw countless times in all seasons. I was lucky to live in a place with lots of history, pretty architecture and stunning natural landscapes. It really got me looking at places and people from a young age and encouraged me to document my surroundings through observational drawing and imaginative writing. I think that urge to document and respond has stayed with me ever since, both as a person and as a creative professional.

What did you dream of becoming when you were younger?

Ha! A lot of things over the years…an Egyptologist, a detective constable, an astronaut. Funnily enough, I don’t recall ever setting out to be an artist or work in the creative industry – it just gradually happened as my life went on.
Nina Cosford illustration

Is there a person who has been influential in your chosen career path?

Lots of people! But I guess a lot of things can start from home. My dad is a freelance commercial artist so I grew up observing how he worked and how seriously he took his craft. I think that inspired me to see the arts in a more legitimate light unlike many other young people who can – sadly – often be discouraged from pursuing a creative career. I just thought “of course you can draw for a living” because that’s what I could see and thought it could be as normal as any other job. Whilst I wasn’t actively guided into being a commercial artist, I wasn’t discouraged. I felt a sense of unconditional trust and support from my family which I was fortunate to have. This gave me the space and confidence to make my own choices.

What sparked your interest in illustration?

I’ve drawn for as long as I’ve been able to hold a pen. I have an inherent need to observe, record and respond to the world around me. I find that illustration is such an effective and powerful way to capture a moment, idea, message or feeling.
Nina Cosford illustration
Nina Cosford illustration

What is one piece of work that you are especially proud of and why?

Back in 2019, I launched a Kickstarter campaign to create and self-publish a book about the Trans-Siberian Railway. I was amazed and touched at how much support and encouragement I got. It really was the trip of a lifetime travelling from Moscow to Beijing by train, through the stunning landscapes of Siberia and Mongolia. I felt so happy and lucky to be able to do something so epic and turn it into work as well.

Nina Cosford book

Another “pinch me” moment was last year when I first saw and held the sketchbook I’d designed! After years of using sketchbooks (my favourite stage of the creative process) and endlessly searching for one that ticked all the boxes for me, I decided to take a leap of faith and design my own. It’s feels pretty surreal to be making work in a product I’ve 100% designed myself and to see lots of other people using it too! It’s something I’m super proud of.

Nina Cosford sketchbook

Nina Cosford sketchbook

What is your illustrative process like?

Generally, I start a project by studying the brief, researching the client I’m working with, and considering the audience and context the work is going to be made for. Once I have all this information, I think up different ways of approaching the brief. That means trying out different elements, compositions, angles, colour schemes etc. Once the client is happy with an approach, I crack on with mocking up finals or jumping straight into the final execution. Sometimes I do a piece early on which I end up preferring to overworked pieces later made, and try to retain or revert back to the energy and feeling of the earlier works, if that’s working better.

Nina Cosford illustrating

With self-initiated work, I generate work far more spontaneously and particularly like to work when I’m on the move or between jobs. When I start working on something, I often begin by making lots of scribbles and notes which turn into tiny roughs. I play around with different composition options until I develop the one I think is best, which I then scale up to a bigger rough. Next, I either trace this to make the final piece from, using a mix of brush pen markers and coloured pencil (if I am working physically) or I make the final artwork on my iPad (using ProCreate and the Apple Pencil).

Sometimes I just photograph the finished (physical) drawing on my phone and share it straight away, other times I scan it in and tweak it on the computer; it depends on what the piece is for and how refined it needs to be. I do enjoy the immediacy of uploading a piece I’ve just drawn – straight from my sketchbook – as it still feels fresh and raw and not too overworked. I also quite like having more than one project on the go (whether another commission or a self-initiated project) as it breaks up my schedule and bit and keeps it all feeling a little fresher.

Where do you find inspiration for new creations?

It’s always hard to pinpoint an answer to this question. It sounds cheesy, but I try to be inspired by (almost) everything or at least have an interest in most things. The best inspiration can be found in the most unusual or unexpected places. As much as I admire the work of other illustrators / artists, I find it’s best not to look too closely or too often as this doesn’t always give me confidence – comparison is not a good habit!

Instead, I love going to museums, browsing Pinterest where I have dozens of specifically themed boards, listening to film scores, going for walks outside, looking at buildings, rearranging my shelves and making displays, sitting in coffee shops, people-watching, journalling and travelling as much as I can. These habits help to refresh my head and eyeballs and allow me to step outside of myself.

Nina Cosford sketchbook

Nina Cosford illustrations

What is a piece of advice that you have carried with you and who is it from? Do you have a personal motto?

It’s easy to get into a funk, especially when your job relies on being inspired, motivated, creative and productive like ALL the time (and there’s only one of you!). I think it’s really important to identify when it’s time to take a break and when it’s time to “just get on with it” (that motto helps me get through a lot!).

Nina Cosford quote

How do your surroundings influence your work?

Over the pandemic, particularly during the lockdowns, I was mainly working from home and, whilst I was fortunate to be able to do that, it wasn’t my ideal working environment. I found myself getting so easily distracted and that line between home mode and work mode became blurrier and blurrier. Instead, I love going into my studio to work (which is in a shared building in town, a 10 minute walk from my home).

I really appreciate having my own space, playing whatever music I’m in the mood for and cracking on with tasks at my big desk with my ergonomic chair (cannot stress how important a decent chair is!). My room is full of all my art materials, inspirational books, my drawing archives, a comfy armchair to read in and all sorts of weird and wonderful trinkets I’ve collected over the years. It totally feels like my own space.

Nina Cosford materials

What is a typical day like for you?

Being freelance, each day is often different which keeps things varied and interesting. But I also like patterns and routine, so I try to implement these where I can, however unpredictable work can be. The day usually starts a little on the slow side; sitting still with a cup of coffee or tea and making a to do list in my sketchbook. I often doodle the date or a title which helps to warm up my hands / creativity (and can be a useful form of procrastination too ha!).

It totally depends on my schedule and what projects I have on, but I try to tackle the more administrative (or boring) tasks first, and then spend the afternoon drawing or putting stuff together (the more creative aspects of my job). There’s so much more backend stuff that goes into being a self-employed illustrator! Research, time and project management, admin, negotiating contracts, managing my accounts, self-promotion etc etc etc! Drawing is just the fun bit on top

I’m a keen walker and love being outdoors so appreciate the walk to work (I have a studio away from home). I find fresh air and visual stimulation really important for my eyes and head and like to be able to ease in and out of work mode. Walking always helps!

Nina Cosford illustration

What advice would you give to someone who wants to self-teach a new hobby or skill?

Over lockdown, I taught myself to needle punch. It was challenging and frustrating at times but eventually I got the hang of it and ended up really enjoying it! I think it’s super important to channel one’s creativity in more than one way. Our jobs don’t have to define us and I believe everyone is creative – they just need to find their outlet. To self-teach, I used YouTube tutorials (it’s amazing how many resources there are on the internet), books, blogs and some advice from people and friends who had also tried it before. Don’t be afraid to ask others. Just give it a go!

Nina Cosford illustration

Do you have a secret talent? What is one skill that you are working on?

I make video game music! I’ve played piano since childhood and studied music technology at college. I regularly compose and practice on my Nord keyboard as I don’t want to forget how to play. A few years ago, when my partner Ali asked me to make a 16-bit style, retro-inspired soundtrack for the video game he was making, I jumped at the chance!

Nobody likes to talk about it, but can you share any advice regarding financing your business?

Don’t be afraid to ask for advice, see what your peers are charging and how they generally manage things, keep all your receipts, have a separate business account to keep everything tidy, try your best to live and spend within your means and learn to recognise when you can / should invest back into your business.

What is your long-term goal?

I’ve never been great at setting goals (long term or short term). I barely know what I’m doing next week! Saying that, I think it’s super important to keep stepping back from your work / life / self to acknowledge where you’re at, what you’ve achieved and where you’re headed. I like to do this through journalling and book in little “catch-up dates” with myself every couple of months. When it comes to looking toward the future, for me it can just be a vague outline or a feeling of what I think I want. And I guess that is to always pursue a creative life – not just through my illustration work but in how I live, my relationships with others, with nature and with the world.

What Iris Apfel Can Teach Us

Iris Apfel June Book Club Artwork

Who Is Iris Apfel?

Iris Apfel is one of the most iconic women in the history of fashion. This isn’t the first time we’ve mentioned her! Here’s another post where we share some of our musings about Iris. Self-proclaimed “geriatric starlet,” Iris Apfel started as an interior designer with an innate interest in fashion. She really became known when her noteworthy wardrobe made its way into an exhibition at the Met. From there, her career as a fashion icon blossomed.

She didn’t stop there! At age 98, she signed a modeling contract with IMG, blowing all former female model stereotypes out of the water. She even came out with her own sunglasses line a few days before her 100th birthday! From interior design, to transforming the definition of modeling, to her eclectic and show-stopping style, to simply living a full life, Iris Apfel can teach us so much.

Embracing Maximalism in an Age of Minimalism

We are living in an age of minimalism. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not always against minimalism. When done correctly it can be lovely. The problem is that it’s become an overwhelming default that squashes so many opportunities for creative expression. If you’re interested more of my thoughts on neutrals and default colors, read this post. Anyway, I’m not here today to focus on minimalism. I’m here to talk about Iris Apfel, who is an example of totally owning gorgeous maximalism. Iris Apfel can teach us so. much. Here’s how she can help us embrace maximalism when minimalism is so overwhelmingly present.

What Iris Apfel Can Teach Us

Don’t Fear Patterns and Colors!

I remember buying clothes with my mom as a kid. She’d always offer up the same advice: “pick something that will go with everything!” There’s a myth that’s been circulating for many years that neutral solids match better than colors and patterns. My mom’s not alone. Many people stick almost solely to neutrals, not because they don’t like color or pattern, but because they feel intimidated. Which is totally understandable! Neutrals are, admittedly, easy.

But are they satisfying? Iris Apfel sure shows us that there are many, many examples of bold color and pattern combinations that look exquisite together. They’re less common because it’s intimidating to jump into so much color and pattern, but maybe that’s what makes them so wonderful. So to those wanting to incorporate more patterns and colors into their lives but feeling intimidated, remember that Iris would tell you to go for it! You can do it, just be confident in those bold choices and don’t let others dissuade you. As Iris would say, “When you don’t dress like everyone else then you don’t have to think like everyone else.”

The Bolder the Better

Speaking of bold choices, is anything every really too much for Iris Apfel? Probably not. She teaches us that, rather than airing on the side of caution when it comes to your wardrobe, go big or go home! She would probably put it just that candidly, too.

She’s the perfect example of really diving into colors and patterns and showing us that bolder really is better, in her case. After all, she did say, “color can raise the dead.” When you own bold patterns and colors like Iris Apfel, they are striking, completely show-stopping, and do much more than any combination of neutrals could to. So be all in! The key is to be decisive and intentional. A half-hearted effort just doesn’t produce the Iris Apfel effect.

Mix and Match!

Another one of my mom’s common statements was something along the lines of “don’t wear multiple patterns together, they don’t go.” Well Iris Apfel would most likely say the exact opposite: Why opt for a neutral that goes with everything when you can go for a wild, wacky combo? And who says multiple patterns can’t compliment each other exquisitely?

Rather than always going for black because it will match everything in your wardrobe, try branching out. Unlikely combinations can sometimes be best.

Speaking of unlikely combinations, don’t fear mixing high and low fashions. Iris Apfel was famous for shamelessly mixing designer brands with flea market finds, and patterns, colors and textures of all different eras. The eclectic mix became her signature, and she knowingly broke all rules and conventions. Isn’t the saying something like “learn the rules so you can break them?”

Accessorize, Accessorize, Accessorize

Don’t let me finish out this list of what Iris Apfel can teach us without including accessories. Iris’s iconic glasses, boas, and bold bangles with forever be remembered. Nothing is too thick, chunky, or big for her. Accessories can do wonders for an outfit that feels like it needs a little something to be complete.

And again, Iris Apfel audaciously merged antiquity with modernity with striking success.

Dress for Yourself, Not to be Stared At

Above all, fashion is and should be very personal. It’s all about you, or it should be. As Iris says, “I don’t dress to be stared at, I dress for myself.” Iris has us convinced that fashion should be fun, and it’s the most fun when it feels true to YOU. Ultimately, “The important thing is to be comfortable so you can get on with your life.”

In the Shop

If you’re looking for something to remind you of Iris Apfel, check out our shop! Nothing helps with inspiration like seeing Iris Apfel’s face every time you open your book and see this bookmark. Or looking up at the wall by your desk and seeing this print! If you’re wanting to prep for the holiday season early this year, we’d recommend this Iris Apfel ornament.

More Inspiration

Loved this post on what Iris Apfel can teach us and want to be inspired by other amazing women? Check out our Becoming series, where we highlight female creatives and how they became who they are! You can also be inspired by these in the mood for posts, where we draw style and design inspiration from artists, creatives, and things we love throughout history.

One last note before you go: Iris Apfel has collaborated with H&M to release a new collection this spring 2022–STAY TUNED! I’m positive we’ll have more to say where that came from.

 

 

 

 

Alma Thomas: Black History Month Kickoff

Who Is Alma Thomas?

Alma Thomas

Back in 2020, we dedicated a blog post to Alma Thomas, which you can read here. Long story short, she was an amazingly talented black artist, famous for her mosaic-like technique for painting. Her story is amazing, and we’d recommend reading the unabridged version in our blog post here.

What Does the Course Include?

For a complete list and the link to the Alma Thomas class itself, click here. If you’d like, you can also purchase the full course here, which gives you access to courses featuring six different historical artists, including Alma Thomas, Rembrandt, Frida Kahlo, Andy Warhol, Claude Monet, and Michelangelo. Don’t forget to use the code ALMA50 for a 50% discount on the Alma Thomas course! It’s available for the entire month of February.

Inspired By Alma Thomas

Alma Thomas was a genius when it came to color. Want to be inspired by her in what you wear, but aren’t sure where to start? Here are some clothing items to get you started, as well as some accessories, if you’re not quite bold enough to wear all the colors of the rainbow in one statement piece. Adding a small pop of color can really transform an outfit.

Here are a few crafts you can make in honor of black history month and Alma Thomas:

Heirloom Plush Dolls

These Heirloom Plush Dolls are a fun way to decorate and remember that it’s black history month. They’re a jazzy, creative twist on our Family Heirloom Ornaments.

Alma Thomas Paper Dolls

Alma Thomas Paper Dolls are another interactive way to celebrate black history month. They’re a great way to teach your kids about black history while crafting at the same time!

Other Black Creatives

We hope you’ll treat this month as a learning opportunity and be inspired by the black creatives all around you. Alma Thomas is a great icon, but there are other ways to get involved during black history month as well.

Books, Movies and Shows

In this post, we compiled a list of black-authored books to read that are both eye-opening and engaging. It’s a great place to start if you have a goal to be more informed about black history this month. Bonus: if you’re more of a screens person, that same post also includes some really great movies and shows by black creatives.

If you’re not familiar with many black creatives, here‘s a list we complied a while back with some of our favorites. You can also check out this post, where you can learn how to make your own heirloom ornaments featuring your favorite black creatives.

Interviews

If you’re interested in getting to know some different artists of color, this post is for you. We compiled a list of interviews with some of our favorite artists of color. We loved getting to know them and what they do!

Black-Owned Businesses

Here are some amazing products we love from black designers. This is a great way to support black makers.

Happy Black History Month! We’d love to know: what are you doing in honor of Black History Month?

 

Becoming Jennifer Tran

Meet Jennifer Tran

Jennifer Tran is an artist and the founder of Papetal. She is best known for her
work with paper flowers, which is encapsulated in her book Flowersmith, A guide to
handcrafting and arranging enchanting paper flowers. After years of collaborating
with fashion clients, (e.g. Hermes, Gucci, Daniel Wellington, Anthropologie etc.), she
took a break from the flower world to explore new mediums. In 2021 and completely
by chance, she stumbled across pasta making and discovered the limitless
possibilities of flour, water and salt. Jennifer Tran’s pasta is the expression of her
love for colours, textures and forms; and is the culmination of her experiences in
flower making, botanical illustration and painting. Her pasta designs are like her
flowers; enchanting, whimsical, playful and most of all, imaginative.

pink and green checkerboard

 

 

What do you consider yourself? Example: Artist, designer, illustrator,
maker, business person, educator, etc.?

I’m a maker of all things practical and accessible. I enjoy designing and making
pretty things that everyone can appreciate, make and enjoy. With pasta, the
materials that I use can be found anywhere. And I pass on the techniques on
Instagram, so that everyone can have a go as well.

purple, green and orange pasta

Where did you grow up? Were there aspects of your childhood that have
influenced what you do now?

I grew up in Hanoi, in an artistic family. My father was an actor, who loved taking me
to all his events. If he was shooting a movie, I would be sitting behind the cameras
pretending to direct. If he was performing on stage, I would be sitting backstage
chatting up with his crew. I grew up in a world filled with colours, lights, cameras and
actions. I performed quite a bit as a kid and had always wanted to be performer with
an audience as big as my father’s.

When I came to Australia at age 19, the dream of being a performer did not
eventuate as English was a struggle. So I turned to visual arts as another form of
expression. I was trained as a sculptor & installation artist at The University of New
South Wales, with an Honours first class. I used light as a sculptural medium and
produced mainly light installations, which worked out very well for me, academically.
But I had very limited audience because what I used to make could only be
appreciated in a gallery context. After graduating, I had a change in artistic direction;
I wanted to create for everyone and not just the selected few. With this goal in mind,
I turned to other mediums that were more accessible such as paper, and now flour,
water & salt. And I sought a bigger audience through social media.

patterned pasta

What is one piece of work that you are especially proud of and why?

My book, Flowersmith, which I had put a lot of work and a lot of love in. I wrote the
manuscript, made the flowers and took all the photos myself, within 3 months. During
that time, I slept for about 3-5 hours a day, struggled to eat due to stress but did not
miss a single deadline. I went at it with the strength and the spirit that I had never
seen in myself before. I am proud of the commitment and the determination that I
had displayed during the production of my book.

pink and black pasta

Your recent work with pasta is blowing us away! Can you tell us more about
it, and how you transitioned from working with paper to pasta?

It was unplanned. During Sydney’s 16 week lockdown in 2021, I wanted to make a
care package to send to my family as I couldn’t see them. While I was looking for
ideas, I saw my friend’s beetroot ravioli on Instagram. I was so surprised as I had
never seen red pasta before. I wondered what other colours of pasta there were, so I
started searching. One thing led to another, I began to experiment with my own
recipes, and was so surprised by the similarities between paper and pasta. In my
book Flowersmith, I showed readers how to use turmeric and paprika to make
pollen. In pasta making, I am able to use these spices, along with a number of
superfoods to colour my dough. Besides materials, I have been using the same
design principles in both my flower making and pasta making. When you scroll
through my Instagram, you’ll see the common threads in colours and compositions.

 

flower pastapurple striped pasta with flowers

Where do you find inspiration for new creations?

I find inspiration in textiles and fashion design. I actually got the idea of making plaid
pasta from a friend who teaches fashion design. He commented on the similarities
between one of my earlier experiments with patterns from the 70s. So I started
looking into textiles and have been able to apply some of what I’ve learnt into pasta
making.

red, yellow, green and pink pasta

What artists and creatives do you look up to, both historical and present?

I look up to Benja Harney of Paperform, for his inventiveness, skills and style. I also
admire the designs of Beci Orpin and Alice Oehr.

What books, movies, shows, or music are making you excited these days?

Definitely live music, or what to expect of it in 2022. I love heavy metal but missed
out on both Iron Maiden and Metallica’s concerts during the pandemic, so I look
forward to their return to touring, hopefully in the near future. I will also be going to as
many live concerts as I possibly can.

circle pasta

What is a piece of advice that you have carried with you and who is it
from? Do you have a personal motto?

“Making art makes art” is a piece of advice from my mentor at University, which I
have carried with me throughout my professional career. It’s a reminder that while it’s
important to dream up new ideas in my head, I need to physically interact with my
materials, cutting, moulding, mixing, joining and shaping them. For instance, with
pasta, it’s through various experimentations with superfoods that I discovered new
colour mixtures; colours that I wouldn’t be able to see just by thinking about them.

How do your surroundings influence your work?

My partner is a valuator and my closest friends are scientists. They’ve taught me
how to approach both art making and problem solving methodically. For instance,
when I was writing my book, I had a bit of struggles with Dahlia. So I dissected a real
flower to examine the layers and how each petals were joint. It was this scientific
approach that allowed me to create my perfect dahlia at the time.

purple pastapurple pasta circles

What is a typical day like for you?

I have a day job in research infrastructure, so I have my 9-5 like most people. Before
I start work each day, I would spend about an hour sketching up new pasta making
ideas in my diary. I only get to make stuff on Sundays. On those days, I wake up at
5:30am, jump into my water rower, shower then breakfast with a piece of cake and
Vietnamese coffee. After loading myself up with sugar, I would go right into preparing
pasta dough, which usually takes me through to lunch. Then the rest of the day is
just playing with colours and patterns. I try to finish cleaning up by 6pm, so I can
spend the rest of Sunday with my partner.

Do you have a secret talent? What is one skill that you are working on?

I haven’t discovered my secret talent yet. The one skill that I’m working on is speed.
As my pasta designs are consisted of multiple layers, which dry out very quickly
when exposed to the air. If I don’t work fast enough, the whole design would dry out

and all the time and materials would be wasted. I’m okay with wasting time but feel
quite guilty when I have to dispose of pasta dough. So my goal is to practice and
practice until I work faster than the speed of my pasta drying.

patterned pasta

Nobody likes to talk about it, but can you share any advice regarding financing
your business?

Be on top of your expenses. When I was running my flower making business, I kept
an Excel spreadsheet for everything, so I knew how much I had spent, how much I
needed to put aside for tax, how much to reinvest in the business and how much I
could put away for that dream holiday etc. Knowing my expenses kept me out of
debt, and allowed me to price my work correctly.

pink and black stripe

Is there anything more you would like to “become?”

I just want to learn to take it easy and stop being stressed out about the little things.

What is your long-term goal? or What do you hope to accomplish within the
next 10 years?

I don’t have a 10 year plan for my creative life, I only take things as they come.

Nativity Craft Along Auction: Details

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the auction for?

The purpose of the Nativity Craft Along charity auction is to raise funds for Nest, an amazing charitable organization that supports makers in the global hand maker economy. We feel that it’s such a worthy cause, and we’re thrilled to be a part of it. To learn more about Nest, visit their website. You can also visit their instagram.

Nest and The House that Lars Built Maker’s United by Nest

In particular, we are donating to Nest’s Makers United program. With a focus on elevating BIPOC makers and delivering innovative market access solutions, Makers United ensures that the growing American makers movement is generating opportunity for all makers regardless of gender, race, economic means or ability.

 

Gee’s Bend Quilters

This week I was lucky to interview two of the quilters from the legendary Gee’s Bend quilting tradition. Have you seen the PBS documentary about them? Last year, Nest worked with them to get their work onto Etsy to make it more accessible to purchase their famous work. This is one such example of the efforts of Makers United. Your contributions go directly to efforts like this.

wiseman

What will be auctioned off?

We will be auctioning off two nativity sets, one painted by the Lars team and one painted by our celebrity crafters (you can read more about who they are below). You are bidding on an 8 piece nativity set: 1 angel, 1 Mary, 1 Joseph, 1 baby Jesus, 1 shepherd, 3 wisemen.

celebrity nativity setLars nativity

When will the auction be held?

The auction will start this Sunday, November 21 at 9am MST, and go until Tuesday, November 23 at 9pm MST.

baby Jesus

How can I attend?

The auction will take place on instagram, so you can participate from wherever you are!

How do I participate in the auction?

The auction will take place via comments on a post on the @houselarsbuilt grid. Each nativity set will have a separate Instagram post. To bid, simply comment on the post! As a note, make sure to specify the amount you are bidding (in US dollars $).

wiseman

Who painted the nativity set pieces?

celebrity guest crafters

Celebrity Crafters!

We were honored to have eight amazing guests lovingly hand-paint each piece of one nativity set. The result was jaw-dropping–can you say talent? Wow! Amanda Seyfried went first, after which Sabrina Soto, Mary Engelbreit, Elsie Larson of A Beautiful Mess, Tracy Reese, Erin Jang, Lisa Congdon and Courtney Quinn of Color Me Courtney all joined us. Earlier this week, we dedicated a blog post to introducing them if you missed the weekly craft along videos. You can watch all of the videos and read more about them here!

Amanda Seyfried painted the angel

amanda seyfried painting

Elsie Larson painted Baby Jesus

Tracy Reese painted the Tall Wiseman

Tracy Reese painting

Sabrina Soto painted the shepherd

Sabrina soto painting

Mary Engelbreit painted the wiseman

Mary Engelbreit

Erin Jang painted Joseph

Erin Jang painting

Lisa Congdon painted Mary

Lisa Congdon painting

Courtney Quinn painted the last Wiseman

Courtney Quinn

baby Jesus celebrity nativity pieces

Team Lars

Who painted the second set, you might ask? The one and only team at the House that Lars Built. Brittany started each one live on IGTV with each of our guests and then the whole team pitched in to complete them. Each one takes at a lot of time so we had to have all hands on deck!

wiseman wiseman

And these soup cans painted the second set.

Andy Warhol soup can costume instructions

What if I can’t attend? Can I still donate to Nest?

Of course! You can donate here. You can also click on the donation link to learn more about Nest, your donations, and where they’re going. You can also purchase the e-book, which gives all the instructions and where to buy all the pieces from the nativity set. The e-book is in our shop.

Mary

Official rules of the auction:

Here’s a compiled list of the auction rules!

1. Each nativity set will be posted on Sunday, November 21, at 9 am MST on @houselarsbuilt.

2. If you want to bid on the nativity set, place your bid in the comments.

3. By commenting you are committing to purchase the nativity. You may comment more than once to increase your bid.

4. The auction is open worldwide. Please place bids in the comments with your price in $USD.

5. Bids will close November 23,  at 9 pm MST

6. The final bidder will be notified by Instagram message from @houselarsbuilt with instructions on where to pay.

7. All winning bids are final and must be paid in full.

@buildanest is a registered non-profit and donations to @buildanest may be tax deductible dependent on your circumstances.

Joseph

Other questions

If we’ve missed something or you have other questions, please let us know in the comments. This Sunday can’t come any sooner! We’re waiting on the edge of our seats. See you then!

celebrity nativity set

Nativity Craft Along Auction: Meet Our Guests

To amp you up for the auction, we wanted to highlight our amazing guests and give you a chance to get to know them better. To this end, we’ve compiled the weekly craft along videos of each guest and are excited to share them with you!

Amanda Seyfried

Our first guest of the Nativity Craft Along was actress Amanda Seyfried. Yes, you read that right. Amanda Seyfried! Mamma Mia, Mank, Les Miserables, the list goes on. It was so fun to talk with her–we could have talked for hours. We talked about everything from motherhood to the need to make with your hands. I have to say, she did an amazing job painting the angel. Honestly, I wish I could buy it in the auction. Here’s her live video:

If you can’t watch with sound or need to read rather than watching, we’ve got you covered! Here’s the transcript to her video.

Here she is with the angel. So cute, right?

Amanda Seyfried with the angel

Sabrina Soto

Our second guest was the lovely Sabrina Soto! Sabrina is an HGTV host, interior designer, blogger and podcast host. Needless to say, we were thrilled to get to craft with her! She was such a joy to have and it was so fun to get to know her. She blew us away with the adorable shepherd she painted. Here’s the highlight:

All of a sudden I feel like Sabrina is my new best friend. She’s SO fun to talk to!

Mary Engelbreit

This next guest holds a special place in my heart. Mary Engelbret is one of my childhood heroes! To say I was excited to have her paint the wiseman is an understatement. I nearly peed my pants. I even did my hair for the event! To give you an idea of just how thrilled I was to have the chance to talk to her, here are some photos of me as a child.

Yeah, that’s me, and that’s Mary standing right in front of me. Can you even imagine?!

This one is good. Look closely and you’ll see that I am literally wearing “bloom where you’re planted on my hat” and an iron on illustration on my shirt.

Brittany and Mary Engelbreit

Without further ado, here’s our Craft Along featuring Mary Engelbreit!

I mean, who wouldn’t want a wiseman painted by Mary Engelbreit? Don’t worry, I’m probably as unbiased as you can get.

Elsie Larson

THE Elsie Larson of A Beautiful Mess was our next Nativity Craft Along guest. I’m a huge fan–I love listening to her podcast, and the things she creates are amazing! She painted the Baby Jesus for us, and did such a sweet job. It was such pleasure to chat with Elsie and we’re excited for you to listen in on our conversation! Here it is:

Tracy Reese

It was such a pleasure to get to craft with our next guest, Tracy Reese. Tracy is an American fashion designer known for her rich, daring colors and feminine silhouettes for modern women. Her work is gorgeous! What a thrill to have someone with such a good eye for color and fashion painting our wiseman. Watch below to get to know Tracy!

So fun, right?!

I’ve been such a huge Tracy Reese fan for years–I even own one of her coats, so this was a particular thrill.

Erin Jang

Erin Jang was our next featured guest. She’s an artist, designer, and art director who works on some of the coolest projects out there. It was so fun to chat with her about kids, magazines, and trashy tv. What a pleasure to have her paint Joseph for us! Here’s her interview:

We are honored to have some of Erin’s work in our Lars Print Shop.

Lisa Congdon

Our next featured crafter was the one and only Lisa Congdon! I’ve been a fan of Lisa’s work and Lisa herself for years. To know her is to love her! Her work is bright, cheerful, and inspirational. It has been featured in numerous publications and she is the author of 10 books! She also has a podcast — she does it all! Lisa is an artist I admire for her kindness, mission to give, and authenticity. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to craft and chat with her. And wow, did Mary look good when Lisa was done painting her! See her interview below:

Woo woo! Isn’t Lisa fun? We sure thought so. She’s also a Lars Print Shop artist 

Courtney Quinn

For the finale of our Nativity Craft Along, we were thrilled to have none other than Courtney Quinn, of Color Me Courtney, crafting with us! It was so fun to have the Color Queen herself join us, and I loved talking and getting to know her better. She knocked that last wiseman out of the park and did a wonderful job. See the interview for yourself:

That concludes our summary of the wonderful Nativity Craft Along! What a privilege to be a part of it. It has been so fun, and the best part is knowing we’re helping makers all around the country, through our partnership with Nest, whenever anyone buys a nativity e-book. We’re so excited to top off our donations with the auction this Sunday and hope you’ll join us! We’ll be releasing more details later in the week. If you have any questions about it, please let us know in the comments!

Becoming Marie-Clare Treseder Gorham

Marie-Clare Treseder Gorham

Meet Marie-Clare Treseder Gorham

A folk artist by trade, I try to make everything I touch. I’m inspired by the ethos of the Arts and Crafts movement, and have a penchant for medieval iconography. Ever weaving these illustrative ideas into my practice, I paint textile patterns, make murals, and recently picked up carpentry — everything that can, should be made by hand.

I live in a little village, Carmel-by-the-Sea, where our homes have names, not numbers. The commute from our cottage to my studio is a matter of blocks downtown.

My small children are often underfoot, while my own grandmother (a lifelong working artist) serves as a motivating example. I employ traditional hand-painting techniques — bauernmalerei, and rosemaling — built on a central belief: old is beautiful.

What do you consider yourself? Example: Artist, designer, illustrator, maker, business person, educator, etc.?

Folk artist, amateur carpenter, textile enthusiast
Marie-Clare Treseder Gorham

Where did you grow up? Were there aspects of your childhood that have influenced what you do now?

Built by my uncle, we were raised in a home surrounded by music predominately from 19th century Italy: Puccini, Rossini, Bellini on repeat, and rarely in key! (My mother was a voice teacher.) Home was in a quaint Cali valley town, called Davis.

Independent skills and artistry were admired by my mother, but veins of basic practicality wove underneath. Although on that note, I was raised without doctors or medicine of any kind — which was quirky, to say the least. Perhaps it instilled in me a peculiar pain tolerance? It certainly became customary, as a child, to be seen as curious.

What did you dream of becoming when you were younger?

I recall being that beguiled-by-books kiddo in the library guzzling down Greek myth, (the d’Aulaires’ edition — to die for!) If I couldn’t be *in* the myths I wanted to at least be unearthing them. Archaeologist? Cave painter? I’d have taken either eagerly.

Is there a person who has been influential in your chosen career path?

Out of college I was able to guest curate an exhibition from the Crocker Art Museum (in Sacramento, CA) in large part due to the great faith put in me by their Chief Curator Scott Shields. He has, I believe, continued to single-handedly maintain museum-level interest in the California Arts and Crafts movement, so near to my heart.

Marie-Clare Treseder Gorham

What sparked your interest in art?

My interest in art certainly predates my abilities. As a child, my grandmother’s ceramics were woven throughout our home and garden, my great-grandfather’s block prints on every wall, and my mother’s music a constant companion. The defining moment for me, arguably, was getting over the comparative mindset — I was always creating, but it took time for me to place confidence in my work as part of any public sphere. To this day, I see myself more as a weaver, bringing motifs or ideas from different slices of taste and time together with my style.

You’ve been doing an artist-in-residence at Hofsas House. It’s such a cohesive project from the beds to the murals. Can you tell us more about how it came to be and how it’s going? It’s so beautiful!

Thank you! I truly believe all things ought to be cohesive, be it in a room or an entire hotel — “matching” is often lazy, cohesion takes cræft. I’m deeply grateful to Hofsas House for sharing their historic space with me. Without it, there’s no way I would be splintering wood left and right — the residency has allowed me to cheerfully experiment in a serene, iconic environment. It was another pandemic innovation, I needed a space to saw and Hofsas House had seen my work on other murals in town, and the residency was born!

You use a lot of medieval references in your work. Why is that?

Solely from an aesthetic perspective, I’d proffer the medieval era showcased idiosyncrasies unrivaled by the Renaissance. The rise of art guilds and ‘schools of thought’ shifted art toward accuracy and idealism, whereas I’m more drawn to the chaotic style of earlier eras. They are also, simply put, more fun to make, (name a kid who doesn’t like dragons.)

What inspired you to become an artist?

It’s the closest thing we have to a family trade 🙂 My great x3 grandfather is rumored to have been a rather good carriage painter.

Marie-Clare Treseder GorhamWhat is one piece of work that you are especially proud of and why?

I’m quite fond of the new deck I just finished, ‘The Philosopher’s Tarot,’ eighty hand-painted cards inspired by mystic imagery but depicting philosophical paradoxes and fallacies. I researched the Carmel region’s specific art history for six months before embarking on the illustrations.

Where do you find inspiration for new creations?

Inspiration feels endless. My interests lie with skill-building, and as there are endless skills out there, I’m certain I’ll never learn enough to be satisfied. Whenever I exhaust a particular direction of iconography or painting technique I simply switch mediums — time to break out the jigsaw, or try the same idea, but on a windy wall.

How has social media influenced your work?

For any public-facing artwork, I sign without my last name(s) and with no instagram handle. I appreciate how useful social media can be as a tool for artists, and have an instagram myself, but prefer the discovery stage to be a bit mysterious–it creates more of a bond between parties–which I hope shows in the commissions I (gratefully) get from it.

What artists and creatives do you look up to, both historical and present?

I’m most moved by work I can see irl. The local murals of Maxine Albro, Big Sur’s Emile Norman and his secluded, handmade home, Marc Armitano Domingo does breathtaking, meaningful ceramics, local oil painter Joaquin Turner paints by moonlight! I should add the original costume illustrations for the Ballets Russes are endlessly interesting, and Nathalie Lete is a wonder.

What books, movies, shows, or music are making you excited these days?

For my birthday, my dude found a rare edition of “Women Artists of the Arts and Crafts Movement” and it is my favorite thing. I’ll not deny it, I also just fell hard for abook on Wedgewood Jasper Ware, but I truly prefer project-based prompts to anything fiction.

That ends with movies, visual storytelling for me, the worse the better! I will watch Underworld endlessly for slo-mo’s of Bosworth’s platform boots. I find films of that ilk charming, although A24 has been releasing so many beautiful, thoughtful films of late I may have to admit defeat.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents is a wonderful series, as is The Furious Gods:Making Prometheus (hello, ‘shape language!’) Anything revealing methods behind the mystery is worth the time to me.

Tunes-wise, I’ve been listening to a lot of Allie Crow Buckley‘s nocturnal epic “Moonlit and Devious,” with a healthy helping of Buffy Sainte-Marie, and her haunting mouth harp. I’d be remiss to not mention how Henry Purcell’s The Fairy Queen or Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, (a real riot!) inspire. My preschool drop off mix, heretofore only known to my husband, sounds a little like Lord of the Rings, (and a lot like Alice in Chains.)Marie-Clare Treseder Gorham

What is a piece of advice that you have carried with you and who is it from? Do you have a personal motto?

What I lack in motto, I make up for in crests! Although “cui bono” is something I’ve been known to mutter, and Occam’s razor is emblazoned in my mind.

How do your surroundings influence your work?

Increasingly working with wood is a natural side-effect of our evergreen surroundings. Carmel-by the-Sea’s primeval forest is as much a character in our local landscape as any person could be.

What is a typical day like for you?

Early risings! Our babes keep me busy with basics, (diapers are still a thing in my life). I get to the studio a few days a week, unless I’m knee-deep in a commission. I sketch through their naps, and I paint into the night, after we’ve put them to bed. Every available moment is a moment used!

Marie-Clare Treseder GorhamWhat advice would you give to someone who wants to self-teach a new hobby or skill?

Lefties are nature’s self-teachers, in my book. We must mentally mirror all hand-instruction, unless we are lucky enough to learn from a fellow lefty (I never have!) At first glance, this makes things more difficult, in tandem, however, it toughens the maker; teaching them more about the creative process.
At a certain point with all pieces, one will have to leave the pamphlet behind. When I’m entering new terrain, I find it immensely useful to document my process in stages, (including inspiration!) keep hand-written lists, and avoid virtual editing.

Do you have a secret talent? What is one skill that you are working on?

I’m about to embark on my first dollhouse, all my new blades just arrived! I will be painting miniature murals inside, and hope to build the furniture myself, (they may just end up terra cotta :P) I don’t know if someone has done this before, but I hope to be the first miniature muralist haha.

Nobody likes to talk about it, but can you share any advice regarding financing your business?

It’s true, there’s such invisibility in terms of contemporary “outsider” art valuation. Artists, in my opinion, are more akin to carpenters than academics. My materials and tools are often expensive (not to mention my time.) Steer clear from vague value arrangements. You can reverse-engineer a realistic rate by looking at other trades in your area, and their hourly rates.
Marie-Clare Treseder Gorham

Is there anything more you would like to “become?”

“Ladies finery” (as Kant calls it) is fascinating to me. I would love to become adept at making every shred of it. Also custom sunglasses! I’m trying my hands at designing more velvet luggage this season, which should be both fuzzy and edifying.

What is your long-term goal? or What do you hope to accomplish within the next 10 years?

I would love to be working with a publisher with similar values. The projects one can do as part of a team allow for the time and research I’d love to put into my work, instead of typically being unable to give a project more than a few days/weeks. I’d similarly love to continue to restore some of the historic murals and architecture in our region. California houses can be fascinating, with our earthquakes and energy laws – I would love to find a way to preserve the character of our old spaces, without losing the importance of filling them with people and pragmatism.

More Inspiration

Follow along with Marie-Clare on her instagram, @marie_clare, to see more of her beautiful work.

If you’re interested in seeing more of our Becoming interviews, check them out here! If you loved Marie-Clare’s work, you’ll probably love these artists, too: Hallie Bateman, Arounna Khounnoraj, Louise Pretzel, Rachel Kiser Smith, and Lynne Millar.

Crafting with Amanda Seyfried Interview!

Crafting with Amanda Seyfried

Amanda has been a long-time Lars reader and she’s even made a few projects that she’s posted about on her Instagram in the past. Because of that, I thought she might be interested in participating in our Craft Along, but never did I think she’d respond so enthusiastically and so quickly. You can read below how it happened!

Here’s the full transcript of our Amanda Seyfried interview. I particularly loved hearing about how crafting is such a big part of her identity. She’s a true maker!

Amanda Seyfried Interview

Brittany: Amanda, are you in your craft room?

Amanda: Yeah, when i’m in LA which is not where i live, it’s like my heaven–this is my view!

 

B: You are a legit crafter! Let’s start there.

A: I am! If only I got paid to do it!

B: Uhhh–I’m pretty sure someone would love to [pay for] that. 

B: It’s technically a hobby, but it’s how I’m happiest–-creating things!

Craft Along for Charity

B: Okay, I really want to get into that.  I’m gonna do some prefaces first. So first of all, I got really excited about your craft room so I think that’s why I jumped in! Welcome to our live, everybody! We are here with Amanda Seyfried because we’ve got some really fun things that we’re working on today! So, we are here to paint a nativity set. We’re painting an angel and it’s gonna be super fun, but we’re also raising funds for Nest!

Nest is a non-profit that supports hand workers in the global economy. So, specifically for this we’re trying to raise $2,500 to support Makers United which gives resources to makers in the US and also, more specifically to refugees who have come to America from Afghanistan and other makers in the US. It’s a super important cause and that’s why I was like “you know, we have to reach out to somebody who loves crafting.” I know you’re super involved with causes that you’re very passionate about, so to me it was like a no-brainer. When you actually said yes, I was like, “What’s going on!?”

There [are] three ways to raise money for [Nest]. 1) One is buying the e-book which tells you how to do this nativity set, then 2) straight up donations which we have a link for in our bio, and then 3) at the end we’re gonna auction off this nativity set! So, Amanda is joining us, but so are seven other people who are also really awesome at what they do, [and they’ll make more of the figurines].

A: Thanks for letting me join in on this! … I didn’t know about the craft along! What better way to raise funds for this kind of thing than to get people together and do the same thing, especially these days! You’re a genius and I really appreciate what you do in general. I’ve been following you for a while and I bought your book a while back and then you sent me another one! … It’s nice to meet you!

B: So we’re going to get started! We’re painting this angel. … I have to say, I craft for a living but crafting in public terrifies me!

A: It’s terrifying! Anything can happen! It’s super public!

B: Who knows what this is actually going to be! I’m probably going to be paying more attention to you than anything else. … I’m very slow so I have a feeling I might get the hair done and that’s it. 

A: Also I’m really chatty 

B: So I’m having a hard time actually painting ’cause I just want to ask you a question! I guess what I’m most excited about is–-I don’t know, have you ever talked about crafting, this part of what you do, and your hobbies?

A: You know, every time I have an interview or I’m doing a press junket for a movie, I think my favorite part is when they ask me things that have nothing to do with the project. Because you know, once you get me going I can just… go anywhere! … I have my hands in so many different crafts and fiber arts and stuff like that. So it’s it’s really fun to talk about, which is why I said yes so fast! I was like “Oh, the other love of my life which is making!” And I am a maker! I just, you know, have my first job which is acting, and then this … feels like my second job. I just have less time [now], you know, with kids.

Amanda the Maker

B: What do you make? 

A: Right now I do a lot of embroidery. I make hats–I mean, I used to make hats; I don’t make hats anymore. Right now I’m making a scarf… I love crocheting. I like to [knit] sweaters [and] socks when I can really focus… I like to… fix things and I just got into [mending]. I can’t read Japanese, but I just got… a new [Japanese] mending book.

B:They have the best craft books.

A: Yeah! I like to… make flowers paper flowers. I made [some] paper flowers 10 years ago and they’re still beautiful! Oh also, you know what I do big time? I have one of those those cutters. The Cricut ones.

B: You have a Cricut machine! Haha I love this this! This is so fun! Did you make plants? 

Paper plants by Amanda Seyfried

A: I made so many of them and I gave them to so many people! There’s one up there, too!

B: We just made some beautiful hollyhocks. Well, I didn’t make them. We have a crafter, Gwen, who made these ones. I mean, she’s incredible. Let’s be honest. Like, right now I have a new baby and I’m trying to keep a business going, [so I’m not crafting much right now] 

A: I don’t know how you do it.

B: I don’t know how you do it! But I think it’s awesome that you prioritize your time to make things! … I have to show you this. This is a new tutorial that we just made I don’t know if you can see it it’s pretty incredible. [You can see the paper flower hollyhock tutorial here]

paper hollyhocks on a bathroom counter among ceramic odds and ends with a mirror and red floral wallpaper in the background.

A: It looks real! It’s so substantial!

B: It’s pretty fun. We have a new tutorial about how to make hollyhocks on the blog.

A: Do I need my Cricut?

B: No, this one is made out of crepe paper but … it’s super easy [with] simple shapes. It’s super easy to do.

A: Is there a lot of glue or wiring?

B: Wiring, yeah, with the leaves. And glue. …It looks kind of intricate, but it’s really simple to do.

A: …When they look real, I swear! I mean, I hate spending money on things that I think I can make. And I think I can make everything! It’s so hard but then you see something–

B: You never make it!

A: And then … you don’t have time to make it. …I bought these huge flowers … and I felt really guilty doing it, but then I was also supporting somebody who spent hours and hours and hours of their time creating these beautiful things. 

B: That’s the trade-off. Because it’s like, you can either support an artist making it or you can like pretend like “I will add that to my priority list!” and I rarely do that these days.

A: Yeah it’s so funny, when I was pregnant with my son I just had my daughter so it was a lot easier when she was two I made because of the pandemic I was able to release it and make so many things I finished a really heavy sweater I did a giant granny square blanket I started making a rug which i still haven’t finished, hand quilting, all that stuff POOF my time gone.

B: I hear you.

A: How old’s your baby

B: Almost 9 months 

A: It’s so fast and so slow. Who helps you–i mean who’s helping you?

B: Well, I have a team of makers. Jane is here helping me today–she’s our photographer and video person and she knows how to make lovely things too and then there’s Hailey who, shout out, did my amazing nails.

A: Oh SHE does them, wow.

B: And Gwen’s our maker who made so many amazing things that’s what we do we make things. Garet is the one who dreamed up this Craft Along!

A: I’d love to be a part of your meetings like what are we gonna make next.

B: Okay you’re invited.

A: Thanks

B: Our brainstorm meetings are on Friday so schedule it in.

A: Amazing. One day, if I have time, I swear that’s what I would do. 

B: How about, okay, I have an idea for you crafts…maybe something inspired by your films…like Mamma Mia…maybe something Greek.

A: That’s, I mean, that would take some fabric to sew together or something like a crown. I love your crowns.

B: Okay that’s fun–I like where we’re going with this crown inspired book. I feel like you could do color palettes inspired by Greece…I don’t know I think I think there’s something there…

Colors

A: I’m obsessed with color palettes

B: Oh thanks! What’s your favorite right now? 

A: Like a dusty rose and like, what’s the blue called…periwinkle 

B: I’m into like periwinkle–it’s having a moment right now.

A: Peach is having a moment for me. I thought i would never like peach

B: I just painted my closet peach. Jackie O always painted her bathrooms like a pinkie peach because she thought it reflected well on her skin, so I did that too.

A: Really good idea. Everything in my house is gray all the walls are like gray or white. I love your aesthetic. I look at it. I love the website I love everything you do. It’s so colorful, but then I was looking to your stories and the things that you post from other people just for inspiration or whatever. You have a really good eye I don’t know if you have but if you ever make an interior design book.

B: That would be a dream.

A: What are these right here [points to the top of the angel]

B: Those are little clips, little hair clips.

A: What color are they?

B: They’re like a light blue, one might say a periwinkle 😉

A: Is it number 12 

B: I think so. Jane didn’t put numbers on mine so I don’t know which one it is.

A: You are giving a set away? 

B: We’re giving away two sets because we’re giving one set away that our guest crafters are painting, like yourself, and the one that Team Lars paints.

A: right right right 

B: So we’ll be giving away 2. We’ll auction them off at the end of this craft along. Just a reminder for those just joining that we are raising funds for Nest today. We have a link in our bio to donate directly to Nest. Additionally, the profits from this ebook, which are also linked on our bio or the housethatlarsbuilt.com.

Midcentury painted heirloom nativity figures against a pink and red striped background.

B: What types of crafts did you do growing up?

A: Yeah I did I did crafts growing up creating stages and then being all the characters in the play in my imagination. I grew up designing like I went through a phase where I color coded everything in my room so around my bed was blue with like a bowl of blue candies or whatever blue things I had.

I’ve suffered from some OCD so I think I think it’s really served me well in some ways as a creative but I mean obviously it’s a struggle as well but it’s it’s interesting the way I wanted to curate everything in a very specific way which is funny why I don’t know why I didn’t become an interior designer. I realized I wouldn’t be good at it as an adult. I didn’t learn to crochet or knit until I was 18 but I made costumes. I don’t know I couldn’t stop creating things because I felt like I needed something to do. I needed something to start and finish.

I loved the question about podcasts.

Podcasts for crafting

B: Yes–what do you listen to while you make or watch or are you in silence?

A: No, no silence never. You know it’s funny I put on Hercules for my daughter today and I’m like I cannot watch Hercules for the 17 thousandth time so I started watching the second episode of the Morning Show and I was very disappointed when it’s like and it was only one episode. I love podcasts I just finished In Your Own Backyard thrillers or friends that I know everyone has podcast these days. I used to listen to Dan Savage, but right now i’m listening to an English thriller on Audible. What about you?

B: I’m I’m a big Netflix and crafter type of person 

A: You can’t do subtitles that way. 

B: It has to be something light and maybe I’ve already seen. Maybe The Office for the 11th time

TV shows for crafting

A: Have you seen offspring?

B: No what’s that 

A: It’s my favorite show. It’s an Australian show about an obstetrician and I’m obsessed. It’s the best comedy. It’s really funny yeah it’s a little sad but it’s really funny as long 

B: As long as it’s mostly funny. I have a thing where, especially during the pandemic, I can only do comedies or rom coms.

A: I totally get it. There’s nothing like a good comedy like The Office to go back to especially the English Office. 

B: True.

A: I feel like can always recalibrate.

The Dropout Movie with Amanda Seyfried

B: Talk with me about what you’re working on right now. Are you in LA for something special?

A: Yeah I’ve been here for a while I’m going back soon thank God because there was an earthquake in the night and I just about lost my mind because I was at work. I am working full time right now on a true-crime show right now and it’s it’s actually in the news right now because I play Elizabeth Holmes and her trial is is in session so…

B: I’m obsessed with this case–I’ve listened to every podcast about it.

A: Yeah, and the new one’s out.

B: I’m losing my mind right now.

A: Producing the show with Rebecca Jarvis and Victoria are not on set because they’re working obviously, but it’s called “The Drop-Out” so it’s intense I will say it’s intense I need a break after this. It’s also intense because I’m an actor so compassion and relating to the character is my job and so it’s it’s really tricky, but it’s a show I think you’re going to love it. I don’t even know what I’m going to say when I’m doing press for it next year it’s just it’s a lot you know.

Motherhood and Acting

B: So do you feel like it’s a part of your job to like live in that moment of empathy. The whole time you’re doing it or you like oh no I need to go home and like do something else? 

A: More recently I’ve I felt like I just need to just take off that whatever you know whatever I’m doing spiritually I don’t know I don’t know how else to describe what’s happening it’s like an energy thing it’s like I’m at work and I’m embodying her and on the weekends sometimes it’s like go to Disneyland or something different immerse myself in what my kids are doing and watch movies at night and do anything, but I also have really short weekend so if I finish at 3 a.m. Saturday morning and then I go back at 5:30 a.m. on Monday so I have to I have to know my lines so I have to look at them and it’s impossible to get away from it so that’s it’s a struggle if that’s always a struggle now that I have two kids especially.

B: Are they there with you right now.

A: Yeah I don’t go anywhere without them.

B: Oh wow.

A: Really my husband’s going to be going to work and we’re staying here. But if I were going to Georgia and work the kids are probably yeah it can’t be like that I can’t go I just can’t–Life’s too Short. 

B: Are you super hands-on?

A: Yeah, I mean I we’ve never had a nanny. It’s just my mom, but my mom lives with us. It’s not like I’ve never had a nanny. My mom is our nanny. I could never be the parent I am if I did not have my mom or someone full time. Not enough people talk about the help you need being a mom and being a parent. 

Working mothers

B: I do. I don’t know how anybody has multiple children. Now I’m gonna speak directly to women–I don’t know how women get things done. Mothers tend to take the caretaker role more often then men. I don’t know how people do it, but right now we don’t have anyone to help so we’re trying to evenly split it. 

A: We all need help. It’s like, I don’t know how it’s not more [addressed]. Maternal health in general especially right after you have a baby. It’s so weird our country so slow to help. It’s like we are creating the children and birthing these children and it’s like it’s a lot to being a new parent and it’s a lot to be a new mother physically, emotionally hormones and not to leave out fathers to me it’s just it’s a lot it’s heartbreakingly beautiful and also just intense and we don’t.  I mean guys not having you know paid leave after having kids that should be something I mean we should have more paid leave for mothers.

B: Did you take time off after your children?

Maternity Leave after Mamma Mia 2

A: Yeah I mean I was lucky they dropped Mamma Mia 2 in my lap when I came two days after I came home from the hospital with my daughter and I cried hysterically not just because i was having a hard time breastfeeding but also because the idea of leaving my kid or at least getting into the headspace of going overseas and in four months from then it was just it was too much to handle we made it work and my mom and husband and they were amazing. I had 4 months off after her and then I had him in the pandemic so I mean I didn’t work until June and I had him on September.

B: So did you have to birth with the mask on? 

A: I didn’t, thank God. Did you they let you take it off?

Swapping birth stories

B: I’m sure they wouldn’t have said anything but I did leave it on the whole time.

A: Did you get an epidural?

B: Yes. 

A: Did you get it in time? 

B: Yes 

A: Oh good 

B:  I had a not a great experience the first time around so the second time we just took all precautions. 

A: Wait, so you got the epidural when you were still kind of okay?

B: Yeah

A: That is the trick

B: Oh yeah, well the plan was to go to a birth center and be in a bathtub and that didn’t quite go as planned.

A: I get it listen we all have our ideal settings the, the calmer the better mine was the birth center in a hospital, but it’s also because I know my midwife really well. She’s a friend of mine it was fine, but I didn’t have a great experience with the epidural fine and and I was yeah I was not wearing a mask by the end but tested, of course, they test you right when you get in there.

B: Yeah, same thing.

December birthdays

A: You have a December Baby, right?

B: Yeah

A: December what?

B: 21st.

A: I have a December birthday. Mine’s the 3rd. Right before Christmas. You have a Nativity baby.

B: Secretly this is all for him. Ha!

A: Right, I get it. I totally get it. So your husband’s with him right now?

B: Yeah he took them on a walk right now because I have 3 year old too. How old is your oldest?

A: 4 1/2 in school. She’s in school. I mean, not today obviously, but she’s in school and and she’s busy, thank God.

Painting Check-in

B: How is yours [nativity figure] looking? Let’s do a check-in. I’m a little distracted.

A: You went red and I went white first

B: I know. I’m worried about the details to be honest, but yours is looking great it looks perfect.

A: I should’ve done the red first, you’re right. I should’ve done the red first.

B: Um wait no… is there a better way…no wait yours is probably better because then you can go…I’m gonna have to put tons of white layers on top of each other to cover up my red mistakes so I think you’re…

A: Not having it perfect.

B: Oh yeah.

A: I’m a perfectionist which isn’t ideal when you’re trying to teach your kids how to do what you do.

B: I’m sure they say they love that attention to detail.

A: Maybe

B: Oh! I just looked at the time we only have two minutes .

Side Projects with Amanda Seyfried

A: Oh no oh God okay I was trying to give a little bit of a buffer so I can run downstairs before my meeting. My girlfriends and I are creating a company–more on that in years from now–it’s for play houses. They’re on the East Coast and we always have our standing Sunday meetings otherwise I go to work, but I can spare i can spare like 10 min it’s what happens, i talk…

B: Well, maybe we should wrap up but thank you thank you so much. I should tell everybody from the moment I sent my dm “hey would you be interested in doing this” she wrote back “yes yes yes yes yes” and i was like–“I don’t understand what’s going on.”

Thank you for your generosity and coming to paint with me for this nativity set that we will be auctioning off at the end to raise money for Nest and this e-book with the instructions which tells you where to get the pieces, where to get the colors.

I could have talked to you forever! My goal was to learn way more about what making means to you and what you do and I got to learn a little bit about it so that was a real treat for me so thank you.

Makers for Life

A: Thanks. I think in general I love connecting to makers and moms so it’s like I this is easy for me and I’m so glad that I could do it with you and be a part of this whole thing. I think it’s great we both are trying to make a change. 

I’m gonna finish this when the kids are in bed.

B: I know it’s going to take some work so no pressure! 

A: Oh i’m finishing it it’s going to be an Amanda Seyfried original except I’m going by the instructions.

B: OK sounds fair sounds fair. But i have a feeling you would do pretty well without them too so I’m not nervous at all.

A: I’ll go downstairs and get them 

B: Okay, well, take any artistic liberties you want and make sure you sign the bottom! 

A: For sure. If you ever need me again you know how to reach me. Thanks everybody for coming in and you know and thank you for donating to Nest and have fun.

B: You have fun with your standing meeting.  Can’t wait to see it in many years from now.

A: It’s my girlfriends from home we grew up together and it was like you know what I like designing things and we all have kids you’re going to do this your it’s one of those things that just happens over time you let’s spend more time together and do it for a good reason thank you thank you!

B: Thank you for spending the time with me 

A: And I’ll send this back as soon as I’m done.

B: Hooray!

More chats for our Lars Craft Along

If you liked this Amanda Seyfried interview, you might enjoy watching the other Live interviews I’m doing over on Instagram like with Mary Engelbreit, Sabrina Soto, Elsie Larson of A Beautiful Mess, Tracy Reese and more on the way

Donate to Nest Here

Becoming Hallie Bateman

Meet Hallie Bateman

Hallie Bateman is a 32-year-old writer and illustrator. She is the author of 3 books, Brave New Work (MoMA, 2016), What To Do When I’m Gone (Bloomsbury, 2018) and Directions (Workman, 2021). She and her husband Jack have a dog named Spinelli.

comic illustration in four panels of a couple hugging and talking. In the first panel they say "I love you" and "I love you so much." The second panel has them looking happy and surprised. The third panel has one person saying "wait-" and in the fourth panel one figure says "are we old enough to get married?!"

What do you consider yourself? Example: Artist, designer, illustrator, maker, business person, educator, etc.?

The term I use most is “artist” because it feels most freeing. But I also say “illustwriter” sometimes because it’s silly and accurate. 

Where did you grow up? Were there aspects of your childhood that have influenced what you do now?

I grew up on a mountain outside a former gold rush town in Northern California called Sonora. Most people haven’t heard of it unless they went gold panning there on a field trip in 3rd grade.

Growing up on a mountain really rewarded creativity. There weren’t any other kids around, so my brothers and I had to make our own fun. For me, making art was how I played. I wrote, drew, took photos and made movies. My brother and I invented languages and drew comics together. 

I still think making art is the most fun way to spend time. It still feels like play. 

A painting of a moth dancing under a spotlight.

What did you dream of becoming when you were younger?

I wanted to be a veterinarian for my whole childhood. We had lots of animals (llamas, pigs, emus) and I was obsessed with them. I drew, photographed and wrote about them. But I didn’t enjoy math or science in school, so the veterinarian dream faded. 

I was pretty uncertain about what I wanted to be until my junior year of college, when I started drawing more and I realized illustration was a career I could pursue. I’d never known any professional artists so this felt like a wild realization to me at the time. 

painting of a woman sitting on a bench in a museum.

Is there a person who has been influential in your chosen career path?

Lynda Barry is my north star. I discovered her work around the time I realized I wanted to make comics. Her work totally opened my eyes to what was possible with comics. 

Three panel comic celebrating Lynda Barry

The rawness of her work is part of what makes it so powerful. Seeing that made me realize there weren’t any rules, I didn’t need to go to art school to be an artist, and the imperfections in my work could be part of its power. 

ink illustration of a man crawling through the desert saying "paper..."

What inspired you to become an artist?

Even though I didn’t realize I wanted to be an artist until college, looking back, I’ve always been an artist. It doesn’t feel like a choice. It’s who I am. I care about making art more than almost anything else, so I’m going to try to make art for the rest of my life. 

illustration of a person pushing up their sleeves at a table in front of an empty book. It's in blue, and there's text that reads "I don't know what I'm going to write. I don't need to know. Right now I'm just rolling up my sleeves."

What is one piece of work that you are especially proud of and why?

I’m proud of the book I made with my mom, What To Do When I’m Gone. It feels like an unbelievable triumph to have collaborated with my mom the way we did. And we’ve gotten so many messages from so many readers who said the book touched them deeply. So I feel especially proud of that. To have chipped away at human suffering a bit.

Photo of a book, What to Do When I'm Gone, on a white background

Where do you find inspiration for new creations?

I don’t have to look too hard. It usually comes down to just paying attention. A few months ago I was sitting in a hammock in my backyard, and I heard a rustling noise. I looked around and spotted a baby mouse on the ground nearby. He was barely breathing. In his little hand was a bougainvillea flower. 

I lost my mind trying to figure out how to help him. I paced the house, googled furiously, but couldn’t figure out how to help or what to do. I sobbed uncontrollably until my husband came home and consoled me. We decided to place the mouse somewhere his mom might find him. I’m almost positive he died, but we couldn’t admit that to ourselves at the time. 

Later, I drew the mouse. I had to. 

That’s usually how it works. 

painting of a mouse holding a bougainvillea flower in a gloved human hand.

How do you make social connections in the creative realm?

Again, paying attention! I pay attention to who’s around me, both in virtual and physical spaces. Being an artist is pretty great for making friends, because people are expressing themselves. It feels easier to find friends. Everyone has their little beacon shining. 

Illustration of people and a dog walking in paths across a white background. There are red, white, and blue lines trailing behind each of them. Text in the middle reads "It's a miracle we ever met."

What books, movies, shows, or music are making you excited these days?

Books: I’m currently reading Sister Helen Prejean’s 1993 book Dead Man Walking. It’s about her experience as a spiritual advisor to men on death row. It’s fascinating and heartbreaking. I’m trying to learn more about the criminal justice system in this country. 

Movies: I recently saw The Parking Lot Movie and have been telling everyone to watch it. 

Shows: My husband and I are pretty deep into the Up series right now. It’s a British documentary series begun in 1964. The filmmakers follow 10 men and 4 women through their lives, beginning when they’re just 7 years old and checking in with them every 7 years. Right now, the subjects are in their 60s. It’s a mindblowing work of art and I can’t believe it exists. In addition to giving me so much to think about for my own life, it’s given me a deeper understanding of my parents’ generation. 

Music: I’m really into Green-House these days. I put it on when I’m drawing or writing and just get in the zone. It’s so soothing and beautiful. 

Painting of a person jumping on a trampoline in a green backyard

What is a piece of advice that you have carried with you and who is it from? Do you have a personal motto?

My cartoonist pal Corinne Mucha gave me amazing business advice years ago. She said she judges a job by asking herself the following questions: 

  • Will it be fun? 
  • Does it pay well? 
  • Will it advance my career? 

If it’s all three, take it. If it’s two out of three, take it. If it’s only one, turn it down. 

Black and white ink painting of three figures standing on a hill and singing to the moon

Nobody likes to talk about it, but can you share any advice regarding financing your business?

My advice would be to really treat it like a business. If you’re like me, that won’t come naturally to you. So ask for all the help you need. 

I am fortunate that my older brother Ben pulled me aside in my mid-twenties and very politely told me to get my shit together. And offered to help me do that. At the time, I didn’t treat art like work. I had no boundaries. I planned poorly and pulled all-nighters frequently. I was underpaid and overworked and still treating my job like it was a fluke, and I’d be found out any day. So I hadn’t figured out a lot of logistics. 

Ben taught me how to ask for more money, how to organize my finances and to value my own time. He taught me to quote clients accurately. If something was going to take me 8 hours, shouldn’t I be paid more than if it would only take me 3? He taught me how to keep a schedule and (mostly) stick to it. 

Since his intervention, I’ve been a lot happier. I still call him frequently with questions. I’ve always been bummed about not having an artist mentor, but I think most artists need business mentors more, anyway. Someone needs to show us how to make money. 

a pink piece of paper with the following written in ink: directions when it's good, try, try to enjoy it. Things are allowed to be good.

Is there anything more you would like to “become?”

Although it kinda terrifies me, I want to become a parent. I hope that’ll happen in the next few years. 

painting of a car moving down a dark forest road with bright yellow headlights beaming ahead.

What is your long-term goal?

This is a hard question for me to answer right now. For years I’ve obsessed about the future and forced myself to set big, scary, ambitious goals. I’ve pushed myself to run towards what scares me creatively and professionally.  

The pandemic has shaken some of that drive out of me. My art is too busy being my coping mechanism for me to ask much more of it. 

Plus, I’m a little sick of striving, of never being satisfied with anything because a bigger goal always falls into place. Recently I had to admit I’m currently living the dream my former self worked really hard to make real, and it’s incredible. I work with brilliant people, doing work I truly enjoy doing. I am alive. I am married to someone I adore. We have a cute dog. For once, I’m not planning and plotting. 

I want to give this moment its due by actually experiencing it. 

an ink painting of someone sitting on another person's shoulders picking a grapefruit on a sidewalk

Find Hallie Online

You can find more of Hallie Bateman’s work on her website and on her Instagram @hallithbates. Don’t forget to check out her books Brave New WorkWhat to Do When I’m Gone, Love Voltaire Us Apart, and Directions, as well as other writings.

You can read about more inspiring artists in our Becoming series. If you’re especially interested in reading about artists, check out our interviews of Michelle Franzoni Thorley, Rachel Kiser Smith, Tricia Paoluccio, Lynne Millar, Julie Marabelle, and more!

all images included in this article are courtesy of Hallie Bateman.