Becoming Interview: Stacey Fraser from Pink Chicken

Stacey Fraser of Pink Chicken

Stacey Fraser is the founder and creative director of Pink Chicken and worked in the fashion industry for 15 years before taking a break to be with her kids. In the meantime, she started sewing the most adorable clothes for her girls and herself, and before long, people were asking her where she got them. Thus, Pink Chicken was born! 

Psst…we dare you to look at the amazing textiles on their website without wanting to buy them all!

Here’s Stacey:

What do you consider yourself? Ex: designer, artisan, entrepreneur, etc.?

I think mostly a designer.  That is how I started Pink Chicken, my love for designing textiles and kids clothes… the business side I have grown along the way.

How has your childhood influenced what you have become?

Well, both of my grandmothers were in the fashion business.  Mimmers was a wedding dress designer, but growing up I would go to her sewing cabin in NC and help her with anything she was working on.  And Mimi, had a women’s clothing store in OH.  I would spend a few weeks there every summer.  I loved to be in the store, sit in on buying appointments in the back and see the customers!

What learning experiences have been critical to becoming an entrepreneur? Did you go to business school?

I started my career working for big corporations in designRalph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Gap… it was the best training ground for me. In all of those places, I learned the business side of fashion and how to build a brand.

Which people were instrumental in shaping the trajectory of your life?

All of the women in my lifemy grandmothers, my mom and my sisters.

What sets Pink Chicken apart from other brands?

We like to think of ourselves as a joyful brand!  Our clothes are no-fuss, always stylish and our dresses put a pep in your step.  We design all of our own fabrics and/or work with artists… so we have original patterns in joyful colors. We care so much about what we do here and I think our community can feel it.  We also pride ourselves in great quality so the dresses can start as a dress, end up as a tunic, and get passed down to little sis.

Was starting your own business always your ultimate plan?

No, not at all. I was taking a year off of work after my second daughter was born and started making dresses for them during their nap times. People used to stop me on the street and ask where they were from. I thought then maybe I was onto something.

What does your daily routine look like?

Well, that has definitely shifted because of Covid. When I open my eyes in the morning, the very first thing I think about is my iced coffee.  Once I’ve downed that, I make breakfast for my daughter and husband.  Not having to rush to the office every day does have it’s silver linings.  We have started going back one day a week to collaborate on our fabrics and designs in person.  It has been so great to get back.  And for dinner lately, we have been going out most nights to support our neighborhood restaurants. In NYC right now all restaurants have outdoor dining permits and it’s been really great. 

What is inspiring you lately?

So much really. My girls, their resiliency during this crazy time.  My oldest daughter was a senior when Covid hit… she missed a lot, including graduation.  Of course, she was disappointed but had a great attitude about it… also my team! Our little Pink Chicken team is like a family. I am so proud at how everyone has transitioned to working from home and still has the dedication and passion to their work every day.  I’m grateful for both.

What is on the horizon for you and Pink Chicken in the remainder of 2020?

We have our Holiday Collection that launches mid October!  We are so excited about it. The Holiday dresses have become a flock favorite!  We LOVE seeing holiday pics of families in our dresses.  Ultimately, the very best part of what we do!  And we are bringing our favorite gifts that we have in store online to our website for a killer Holiday gift guide!

What is a piece of advice you’d give to women who are considering starting their own business?

It has to come from the heart, from your passion.  That will get you through the ups and downs.  I think being your authentic self gives you the ability to connect with people in a meaningful way and that goes for your brand too.  And then also—think about what are you doing that is different from what is already in the market?  What is your point of difference?  It could be your product, your giving back mission, how you run your company and the people you employ.

Are you where you want to be in your life?

Yes. I always dreamt of living in NYC, being a clothing designer and having a family. I am a hard worker and hustle every day, but I am living the life I always dreamed of and am so grateful. 

Thank you, Stacey!

You can find Stacey and Pink Chicken here:

Pink Chicken website
Pink Chicken on Instagram

Look out for a giveaway with Pink Chicken later this week on our Instagram!

Introducing…the interior designer for our new house!

Finding our dream designer

It’s rare that your friend is ALSO your dream designer–it’s a serious dream come true. And Meta has always been on board to do it, even when we discussed my theoretical house one day years ago while we were living in a basement apartment. Knowing that she was just as excited about our new house as I was, was such a relief. Meta lives and breaths interior design. It’s truly her passion and calling.

Meta has been designing the home of Hannah Carpenter and I’m all about it! See more here. Photo by Hannah Carpenter.

FAQ

You may be asking WHY I’m working with another interior designer when I studied and practiced it. Simple! And other designers might be able to speak to this too–when you do something for yourself, it TAKES AGES. It’s so hard to design for yourself because I definitely suffer from decision fatigue. PLUS, I haven’t truly practiced it in many many years. I know what I like, but here’s the thing: Meta knows how to push you into new territory and she’s not afraid of risks. I’m not either, so I cannot wait for this ride!

Meta’s philosophy

And here’s the thing–I’m not talking just coping a picture you see on Pinterest and putting it into your house. That’s easy. The magic of Meta is that she takes you and whoever else lives in the house, and uses some sort of design alchemy to produce something new. It all of a sudden becomes an art. She has a number of projects that she’s working on behind the scenes and it’s been so interesting to see her process and her drive to do something new and refreshing. I couldn’t imagine doing this without her.

This is Meta’s beautiful home, which is a beautiful refuge for her and her family. Photo by Meta Coleman.

We haven’t begun the process yet. In fact, she has a thorough questionnaire that she’s having us fill out, and I think we’re going to turn it into a video, so stay tuned! So, we are truly in the beginning stages, but I have a few things in mind already and I know she does too so we’ll see how they align.

Progess of our house

Admittedly, we moved into our house prematurely, but we thought we’d get in with the basics and then move on up from there. So, as soon as the faucet and bathrooms were in, we were too! And now it’s little things like doors…door knobs…things that you don’t realize make a difference but truly do. We’re still a ways away from comfort levels, but all in good time I suppose.

I love this sweet bathroom she designed. Photo by Meta Coleman.

Finally designing the house!

As we continue to wait upon the small things, I’ve found myself sneaking in some “dream” moments, aka moments that get my excited for the next stage because heavens knows I haven’t entered back into that head space since the moment I laid eyes on this house years ago. We got a vanity for our main bedroom that I’m VERY excited about. It’s even better in person (and the quality is superb!) but I’ll be talking more about that later and with such a statement piece as that, it’s lead me down the rabbit hole of…you guessed it, WALLPAPERS! So, yes, you’ll be seeing a lot more soon.

I’ve spent much time in her home office here. Photo by Meta Coleman.

Another thing to note is that her style of designing a home is one that is more organic where we can find out how we live in the space and then enhance its use and function all combined with aesthetics. It’s not FAST fashion, errr: design, but a style that is intentional and thoughtful, which aligns perfectly with my beliefs too.

She worked on the home of our other dear friend, Eva Jorgensen and her husband Kirk. I LOVE this moody room! 

I can’t wait to share the full process with you. Like I mentioned, I don’t promise speed, but I don’t promise beautiful results and I know that will be the case because I have Meta on board. Stay tuned for more! And let me know if you have any questions along the way!

You can find Meta here:

Meta Coleman Portfolio
Meta Coleman Instagram
You can read more about Meta Coleman here in this interview

In the Mood For: Alma Thomas

Who Was Alma Thomas?

Alma Thomas didn’t start out as a full-time painter. First, she was a schoolteacher in Washington D.C., where her career spanned 38 years. After her retirement, she began to paint seriously, quickly establishing herself as a member of the Washington Color Field School. This art movement, taking place in the 1950s-1970s, was often compared to the abstract expressionist movement.

Image source here

The Washington Color Field School was marked by monochromatic strokes, colorful stripes, and broad washes of color on canvas. Other unconventional methods artists used at this time included “soak staining,” a technique where the painter would pour thinned-out paint onto canvas and let it sit without using any brushstrokes.

Alma Thomas considered retirement after her years of teaching, mostly due to arthritis. However, when Howard University offered to produce an exhibition of her work, she decided to produce something unlike her previous paintings. She was inspired by the light coming through her window and filtering through the flowers in her yard. If that’s not poetic, I don’t know what is.

Alma Thomas reached acclaim in her 80s with her Earth paintings, characterized by concentric circles painted in bright watercolor strokes. The beautiful colors bursting from a white background produced a dreamy, mosaic-like effect.

Image source here.

Home Decor Inspired by Alma Thomas

Alma employed abstract, geometric shapes in her work, and one of her favorite shapes were circles. And circles are very on-trend right now! You’ll also notice the use of colorful stripes, color-blocked polygons, and gem-like shapes that will add personality to any space. Though Alma Thomas’ color palette leaned towards bright hues, her work isn’t just for children’s spaces. Don’t be afraid to use pops of color (or colors!) to make any room more inviting.

In fact, the Obama family even had one of Alma Thomas’ paintings hanging in the white house during their time there (you can see it here)! I love the cobalt blue painting they chose below. You don’t have to choose decor or art filled with the full rainbow, sometimes one bold shade is the perfect way to anchor the room’s feel and color scheme.

 

Besides bold color, do not forget to consider shape when designing your space. Both the negative space between furniture, and the shape of the pieces themselves. They are nuanced, but round edges versus square ones can be the difference between a country chic couch and a mid-century modern. Train your eye to pay attention to the details. Pair a boxy couch with a round coffee table. An oval mirror above a squared off console. Or for a look with an even bigger Alma-Stamp-of-approval, look for statement pieces with more organic edges.

Fashion Inspired by Alma Thomas

Alma’s love of bold shapes and color didn’t end with her art, she wore them wherever she went! Every artist in our Great Artists! kid’s course comes with paper dolls, and Alma’s outfits are some of the most fun to mix and match.

Neutrals are all the rage right now. However, color is making a much-needed comeback to lift us out of the gloom of 2020! The great thing about Alma Thomas inspired style is that you can still wear your beloved neutrals while taking advantage of the beautiful colors Alma was inspired by. If you’re scared of color, start with accent pieces, like hair clips or masks (who would have thought masks would become an accessory?!)

 

Image source here.

Learn About More Great Artists!

Alma Thomas is a part of our Great Artists! Course, which we are offering now for just $99. It’s a six-week long course, but once you purchase it, it’s yours forever (a big plus for those of us who recently became homeschoolers overnight!) Now is the perfect time to introduce your children to some wonderful artists whose work still influences the world around us today.

And for artists inspiration more on your level, check out our posts about home decor inspired by Monet and Frida Kahlo, who are part of our kid’s course as well!

 

 

This post is a part of our In the mood for series. In this series we show you how to recreate interior design styles and fashion inspired by people we admire! Click any of the links below to check out the past posts in this series!

Anne of Green GablesEmma WoodhouseIris ApfelWes Andersonthe Royal FamilyLittle WomenMonet, Frida Kahlo, and Alexander Girard

When art became real for me

Art Course for Kids

We had an art course in elementary school that would introduce some of history’s great artists. I vividly recall sitting criss crossed in the multi purpose room with an overhead projector as the instructor taught us about Seurat and Picasso. She always wore fancy floral dresses and her hair was up in tight curls. The room was dark and our legs would fall asleep.

The lecture portion was followed up with a project in class where she would teach us how to create a project inspired by each of the artists. The pointilism assignment was great fun because we created figures and landscapes dots. DOTS! Art came ALIVE because we were doing it ourselves!

At the beginning of COVID as we shifted gears and started focusing even more on stay at home crafts and projects for both you and your kids, I was reminded of my grade school days and thought that we needed to create something that brought alive to kids in the same way that it did it for me.

Tomorrow, we are introducing this course and I cannot contain my excitement. I truly am thrilled to share this course with you and your children. It’s one of the best things that we as a team have ever produced. I believe that a passion for the arts can be instilled when your children are young and there is NO BETTER TIME than NOW to do so. Through clever craft and art projects, exercises, and beautiful printables, you’ll learn about some of the greatest artists, perhaps new to you artists who never received their proper recognition, that ever lived.

Are you homeschooling this school year?

Of course, I couldn’t have imagined that this upcoming school year would be such a mix of decisions and emotions and safety concerns. Homeschooling has become a reality for so many more families than ever before, whether desired or reluctant, and we’re hoping that this can be a great resource for you. We hope that whether you are a true home schooling family, this can be a great supplement for your curriculum. Likewise, if you are staying at home with your kids as they learn online, they can use our curriculum to fill their artistic void.

A bit about the course

There are videos and photos, prompts, journaling, and so much more. I really hope you like it. Stay tuned tomorrow for our early bird pricing for newsletter subscribers only through the weekend.

Jane Was Here: an illustrated guide to Jane Austen’s England

Get to know the authors and illustrator of Jane Was Here: an illustrated guide to Jane Austen’s England

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

I am a writer and a teacher. And an artist in the sense that I create with words and have an eye for the beauty that Lexi creates! -Nicole

I am an illustrator and all around maker. –Lexi K.

I am a creative business strategist- Devynn

How did you get started in your field doing what you do?

I have written for a long time–bits of poetry here and there, literary analyses for school, and whatever pops into my mind. I studied English and French at BYU, which is when I had many opportunities including a study abroad. As well as an internship that brought me to England, where I fell in love with the landscapes and the buildings, everything that was brought to life in the British literature I’d been reading my whole life. -Nicole 

As a lot of people who like to draw will say, “I’ve drawn ever since I was little…” But it wasn’t until my senior year of high school when I had an art teacher who studied illustration and I realized that was a profession. I had always believed in spending my life doing something I loved. So, when I got to university, I applied for the program, got in, and never looked back. (Except to thank my parents, friends, and teachers for never discouraging my creativity). Jane Was Here is my first published book and it has taught me so much about the book industry and how excited I am to pursue a career in book illustration. -Lexi K.

I’ve always had a creative spirit and the tenacity to make things happen. Luckily, I had parents that drilled into me that I can do, create, and become what ever I want as long as I put in enough work. Coming from a small town, I didn’t realize that you could combine the arts with business in a beautiful yet lucrative way, until studying Advertising at university. I never wanted to limit myself, and since I loved French, Advertising, and always wanted to do hair styling, I decided to do all three and double majored in Advertising and French, while getting a cosmetology degree on the side. Though there were many people that disagreed (mainly some difficult professors), I was able to really excel in my field of Marketing and Creativity when I learned you can have different passions and fields of work and still be dedicated to each one of the individually. -Devynn

Which Jane Austen character are you each the most like?   

I think I’m the most like Elizabeth Bennet, but I have a little Catherine Morland in me. Elizabeth is no-nonsense and speaks her mind, which I resonate with. And she bemoans the failings of humankind, which I think I’m pretty prone to do as well. And Catherine because she fell in love with Henry Tilney–he’s totally my type. -Nicole

I always want to say Elizabeth because she’s the first Austen heroine I fell in love with, but the truth that I cannot run away from is that I’m most like Marianne Dashwood. Ponies, nature walks, wildflowers, zeal for the very sake of it, we connect on all sorts of levels. I’m very emotionally driven and while I feel like it gets me into trouble at times, I think it also keeps me quite fond of thunderstorms, Marianne gets that. -Lexi K.

Though I think everyone wishes they were Elizabeth Bennet, I would have to say I am definitely the most like Emma Woodhouse. Like Emma, I have a love for all things social, beautiful, and fun. She and I both are extroverts who try to play match-maker (even when they shouldn’t), and fell in love much quicker (and younger) than we anticipated but to our perfect match. -Devynn

When and how did the idea for your book come up?

Early fall semester of 2017 at Brigham Young University, I was starting my senior year in the Illustration BFA program. My professor, Bethanne Anderson, had told my friend and I about the Laycock Grant which funds interdisciplinary student-led projects. She encouraged us to come up with an idea and apply. I had gone on a study abroad to Italy for Art & Design the year before and was incredibly inspired by the way that my art connected me to the places we traveled to. On that trip, I started formulating the idea for making an illustrated travel guide that taps into the unique experiences one has while traveling when they take the time to sink into a place, noticing its little nuances in the moments they’re there to experience. This project was my chance to explore that idea. We chose the UK because we were on a Keira Knightley Pride and Prejudice kick and had dreamed of visiting Pemberley for years. Soon enough we had a team of 3 Jane Austen lovers and a project to go explore her world and make it into a book so others could too. -Lexi K.

What inspires you about Jane Austen? 

I am inspired by her wit and independence and the ways she reads society and human behavior so well! She didn’t shy away from exposing the limitations women had in her time, and I think so many of her lessons are transferable to today’s world. She’s also really funny. -Nicole

Jane had a way of watching the world, being a part of it, and immortalizing it in her writing. Her accounts of the society she lived in inform much of the way we think about the Regency Era because she was so prolific and determined to make sense of the life she lived. I think that sort of intention and care behind her work is admirable. -Lexi K.

Jane Austen was a strong, independent woman who understood her value and talents. Not only did she use her words to create timeless novels, but she created them in a way where all of her readers feel understood and empowered. She also was a loyal and devoted friend and sister, something I aspire to be. – Devynn

Did you have anyone along the way that was instrumental in the trajectory of your life? 

I can think of many teachers and professors who have had a profound impact on the way I approach the world, even in ways I may not recognize today. They’ve helped me to love art and writing but also to be critical of its shortcomings. That’s something I’ve thought a lot about recently–Jane Austen was certainly not perfect, and she’s not the only author we should honor today, but she was most definitely very influential and inspiring. Reading through different lenses is something I have learned from reflective and influential teachers, and that’s something I hope to pass on to my own students and through my writing. -Nicole

My first thoughts go to my parents, Kim and Todd. I didn’t realize how lucky I was to have parents who told me I could be whatever I aspired to be from the time I can remember them saying anything to me. Both artists in their own rights, my mom a talented designer and my dad a skilled photographer, they taught me to look for beauty from different perspectives and encouraged me to develop my artistic practices. In high school, my mom and I struck a deal that if I could keep my room tidy, I could paint the walls whenever and however I wanted. For three years until I left for college, I curated a wonderland with every inch of my room covered in murals, hanging branches, paper mache statues, etc. I didn’t realize how much that fanned my creative flames until now when I’ve learned that creativity is a gift that needs care and encouragement. My parents have never stopped being my number one fans. I’m so grateful for all the ways they have shaped my life. -Lexi K.

Cathy and Cam MacLennan (my parents) expect excellence from everyone, and mostly everyone steps up to that plate. Though at times it was daunting (and i’ll admit, frustrating), their fire and drive to have those who surround them reach their potential is life changing. Because of them, I don’t see limits, and the unattainable never seems that far off. They have never questioned my talent, or ability, and have helped foster my drive for success despite my limitations. Next, is my foster sister, Amber. She taught me love, compassion, and that anyone can do anything they set their mind to. Amber, who has Down Sydrome, was welcomed into our home when I was just at the age of three. I grew up with her, and loved her like a sister. We fought, we laughed, and lived my childhood together. She was an amazing basketball player, artist, and had the sweetest spirit. Because of her, my heart is three times bigger, I never doubt anyone’s ability, and am able to see the joy life has to offer. -Devynn

What’s a piece of advice that you’ve carried with you and who is it from?

“If you don’t tell your stories, they’ll never get told.”  – Bethanne Anderson. “Audacity is worth more than talent.” – Luke Gibson. And something along the lines of “you have a strong voice, use it.” – David Dibble. All Illustration/Design professors at BYU who lifted me up on various occasions when I got tripped up by having chosen a creative career. It’s hard to want to support yourself doing something so emotionally charged and competitive too. The key to it is finding the confidence to say things with your art that is worth listening to. These words remind me often that having the courage to feel deeply and the skills to communicate those feelings is worth something. My work becomes more meaningful when I let it connect me to the people and places around me. -Lexi K. 

My mother told me this quote often: “I think probably kindness is my number one attribute in a human being. I’ll put it before any of the things like courage, or bravery, or generosity, or anything else”. -Roald Dahl. It doesn’t matter how brilliant, creative, financially successful, or famous you are if you aren’t kind. Kindness is the most important thing and will bring you further in life than anything else. Always. -Devynn 

What piece of advice would you give to someone starting out in a creative field? 

Find your people. The project of writing and publishing this book would never have happened without this team. I’m so grateful to Lexi and Devynn for the opportunity of realizing our collective vision. Also for the more mundane parts like reading what I wrote and giving me feedback. -Nicole

“Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” Roald Dahl said it first but I’ll echo it until I no longer exist. Working in a creative field is hard, there’s a reason not everyone chooses it. And it’s because believing in yourself and the ideas that come out of you is scary, difficult, and at times, emotionally draining. Creativity is a forever-long journey, embrace that. Keep moving forward, believing in yourself and the magic you have to share with your work and life simultaneously; a life lived deeply and honestly informs genuine creativity and people can feel that. When they do, they support you and your work. It’s a magic cycle, you have to believe in that. -Lexi K.

Just because you aren’t an artist, doesn’t mean you’re not creative. You can be in ANY field and still be creative and use your creativity to maximise your talents. If you’re in accounting, finance, engineering, marketing, computer science, etc YOU CAN STILL BE CREATIVE. Find what you love about creativity and make it work with what you have. Find a way to display your findings in a new way, organize presentations in a more visually appealing fashion or make a website that’s more user friendly. You can live creatively even when you’re not specially in a “creative field”. Find inspiration online through instagram pages, Pinterest, blogs, etc. Find what you like about them, and figure out how you can incorporate it into your life. Don’t set limits on yourself! -Devynn

What artists/designers/creatives do you look up to? Both historical or present

Currently? Morgan Harper Nichols and Chanel Miller. Both do great work in many forms that combine the incredible power of words and illustration/design. -Nicole

Elizabeth Gilbert (writer), Mary Oliver (poet), and Taika Waititi (filmmaker). Gilbert for her determination to be creative in spite of the fear of failure that never goes away. Oliver for her willingness to be still and be a part of tiny moments that make up infinities. And Waititi for finding both humor and pain in the human condition and making things that help me recognize the need for both.

Marie Antoinette (Queen of France, but also a fashion icon) Kristen Ess (Hair Stylist & Entrepreneur), Lauren Conrad (don’t @ me, she’s amazing). -Devynn

What is your favorite Jane Austen book and why?

I feel like a broken record now since I’ve said this so many times. Pride and Prejudice is such a classic and pulls me in every time, but I have a not-so-secret fondness for Northanger Abbey, which I think is underrated and so so witty. -Nicole

I’m leaving Pride and Prejudice off the table because no one forgets their first love and I’d like to express my new love for Sense and Sensibility. I recognize myself in all three Dashwood sisters, Marianne and Elinor most prominently. And I love the way that Jane Austen uses Marianne as her dramatic poet to proclaim the beauties of the world. -Lexi K.

I love Emma. This one sometimes gets a bad reputation since people can find the heroine selfish or annoying. But I love the character development and realness of the novel. -Devynn

If you lived in Jane’s time, what would be your favorite and least-favorite parts of that lifestyle? 

It’s so hard for me to detach all the context required to answer this question. However, supposing I were in the position of the Bennet family. For example, I would love visiting the grand houses and having a slower pace of life. Pretty much everything else, though, sounds pretty terrible–vast disparities and inequalities, heavy uncomfortable clothing, marriages of financial convenience, etc. A pretty depressing answer, maybe, but I’m all about honesty. -Nicole

I don’t think I will ever be over my fantasy of taking dramatic walks through the woods, brooding over social injustices or the complexities of my emotions. I think there is something about the Regency Era that amplifies the beauty of contrast. Namely the inherent power in womanhood juxtaposed by strict social codes that tried to tidy the wilderness of a woman’s beautiful mind. However, I don’t think I’d bode well in a corset or feeling like everyone is watching me to make sure I comply with silly rules. -Lexi K.

It’s no secret that I am a lover of parties. I would love nothing more than to live a lavish lifestyle filled with corsets, dancing, and ballgowns. However, in stark contrast I don’t think I would do well in that era as I am a feminist who believes in equality and opportunity for all genders and races (something that wasn’t highly regarded during those times). Also I can’t imagine a life without plumbing, so that would be extremely difficult for me. -Devynn

What else can people do to support your book?
  1. Engage with us on our social media platforms! On Facebook here, and Instagram follow @janeaustenwashere | We have an instagram that is dedicated to all things Jane, posting some of her most famous quotes, and beautiful illustrations that remind us of her England. 
  2. Share our book, and our social media platform, with your friends. We want to do more than just sell our book. We also want to create a community of lovers of Jane, travel, and all things beautiful.
  3. Get on our mailing list here!
  4. Ask your local bookstores to carry our book! How to do it: Call your local bookstore and request to have them carry our book, Jane Was Here: An Illustrated Guide to Jane Austen’s England.

Click here to purchase your own copy of this beautifully done guide to all things Jane Austen!

New artwork from Artist Chaunté Vaughn

New work in the Lars Print Shop from Chaunté Vaughn 

Click here to see the full collection!

Chaunté has the unique ability to capture beauty in the mundane. She focuses on the everyday, even decayed or traditionally non-beautiful subjects, but through her use of lighting and composition transforms them into stunning works of art.

Her color series in the collection highlights items from the grocery store and stuff that should be in the trash, but with the magical touch of stylist Kate Stein, they take on a new life where color is celebrated and lighting transforms them into an elegant still life.

Yellow Mustard” is our featured art print for our book club, Yellow by Michael Pastoureau. It’s a celebration of all things yellow–the color of happiness and optimism made even more so through the comical smiley face.

“This collection of photos is an oddball selection of exercises I’ve done thru the last few years. It’s one of my favorite things to be able to uplift someones home with art I’ve made. I’m so happy these might make it to you someday!”
– Chaunté Vaughn

Interview with Chaunté Vaughn

What do you consider yourself?

I consider myself a photographer. I like to do other creative things, but photography is how I earn a living.

How did you get started in your field doing what you do?

I started by taking pictures of my sisters when we were kids. I loved styling them and playing “photoshoot”. It feels like I’m still doing the same thing all these years later.

What did you study? Did you go to school specifically for what you do?

I originally studied painting and graphic design. I moved into photography because it was a faster medium.

What are you most proud of in your career?

My ability to repeatedly carry 50 lbs of photo gear up and down multiple flights of stairs.

What’s your work space like?

I shoot in different kinds of places all the time. Anywhere from big beautiful studios, to cramped offices, to muddy stormy beaches. It’s different every time.

What piece of advice would you give to someone starting out in a creative field?

Have fun and be nice. Draw or write what you think about, no matter what your medium is.

What’s coming up for you this year?

2020 has been really hard for everyone. Hopefully we can come out of it with a new and better perspective. 

How has the current situation affected your work flow. Any pivots?

I’ve started shooting more from home. The crew is much smaller:)

 

Where do you live? How does that influence your work?

I live in Brooklyn NY. Luckily, being here provides me with tons of inspiration. The creatives here are excellent, and there is no shortage of galleries to visit and see it all.

What does your dream retirement look like?

A beach, a lime drink, and a cabana boy:)

What artists/designers/creatives do you look up to? Both historical or present

Not many- because I’m 5 foot 10:)

How has social media influenced your work?

It’s made me hate squares.

What’s inspiring you lately?

I recently watched documentaries on Andrew Wyeth, Franca Sozzani, and Slim Aarons. I love hearing their stories and looking at what makes their work special. Also, I saw a retrospective for Agnes Denes a few months ago, her work resonated with me and reminded me that all artists touch the divine when they create.

 

Where else you can find Chaunté’s work

At chauntevaughn.com and on Instagram here

And click here to find the perfect print to brighten your walls.

A message from a former Lars intern: Do We Deserve?

Do We Deserve?

It took me too long to write this essay. Nearly an entire day passed that consisted of me typing, deleting and starting over. The pressure pounced on my shoulders every time I tried to write. How would I write a great essay that would somehow END centuries of racism? How would I be able to explain every single prejudice I’d ever faced in a way that’s easy to consume for others? What philosophical truth could I possibly have to share?

This is what it’s like to be Black in America.

To prove your life has value, you have to offer something spectacular. When given a platform, you have to make it quick but say something profound. “Black excellence,” they call it. To be Black in America, you have to do something extraordinary to be a life that matters. In a recent Instyle Instagram livestream, writer and activist Rachel Cargle made a point that I furiously typed into my phone. When discussing Chris Cooper, the Black bird watcher in Central Park who had a white woman sinisterly threaten to call the police on him, Rachel said, “People say things like ‘oh he went to Harvard, he watches birds, etc’ to justify why a Black person should be alive. You don’t have to be an exceptional black person to remain alive.”

When you say “Black Lives Matter,” you need to make sure you mean every single Black life. Not just your favorite actor, not just that professor you took a class from, and not just the few Black people you know. We are fighting for so many people we don’t know, and may never know personally.

In all honesty, we are currently fighting for the bare minimum. It boggles my mind that people are just now realizing that Black lives “matter.” It took too many Black people being killed for people to screw in the light bulb all the way. But then again, I shouldn’t be so surprised. This country wasn’t built for people like me. It was built by people like me, for people who would rather fight an entire war on their own soil than think about people like me. Things like plantations and segregated drinking fountains have been condemned, but since then, this country has relied on its sneakier forms of prejudice. It found new, cunning ways to make people like me feel othered for their entire lives.

This country made makeup products suitable for darker skin tones a rare find rather than the norm. It made media about crime or slavery the only places we could see ourselves on TV or on the big screen.  It made us quietly accept racist jokes, or even make them ourselves, because we felt like doing this was the only way to keep our “friends,” entertained. It made me ensure my phone case always faces outwards, so the black screen isn’t mistaken for a gun in my hand. This country quietly slipped drugs into Black communities to hinder them for generations. It made it risky to wear the hood on our jackets. It made people question a Black victim’s lifestyle rather than that of the police officer or white supremacist (or oftentimes, both) that killed them. “They’re Black, so they must have something in their past that proves they deserved to die. They weren’t a scholar, so they probably deserved to die. They weren’t ‘excellent,’ so they probably deserved to die.”

You don’t have to be excellent to keep your life. The non-Black majority of America is proof of this! I shouldn’t have to justify why my life and lives like mine, matter. You shouldn’t be seeking reasons why our lives matter, you should just know. The time has come to fight for, listen to, and protect Black people, whether you know them or not. You’re a little late, but nevertheless we’re glad to have you.

Thank you, Eliza, for taking the time to share your words with us. Yes, we’re a little late–thank you for helping us along.

Love the Land

We asked Eliza if she’d be interested in sharing a charity of her choice and she has chosen The Loveland Foundation, a non-profit that provides financial assistance to hundreds of Black women and girls to go to therapy. We are placing a donation today and encourage you to do the same.

You can find Eliza on Instagram @e_lizardd

Eliza Jackson is a marketing copywriter and freelance editorial writer based in Utah.

Black Creatives to Follow and Support

black creatives to follow and support

Each name on this list is a person that excites my creativity, and by intentionally including black voices into your library, you support the beauty of black lives.

The Quilts of Gee’s Bend – showcases handmade quilts made by African-American women of Gee’s Bend, Alabama. Women in this area have been making quilts together from the 19th century until present day. What certainly began as a means to create warmth became an innovative form of abstract creative expression. If you’re looking for quilting inspiration, look no further! 

Ron Finley – is a self proclaimed gangsta gardener. The short film about his efforts was a festival favorite in 2015! He teaches that a garden can change a person’s life, and then, can change a community. If you’re wondering how to grow food in a limited, urban space, Ron’s your guy. Dig in.

Jen Hewett – is one of our collaborators on the Picture Hope coloring book and we can’t get enough of her prints!! Her block-making patterns on fabric are perfect on everything from clothing to bags to tea towels. 

Sebastian Curi – is also featured in our coloring book, Picture Hope! His graphic designs and illustrations are bright, playful, and full of movement! We’re proud to be included in his list of collaborators, which includes names like Warby Parker and Apple.  

Janna Morton – is another one of our illustrators in Picture Hope. I LOVE her colorful, vibrant style.

Jade Purple Brown – her work is everything my technicolor dreams are made of!! The brilliant colors, the chic yet joyful designs, I just can’t get enough of it! Give her a follow instagram for an infusion of fun into your feed. For instance, check out this rug she designed below 

Asiyami Gold – curates the most beautiful stories. She is the founder and designer of shop.au and truly has impeccable taste. If you enjoy airy interiors and tropical locales, visit her shop online! Did I mention that she is stunning? 

Christina Moreland – has a vintage-inspired style that is laid-back and serious at the same time. She has the cutest posters with messages on how to be a better, healthier person. If you ever wonder how art and activism go together, then check this artist out!

Freya Bramble-Carter – is an incredible ceramicist who incorporates natural themes with contemporary design. Her pieces showcase skill and beautiful color choices.

Justina Blakeney – is a fellow blogging friend (you can read more about her here) and has been so supportive of us over the years. She has nailed the bohemian vibe under The Jungalow label with her shop and blog.

Andrea Pippins – wrote and illustrated the book “I Love My Hair,” she created an interactive artistic journal for young women, and more! Her work covers topics like empowerment, grief, self-love, and parenthood.

Frédérique Harrel – can be summed up in one word: powerhouse. Freya has a long history in fashion, is a parent to some cute kids. She was named Cosmopolitan’s 2018 “Influencer of the Year,” and is an inspirational speaker. In addition to following her on Instagram, listen to her TedTalks and learn something!

If you just can’t get enough and love learning about creative people, check out our expanded list that includes more than sixty artists! This list is in no way exhaustive, but it if full of amazing and inspiring people! Many of this artists also have stunning work for purchase, and we encourage you to buy their work if possible. That is an important way both to support that person and fill your home with diverse artwork. 

Over 60 Black Creatives to Support

Artists

Christa David, Freya Bramble-Carter, Ronni Nicole, Malene Barnett, Lorna Simpson, Lina Iris Viktor, Kehinde Wiley, Kerry James Marshall, Kenesha Sneed, Mark Bradford, Arcmanoro Niles, Kenturah Davis, Kudzanai-Violet Hwami, Derek Fordjou, Derrick Adams

Work for purchase by these artists

black creatives to follow and supportblack creatives to follow and supportblack creatives to follow and supportblack creatives to follow and supportblack creatives to follow and support

Authors

Luvvia Ajayi Jones, James Baldwin, La Tonya Yvette, Gene Roberts, Cleo Wade, Angie Thomas, Ibram X. Kendi, Alice Walker, Audre Lorde, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison

Books by these authors

Designers

Dionna Dorsey, Sugar Taylor, Annika Izora, Morgan Harper Nichols, Laci Jordan, Hello Yowie

Work for purchase by these designers

black creatives to follow and support

Fashion

Kerby Jean-Raymond, Courtney Quinn, Freddie Harrell, Musemo Handahu, Owen Cain, Micaéla Verrelien, Cynthia Andrew

Illustrators

Andrea Pippins, Bianca Xunise, Jen Hewett, Justina Blakeney, Mia Saine, Sebastian Curi, Nicole Miles, Reyna Noriega, Lo Harris, Jade Purple Brown, Christina Moreland

Work for purchase by these illustrators

black creatives to follow and supportblack creatives to follow and support

Business owners and Shops

Asiyami Gold, Brother Vellies, Femme Fatale DC, Check Alma, Jungalow, Tactile Matter, Oma the Label, HarperIman Dolls, Tree Fairfax, Linoto, Aliya Wanek, Oui the People, Actually Curious, UNWRP, Oat Cinnamon

Products for purchase from these shops

black creatives to follow and support

Black Owned Bookstores

Brave and Kind Books, Semicolon, Brian Lair Books, Afriware, Detroit Book City, Mahogany Books, Uncle Bobbie’s, Ashay by the Bay, Frugal Bookstore, Sister’s Uptown

Books to teach children about anti-racism

 

Other resources

In addition to exploring the work of the creatives above, here are some more resources. All Black Creatives, Podcast by Alexandra Elle. This blog post also contains additional resources and thoughts.

This list is just the beginning of some of our favorite black creatives and their inspiring work. Please help us continue to support by commenting any other people whose work you love! We would love to support them as well. 

We must speak up and support

What can we do to support?

As I mentioned in the post, “Racism exists because we let it exist and racism won’t end until we we all decide it’s a problem and do something about it.” In that spirit, I provided a number of resources on our stories (saved in highlights) that I’ve been using to educate myself further and offer them to our readers.

It is ok to hurt and not understand and not know where you fit into everything quite yet. I think it will be a life long journey. We all learn at our own rates. That said, I encourage you to spend some time reading from people of color and points of views you wouldn’t normally read as that’s how we will attain more understanding as well as provide a non-judgmental space to do so. I believe that the moment we judge, we limit our ability to grow.

On that note, we’d love to highlight some resources with with the intent to celebrate provide voices you may not be familiar with. ****Please note, this is not a final list, please leave a comment if you’d like to share additional resources.

Resources

Creatives to follow
LaTonya Yvette
Amber Kemp-Gerstel of Damask Love
Maritza Lisa
Jen Hewett
Justina Blakeney of The Jungalow
Nicole Gibbons
ItsCarlaBethany
Kendra Dandy
Mia Saine

Books for learning
(all book links direct you to Semicolon Chicago, a Black woman-owned bookstore.
Woman of Color by LaTonya Yvette
How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
me and white supremacy by Layla Saad
Accounts to follow
Donate
Petition
Text FLOYD to 55156 or sign this Change.org petition
Here is a more comprehensive list of ways of anti-racism sources for white people, including resources for parenting by Sarah Sophie Flicker and Alyssa Klein.

New Rainbow Print from Artist Samantha Hahn

Interview with Samantha Hahn

What do you consider yourself?

Illustrator, author, art director and the founder of Maison Rainbow.

How did you get started in your field doing what you do?

I’ve been drawing and painting since I was a child. I went on to study art in college and then carved out my own path professionally as an illustrator and author. After many years working commercially, I craved the challenge and opportunity to collaborate so I expanded my services to include photo art direction and creative direction. Most recently, I craved the chance to create my own thing so I launched Maison Rainbow, an art shop featuring a myriad of rainbow paintings.

Rainbow art print from artist Samantha Hahn

Why did you decide to do Maison Rainbow?

I believe colors have power. They elevate us to a higher state of mind. And rainbows are the purest manifestation of color in nature. Prescription-strength chromatic medicine for the soul. I wanted to finally build my own thing. My aim is to bottle a bit of the rainbow’s magic for people to keep. I’m hopeful that the rainbows I paint will offer people a momentary escape to a place of blue skies and golden sun when things feel bleak.

I’ve been building Maison Rainbow for months. Then the pandemic hit and I thought, that’s it, I can’t do this. But seeing people sharing rainbows as symbols of hope, I figured it might be the perfect time to put a little light and color in the world. Who couldn’t use another rainbow or two?

I know you’ve done mostly illustration but a lot of art directing most recently. Do you prefer one over the other and do you think they inform each other?

I love the special flow experience I get from doing illustration. After working independently for many years, I knew I needed a challenge and craved a new experience so I started creative directing to work more collaboratively. Magic happens when I can convey a concept and idea visually in the form of a mood board that communicates it to fellow creatives. On set we come together, bringing our expertise and passion to see the vision through.

Both illustration and creative direction are about conveying moods, feelings and ideas visually. My work in both fields informs the other.

What’s your work space like?

(Pre-Pandemic): My studio has an art table that holds my paints and other materials. Across from that is my computer desk, scanner and other tech. My chair swivels between both. It’s a very small space but the building is a pre-1900 townhouse so the ceiling is high and it’s sunny and lovely. On the other side of the room is a little work table for my children.

(During-Pandemic): We’re sheltering in a sweet cottage in the country. My generous and lovely client Kiki, the founder of Dans-La-Main offered it to us. It felt like a dream and we could not pass the chance up. We were making the best of life in Brooklyn but now we’re able to have time in nature each day and that feels like an exceptional privilege that we’re certainly not taking for granted.
Rainbow art print from artist Samantha Hahn
What’s a typical day like for you?

(Pre-pandemic): My husband and I wake at 5:30 to meditate then give the kids breakfast and have our coffee. After breakfast I exercise and get ready for the day. I take the kids to school and then return to my studio for work or head to a photo studio for a shoot. On days I’m doing illustration, my husband and I have  lunch together then go back to our workspaces (we both work from home). Some days I have a meeting or coffee date with a client or friends. In the late afternoon I pick up the kids. We have dinner together as a family and after the kid’s bedtime I go back to work or chill, depending on how much I have to do.

(During-pandemic): We keep the early morning wake up time to meditate and get the day rolling, I exercise and then we make the kids breakfast and have coffee. I facilitate their homeschooling while working. We have lunch together and then I work/homeschool some more. Mid-afternoon we go for a nature walk or hike. I work or play with the kids in the afternoon post hike. We have family dinner and then sit outside to watch twilight fall and then I work again at night or chill and watch Sopranos with my husband.

What piece of advice would you give to someone starting out in a creative field?

Take your time to carve out your own path. Work hard, take action and keep learning and playing.

What’s coming up for you this year?

I’m taking things day by day. I will always try to stay nimble and of service to clients and followers. I would love to keep up with the illustrative columns I started with The New York Times Style section and NY Magazine/The Cut as well as lean in to work with Maison Rainbow. In addition to getting the shop launched I’m starting a Maison Rainbow newsletter where I’ll interview artists whose colorful work I think people will love and share lots of eye candy and inspiration for the visually hungry.

How has the current situation affected your work flow. Any pivots?

Since the pandemic I have been leaning into doing on-going series versus one-and-done projects. I’m doing an illustrated column for The New York Times style section, showing designer DIY projects and one with New York Magazine/ The Cut to explore the ways people are “Carrying-On”, finding happiness in the every day. I have also been lettering people’s thoughts and feelings on my own Instagram to give voice to our collective and individual experience. Doing these ongoing series is giving me direction and purpose in such uncertain times.

What’s inspiring you lately?

Seeing the response to Maison Rainbow and how the paintings are making people smile gives me so much hope and inspires me to keep creative and connected.

Connecting with others through my art gives me passion to keep moving forward.

Where to find more of Samantha’s work

Illustration: samanthahahn.com
Art Direction: samanthahahncreative.com
Maison Rainbow: maisonrainbow.com
Instagram: @samanthajhahn and @maisonrainbow

Click here to get Samantha’s rainbow print from the Lars Print Shop!

New art collection from Adriana Picker and interview

We are lucky to get 4 prints inspired by her book that are now in the Shop. I think they’d be so lovely in a girl’s room or basically any spot that needs a dose of beautiful pastel flowers. I can even imagination it as a beautiful punctuation point in a bathroom!

Today we are sharing an interview with the Australian author and illustrator. Her background is so interesting! Petal book by Adriana Picker

Interview with Adriana Picker

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

I mostly like to refer to myself as a botanical illustrator now days!

2. Who helped you “become” who you are?

I am very blessed to be surrounded and supported by many wonderful, fiercely intelligent, inspiring women. The women in my family are responsible for the genesis of my creativity and are a constant source of strength. Particularly my grandmother Emma, who instilled in me a passion for flowers at a very young age, my incredible Aunt Margo who taught me to be self-reliant and make anything conceivable and of course my mother, Sally, who is a wonderful artist. She is a constant inspiration to me.

The friendship of other women has been so important to me personally and professionally. I have a circle of very generous and talented creative women that I rely on heavily for support. I certainly would not be who I am today with out them. I am so lucky to count amongst my close friends Peptalker founder Meggie Palmer, incredible artists Gemma O’brien, Amber Vittoria and Georgia Hill. Designer and founder of the incredible homewares studio House of Heras – Silvana Azzi Heras has been a mentor and incredibly close friend of mine for over ten years. And I’ve recently had the great privilege to work with Uli Beutter Cohen, founder of Subway book review on the promotion of my new book Petal. Her support has been invaluable to me through what has become a rather unusual book launch!Petal book by Adriana Picker

3. Do you feel like you’ve arrived at what you set out to do?

I don’t think there will ever be a great sense of arrival for me. Or of completion.

I think one of the great joys of truly loving the work you do, is that it if your work is a calling not just a means of making money, there is always something to be done. Always something I feel compelled to do! Even when am I working on a project, I am thinking of what I want to create next, looking for inspiration and making plans. This is probably the most magical part of the creative process for me, that dreamy phase were ideas are swirling around in your head in a luxurious, hazy mix, just before they solidify. The possibility is intoxicating.
4. What more would you like to “become”? 
Kind. Compassionate. Generous. Understanding. Self-assured. Self-aware. Financially literate. Able to articulate my emotional needs. Grateful. Joyous. Lead a life with a closer connection to nature. Adaptable.
It is a lovely thing to think that we will always be a work in progress and there is always a chance for betterment.Petal book by Adriana Picker

5. Why flowers?

My whole life has been punctuated by flowers. Flowers for me are still so strongly linked to family, in particular my grandmother and mother. Flowers have become the vessels of my fondest memories, connections to the places where I find the most joy and reminders of the people I most cherish. No wonder flowers have been a constant and enduring love in my life. So many years later, the flowers I first encountered in my grandmother’s garden are my favourites to draw. I think she would be so very thrilled if she could see the work I do today.Petal book by Adriana Picker

6. Why did you create this book?

I love flowers. I love EVERY type of flower. This book is my love letter to these ephemeral jewels of nature: a celebration of the floral world. Within the pages lie a collection that spans priceless hothouse gems and unapologetic roadside survivors. The world of flowering plants – otherwise known as angiosperms – is so vast, varied and alluring, that narrowing down the selection has been an excruciating process. I want this book to not only highlight our most loved blooms, but also to shine new light on those plant families considered unfashionable or not highly valued. The humble geranium, for example, has long been a favourite of mine; anything that boasts a variegated leaf, with its painterly stripes or swirls and contrast of colours, catches my breath and sets my heart a’flutter. Even something as ubiquitous as a corner-store tulip, swaddled in plastic, can still bring brightness to a kitchen table. Through this book, I want to share my vast passion for flowers, with the hope the viewer can gaze with a fresh lens, perhaps inspiring exploration of a certain plant previously off the radar. Petal book by Adriana Picker

You can find Adriana here:

Adriana’s portfolio
@AdrianaPicker
You can find her book, Petal, here

Adriana Picker for Lars Print Shop

There are four to choose from: dahlia, tulip, rose, and cosmo. Some of my favorites!
Dahlia art print by Adriana PickerDahlia art print by Adriana Picker
Book photos by Bridget Badore

New artwork by Alejandra García y Gutiérrez

Bold modern artwork print

Artwork to inspire well being

Did you read the book? I LOVED it. Craftfulness shared so many thoughts I’d been thinking about for ages, namely how when we make things with our hands we are brought into a new state of being, one that touches our soul. As we’ve been sharing throughout the months, this is precisely the mission of Lars!

There’s no better way to cope with the stress of what’s going on in the world right now than to make things with your hands. Alejandra’s beautiful artwork is a reminder of that. In addition, her bold colors and shapes are such a breath of fresh air right now. It has been a strange adjustment spending more time at home than ever before. However, having a new art print on my wall cheered me right up! Updating the artwork around your home will can make it feel new without any major changes needed.

I encourage you to follow Alejandra’s work over on Instagram where you will be drawn in by her playful palette.

You can find the print over in Lars Print Shop.