Becoming: Lynne Millar from the Lars Print Shop

Our Interview with Lynne Millar

What did you dream of becoming when you were younger versus what you do now?

When I was little I wanted to be a CIA agent. I really liked the idea of wearing sunglasses all the time and taking on different names. (The one I really hoped I’d get assigned was “Samantha”) Now that I’ve watched several seasons of Homeland I’m realizing that career would have been a terrible fit for me.

What sparked your interest in painting? How and when did you decide that you wanted to become a painter?

When I wasn’t forcing my little sisters to call me Samantha, I spent a lot of time drawing, painting and writing stories. My family lived right outside of Washington DC and my parents were so great about taking us to museums all the time, so art has always felt like an important part of the world to me. In college I was intimidated by the idea of being graded on my art – it felt too personal and scary to me – so I majored in Art History instead. It was a great choice. I loved every one of my classes, and having those years to marinate the stories of artists has given me so much to draw from and mainly, aspire to.

Is there a person who has been influential in your chosen career path? Did you ever feel pressured to pursue a certain profession?

When I graduated from college I really thought I was going to pursue a graduate degree in Art History and hoped to eventually work in a museum. I ended up getting married and while my husband was in medical school I had a variety of random jobs – I worked at the medical school in a couple of different labs, I worked as a Montessori preschool teacher, and I took a lot of night classes at San Francisco’s Academy of Art.

I wanted to paint, more than anything, but lacked the confidence to take my dreams seriously, and also lacked an understanding of how I could build a sustainable career in art. When my husband started his residency we started our family, which kept me very busy. Years later, our youngest started preschool and I finally had reliable blocks of uninterrupted time that I committed to spend painting. I studied and practiced and threw myself into whatever classes I could take, and through instagram I met and became close with a group of artists who are a constant source of inspiration and mentorship.

Social media has really made it an option to be an artist on one’s own terms – you can define if you want to sell directly over instagram, work with print shops, develop gallery relationships, focus on shows… there is so much blessed flexibility in how you can shape and focus a painting career. And it’s been so invaluable to have good friends who are doing all of those things in different ways.

Now that you live in Central California, does its lifestyle and culture influence your work?

Having grown up on the east coast, settling in the Central Valley of California was a big aesthetic change for me. It took me some time to open my eyes to the beauty in the flatter, arid landscape. But now I’m happy to report that I love the big skies, the clusters of trees, and the beautiful gentle roll of the golden hills. Our town happens to have lots of fields where ranchers graze their sheep and cows, which I love seeing as we drive around doing our errands.

What is your favorite part of painting (i.e. conceptualizing, actually putting the brush to canvas, finalizing, etc.)?

Did you ever read Emily of New Moon, by LM Montgomery? The heroine Emily is a writer and when she’s hit by inspiration, she experiences something she calls “the flash,” where she is overcome by a wild desire to capture the essence of whatever powerful thing she’s just experienced. I think this is my favorite part of painting and I’ve learned that it’s something that you can cultivate in yourself: developing a sensitivity to the things in the world that you want to consume and express – or even just notice. My “flash” moments are never as dramatic as Emily’s but they make my life richer and happier, and it’s something that I’m actively working on all the time – cultivating a keen sense of notice and delight. This is the first and favorite part of being an artist for me.

What is a typical day like for you?

Since March, like many of you, 3 of my 4 kids have been home with me every day. Every Single Day. ALL THE TIME. I feel really lucky that they are a bit older (10, 13, 17 – my oldest is 19 and he’s flown the coop) so they have been able to be fairly independent in managing their distance learning and I’m theoretically able to work in my studio. (Bless you who are doing distance learning with younger kids!!) That being said, it’s a challenge to get into creative flow with the stopping and starting that’s part of living in a pandemic household – I find that I need to do many a surprise-check on my 10 year old to make sure she’s doing her school and not just playing minecraft. Before the pandemic, I had a pretty consistent routine of sending the kids off to school in the morning then painting from at least 10-2, but now it’s definitely a lot more loosey-goosey. I feel that I should be honest and acknowledge that some days, my studio has been a bit of a refuge. I’m so grateful that I have a space where I can go hide!

What is your workspace like? Has it changed since the pandemic?

We have a loft upstairs that I use for my studio. It has good light and room for me to store my unwieldy collection of art supplies and books and my easels and still life set-ups but to my point in the previous question, there is also a half-wall that divides the studio from the rest of the upstairs hallway. On the other side of the wall (the one inside my studio), we have tucked a sofa and I’ve discovered that if I lie down completely flat on the sofa, NO ONE CAN SEE ME!

What is a piece of advice that you have carried with you?

I think the best art advice I’ve ever gotten was from my friend Vince: he’s a lot older than me and when I first started painting seriously, he told me that you learn way more from your crappy paintings than from the ones that work out. That’s been a lodestone for me for sure, because I make a lot of crappy paintings! And I think the advice has broader application as well – recognizing and fixing mistakes of all kinds is the work of a life.

What advice would you give to someone who dreams of pursuing a career in a creative field?

My advice is to be flexible and proactive. And to not be shy about reaching out to other creatives to ask questions and create networks. Also, be prepared to work really really hard! When you are your own boss, nothing happens unless you just put your head down and do it/figure it out. Think of setbacks as opportunities to learn new skills and evaluate what skill you might need to learn to avoid that same setback in the future.

I have found that having a career in a creative field requires a very random collection of skills outside the actual skill of creating the art/product: navigating social media, building websites, understanding taxes, learning photo editing software, packaging & shipping, marketing, etc. Try and approach it all with glee, appreciating the many surprising things you find yourself capable of doing!

What artists and creatives do you look up to? Both historical and present.

Oh so many! Helene Schjerfbeck, Kathleen Speranza, Louise Balaam, Brian Kershisnik, Leslie Duke, Julia Hawkins, Maria Oakey Dewing, Cecilia Beaux, John Singer Sargent, Manet. Casically I admire all artists who strive to find their voice.

What has been inspiring you lately?

This summer and early fall was so hot and a bit miserable with the persistent smoke from the terribly tragic wildfires. With the cooler weather, the roses in our valley have begun to take off again. I must say that I find it to be incredibly poignant to see what nature offers up to us even as we are all in the midst of so much turmoil. It’s such a lesson in patience and hope.

How has COVID 19 affected your work and aspirations? Are there additional personal or professional interests you’d like to explore?

I know I’m not alone in feeling a bit like some tape has been ripped off of my soul in 2020. This year has been a time of profound re-orientation for me. I’ve realized how much suffering there is in the world that I’d had the dubious privilege of generally not paying attention to. I’ve been training to teach art classes at the correctional center in our county. During that training, I’ve plunging into the topic of restorative justice and the positive role that the arts can play in the healing of individuals. Doing that has opened a whole new realm of thinking for me. I have so much to learn and I’m really looking forward to this new experience.

Is there anything more you would like to “become?

I hope to come out of this year having become softer, more empathetic, more perceptive.

Where to find Lynne Millar

Shop her art collection in our Print Shop here.

Follow her on instagram!

 

This post is a part of our Becoming Series, where we interview creative women we admire. Click here to explore more interviews from this series!

Becoming: Interviewing Romy-Krystal Cutler from Sew Like Romy

Meet Romy-Krystal Cutler from Sew Like Romy

Romy is a full-time mum to two little ones and an energetic, colorful maker. Unafraid to defy mainstream fashion trends, Romy picked up her needle and thread and became a self-taught sewer five years ago. You can find all of her whimsically wonderful sewing creations at Sew Like Romy and @sewlike on Instagram. Deviating from her professional career in the marketing field, Romy, with the support of her husband and best friend, Jason, and her Aussie spunk, found her passion in the creative community But, Romy’s journey isn’t over just yet as she is still on her journey to becoming her best self, seizing every opportunity and dream that come her way!

Here is our interview with Romy!

What did you dream of becoming when you were younger versus what you do now? 

I had two main dreams growing up: to be a track athlete, specifically the fastest female in the 400m, and to be a health professional working with kids with mental disabilities. Now, I’m a stay at home mum who creates pretty clothes in her spare time. 

What do you consider yourself? Example: Creative, artist, fashion designer, maker, marketing professional, business person, etc. 

First and foremost, I consider myself a mum but with a smidge of sewing hobbyist on the side. Honestly, though, I feel like being a mum includes all of the above titles and then some, but the pay isn’t great. Just kidding! In a creative sense though, I do consider myself a part-time “maker” in the sewing community.

What sparked your interest in sewing? Is there a person who has been influential in your chosen career path? Did you ever feel pressured to pursue a certain profession?

My interest was sparked by necessity. Fashion trends dictate what’s in store, and 5 years ago, that wasn’t what I wanted to wear. After having a good, long complaint to my husband, Jason, he just looked at me and asked “Don’t you know how to sew?” Answer: I’d made a little purse in school once, and that was it. But, those words definitely planted the seed, and then, that Christmas I got my first sewing machine. I guess you could say the rest was history, but really it was filled with tears, tantrums, and lots of googling. So, that being said, my husband was the most influential and still is.

In terms of pressure, gosh, I feel it all the time. While what I do right now is my passion, it doesn’t pay the bills, and my family often asks when I’ll return back to work in my professional field – marketing (before I became a stay-at-home mum.) For now, that answer is unknown, but I’m super thankful to have a husband who provides both financial and motivational backing for all my sewing endeavors.

What initially attracted you to the marketing field, and why did you decide to switch trajectories? Are there aspects of the field that you incorporate into what you currently do?

I actually just fell into the world of marketing straight out of college. I specifically dealt with data and how we could connect the right people to the right product. As an avid shopper, that appealed to me at the time. I hated getting spammed on the internet to buy this and that, so I saw this as being helpful to consumers. Funnily enough, the marketing field and the social media game are pretty similar, but rather than marketing a product you’re marketing yourself. When I switched trajectories it wasn’t conscious. I was just home with my firstborn, and my mind was bored. You can only watch Little Baby Bum so many times before you start to go crazy. So, I started sewing again as an act of self-care. I haven’t combined the two fields yet, but maybe in the future! You never know! 

You were born and raised in Australia. How has your childhood influenced what you have become?

I was indeed. My childhood has definitely influenced me. Sydney is super multicultural. I grew up surrounded by multiple nationalities and cultures within the city. Being exposed to so many different lifestyles, cultures and influences helped me appreciate and embrace differences and contradictions. I think this has manifested itself in my eclectic approach to creativity and fashion and has helped me remove unnecessary boundaries. Then, when you combine all that with the laid-back Aussie approach to life adjacent to the hustle and bustle of Sydney City, you get my full personality of hyper-organized mixed with friendly chill. In other words, my childhood turned me into a super-colourful, accepting, loving, overly-friendly workaholic who likes to sleep in too much.

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

Oh gosh, all my family really. There’s always been one or all of my family members that have been there, but if we’re talking about who’s got the most points on their tally that would have to be Jason, my husband. The man, the myth, the legend. He’s always there and will always be there. In fact, my Instagram and blog mainly exist because of his persistent belief in my talent! 

What is your workspace like? Has it changed at all since the pandemic? 

Yes! My workspace up until recently was the kitchen table. I would unpack my sewing machine and notions when I would put the kids to sleep and then pack it up when I was done. I did that almost every night. Then, we moved during the pandemic! Now, I have the cold storage behind our garage as my “sewing dungeon.” It’s called the dungeon because there are no windows; hence no natural light, but to me, it’s everything! One side is filled with all my makes to take pictures of, and I have a couple of tables with my machines and cutting mat. The other side is my notions and random boxes of junk, and then. behind my sewing chair is a newly built industrial five-shelf storage rack to accommodate my extensive fabric buying addiction.

Where do you find inspiration for new sewing creations? 

I draw inspiration from everywhere. I love observing my surroundings and what’s happening online. So, usually, it’s a combination of the Pinterest board in my brain that I’ve added to mentally for as long as I can remember, and then, combining that with what I see on actual Pinterest, in the online sewing community, and from my family and friends. Also, sometimes I just see something on TV or randomly on the internet and get so fixated on creating it that I can’t move on with other projects until I get it out of my system.

Now that you live in Provo, UT, does its lifestyle and culture influence your work? 

Most definitely. The community here is filled with talented creatives and you just can’t escape the creativity especially in the Harmony Provo community, created by Laura and Rachel Harmon. It’s a safe place for anyone and everyone that loves making! This community has encouraged me from the beginning – even before I moved down here. They gave me something I can never thank them for enough: Confidence. Confidence to be me and to make what speaks to me. I mean, truth be told, one of the reasons we were comfortable moving to Provo was because of the prospect of being closer to Harmony and the maker community down here. 

Here is a photo Romy took in front of our Lars Mural located near out studio in Provo, Utah!

What is a typical day like for you? 

Our days have definitely changed due to the pandemic. So, this is what it looks like now: I get woken up by my husband. He’s working from home, so he’s with the kids when they first wake up and I get a little extra sleep. I’m then with the kids when he starts work. We do different activities and watch TV shows or a movie until it’s lunchtime. After lunchtime, it’s nap time for the kids. During this time, I do a little cleaning up and then start or resume a sewing project. I do this until they wake up (usually anywhere from 1.5 – 2 hours).

We then play with playdoh or kinetic sand until Jason finishes work. Once Jason’s off work, we spend time as a family. What we do specifically changes every day. It’s then dinner time, and shortly after it’s bedtime for the kids. Once the kids go down, I sew for another 2 hours and then spend time with Jason until it’s time for our bedtime routine. The day usually ends with us looking at pictures we’ve taken of our kids throughout the day…or me talking to Jason about my sewing extensively while he gives me encouraging, but confused nods mixed with the occasional “riiight” and “okay.” 

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

When my husband and I were dating there was this slogan at my university that I really identified with: No limits. I told him about it, and it became our thing. Over the course of the 11 years we’ve been together, we’ve reminded each other of it on multiple occasions. Still to this day, we believe that there are no limits to what you can achieve. 

What advice would you give to someone who is considering making a career transition, as you did?

I’d say get out of your head and follow your passion. I’ve always been a critical thinker, and I have the tendency to think of every possible scenario or combination before I even try something. However, my husband is the opposite, he goes for it. He’s more spontaneous than me, which has helped me unlock that inside of me, and I’ve never looked back. 

How has social media influenced your work?

Social media has influenced my work by introducing me to the online sewing community that I didn’t previously know existed. It connected me with indie pattern designers, amazing fabric stores, and incredible creative accounts. These all influence my work and ideas. However, there are times when I need to pull myself back out. Like any community, there are trends, and if you’re not careful, you can start to lose a sense of yourself in there. 

What artists and creatives do you look up to? Both historical and present.

Historically, I grew up loving Frida Kahlo. Learning about her in Spanish school was always a highlight (in Australia, if you’re a native speaker, you can go to school on Saturdays that are in your language.) She was unapologetically herself, and I loved that and still do!

Present-day, the artists I’m influenced by are Monika Forsberg, Ellie Whittaker, Ellen McKenna, and Jennifer Bouron. The Instagram handles of some of the creatives in the sewing community that inspire me at the moment are @emilynatsai, @burieddiamond, @caramiyamaui, @thecornyrainbow, @sewitcurly, @theravelout, @therealalexisbailey, @inannaapparel.

I could keep going and going, but it’s constantly changing, and I’m always finding new and amazing sewists out there. But, without trying to be corny, one of the first accounts I started following, and one of the most in-line with my style, is The House That Lars Built, so being featured is kind of a dream-come-true.

Here Romy poses in front of another fun Provo mural. Check out our full mural guide here!

What has been inspiring you lately? 

Funnily enough, my inspiration lately has been coming from all the ideas I’ve shelved in the past. In the pandemic life we all live now, the isolation and social distancing have allowed me to pick up things I’ve always wanted to do but have been a little scared to approach. At times, I have held myself back for fear of wasting time on things that may not be as “on-trend” or a little too experimental. So, in a weird way, it’s actually been super freeing, creatively, to be left alone to ferment in my own ideas and see what funky things I come up with. 

How has COVID 19 affected your work and aspirations? Are there additional personal or professional interests you’d like to explore?

COVID 19 hasn’t really affected my work because I’m a homebody that loves to sew. Staying home is what I do, it’s kind of my jam. However, the extrovert tendencies in me miss socialising, seeing people dressed up when they go out, all of which usually influence my creativity. In the future, personally, I’d love to collaborate more. It’s one of my favourite things to do. I love the mixes that can come from different points of view. That’s where the magic happens. Professionally, I’m not sure yet; I just love doing what I love and letting opportunities present themselves, and giving 110% of myself to whatever comes my way. It seems to be working, so why fix what isn’t broken? 

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

Keep going and keep balanced. You are going to encounter so many obstacles as you learn. Sometimes it will feel easy and you feel like you are getting into a groove, and other times, you’ll feel like you can’t connect the dots and even the simple things are difficult again, and that’s ok! I’m still learning and have so much to learn. I have my fair share of meltdowns mixed with triumphs. It’s important to keep pushing forward when it’s difficult, but it’s just as important to know when you need a break and need to step away. 

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

In general, I want to become the best version of myself. There are a few paths that I can go down and it changes every day depending on which one I want to take or if I want to go down a couple at a time. I’d love to level up with my sewing skills and learn pattern drafting. I’d also like to go back to university and get a master’s degree in data analytics or possibly specialise in the health sector (I graduated in health sciences/human resources and industrial relations). Whatever I choose, I know now that I don’t have to choose one or stick to just one. Life is meant to be lived, and you should never be too focused on the one goal because you may just miss out on other fun projects and opportunities along the way! 

Where to Find Romy

Instagram 

Her Blog: Sew Like Romy

Check out the quilt coat Romy sewed for me here!

If Romy has inspired you to try out sewing…

Check out our sewing patterns here! And our guide to fabric we love here, to get started on a fun new project!

This post is a part of our Becoming Series, where we interview creative women we admire. Click here to explore more interviews from this series!

Our new holiday card with Mixbook

Holiday Cards with Mixbook

First up, I designed our holiday spirited holiday card for all you floral lovers out there who want that perfect mix of glam (gold leaf!) and traditional Christmas (that deep green!). Personally, I love selecting a color scheme that’s a bit off from traditional green and red (think lots of pinks and golds and such!), but this year I’m feeling particularly traditional and glitzy.

COVID greetings

One of the best features of Mixbook is the ability to change up and customize any part of the card. The default phrase to our card currently says, “Merry Everything” but honestly, it felt a little too chipper for how things have gone this year. Ha! I wanted something a little more reflective of the year in general and you know what, besides some notable victories (we bought a house! We’re having a baby! And some other big ones 😉 SO, we did some brainstorming for some new phrases. Here are some of our favorites:

  • (COVID) 19 Cheers for 2020!
  • “Coronavirus is coming to town”
  • COVID knows when you are sleeping, COVID knows when you’re awake…”
  • “So wear a mask for goodness sake”
  • “Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, coughing all the way”
  • Corona Cheer!
  • The best gift this year is to maintain 6 feet distance!

Or, of course, there’s just being honest, right? Here were a couple I considered:

  • Could it get any worse?
  • And I went with “What a terrible year!” because that’s how I feel (mostly!)

I’d love to hear yours! 

Jepsen Family Photos 2020

While I wanted to take a more traditional route to our card, I wanted to spruce it up with lots of colors in our photos. I had some beautiful sweaters in mind for Jasper’s outfit and it kind of went from there. There are so many adorable fair isle sweaters for boys right now and couldn’t decide! Turns out, most didn’t arrive in time for our shoot so we went with the white button down sweater, but we also considered these ones:

Which one would you have gone with? (from left to right)

  1. Navy Blue Fair Isle
  2. Red and white checkers
  3. White fair isle

And I was dead set on wearing this red dress from a collaboration between Pencil and Paper and Dondolo. It actually fits around my 8 month pregnant body and the smocking is delicious. Then Paul added his own yellow touch and we were good to go!

Because I planned everything around our card collection, it was MUCH easier to go from there. Here’s what I started with. And clearly, I didn’t get too far with Paul’s ensemble.

Jasper’s a bit of a performer and this photo session was no exception. I mean, look how it went. He LOVES a family sandwich:

But the rest of the shoot was more like this:

Lars for Mixbook travel album and Year in Review

Along with our Holiday card, we have our exclusive travel album and year in review books with Mixbook. I made one for 2018 and one for our trip to Denmark last year, and decided to continue the tradition with a year in review book for 2019 (I’ll be getting to 2020 when it’s over…and probably a number of months tacked onto that!). It’s PACKED with photos of my son, because yes, I think he’s the cutest and smartest and funniest kid in the world.

Here’s a page from some of the places we had visited in 2019.

Other team members made some of our books too.

Jane, our photographer, made a Mixbook from her trip to NYC and Washington, DC last year. She used our Year in Review book and turned it into a travel book.

And lastly, my cousin, Clare, who lives with us, made a travel book for her senior trip to Italy with her mom and aunt. It’s always so interesting to see how people make each Mixbook their own and give me so many ideas on how to do it myself!

Mixbook Discount

Lars readers get 50% off your book and card order with code: HLARS50, expires 12/21/2020, 50% off book and card order.

Would love to see your choices! Tag us with#houselarsbuiltxmixbook so we can see them! 

Head on over to Mixbook for your 50% off!

This post is sponsored by Mixbook. We love our sponsors who allow us to make original content for you! 

If you liked this post, you might also like:

DIY Bottlebrush Tree tutorial
Paint your own nesting dolls
DIY oversized holly and berry garlands 

Virtual Workshop + Giveaway With Hello!Lucky

Since our big move, all of our schedules have been thrown off a little. It doesn’t help that I am still losing everything (thanks pregnancy brain!) Jasper has been the most affected by the move though. It’s a big change for my little boo! It has helped to get back our sense of normalcy by taking any chance I can to spend some time with Jasper, doing something he is familiar with.

One of Jasper’s favorite activities is reading and, of course, that makes me so happy. Recently I shared “What Children’s Books I am Reading to my Toddler Right Now” and I am happy to share our latest find with you today! It is the perfect addition to your kid’s book collection just in time for Thanksgiving.

My friends at Hello!Lucky – a women-owned and fun shop in San Francisco – offer the most amazing letterpress cards, stationery, and more recently, children’s books! I have read many of them with Jasper and he LOVES them.

With their bold style and side-splitting humor, Hello!Lucky is excited to introduce their latest picture book that’s all about gratitude. Thanks A Ton! 

Thanks a Ton! Is a pun-derful picture book celebrating gratitude! Offering tons of ideas for how to say “thanks” when words just aren’t enough. Written and illustrated by Eunice and Sabrina Moyle from Hello!Lucky. Eunice and Sabrina have created over 15 children’s books selling more than 1 million copies. Their books support children’s social and emotional development, and let them (and their parents) know that they are amazing exactly as they are. Their titles include My Mom is Magical! (my personal favorite ;), a book celebrating moms,  Kindness Rules!, a book about kindness, Thanks a Ton!, a book about gratitude, and I Believe in You, a book about unconditional love. A full list of their amazing books can be found here.

And! Hello!Lucky will donate $5 for every copy of Thanks a Ton! purchased on raredevice.com to Love For Our Elders, a non-profit organization whose mission is to bring joy into the lives of the elderly and you guessed it, writing letters to them is one of those ways!

Enter to Win a Copy of Our Picture Hope Coloring Book + A Copy of Thanks A Ton!

We are jumping on board with Hello!Lucky in the name of gratitude and hope this season. So, we are excited to announce we now offer hardcopies of our Picture Hope Coloring Book!

Picture Hope: The Social Distancing Coloring Book, is a compilation of coloring pages designed by 64 of your favorite artists from around the world. It is meant to lift spirits and calm anxious minds with its bold message of hope. Each artist has contributed a drawing of what hope means to them along with a few of their own words. The pages are designed for all skill levels and ages, kids and adults. It’s a perfect activity for staying at home and practicing mindfulness and meditation while filling in your hope through color. The profits of the book go to seasonal charities, which are announced here. Through downloads of Picture Hope, over $8000 has already donated!

The idea is that the artists provide the blank canvas and YOU add the hope through color. And you know what? It works! I can’t even tell you the goose bumps I got while I was working on it! COVID-19 has indeed changed so much of our routine, yet in the confusion and uncertainty we’ve also witnessed countless moments of compassion and the strength of the human spirit.

I’ve spent my career developing The House That Lars Built, whose mission is to encourage people to make things with their hands. We believe that the act of making has the power to heal and improve your well-being. The goal of this book is the same and it’s needed now more than ever. Coloring is a simple yet profound act that allows for meditation and mindfulness and this coloring book is even more profound because of the many voices of support behind it.

A new version of Picture Hope is available now!

Up until now, Picture Hope has only been available for download to be printed at home. We have been working hard (read: months!) to create this physical copy, so that you can order it totally ready to color! This version is also ideal to gift to others this season. Click here to order your hardcopy of Picture Hope!

This high-quality coloring book includes varying levels of intricacy keeping you inspired to color! There are plenty of beautiful motifs to choose from: including botanicals, flowers, animals, cities, people, decorative, quotes. We designed this book for every skill level and age to enjoy! Each page is it’s own unique art piece from one of the 64 contributing artists. 

For the next month, ALL proceeds from the Picture Hope Coloring Book go to the nonprofit Love For Our Elders. This comforting nonprofit fights loneliness with love in senior communities and has spread to over 70 countries, all 50 states, and hundreds of schools. Keep reading for more info about the impact of this nonprofit! 

How to Enter Our Giveaway

Enter to win your own copy of Picture Hope + Hello!Lucky’s best-selling latest picture book, Thanks A Ton!

To enter, head to our Instagram post here to let us know what you’re grateful for in the comments below, and join the virtual THANKS A TON launch event on November 14th. The winner will be announced live. Click here to RSVP for the virtual event!

Write Gratitude Letters With Us At Our Virtual Party With Hello!Lucky

I (Brittany!) will be hosting this event along with Eunice & Sabrina Moyle founders of Hello!Lucky, Jacob Cramer founder of Love For Our Elders, and Giselle Gyalzen owner of Rare Device.

Letters are especially wonderful during times when physical barriers are keeping us apart. A hand-written and a handmade card is a thoughtful, personal expression of care and kindness and can keep us connected to those we love, and to help everyone feel like they matter. During this event we want to share ways your family can help more people receive hand-written letters and cards during the Thanksgiving season.

Our virtual event will take place on Saturday November 14th at 11 am PST. During this event you will have access to these exclusive free printables created by Hello!Lucky and The House That Lars Built – including printable gratitude cards and a template for a fun DIY card! Download the free printables here and print them out to get ready for the event!

What will happen during the virtual event?

I will be leading a DIY craft tutorial that your whole family can recreate this Thanksgiving season. Plus I will share some of my top tips for holiday card making!

During this event you will also learn more about Love For Our Elders, the charity that proceeds from Picture Hope and Thanks a Ton! will be donated to. The founder of this nonprofit, Jacob Kramer, will be joining the event to share stories of the people your gratitude letters and donations can affect. He will also share tips on how your family can write to people who need it this season!

There will also be a live reading of Thanks a Ton! so this is a virtual event the entire family can log on for. RSVP here and make it a family activity.

At this time we will also announce the winner of our giveaway! (Details above.) 

RSVP here for a creative afternoon full of conversation and crafts on Saturday November 14th at 11 am PST.  All ages welcome! 

 

Becoming: Nadia Cates

Meet: Nadia Aguilar Cates  

Nadia is the Founder of Casa Palomí and Ella Rises and a proud mother of 6. Nadia’s passion for her home country has shaped her professional pursuits. With Casa Palomi and her culinary background, Nadia shares her love for Mexican cuisine (especially tamales!) through virtual cooking lessons. After relocating to Mexico for several years, she found a deep connection with her heritage, which has inspired her to empower Latina youth to connect with their roots through Ella Rises. In honor of Día de Los Meurtos, we are excited to have Nadia share how her rich culture has influenced who she has and continues to become. Because we all come from somewhere and somebody.

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

  1. There’s definitely an entrepreneurial spirit in me, and I also consider myself a creative. I love to take concepts and bring them to life. For example, Casa Palomí’s pan de muerto class – an amazing Mexican sweet bread – that I did last week. I’ve never done that before but it’s live now and a success with those who have taken it!

How has your childhood influenced what you have become?

My childhood has very much influenced who I am. I was born in Mexico and raised in Southern California. I became a U.S. citizen in grade school. For a long time, I carried shame around my story because people made fun of me and others with similar backgrounds.

I am no longer ashamed of where I come from, and I can honestly say that my story and heritage empower me. I’ve reclaimed a call to uplift and empower those with a similar story.

There’s a quote by Gloria Anzaldua about this that resonates with me. In her words, “I am from the land of the North and the land of the South. Indigenous blood runs through my veins. It calls me, and I honor it. What I once saw as disadvantages, clearly defines me, strengthens, and empowers me.”

What aspects of your Mexican culture have most inspired your work? 

Mexico has such a deep, rich, and consistent cultural heritage. I’m inspired by all of it, but especially the music, food, and textiles. When I can, I meet and work with artisans. I learn about the history of the places I visit and return to them or remain in contact with the people as often as possible because that connection is what inspires me the most.

What learning experiences have been critical to becoming an entrepreneur?

I think the reality of many entrepreneurs is that you ‘fail into success.’ I’ve tried and continue to try different things. When learning opportunities have appeared, I have taken them – most recently, with successful entrepreneurs and women, who I admire, offering mentoring classes!

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

There’s so many, but closest to my heart have been my parents, sisters, my husband, and each of my children.

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

I’ve always had different guiding statements that have inspired me. They’ve evolved and changed over time, but they’ve helped empower me. A couple I like right now are  “There has to be discomfort to change” and “If we don’t heal the wounds of the past, we cannot expand to our full potential; we can learn from it and be empowered by it.”

What sets your work apart from other brands? 

My work is designed to connect you with the beauty of Mexican heritage and reflected in that you will hopefully see your beauty and strength at the same time.

Was starting your own business or taking on entrepreneurial projects always your ultimate plan? Did you always know that you wanted to incorporate Mexican culture into your work?

Such great questions. I’m a mother of 6, and that’s the most important work in my life right now. But deep within me, there was always a desire to create, but I just wasn’t clear on what that was … until I moved to Mexico. It was then that I knew whatever I did, it would be to preserve our heritage.

What does your daily routine look like? 

Routine? What’s that?

My oldest is 12, and my youngest is 10 months. You could say I’m a slave to my kids’ schedules. I work during nap times and at night. When we have big projects with Ella Rises or Casa Palomí, I always find help. My husband is pretty good at loading up the kids and taking them somewhere when necessary.

What is inspiring you lately?

The Ella Rises girls and the challenges they face. And the female leaders and artists who are participating with Ella Rises. See the second to last question.

Tell us about your current project(s).

At Casa Palomí, we share our heritage with the community through food. We’re currently offering a virtual pan de muerto class for Day of the Dead, and friends from all over the world have signed up for our class! Follow @casa_palomi for more details.

Ella Rises is an initiative to empower Latinas in high school through virtual art and mentoring classes taught by Latinas. This historic project has never been done before, and 125 girls registered for Ella Rises 2020! We meet every Monday and Thursday in October. For more details, check out EllaRises.org

You’ve done culinary school, tamales, catering, all sorts of things. Tell us about your journey!

You know, it is all rooted in my continued journey to discover where I came from and the culture around all of that. Check out @casa_palomi on Instagram –  it’s visually captured there. I think you could say I’ve been on a journey to becoming for a few years now. And, I wouldn’t say that I’m there yet.

What designers/creatives/entrepreneurs do you look up to from the past or present?

Luis Barragan, a Mexican architect, came to my mind. I love his work! I often turn to it for inspiration, and I love his use of color and thoughtfully-curated spaces.

My culinary school maestros, Yuri de Gortari and Edmundo Escamilla, still inspire me today. They ignited a spark of love and reverence for my heritage, and I’ll forever be grateful for that.

I am also inspired by Mexican artisans. I’ve been building relationships with weavers and embroiderers. Their names may never go down in history, but I know them and love them.

What is on the horizon for you and your work in the remainder of 2020?

Casa Palomí and Ella Rises are thriving, and I hope we continue to do so through the end of the year. We’re connecting and reaching individuals who seek a space of love, respect, and appreciation for people of different backgrounds. Follow @casa_palomi or @ellarises and join our journey.

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

I turn to a higher power for direction. If seeking divine direction resonates with you, I’d recommend praying, meditating, going out in nature, and reconnecting with our creator. Then, create a statement of what you want to be, look like, and do. Rewrite it in the present tense, start repeating it daily, and keep seeking divine guidance.

What is the best advice you’d give to a businesswoman on determining her brand’s mission? 

When someone asks me for advice, I try (not perfect at it) to just listen to what they have to say. I believe that we often have or already know the answers to our questions.

Are you where you want to be in your life?

Katie Richardson, the creator of the Puj Tub, once told me “You’re right where you need to be.” I’ve taken that and ran with it. So, to answer your question, “I’m right where I need to be.”

Is there anything more you’d like to “become?”

Definitely! I embrace myself fully with where I am, but my journey of growth and progress continues. A millionaire would be nice too since I would love to invest more in my wildest ideas to help people. 🙂

Day of the Dead

For this feature, we worked with Nadia on creating this portrait, honoring both her, this unique time of year with the face mask, and the catrina in honor of Day of the Dead. This Mexican holiday typically involves friends and family coming together to pray and remember those who have passed on. It is seen as a festival of celebration rather than mourning. Ofrendas, or offerings, are often set out with pictures of ancestors and tokens that represent them. Thank you, Nadia.

You can find Nadia

Casa Palomi
Ella Rises

The House That Lars Bought: Interview with Paul and Brittany

Working with Meta

Meta and I met when I first moved here almost 8 years ago. We were basically wearing the same type of dress and crown braids and it was like looking at a mirror. Over the years, we’ve bonded over our shared love of design. Somehow our styles are super similar. But whereas I focus on Lars with all the crafts and such (even though I studied and practiced interior design in the past), she is OBSESSED with interiors and spends every waking hour thinking about it. I’ve never seen anyone so passionate about it.

Here we are in the Bahamas where we were teaching some styling classes on a cruise ship. Ha! Just typing that makes me LOLZ.

Why are we working with a designer?

This is precisely why we’re working with her. She knows the current designers, processes, local artisans and contractors, trends, classics, lingo, vocabulary, history. It really is the perfect marriage.

Before we get started designing, like her other clients, she sent us her questionnaire and here’s how it went:

I can’t wait to share more with you this week. We’ve already got our eyes on the first room. Stay tuned!

You can learn more about Meta Coleman:

@MetaColeman_ on Instagram
Meta Coleman Portfolio

If you liked this, you might also like:

Affordable Rugs Under $1000
Introducing our new house
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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 (pssst: the course is out now here!) . 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.

Great Artists! art course is out now! 

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.