Personal style is something that is always emerging and shifting and recently I’ve been wanting to define for myself what that looks like. I love the conversation of getting and staying in touch with what is and always has and will be within us. I believe that absolutely all of us have something unique to say. No one else can have all the same experiences, history, tastes, feelings, etc. that we have all rolled into one. Which means we all have a story. We all have a voice that is uniquely ours. That’s not to say we aren’t influenced by one another. My design teachers always reiterated that we “don’t live in a vacuum”, meaning we are surrounded by past circling ideas, thoughts and aesthetics that are in our world. But that can be a beautiful thing if we use the unique opportunities to make new and find new ways to say “this is who I am and what I have to say about my corner of the world”.
There are multiple levels of getting in touch with this I think. There is the upper chatter level – the trends, the fun stuff, the shifts in design, etc., and then there is the deeper stuff – the things that speak to your soul, that say who you are and settle you into your bliss. I think a healthy combination of both keeps us vibrant and in tune with the moving world while still being rooted within our own artistic soul. This will evolve and change but if it’s to evolve in a true way it needs to stay in touch with who you are at your deepest core level.
I remember reading something from an Oprah Winfrey magazine years ago about discovering what your core home decor style is. The author mentions closing your eyes and thinking about qualities and moments you envisioned your future home would be like as a child. What about it made you feel happy, safe, alive and at home. What did it feel like? Warm and cozy? Cool and open? Was there an ocean outside? Mountains? White flowing curtains? Clean lines? etc. Whatever you saw and felt would be the essence of your home design style. And from there you could build upon it with more specifics, unique moments and trends. I think this concept can also be used for finding what your core design and art style is. What do you see and feel when you close your eyes? I love Eva, of Sycamore Street Press’, conversation about how she found her Minimal Bohemian style and how her illustration and design work is now evolving with her to meet up with that style. So great.
For me when I close my eyes and try to think how my “at home style” feels I’m met with myself as a little girl, perhaps in a vintage French black and white dress, maybe a bit messy from a few crafty painting sessions. I’m in a room with chunky white floorboards and weathered wood either on the walls or furniture. Cardboard dollhouses and tigers made from oatmeal boxes adorn the room. It feels open and cool, even a bit breezy with a window open and in invitation to climb atop the roof. Pockets of brightly primary colored art and toys sit upon a shelf – some new and clean and some old and worn. And a little vintage rag doll in the corner in her bed. Always a doll. There is a metal desk that looks like it could have come from an old school or hospital with heaps of paper atop and a thick paintbrush ready to dip into inky colors. Here I am happy. Here I can make, dream, sleep, relax, imagine, scheme, nibble, and solve.
Some things I take from this is that I’m drawn to some things a bit weathered, and industrial paired with other things modern. Stark scratchy blacks, and white, paired at times with pops of bold primaries – and blues, always a lot of inky blues (in fact I have more blue fabric overflowing in my craft room than any other color). Definitely playful – must invite and encourage play with a little touch of the moody (I’ve always had a love affair with rainy day moodiness – maybe something to do with my super fair skin?). And a little bit of French theatrical – think moody modern clowns in colorful weathered vintage clothing. And a touch of Mid-Century Modern French Peasant (if that is such a thing?…makes sense in my head – basically taking my grandparents self built mid-century modern home and dropping it in the rural countryside of France, with a short commute into Paris, sounds just about right). So in short, as my friend Meta coined it as:
Moody Modern Playful French Industrial
Alongside an existing illustration persona, I’ve been working in and developing this more naive style for say the past 4-5 years which has revealed itself mostly within my kid’s crafts (initially so that kids could also make it) and home decor. I simply love the juxtaposition of graphic modern and vintage neutrals mixed with a bit bright pops of colors (shown below in this pic of Little O with our duct tape castle). This style has both intentionally and organically evolved and continues to develop within my work for kids and adults. It has been a fun adventure and discovery process and I love sharing it all with you!
When I was in art school many people asked me what I wanted to “do”. Paint? Design? Illustrate? Make Clothing? Toys? And I all could say was, Yes? I have often told people that when it comes down to it I am a maker. I love to make art within several mediums and in many diverse forms. I’ve never been too concerned with titles such as “artist” vs “illustrator” etc. I know there are worlds that have been set up to support either on of these titles. I do consider myself as an artist. But I also consider myself a maker and creator of all things I find lovely and inspiring, particularly in the children’s world.
I had a conversation recently with a few friends about influences and sharing what we love, and where our inspirations come from, which is always great thing to do. I do this a bit on Pinterest and on other social media platforms but I thought it would be fun to start blogging about it more. Perhaps even have a monthly (I can never commit to weekly ;)) column about inspiration?
All of the images from this post speak to me and take me to my “happy place”. I have also gathered a few works of art that I find inspiring.image sources: 1) Art from picture book One Step, Two… 2) The Shelf, Nicolas 1955 3) Cy Twombly 1955 4) work by Super Bingo 5) Marguerite by Henri Matisse 6) Hauser & Wirth textiles 7) Matisse paper cuts 8) vintage picture books such as this Czech title by Alois Mikulka
I’m very much in love with this first image by Roger Duvoisin, for Charlotte Zolotow’s 1955 children’s book One Step Two. I purchased a vintage copy when pregnant with baby M and was very excited about adding a little girl to our family. The story is so special to me as it talks about taking moments to notice the little things that children do. It smells perfectly wonderfully dusty and this last image of the mother holding her sleeping little girl is not only gorgeous but tender for me. The other images showcase some of the more naive and modern work that alongside my narrative work, I’ve always been interested in. And I’ve been searching for ways to connect the two for some time now. I’m also really drawn to the many works by Matisse and am especially enamoured with this Margaruite painting. Not his typical style that you think of when right away but a stunning work nonetheless. What I wouldn’t give to have this hanging in my home! And I love the change from this to his more renowned geometric paper cuts that he did when his eye sight weakened. Beautiful evolution of style due to personal circumstances and tastes. Personally I’d love both together on one wall. The mixing of the two is very interesting and exciting for me.
I’m also very inspired by childhood and times past when play was very organic and self made. When mom’s sewed their children’s costumes and toys came from cracker boxes and were carved out of branches from backyards. At the present I’m particularly inspired by my grandparents and their life and home in Boulder, Colorado. They were passionate makers and lovers of beauty, faith, family and cultivation. They figured out how to build a mid-century modern home from the ground up all by reading books! No lie. My grandfather was passionate about music and my grandmother was a painter and they were both completely dedicated to crafting their life with their family. Their legacy and my memories of visiting their home are very close to my heart and now that both have passed (my grandfather last year and grandmother just earlier this month) I feel very drawn to telling some of their story – my story – in my work as well. This little vintage rocking horse was made by my grandfather for my father in 1953. And when I visited my grandmother for the last time this past Christmas I was able to snap a photo on my phone of baby M riding on it. It’s very inspiring and special to me.
So what about you? When you close your eyes, what do you see as your core style? What things make up you and your story? I’d love to hear as the evolution and journey of personal style is so fun and interesting to me.