I am so very excited to welcome our newest Designing Mom, Mari. As a former senior designer for Manhattan Toy, her presence here would only be befitting! But not only that…I just love that she is inspired (both in work and play with her little one) by visual puzzles and the daily acts of being creative.
Please help me welcome Designing Mom Mari!
I have a 7 month old daughter, Wren, who I swear is the happiest baby I’ve ever met. Then there’s George, her 85 lb mutt, a.k.a. the partner-in-crime. And my husband, Aaron, the Information Security Guru (thank heavens one of us is practical). We live in St. Paul, Minnesota, and yes, I’m already dreading Winter.
What do you do?
I’m still trying to figure that out! For many years, I was a fairly satisfied Senior Toy Designer. When that became a little too expected, I finished my MFA and added Studio Artist and Professor to the list. After 10 odd years designing with Manhattan Toy, I could do my job in my sleep, I figured Wren’s birth would be good timing – sleep deprivation wouldn’t phase me! Then a month after maternity leave I was laid off …
It’s been almost 4 months now, and I’m loving every minute with my little girl. Though, finding out how to do that while building up my freelance design business, blog, art studio, and potential Etsy endeavors is a big pile of OMG.
I’m thrilled to be a part of Designing Moms. I’m craving the community and experience of other moms who blur the lines between work and family and creativity!
What inspires you?
Remembering my Grandmother – she was an artist, a hippy, and a free-thinker throughout several eras when that was not the most accepted choice.
Good design. Vintage illustrations are key as of late, as well as other illustrators and designers as well.
When I’m working on my studio art, I look to a topic I want to process, a problem to solve. Right now that’s based on my frustration with cultural norms and assumptions – the things I can’t get away from.
The best inspiration: an impending deadline.
Why do you do what you do?
I still believe I can do anything I put my mind to. But I’ve realized the only thing that is natural to me is creating. That can be any creative process – from preparing a college course syllabus, to designing a logo, to making things with my hands. My brain is soothed by solving visual puzzles. I just wish it was easier to remember that on those procrastination days!
A day in the life?
I wake up to my husband laying Wren beside me while he gets ready for work. I have a chronic disease that can make mornings rough – I’m so glad he helps! Then it’s varying combos of playtime and naptime.
A day may include favorite cardigans, silly songs, researching toddler toys, floor sessions , getting lost in etsy, sounding smart for toy companies, dates with the sewing machine, sketchbooks, diapers, laptop wrist syndrome, getting lost in blogs, my Wacom drawing tablet, and giggle fits.
Most evenings my husband is either working on his PhD dissertation or is prepping for teaching and I do more on the laptop – we’re laptop addicts. Our lives are much quieter than they used to be (I used to call us culture snobs for good reason), but I find I’m much calmer – and probably happier – than before.
A few favorite things?
Watching graffiti on train cars
Playing my grand piano with Wren on my lap
Summer nights with open windows
Experimenting with new materials and methods
The smell of water from a hot summer hose
Reading for so long it hurts to move
Spoonerisms and bad puns
Vintage flotsam and jetsam