Eye-LIKEy chats with Maria Carluccio

artist + author

When I was a kid I once got in big trouble for scratching doodles of houses into a soft leather tabletop (hey, it was the '70s). From that point on I knew I was hooked. I always thought that it was cool to be able to draw what you could see but it was magical to draw what you could feel or imagine. I still think that. I grew up with 4 siblings in a small town in northern New Jersey.

My dad practiced law. He had all kinds of bizarre cases, which fed his passion to learn about people and their stories. My mom was an artist. She nurtured every creative interest I had. Her own creative persuits were surely an influence me and my siblings. After I graduated I decided I wanted to see the world with a backpack. I went to live in Italy for a few years. I would paint, draw and collect all sorts of things in my journals.

I would find treasure in the exotic scraps of paper. I would find characters for stories. I would learn how to trust my own intuitive spirit.Upon my return I knew for sure I was meant to be the girl behind the drawing board. I realized I needed to experience the media hands on and I wanted to discover something new every time I approached the drawing board.

Today I am a freelance illustrator and designer. I live with my daughter, dog, cat and turtle in a little town on the Hudson River. I can’t complain. It’s been a wild ride so far but that’s just fine for someone with ants in her pants anyhow.   -M.C.

Maria graduated with an BFA from Carnegie Mellon ( same school as Andy Warhol, by the way! )and has traveled all over, living in places like Italy, Switzerland, Kansas City and San Francisco. She is the author and illustrator of several children books and you can find her art on bedding and all sorts of other wonderful products at Pottery Barn, Target, Land of Nod, and Crate and Barrel to mention a few. She is the co-creator of a new company " WALL STORIES" introducing art and story telling  to children, which showcases her work on fabric wall stickers for children's rooms. She now lives with my daughter, dog, cat and turtle in a little sleepy town on the Hudson River.


How do you stay inspired?
I try to keep my eyes open to so much. I go to trade shows, shops and museum or just wander the Internet. It can be hard times to stay on your own track though when there’s so much out there to take in. Sometimes when I look around I feel so blown away by what I see I almost want give up then and there. That’s when I wait for tomorrow, maybe then I can give it a shot too.

Typical work day?
I have to have coffee through out the day. Love that. After my first cup I get my daughter off to the bus, walk the dog (at the pond usually) and come back home to check morning emails. After that I think about what needs the most attentions. I have a list of priorities, due dates etc. If nothing is urgent I get a chance to play a bit. Sometimes that means writing or sometimes working on a personal project. Depends on the day and where I’m at in my headspace.   

What are you currently working on now?
I’m working on some new letterforms for Wall Stories. Wall Stories is a new company I started last year with my business partner Caron. We make collage style wall stickers for kid’s rooms (murals, growth charts, small stickers). It’s really fun to come up with products and mural ideas I think kids would love and then see it come to life.

Favorite place you ever traveled to
I think I’d have to say Japan. I went there many years ago and it kind of took my breath away visually. So much of what I saw completely humbled me. The Japanese have such a passion for aesthetics. I remember going into this “Mac Donald’s” kind of fast food place (called “Burgy”) I could not get over how cool the cups, napkins, and hamburger wrappings looked. They had this gorgeous, loose pen and ink brushwork for the logo. The whole branding was so fresh. I tried to ask the lady behind the counter for extras of each paper item but she didn’t get it, she just looked at me weird. She probably would have given me a strange look even if she had understood me. 

 Where would you like to visit that you haven’t yet? 
India and all over Scandinavia. That’s just the top of the list.

Top 3 Favorite website + blog/s    
Ok, so first, I have to give you props of coarse J. Totally likey the eye likey. I’m so honored to be on here with these amazing artists. Wow.
Second, Recently I found a really cool blog that inspired me. This girl has an incredible eye for nature, especially birds. She shares so much of her beautiful stuff on her blog, http://blogdelanine.blogspot.com/
Another blog that has nice stuff is http://printpattern.blogspot.com/
They always have new things to check out but I don’t look at blogs and sites all that much…just when I need a bit of inspiration juice.

FAVORITE movie of all time  ?
That’s a hard one. I guess I’d have to say “Amelie”.

Rob Roth, Jon Kassen, Catia Chien, Isabel Arsenault, Jenny Kostecki-Shaw, Paul Klee, Charlie Harper and Rex Ray just to name a few…

Favorite project you ever did?
Many years ago I did this super long baby card/book/brochure when I worked at Hallmark. It was done in two 4ft panels. I had no sketch; I just kept going and going until it was done. I never get to work like that these days, It was loads of fun to know where I was going but also not know.

Dream assignment + project for the future?
I’d love to get back into painting large paintings. Just painting.

If you weren’t an artist, what would you like to be?
I’d love to be a professional chef.

Walk in the woods near my house. Collect pretty naturals objects. Play with clay, ceramic work. Kids stuff with my daughter like building a village out of cardboard boxes and plastic tubes.


Adele, Jamie Cullum, John Mayer, Norah Jones, One Republic, Jackson Brown, Nina Simone, Ricky Lee Jones, Glen Gould, Thomas Newman.

Best advice to an artist either still in school or just out, 
looking to get started?

Never let go of your dream if you really believe in it. It can take many years to find the place where you can make a living at it, In the meantime do your art on weekends, at lunch, when the kids are in bed, ect. When ever you feel it. That’s what makes the difference; if you can keep the hope alive over time you can make it come true.


   Check out her books  



beautiful ART maria!  
thank you so much for sharing your world.  

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