Category Archives for "“Favorite Things” series"

Nov 28

Favorite Things: Joan Beiriger

What a treat it is to be profiling Joan Beiriger’s Favorite Things for this post! I have been trying to nab Joan to do this for over a year now, she is one busy lady! Lucky for us she eeeked out some time to share what her favorite things are that inspire and comfort her while she creates her beautiful art!  Thank you Joan!

I met Joan a year and a half ago at Surtex, but I had known of Joan for a couple of years prior by her wonderful and informative blog about art, the business of art, and art licensing. If there is one thing I can say about Joan it is that she is a true teacher at heart. While at Surtex she impressed me so much by emphatically guiding my sister and I to the back corner of the Stationary Show, just as it was closing on our last day there, to make sure we grabbed all the free Trade Magazines to take home for reference. For Joan, helping other artists succeed and get all that they can out of their business is what she is extremely passionate about. I have learned so much from Joan over the years and I am thrilled to be able to share with you a little glimpse into what fuels her creativity! 

(OH – one more thing, I’ve heard Joan’s last name pronounced many different ways over the years, so I finally asked her what is the correct way to say Beiriger. Answer:  “Bi-riger”, long “i” and “riger” as in “outrigger”. For some reason an “n” is often added into her name, making it sound like the Beringer Wine brand. Now we all know!)



Licensed artist Joan Beiriger is widely regarded as an expert in art licensing. Her popular blog features informative articles designed to educate those interested in the art licensing industry and attracts hundreds of readers each week.

After a successful, two-decade career in the cross-stitch industry, Joan started painting and educating herself about art licensing in the late 1990s. She also embraced the computer, and today is an expert in using Adobe PhotoShop and other applications to manipulate her art for specific products at her licensee’s request. Joan has created a robust body of art collections specifically for use on products. Her art has been licensed for numerous stationery, gift and home décor products, including greeting cards, gift wrap, gift bags, wall décor, decorative flags and mailbox wraps. 



PRODUCTS:  I absolutely love products and often purchase products with other artists work on them!  I especially collect art on products by artists that I am familiar with, have met in person, and corresponded with via the internet.  Surrounding myself with products remind and inspire me that there are many artists that are successfully licensing their art. I show some of the greeting cards on a bulletin board and larger items on shelves in my studio.  But because I have collected so many, most are stored in boxes and rotated periodically with ones that are currently displayed.


THE INTERNET:  I am so passionate about learning as much as I can about art licensing that it is not surprising that many of my favorite things are electronic tools that help me research manufacturers and understand related industries.  I use the internet to search for manufacturers, retailers, artists, agent websites and find information about subjects that I am currently researching for blog articles. I also use the internet to view youtube videos about manufacturers, art, and Photoshop how-to-dos. 



TV SHOWS:  I do not look at TV very much but do love watching the home decorating shows on HGTV and also “some” realities shows.  I have learned that shows like “So You Think You Can Dance,” “Fashion Star,” and “Broadway or Bust” embodies similar criteria that is needed to successfully license art.  And by watching these shows emphasizes that it is not enough to have talent but a person must also be dedicated, willing to grow, learn from mistakes, listen to experts, work hard, and not give up.

CAMERA:  My digital camera is a must for me.  I use my Nikon Coolpix P90 for all kinds of photos for inspiration and reference. I use it to take pictures of flowers in my neighborhood and at a local garden center that allows picture taking, at the county fair, when traveling, and retail shows and museums if allowed. I take pictures of all types of subjects besides flowers that include tree bark, wooden decks, brick walls, sidewalks, and stones for textured backgrounds. Over the years, I have accumulated a diverse and robust body of photos. I lost count years ago when I had over 40 thousand pictures. Because I have so many, I always have images that inspire me and reference material for all year round such as fall leaves when I need to create autumn art in the spring. 

IPad2:  My IPad2 is my most favorite tool!  I use it many hours each day at home and bring it with me when I have to wait for appointments and when I travel.   It is used not only for entertainment during breaks in creating art but also for showcasing my art, listening to audio sessions on art licensing and business, and using the internet and reading/writing emails when connected to WIFI.  But what I really enjoy the most is the ability to brainstorm and write down and organize art ideas in one place instead of having zillions of paper scraps that get lost.  Also I enjoy the ability to do rough sketches and take photos if my camera is not handy.  The IPAD is many tools-in-one!


Find Joan Beiriger at:

WEBSITE          BLOG         LINKEDIN        AGENT

May 14

Favorite Things: Monica Lee

I am so excited to be profiling for this month’s “Favorite Things” series a woman who I think is quite simply – AMAZING!  Monica Lee does it all – artist, talk show host, creative business strategist, mom, wife, etc….  the list goes on, AND she does all this with a smile on her face and an infectious laugh that makes you drawn to learn more about her and all that she is creating and doing.  I first came to know Monica when I was paired up with her for Cindy Ann Ganadan’s Ornament Exchange.  I was lucky enough to receive some beautiful hand-glittered Monica Lee artwork-turned ornaments ~ and I love them! Many of you may know Monica first as an established and prolific artist, creating art for products of all types, but this year she has added talk show host to her menu of talents with her much loved and popular website and vlog interviews on Smart Creative Women. One minute of watching Monica’s interviews, or reading her blog, and you will witness her immense energy for life, gregarious personality, and all around cool chic persona. It is this goal of putting out support and encouragement into the world that is catapulting her to the top of the list of motivational cheerleaders for creative women!  

Thanks Monica for taking the time to show us your “Favorite Things”!



I write. I have been blogging for what seems like 100 years and have discovered that I am the most satisfied when I introduce people to each other and introduce ideas into the hearts of receptive souls. (A bit touchy feeling, I know…but trust me being open is where it all begins.)

I interview. On Smart Creative Women tune in to hear big ideas from the most charming, fresh women in the biz. We talk about their business models, balance, and yes, we even talk money. I am an unabashed people person and love nothing better than hearing their stories.  I am an illustrator turned talk show host. I am loving Smart Creative Women and somehow feel like I have found my sweet spot doing this. My natural curiosity has led me to what comes the most naturally to me, talking! haha!

I am an intuitive, creative business strategist.  Helping other creatives get out of their own head, out of their own way and monetize their creativity is my passion. Streamlining ideas and breaking through stuff that might hold you back is what I am all about. With a little cheerleading kicked in for good measure.

I create. I owned and operated a cottage greeting card business that turned out to be not so cottage. I started out as a sales rep and then jumped right into manufacturing greetings cards. 100k cards on the first run! Suddenly I was the one hiring sales reps! Several years later I decided I wanted to stop packing orders (that was a lot of packing tape) and illustrate full time. So I got out my paintbrush, beefed up a new portfolio and I started showing my illustrations to editors without even knowing how to write a freelance proposal! I learned everything ON THE JOB. I had to learn computer programs, file delivery, social media all while I was workin’ it! I attended trade shows, showed at trade shows and started licensing my artwork. I have met fabulous people along the way and I can’t get enough of creative minds. I had one friend tell me that she liked my “been there, done that” story. I have honestly enjoyed every minute (did I mention that during a large part of this story I was flying all over Europe as a flight attendant, talk about jet lagged)! All of this has led me on the perfect path to this point, helping you draw out your best and most authentic self as a creative person in business.


INSPIRATION BOARDS, BOOKS, AND JOURNALS:  I have a passion for books and journals. I am a serious journaler!! I also am drawn towards old glamour, vintage linens, vintage jewelry. You can see a mood board that I put together with some of my art and some items right out of my closet! (Also – check out the table top full of beautiful  Monica Lee designed fabric ~ Gorgeous!).
FASHION & FASHION ILLUSTRATION:  I am influenced by fashion and fashion illustrators and sometimes feel like I was born in the wrong era! Although, I couldn’t  have survived without stretch fabric! 
MY HOUSE & ESPECIALLY THE LIVING ROOM:  Here’s a pic of the living room in my house. I have to remind myself that my house is what I had dreamed of living in one day, a cottage style house built in the 20’s. I think I take it for granted and complain about no electrical outlets etc, haha!
WATER COLOR PAINTS:  Watercolor paints ~ my medium of choice,  although I use the computer more than I care too. 

Find Monica Lee at:

Website: SMART CREATIVE WOMEN    –    FACEBOOK        

Website: MONICA LEE STUDIOS     –    FACEBOOK      



Apr 05

Favorite Things: April Heather Davulcu

I never cease to be amazed at how wonderful the internet can be in opening my often closed-up world that is my studio.  The perfect example is getting the chance to “meet” artist April Heather Davulcu.  We recently connected through our blogs and it has been such a pleasure to get to know more about her and her beautiful art. We share the same mission statement: to create art that brings happiness; and it only takes a moment on April Heather’s website and blog to feel that sentiment shining through. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to introduce you to Heather (she informally goes by her middle name) and her favorite things that inspire and comfort her while she creates.  



Heather has always loved to draw and paint and create happy art.  She began her career as a mural artist in Austin, TX in 1994.  She created fun and lively murals all over Central Texas before a move brought her to the East Coast.  She continued to paint murals and even teach a little too, while being a mom to 2 young daughters. While her girls were little she experienced severe chronic migraines.  During that time she drew her pain as therapy, eventually painting some images that are now widely published. Today she is pain free and she considers herself very blessed to get to create from her home studio–painting illustrations and art for licensing.  

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STUDIO SPACE:  Here is the first thing I love–my studio!  Its been a slowly evolving space and I love being here! 

INSPIRATION BOARD & A VERY SPECIAL NEW YORKER COVER: This is my inspiration board where I pin up photos, love notes, and inspiration. The New Yorker cover is from the day I was born! May 2 1970 and it was given to me by a mentor.

SPECIAL NOTES & PICTURES:  Here’s a detail photo of a note my daughter wrote when she was little and also a little love note from my hubby (plus my favorite Mary Engelbreit illustration). I have several things on this shelf that I love!  I adore this picture of my daughters from a trip we took where we camped on the beach – it was so fun! My mom picked that little piece of cotton in Texas–a little token from home. I love old books and this one is titled “Girls Who Became Artists”.

PICTURE BOOTH & PINK BUGS:  I love my old photo booth pics from when my husband and I were dating (we were 19!) and I did an illustration inspired by them. Here is a little collection I have of pink VW Bugs that people have given me.  I actually had a pink 1970 VW Bug in high school.  I loved that car and used it as my inspiration for creating my little “mascot”.

PETER REYNOLDS:  I got this poster from the Surtex show in 2007.  I walked the show with a friend and saw Peter Reynolds.  I have to say that I am not usually star struck, but I acted like a teenage groupie when I met him.  Full on dork — I said “Oh MY GOSH YOU ARE PETER REYNOLDS!”  He was so nice and gracious and GAVE me this poster and signed it.  I love it, even if I’m a little embarrassed by my goofiness.  The Dot and ISH are two of my absolute favorite children’s books.  

POODLES:  I  grew up with a  poodle named Fifi, and now I have a poodle named Ava. Some of my friends have given me little vintage poodle things that I love. Here’s a poodle I painted that I just adore.

COSTUME DESIGN & ALFRED HITCHCOCK: History of Costume & Costume Design ~ I really thought I wanted to be a costume designer for a while in college.  I worked on one movie set and that pretty much cured that! I love Alfred Hitchcock movie ~ REAR WINDOW is my favorite.

LICORICE:  A must have in my studio ~ soft black licorice, the softer the better!


Find April Heather Davulcu at:


Mar 02

Favorite Things: Aaron Christensen

What a treat it is to be profiling Aaron Christensen for this post of ‘Favorite Things’. Aaron is an artist who can pretty much do anything (I’m not kidding about that either). He draws, he paints, he builds, he designs …. he is a creative pioneer and I’m sure if you didn’t already realize it you’ve seen his work many times before in his creative children’s rooms profiled in magazines and on television, OR you’ve seen his handywork on the numerous products his art has graced.  Aaron seems to be tireless as he manages his very busy career running his Art Licensing business (check out Aaron Christensen Art Licensing), and his Embellishments Studio and Embellishments for Kids  in Portland Oregon.  Recently he paired with artist Sherri Blum  in a collaboration of creative spirit in “The Princess and the Propmaker”  – a blog where these two talented folks combine their love of interior design and creative kid’s spaces and put their magical twist to keep readers up to speed on all that is hip & happening in Children’s Decor.  

Aaron is a busy man, to say the least, but recently he found the time to organize a Studio Tour Blog Hop – a day when a group of Artists, including Aaron, gave sneak peeks inside their personal studios. It was fun to see all that Aaron has in and around his work place that inspires and comforts him while he creates, that I asked him if he’d let me showcase his faves on my ‘Favorite Things’ Series. Happily he agreed and he even added a few more images especially for us!  Thank you Aaron!

SAMPLING OF AARON’S WORK & TOOLS OF THE TRADE:  (Aaron) Here’s a glimpse of some of my art that you’ll see out there. All of it is created in-studio by hand painting.  I do use a computer for color corrections and to create derivatives.  I held off showing you my desk and computer space, simply from the fact that it’s loaded with projects and paperwork.  You’ve seen one messy desk you’ve seen them all! If a prisma color pencil sells for $1.75, I have my retirement fund invested in a rainbow of colors.  Please no comments on my brush hygiene.  Come on, a guy has to have at least one vice.  Mine is wrecking brushes.

 STUDIO “ABC’S”:   I know my ABC’s, but as a reminder I have them as a 3-D collage. Anyone want to buy a vowel? The previous homeowner used this building to work on cars, which is not my thing.  So, with some elbow grease and finish carpentry I remodeled the space to my liking.  I  drilled and plumbed an old stainless steel bucket turning it into a wash basin for my brushes.  It’s mounted on a storage cabinet I made out of repurposed cabinet doors.  A distressed paint job and galvanized tops finish it off.  The oversized chalkboard is actually a “secret” door (don’t tell anyone), it leads to a really organized storage room for most of my art supplies and huge collection of books.  Did I mention it’s really organized?  Gosh, for some reason I forgot to take a picture for you.  I guess you will have to take my word on it… really organized!


COLLECTIONS & ODDITIES:   My collections of the unusual line the walls.   The guy up in the left hand corner features a favorite quip – “Man can not live by words alone, despite sometimes he has to eat them”. The “faux” sliding metal door leads to the wood shop. Because I build props, furniture and fun stuff I needed a way to contain sawdust and hide the less than decorator wood shop.  So, I faux painted joined hollow core doors into my rusty metal pride and joy rolling door that weighs almost nothing.  I know, how weird to have anything rusty be pride and joy….do you get me now?


NESTING HEAD DOE:   Inspired by Dr. Seuss, I created my original Nesting Head Doe. You can follow her story over on my Embellishments Kids blog post about being respectful of copyrights and how to be inspired without copying.

DR. SEUSS:   My favorite author and kooky creative is Dr. Seuss.  As a child I loved to read.  Seuss’ primers like Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham were so helpful in my ambition to tackle reading at a very young age.  His influences have grown roots within my art, love of whimsy and even a few business practices.  To honor him and keep his characters close, I’ve been collecting his vintage licensed pieces for years.  The real treats are the items created before his death.  He was super selective to whom he licensed his characters making them rare and hard to find.

BOZO & HEAT MISER:  Two of my childhood favorites loom over my drawing table reminding me to stay young at heart.


PASTRIES:   Mmmmm pastries.  A guy has to have his weaknesses!  I’m spoiled with several great bakeries close to home.  One is a bizarre donut haven called Voodoo, which sells off the wall concoctions like Tang sprinkled, maple and bacon and a namesake donut shaped like a voodoo doll.  The other is Delphina’s which taunts me with their roasted garlic clove and baked olive breads, simply delicious!

GARDENING:   We live in Portland which is a great climate for gardeners.  My wife and I are lucky to have a 1/2 acre plot 10 minutes from downtown Portland, which is a huge rarity.  When we moved in I rented a tractor and tilled the entire property up, it was two symmetrical for my taste.  Since then I spend every chance I get nurturing my plants and have been aiming towards a tropical/mediterranean look.  While I enjoy some of the classic tried and true plants and flowers, I am always on the search for something unusual.  I love to shock my neighborhood walkers with something different.   This year I’m experimenting with several hardy bananas and other giant leaved plants.

HOLIDAY CARDS (MADE WITH LOVE):  My favorite part of the holidays is working with my wife, Angela, on our Christmas cards.  We’ve chronicled our children’s growing up through these special pictures.  The process of designing the look, working with props and stylizing them brings just as much joy as having them capture moments in time.


To see more of Aaron’s Studio and other artists’ creative spaces from the Studio Hop – click HERE.

“Like” Aaron on FACEBOOK


Nov 02

Favorite Things: Jon Paquette

It isn’t often that I get the chance to profile someone who has been on the ground floor of a creative industry, but this post of “Favorite Things” does just that! Jon Paquette’s creative journey has lead him down an incredibly diverse path:  From his early years as a pre-med student in college,  to getting his MFA in screenwriting at the prestigious USC Film School, to being at the ground breaking stage of the video gaming industry! Jon has so many diverse interests and hobbies that spending time with him and his lovely wife, Mary, is always filled with fascinating conversations and lots of laughs.  I can also tell you that Jon is pretty much the closest thing to a Super Hero to my boys that’ll ever be, especially when he shares gaming tips with them!  I know you’re going to find Jon as amazing as I do, and I am so grateful to him for letting us profile his “Favorite Things” that help him as the pursues his creative ventures.

(By the way, I’m not sure what that is on his hand in the picture above, but knowing Jon its got a good story behind it)


Jon came to the game business in 1996 as an intern with DreamWorks Interactive.  At the time, Jon was working toward his MFA in Screenwriting at USC.  After receiving his degree, Jon served as a producer and designer on a variety of DreamWorks games, including Clive Barkers Undying.  He continued to pursue screenwriting, and in 2003 was awarded the Best Comedy Screenplay award at the Austin Film Festival for his screenplay, The Subcandidate.  After DreamWorks Interactive was acquired by Electronic Arts (EA), Jon continued to design and write for games, including several titles in the Medal of Honor series.  Jon is now a Writer for Insomniac Games.  His most recent release is Resistance 3.


Writing is work.  There are times when I’m in the groove, things are clicking, words are coming and everything is good in the world.  Then there are times when I’m mentally constipated– I think about how I should cut my toenails, or take the dog for a walk.  I love that scene in the movie Adaptation where Charlie sits down at the typewriter to start writing, and we hear his thoughts:

 “To begin… To begin… How to start? I’m hungry. I should get coffee. Coffee would help me think. Maybe I should write something first, then reward myself with coffee. Coffee and a muffin. Okay, so I need to establish the themes. Maybe a banana-nut. That’s a good muffin.”

 It’s funny because it’s true.  For me, writing is really about the ability to concentrate on the task at hand.  So here are a few of my favorite things that help me focus on the work.

PEET’S COFFEE:  I do my best work in the mornings, so coffee is a key ingredient (i.e., chemical stimulant) in my ability to focus.  I like to drink coffee black, with no milk or sugar.  Most black coffee tastes like burnt packing peanuts.  But somehow Peet’s manages to do something to their coffee that makes it taste good.  And strong.  One small coffee will get me jump-started and focused for the whole morning. 



SPOTIFY:  Sometimes I like silence, especially if I have to do some deep thinking about themes or character motivations.  But if I’m working on an action scene or something that requires a more kinetic touch, I’ll have some background music going.  I like to just start it going and forget about it– which is why I listened to Pandora for so long.  But I recently signed up for Spotify and I’m loving its selection and how easy it is to create custom playlists of different types of music.  Sometimes I’ll be in an ethereal mood, so I’ll dial up some Sigur Rós, and quickly make a mix of other similar artists.  Or sometimes I’ll need something with a lot of energy, like Infected Mushroom, one of my favorite trance artists.  But sometimes Spotify can be my worst enemy, and I’ll lose hours just listening to new songs and artists. 



ROGET’S THESAURUS:   If I just write what’s in my head, chances are I’ll use the same words and phrases over and over again.  That’s fine for a first draft, but as they say, “Writing is rewriting.”  And when I’m rewriting, I like to have a good thesaurus nearby so I can find words and phrases that help the writing flow.  Plus I learn new words at the same time, which helps me when I play Scrabble against my dad.  

STORY:  The old standby.  Whenever I’m working on a story, there is inevitably a time where I panic and say to myself, “You don’t know what the f— you’re doing.”  I realize I’m a hack, and I decide to throw it all away and become a blackjack dealer.  But then I turn to Robert McKee’s Story, start flipping through, and quickly realize that it’s not all that bad.  All stories have problems, and one of the main jobs of a writer is to solve those problems as economically and elegantly as possible.  I don’t use the book as a bible, but more as a guide to help me through the maze of the narrative and battle my own lack of confidence.

BATHS & NAPS:  I put these in the same category because they both serve the same purpose.  Douglas Adams once said, “Writing is easy, you just stare at a blank page until your forehead starts to bleed.”  Well, there are times when I’ve been bleeding for hours and still nothing comes.  And it’s usually because I’m overcomplicating a problem.  So what I need is to simplify, to cast aside all of the little things and see the big picture.  And I’ve found that naps and baths make that process a little easier.  Sometimes I need both.  And a muffin.  




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Sep 12

Favorite Things – Sarah Melling

It has been awhile since I made a “Favorite Things” post, but I am extremely honored to come back to my series this week profiling an amazing artist, Sarah Melling. I have admired Sarah’s work for awhile now.  Her wonderful blog chronicles her undeniable artistic talent.  The posts she makes that I love the most are those where she answers the weekly call of Illustration Friday.  She has an unbelievable talent with color pencils, though she will humbly dismiss compliments given.  I love to check in and see what Sarah has created and posted.  She has such an eye for design and detail, as well as the gift of story telling in how she explains her art in a very authentic and entertaining way. It’s such a treat to visit her blog.  Here’s a sneak peek at some of the FAVORITE THINGS Sarah has that help inspire her while she creates!  Thanks Sarah for sharing.


Growing up in Indiana, my box of 64 Crayola crayons was one of my prized possessions (that’s a hint as to one of my “favorite things”!). I took lots of art classes in high school and majored in Interior Design at Purdue University. After moving to San Jose in 1979 (that’s a hint as to my age), I worked as an interior designer and, after I decided to stay home with my kids, as a free-lance graphic designer. While those are both creative jobs involving a lot of drawing, I rarely drew for my own pleasure. Flash forward a few years, and I found myself with free time and a need to be creative. I started visiting artists’ and illustrators’ blogs and my fate was sealed—I was more inspired with every click. After a few months of drawing, I took the leap into the world of blogging last December, and it’s been so much fun. I love the community at Illustration Friday, and have made some wonderful online “pen pals” all over the world…like Kate!

My work is almost exclusively pencil or colored pencil. I enjoy doing still life drawings of simple everyday objects, as well as things found in nature, especially botanical items like fruits and vegetables. I aim for a realism that stops short of that super-photorealistic look. I want my drawings to look like drawings.

I have a little nook in my house that’s my “studio”. It’s very small, and there are other roomier places in my house, but I like its coziness. Here are a few of my favorite things (I love saying that since “The Sound of Music” is one of my all time favorite movies!) :0)


VINTAGE READING CHARTS:  Besides drawing, my other passions are books and reading. See the two big vintage schoolroom charts hanging behind my desk? I adore them – one of my best eBay finds ever. I guess I’m just kind of nostalgic for that time, because seeing them when I walk in makes me happy.

CRAYOLA CRAYONS:  Crayola crayons were an important part of my childhood, and I have a small collection of old boxes of them that I’ve found at estate sales. (I even did a drawing and wrote about them a while back.)

TREASURES, BOOKS, AND INSPIRING NIC-NACS: I have tons of things I love on my shelves, my vintage flash cards (there’s that schoolroom nostalgia again), and some treasures that have been in my drawings: My childhood favorite books, a jar for lightning bugs, and my Beekman 1802 soap

Among my shelf treasures is this little box frame which contains a card from a library card catalog signed by Tomie dePaola. (I bought it online a number of years ago when a library sold a bunch as a fundraiser.) I love children’s books and children’s book illustrations, and his The Art Lesson is one of my favorites. (Again, with the Crayolas!) It’s right next to a copy of the fabulous book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick.

STUDIO: I have lots of favorite things on my desk: See that little brass hand holding some swatches in the background? I should have a better photo, but it’s a lovely Victorian stand given to me by a dear friend. and the leather and canvas roll-up pencil case is something I love the look and feel of, and it’s great for keeping the 3 families of Prismacolor greys all sorted out.

If touring my little nook has you feeling a bit claustrophobic, come on over to my blog …I promise that it’s a little quieter there…well, usually!

Find Sarah Melling at:


Check out the great interview of Sarah posted on PIKALAND 

Aug 01

Favorite Things – Ann Salazar

I have known Ann for 13 years now and every time I talk to her I learn something new. Getting the chance to profile Ann for this FAVORITE THINGS post was a real treat for me, and I think you will agree she is an amazing forward thinker.  Ann has a passion for art and design as well as the brain of a true business woman.  These traits don’t always coincide in the same soul, but in Ann’s case they do.  Her passion for green design and innovative thinking has lead her to be a front runner in the new frontier of Eco-Design. I’m very honored she agreed to let me profile her!   



Originally “made in Taiwan,” I have moved 20 times, attended 14 schools and lived in 3 different countries. We were not a military family. We moved for the sake of change and progress. We moved for better job opportunities, better education, or just because. Having this unique experience has taught me the ability to adapt to change. With very basic ownership of material objects, I learned from my grandparents at an early age the value of saving, recycling, and reusing. As our resources were limited, we had to be creative as kids to keep ourselves entertained. Each time we moved, we’d make new friends despite the language gap. We learned about new cultures and languages on the fly, with no preparation and no expectation. My 2 sisters and I absorbed everything we experienced like those flat sponges from Trader Joe’s. Somehow my love for creating and designing became an intregal part to entertain our new friends. I made paper dolls and designed lines of fashion gowns, played, and didn’t give a second thought to not knowing the language. 

When we first moved to the States, my education felt like a never-ending mad science puzzle. I couldn’t understand the teacher in class, I couldn’t understand the homework questions, and I had to read my textbooks looking up a word at a time. That’s probably typical of most first generation immigrants, but the experience pushed me to deal with the new life and make the most of it. Eventually through trial and much error, I figured out enough and made my way to college, attending California State Polytechnic University of Pomona, where I met my husband, earned my B.A. in Archtecture, and settled down in Valencia. 

When we had our daughter 12 years ago, I planned and started my own design business. I was offered partnership relations with BASF Corporation’s Automotive Refinish Division in North America, to provide facility planning services to their customers. Eventually that led me to my own independent company, Avant Garde Interiors. Looking back, my ability to problem-solve has proven to be of value in my very specialized line of work. Today my clients include BASF, DuPont Performance Coatings USA, Toyota Motor Sales, dealer and independent collision centers from Canada, to U.S., and Puerto Rico.


MY GRANDMOTHER’S SILK NEEDLEPOINT SELF PORTRAIT, CIRCA 1924: She was 16 years young when she made this. The detail of this piece is astounding as each eyelash and strand of hair were meticulously sewn in place. Each piece of pearl on her necklace looks 3-Dimensional when the light hits the silk thread, sewn in circular pattern. During WW2, this was one of only a few precious things my grandparents were able to carry out of China when they fled from the Communists on one front and the Japanese on another, to Taiwan. This portrait is a reminder of the priviledged life she and so many people enjoyed and then were forced to leave behind. The grandparents I knew did not have time for such luxury. No matter how their means of living improved, they were always saving.

SIERRA’S ARTWORK: About a couple of years ago, when my daughter Sierra was 10, she started taking art lessons. I’m so proud she’s carrying on the family tradition and enjoying the quiet process of creating beautiful art. She has the art gene from both sides of the family.


HIGH SPEED RAIL TRANSPORTATION, ALTERNATIVE ENERGY: SOLAR, WIND, & VERTICAL VEGETATION: The building below has all exterior walls made with recycled water bottles. It provides great insulation and natural lighting inside. Vertical gardens are great insulation for buildings and allow crops of edible plants in virtually 0 footprint. This is great for urban settings. Will cities someday be able to grow fresh produce in and on buildings locally, without need to truck food from out of state?

Click HERE for more vertical vegetation examples around the world.


OH SO YUMMY DIM SUM: There are a great many super delicious places to eat around Los Angeles. These heavenly buns from Din Tai Fung are filled with steamy tender meat in juicy broth. Bite into it slowly and sip the broth…mmmm….

MY WALL ORGANIZER, WORK STATION:  All I can say is it keeps me sane to be able to tuck everything away in their own spaces. If it were not for this, I would not be able to find anything.

Find Ann Salazar at:  

WEBSITE              LINKEDIN 

A.S. – “I’d like to express that I’m flattered to be featured in Kate’s blog. Kate is a naturally talented artist who’s eye for color is most fun and inspiring. One thing comes to mind when I see her work: Happiness. “

thanks Ann!  :0)

Jun 10

Favorite Things – Paris Morris

I am so thrilled to have the opportunity to profile the talented Miss Paris Morris for this post of “Favorite Things”.  Paris is an amazing young woman who is already a best selling children’s book author at the ripe age of 13!  Pretty impressive, I know.  You might remember my POST about her books.  Stay tuned because the newest book in the “My Friend Paris” series is soon to be released! Thanks so much, Paris, for taking the time to share  with us those things that inspire and comfort you while you create!  :0)



Paris Morris had written 4 Best Selling children’s books by the time she was 12. She wrote the first book of the six books in the My Friend Paris series, I’m Having Twins, when she found no children’s books addressing the issues she was going through while her parents were expecting twins. Her second and third books, My Twins are Coming Home and My Twins’ First Birthday were borne of her experiences during the first year of her twin sisters’ lives. Paris Goes to Lake Tahoe, Paris Goes to San Francisco and Paris Goes to Los Angeles fill out California Travel book Series. Paris and her sisters live in Danville, California where Paris is in the seventh grade where she enjoys theater, shopping and hanging out with her friends. Paris’ books are available for sale on




PINK BEAN BAG CHAIRS:  These Pink Bean Bag chairs are favorites because they make my room look cool and I love hanging out with my friends in them!

PILLOW:  This pillow was hand made by my Grandma whom I call “Ga”.


TROPHIES:  My trophies remind me of the great times I had on dance team and of all of the awesome friends I made there.

PARIS SIGN:  This Paris sign was a main feature at my Bat Mitzah party.  That was the BEST night of my life!


QUILT:  A quilt made for me and my sisters by my Mom and it is in the entry way to our rooms.  I hope when I am older that I get to keep it.

“MY FRIEND PARIS” & MY SISTERS:  This picture shows my twin sisters and a HUGE “My Friend Paris” cut-out that we use for events.  I just love this picture!


Find “My Friend Paris” Books & more about Paris Morris at:

Website, Facebook Fan Page,

Email Inquiries,     New Year Publishing


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