Our featured artist this month is Mary Engelbreit! Mary is both an artist and a writer whose cards are adored all over the world. She takes care to combine a perfect blend of sweet sayings and whimsically fun illustrations to create cards for every occasion. Keep reading to find out a little more about Mary…
When did you first realize you were so creative?
I have felt the need to draw and make things for as long as I can remember! Luckily, my parents were very supportive of this, and filled the house with art supplies and gave me plenty of time and freedom to do it.
What is your background as a creative talent?
My only background is making art every day. I wasn’t crazy about school and when high scho
ol ended, I just wanted to get to work. My first job was at an art supply store, where I met lots of working artists and realized a career in art was possible. Plus, I learned how to use a variety of materials. That’s also where I had my first art show, and realized people really liked my work! Then I got a job at a very small ad agency. That’s where I learned the business side of art. All in all, it was a perfect education for what I do now!
What is your current position/relationship with American Greetings?
I create greeting cards for American Greetings. As both an artist and a writer, what would you say comes first when creating a greeting card? Since I use lots of quotes in my work, I would say the words come first— they inspire the drawing.
What is it that inspires you when creating a greeting card?
I want to put something on a greeting card that really speaks to the buyer and the recipient. I don’t want to draw a flower on the front and say “Happy Birthday to my mother”. To me, that doesn’t convey a story. I like to try to draw a situation that both people will recognize and, hopefully, say what they really want to say to each other.
Do you have a favorite card that you’ve created, and why?
I tend to like the cards I’m currently working on, just because I have fun working on them! One of my recent favorites is “Hello You,” because it’s a good one to send to a friend anytime. Plus, I really like her dress!
What famous artists/writers have influenced you?
I loved all the old books my mother read to me when I was little, and a lot of those were hers or her mother’s books from when they were young. So I grew up very familiar with the work of Arthur Rackham, Beatrix Potter and the like. I also loved Garth Williams and Joan Walsh Anglund. Now I’m in love with so many wonderful illustrators, lilies William Joyce and Lizbeth Zwerger. The list is endless!
In general, what inspires you, and how do you stay motivated?
Everyday life inspires me, thank goodness! The things everybody goes through on a daily basis are remarkably similar, and those are the things I try to illustrate. And I love to draw, so it’s no problem for me to stay motivated!
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years I assume, if I’m lucky, I’ll still be illustrating books, cards and calendars!
What advice would you give to an artist or writer just starting out?
I tell artists just starting out that they better really love it! Licensing is much different now than when I started out, and with all the new technology things are just very different. There are certainly many jobs to be had in the art field—–jobs I don’t even understand!!——- so you just need to hang in there and never give up!
What do you do for fun?
For fun, I paint old furniture, boxes, frames— you name it, I will paint it! I’m also a rabid reader. Mysteries and fiction are my favorites.