Friday, February 1, 2013

Favorite Friend Friday: Graphic Designer, Michelle Beilner of Sparky & Marie and Jot Creates

Michelle Beilner of Jot Creates and Sparky & Marie is definitely one my personal favorite friends, as well as being a favorite friend of Assemble. She will most likely read this and roll her eyes, but besides being genuine, kind, and hilarious, Michelle is one of the most talented people we've ever met. Not only did she help us brand Assemble in the very beginning (the logo + all of those awesome little drawings of craft supplies on the website are her work), but she was also a writing partner on Neatloaf with us until we recently transferred to our own Assemble blog. These little projects are nothing compared to her real work, and we were excited to get to ask her a few questions about it:

michelle beilner of jot creates and sparky and marie

Tell us a bit about Sparky & Marie and Jot Creates. What different types of work do you do for each?
Sparky & Marie is a brand of prints and patterns that are available for licensing. I work with an agent that handles the business side of things. I come up with the creative stuff, and they make things happen!

sparky & marie calendar

Jot Creates is my graphic design business–identity design, print collateral, packaging, web, etc. It’s something that I’ve been building since 2006. It’s been slow growing, but I’d really like to hire a young budding designer this year to get things moving up and up.

jot creates logos

Where do you get your inspiration for your designs?
Specifically for Sparky & Marie–-60s and 70s pop floral prints are a ton of fun to look at, and I always have my eyes open when I’m out and about. I might find a flower on a walk, or something else lovely in nature. J. Crew catalogs have been bursting with fun color palettes for a while now, and the flea market is always a great source of inspiration. When I’m really in need of a creative jolt, my go-to place is Little Tokyo in downtown Los Angeles. There’s a Kinokuniya Bookstore, which I believe also has a location in Seattle. Their craft book section is awesome (even though I can’t read, I enjoy the photos). I also love the Los Angeles Flower Market. It’s a huge space filled with vendors selling flowers.

You have the sweetest ten month-old little boy at home--what's a typical day like for you as a designer and mom?
The baby wakes up at about 6:30am and he and his daddy start their day off with some one-on-one QT. I wake up at about 8:30am and by that time the little guy is ready for his morning nap. Once he’s down for his nap, I try to work--sometimes unsuccessfully. When he wakes we eat and play. I might try and squeeze in some emails and phone meetings while he’s awake, and at about 1pm he goes down for his second nap (the same work schedule applies for the second nap). After his second nap, we usually get out of the house for groceries, a good long stroll, or to see some pals. Bedtime begins at about 5:30pm/6:00pm with a bath, PJs, a feeding and cuddles. Once the baby is down for bed the work REALLY begins, and I’m usually able to cram in 3-5 hours before it’s time for my bedtime.

How do you manage to balance work and family time?
I don’t. It’s a wild juggling act! I have big dreams of “doing it all”–-being creative, managing two different facets of my business, managing the house, being a good partner to my husband, a good mom to my son, etc. I fall behind on many levels, but fortunately I have a loving and supportive husband, a very sweet son and a big number of others (mom, dad, sisters, friends) who love me despite all of my shortcomings.

Do you have any new projects that you are excited about?

Why, yes! On the Sparky & Marie front, I’m working with a company by the name of Trimcraft in the UK on a collection of Nordic-inspired Christmas crafting papers. On the Jot front, I’ve been working with a woman entrepreneur (website, packaging and print collateral) on a product that she is soon to be launching at the International Home and Housewares Show in Chicago. Labels to help you organize your paint cans!

What is your proudest design achievement?
I’m not one to acknowledge achievements. There haven’t been achievements like design awards, or anything of the like YET, but Sparky & Marie prints and patterns will be featured in a kids print and pattern book by Bowie Style of the Print & Pattern blog. The book is due out some time this year. When Bowie approached me about including my prints, I was so happy. I love her blog!

What do you like to do in your off-time?

Of course I am always thinking about business related things, but a girl has got to get refreshed and feel inspired! These days: going for walks with my family, cooking recipes from Epicurious, going to the farmer’s market, and dreaming of buying our first home (hopefully in the next few years).

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Simple. Chicago. That’s where my family is. I do love what my husband and I have created in Los Angeles, but I miss my family terribly. Thankfully, we have very loving and wonderful friends and neighbors in LA.

If you could eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I don’t like this question. Grr. I love food too much to pick one thing. Pizza is probably up there.

What's your dream job, besides what you are doing now?
I just told my husband this a few days ago and he said, “No, you DO NOT want to do that.” Oh, but yes I do! That is, I would love to have a shop in my neighborhood that sells handcrafted artisan home goods and offers the best damn gift wrapping you’ve ever laid your eyes on--gorgeous papers and the prettiest grosgrain ribbons. No wire ribbons!! I’d be like Mommy Dearest, but with ribbons.

You get to organize a dinner party, who is there?
Ira Glass (This American Life), Michelle Obama (First Lady), Jimmy Kimmel (Jimmy Kimmel Live), Jenna Lyons (J. Crew Creative Director), plus two of my professors from college who made me look at the world with bigger and brighter eyes--Ken Carls (graphic design) and Jerry Savage (life drawing/painting). Oh, and my husband would be there, of course! Everyone would really enjoy his fabulous collection of vinyl records and his charming personality. Also, everyone gets to bring their significant others, which means the President would be at my party too.

Thanks, Michelle!!

Images courtesy of Michelle Beilner.

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