Well, hello! April just flew right by but we have just enough time to end this month on a lively note. Marley Ungaro is our featured crafter for the month of April, and quite fittingly so. Her work epitomizes the best parts of spring -renewal, color, excitement, positivity, and life. Marley uses a variety of mediums, including paper, acrylics, and watercolors, to create detailed and vibrant works of art. Her colorful depictions of animals are favorites at Kitsch. Whether on pillows, onesies, kitchen towels, bags, or prints these adorable creatures have so much personality they seem to come to life the longer you look at them. Marley is a loving mother of two, who also happen to have the creative gene. In fact, we are lucky enough to carry some of the cute and clever greeting cards Marley created with her kids. Everything Marley makes is infectiously positive, and big surprise, so is she. To learn more about this super talented lady, read our fun little interview with her!
How did you get started?
I wanted to be a stay-at-home-Mom when my daughter was born (over 15 years ago), so I kept busy being a wife, Mom, and creative soul, by starting my own company from home. I started taking on commission work from family and friends, which carried over to word-of-mouth work. I started designing and manufacturing my own art calendar and note card line in 2004 and have kept it going (with a decent following) ever since. I’ve added a “Mommy & Me” line that includes my children’s art and our collaborative work. I still do commission work on the side, along with design work, and many other odd artsy jobs.
Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in SO many things. I work from home, so I live in a beautiful home that has become a work of art itself. I am inspired daily by my surroundings. I love to work in the yard and gardens, so nature constantly inspires me. Everything around me is beautiful and has some artistic movement to it!
What's your studio playlist?
When I paint on canvas with my acrylics, I love listening to Italian guitar music, or music from movie soundtracks like Memoirs of a Geisha or Out of Africa. It really depends on what I’m painting or my mood. Honestly, when I’m working in my studio and pressing towels, I usually have on a favorite TV show, like my new favorite from the BBC, The Paradise. Oh! The clothes and the setting are so beautiful!
Where is your studio?
My studio (in this home) is in our garage. I have an office inside the home. I took over my husband’s garage; and he built on to the shed outside in the back yard. I have a wonderful large space and just added some huge vintage wood cabinets from an old suit-makers shop from Newport News. They are fabulous and perfect for my fabrics and all of my paper supplies.
How do you get yourself out of a creative rut?
Honestly, I am rarely ever in a creative rut. With creative children at home, I’m constantly listening to their creative thoughts and find myself having to learn how to organize my creative thoughts instead of digging myself out of a rut!
Favorite blog/movie/tv show/book that never fails to inspire or just clears the mind.
I do watch a lot of good TV (and good movies, when there is one). I LOVE old Doris Day movies. I love the clothes, the furniture, the clean language! I also love period pieces, like The Tudors or The Borgias. We actually made my son a huge castle from that time period with real hardwood floors. It has a real drawbridge, loomed rugs, and a wizards room with bottles of potion lining a wall shelf.
You have a time machine. What place in time would you choose?
Seeing as I adore the 16th Century…what do you think?
Share a recipe - bonus points if there's a story behind it.
Black Bean Salsa
Party Favorite...every time!
11 oz can sweet & white corn mixed, drained
15 oz can black beans, washed & drained
11 oz can mandarin oranges (reserve juice)
1/2 orange pepper, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 yellow pepper, diced
4 green onions, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4-1/2 cup RED WINE VINEGARETTE by Wishbone
Cilantro to taste
Mix & add reserve orange liquid. Serve with nacho chips!
*I usually triple or even quadruple this recipe so I can keep some at home for the family (kids love it too). Go ahead and use a whole pepper where it calls for half, even if you are making a single recipe.
The story behind this recipe…I usually make this recipe for parties, or for my art home shows. I have so many people ask me about this recipe that I actually put it with one of my pieces of artwork and printed it on towels to sell. If they wanted the recipe, they’d have to buy a towel!
What's your dream project - if you had all the time and materials in the world?
My dream project would be to build or renovate a Frank Lloyd Wright home on a large open space looking over the water…with a small vineyard somewhere nearby. That’s not asking too much.
What artists influence your work - who are your creative idols?
I love Frida Kahlo and her work. Paul Gauguin has always impressed me. I am attracted to the works of Amedeo Modigliani. I also like many artists that are living that are close friends. The list is too long. God is my creative idol!
Describe yourself in 5 words.
I am…happy, loving, driven, joyful and encouraging.
Describe your work in 5 words.
My work is…colorful, happy, whimsical, unique, and diverse.
Tell us something funny that happened recently.
My 11 year-old son and I were at Lowes buying gardening supplies. He saw a bag with insects on it. He asked what “that” was. I told him it was a grub. I explained that they lived in the ground and they could actually bite, or pinch. Later that day, we are digging a hole to plant a beautiful weeping cherry tree over our koi pond. I said, “Look, Grey…a grub!” He instantly starts screaming like a 4 year old little girl, with his hands clinched next to his face and his knees marching up in the air like he’s river dancing on speed! I just stood there looking at him…”What in the WORLD is wrong with you!” He ran off screaming and crying. He never got within more than 3 feet of that daggon’ grub. That was funny.
How do you find balance?
I spend most of my ‘free’ time with my family and keep a very open communication with them. They are my biggest support system. This keeps me very balanced.
Is there a story behind your blog/shop name?
My company name is MY name, so there really isn’t a story behind the name; however, the logo has a heart in it. There is a story there. Many years ago, I started seeing hearts everywhere I went. Mainly in nature: bushes, trees, the sky, the concrete, etc. To me, it’s always been a constant reminder, from God, that He is watching me and is proud of me…that I’m doing the things I’m suppose to be doing. I’m encouraged even more when I see those hearts!
What's your typical day?
Oh my…I check to see what orders I need to ship off from my Etsy store. I check my email to see what my stores need (I have several stores that carry my things), so I’ll make sure I have all of the supplies I need for the week. For example, if I need to press 100 towels for a store, I have to make sure I print out the designs, cut them out, heat the press, fold the towels (while I wait for the press to heat up), press each towel, tie my ribbons and tags on each towel (or bag them), price them (for some stores), and check them off of my inventory list. I have to make sure I have enough ink, paper, towels, etc. for the following week or month. This is just one order, for one store. I have art shows, and many other stores or orders to fill. And that’s just for towels. I have prints, note cards, canvas totes, pillows, art maps, laminated placemats, art journals, and several other products that I love working with. I do work from home, so I make sure my home is kept up as well. I have lots of pets that I tend to (another inspiration), so that also keeps me busy each day.
We're handing you plane tickets to anywhere. Where are you going?
My gorgeous hubby and I are going to Italy! Finally!
What advice to do you have for other crafty businessfolk?
1- Be your own boss. Go into business for yourself (if you can).
2- Make sure you are doing something unique. These days, everyone thinks they can be crafty, so the craft sites are oversaturated with so many trying to do ‘it.’ If you do have something unique, then GO FOR IT!
3- Take time researching online for the best prices for your supplies. Don’t be afraid to ask other crafters for their advice. I have had several people ask me where I got ‘this’ or ‘that’ and I am happy to share. I would hope someone would share with me if I needed help!
4- Make sure you are truly supported by your loved one(s) before you get started. That’s the best secret to success!
These questions are silly. I'm going to tell you something else...
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!” The golden rule actually ROCKS!
Thanks for letting me share with you!
xoxo, Marley Ungaro
You can also follow Marley's work on her Facebook page!