Today in my Fellow Artist Series I am featuring a Nashville local Author and Children’s illustrator Maggie Day Conran. Maggie is known for her well written-witty-every mom can relate blog No Mommy Brain launched in 2007 which also appears in The Tennessean. She calls East Nashville her home along with her husband and two sons where she creates paper craft as used in her book Christmastime from A-Z and illustrated Just Right Julia.
Hi Maggie! I love your blog! Tell me about your current line of art creations? What inspired you to start?
I make cut paper art, usually in the form of illustrations for children’s books. I got started a few years ago when I tried to make a simple ABC Christmas book for my son, Liam. Once I began cutting and pasting, the ideas started pouring out of me and the project took on a life of its own. Now I love creating cut paper art – something I didn’t even know existed a few years ago!
Tell us what makes your process unique?
I’m not sure my process is unique! When I started, I chose this medium because it was the only way I could figure out how to make the ideas in my head come to life. It was only after I had been doing it for a while that I discovered there were other cut paper artists out there. From what I can tell, most people probably use fancier equipment than I do. I’ve done most of my cutting by hand, usually with a pair of scissors. I can’t say this won’t evolve as I learn more but for now, I’m pretty old school.
I would think the detailed process of your paper craft takes a lot of creativity. Were you always creative as kid, or did you find it later in life?
I was always creative but never felt like I was very good. In college I took tons of art classes (English major/art minor) but they usually left me feeling more frustrated than inspired. Nothing I tried made the ideas in my head translate to paper the way I wanted to. Discovering a medium I could control was so exciting – but I definitely had to wait until later in life for that to happen.
As someone with an art minor do you have favorite style of art?
I like all kinds of art. Photography, letterpress, watercolor paintings, collage, you name it!
How do you come about your ideas? Is there anything particular that inspires you?
I use a lot of different patterns and textures in my work so a trip down the scrapbook paper aisle always gets ideas flowing.
What is your favorite piece you’ve ever made and why?
I like the cover of my first book, Christmastime to Me from A to Z, because it was the first time I attempted to recreate a character (the cover features several of the children from inside the book). I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to do it; that up until that point it was just dumb luck every time something turned out looking good. But I did it! And from then on I had the confidence to create whatever I wanted.
Whatʼs the best compliment you have received about your work?
Seeing a kid pull one of my books off a bookshelf and get instantly engrossed in the pictures is an incredible feeling. There is no better compliment.
That has to be amazing to see, you must be proud!
Do you have a particular work space that you can get such a craft accomplished?
I created an office for myself in the laundry room! I have a long desk in front of a big window that overlooks our backyard. I can close the door which helps keep little ones out of my stuff (at least, that was the plan…) and allows me to get as messy as I need to without having to clean up when I’m in the middle of a project.
With the blog, paper cutting, and kids, what is a typical day in your life?
I stay home with my two sons, Liam is 7 and Finn is 2, so my days tend to revolve around them (we started homeschooling this year). I try to fit in some creative time for myself every week but there’s definitely not a typical day at this point. At this time, my full time “job” is my family. The pay is awful but I love my work. : ) I would LOVE to make a good living writing and making art but at this stage in my life I’m not ready to dedicate as much time and energy to it as I would need to to succeed. I think when my kids get a little bigger, I’ll be able to dedicate myself a lot more to my work.
What goals are you trying to accomplish right now?
I’m sort of in an in-between period right now – still settling in to the homeschool thing I guess. But my near-future goal is to do something big with my books – like get a publisher or an agent or start hustling or something! It’s the part of the process I don’t really like – the selling myself bit. I’d much rather sit around making art all the time.
So there you have it! Maggie Day Conran blogger, mommy, and paper-craft artist! You can find Maggie and follow her fantastic blog: www.nomommybrain.com. Also, find her on Pinterest, Instagram: nomommybrain, and Twitter nomommybrain.