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Friday Feature with Penguin & Fish

Natural Kids: Friday Feature with Penguin & Fish

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Friday Feature with Penguin & Fish

Tell us a bit about yourself-- name, location, affiliations, personal stuff.
My name is Alyssa Thomas. I'm 29 years old and I live i
n Minneapolis, Minnesota. I share a 13th floor apartment with my wonderful husband, Jon. Besides Penguin & Fish, we own a company together called Studio Collective ( where we do illustration, graphic and web design, film titles, and motion graphics. We also just finished our first children's book, No Monster Here ( It went to the printer last week and I can't wait to see how it turns out. Yippee!

Please describe your creative process--how, when, materials, etc.
My creative process always starts with writing down ideas in my sketchbook right when they come. I only use one sketchbook at a time and I write everything in it – ideas, sketches, to do lists. I also put the date at the top of the page when I use it. Having everything in one book makes it really easy for me to find stuff, even if it was an idea I had a year ago. After writing down my idea, I'll sketch it out. With my embroidery patterns, I'll sketch out designs to a point but then I'll bring them into Adobe Illustrator to refine them. For a plush character, after sketching I will try to make a little mock-up in paper. Once I like that mock-up I will make one in fabric, make notes where I want to refine it, then I'll usually end up with a final piece after that.

What are your sources of inspiration?
I can get inspiration from anything, but animals (especially cats and my parent's cat, Sammy) are a big one for me. I love that you never know quite what they're thinking.

What handmade possession do you most cherish?
I really love this teddy bear that my husband made for me. It was his first time using a sewing machine and the bear turned out super wonky and the stitches are all crazy. But it was so sweet of him to make it. In the image of my studio space, it is the white bear with the pink "A" on the top of the shelf.

Name your top five books, movies, songs/musical groups, etc.
Hmm, this is a tough one for me. I don't know if I'll have a top 5 for each but here are a few. Books: 1984, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Watchmen; Movies: Oh Brother Where Art Thou, The Big Lebowski, High Fidelity, Dirty Dancing, The Never Ending Story; Music: The Flaming Lips, Andrew Bird. Honestly I don't listen to too much music. When I work I like listening to NPR or Craft Sanity Podcasts.

What advice would you give to someone just getting started with their crafty business--on Etsy or otherwise?
Really I think one of the biggest things I could say is save up as much money as you can. Knowing that you have a little saved up makes it WAY less scary to try and do what you really want to.

Where can your items be found?
My Etsy shop ( is the main place where my items can be found. I also have items at Fawn & Forest, Mahar Drygoods, Craftsbury Kids, Egg Mercantile, Happy Baby, Design Collective and The Pajama Squid.

Interview by MoonpathDesigns

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Anonymous The Magic Onions said...

Thanks for this great interview... lovely to have a window into someone else's experience.
Blessings and magic.

September 11, 2009 at 9:33 AM  
Blogger mrsbeccijo said...

I love the photo of her studio. I think it is great to see inside the crafters space!
Great read!

September 14, 2009 at 9:21 AM  
Blogger germandolls said...

I really enjoyed this interview. Great pictures, too. Sounds like you and your husband have a wonderful relationship. How fun that you can do what you love together!

September 15, 2009 at 12:49 PM  

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