Maker Stories

P is for Personalization – and Patricia Carlin, and Product Development!

October 31, 2016

We’ve long been fans of artist Patricia Carlin. We feature many of her beloved products in our assortment, and they’ve delighted so many people with their whimsy and personal feel. We (and our customers) just couldn’t get enough of Patricia, so our product development team worked with her to create this extra special Personalized My Alphabet Book.

Personalized My Alphabet Book

The book is tailor-made from start to finish. The cover features your child’s name and a charming illustration of an animal that starts with the same letter (Liam gets a lion, Wyatt a wallaby, Everett an elephant, etc). Inside, they’ll find a little note from the same animal pal explaining why they love their shared first letter — “L is also for lollipops! And library! And leapfrog!”

A is for Alligator, B is for Bear

The book then goes through each letter of the alphabet with a corresponding animal illustration. At the very end, your child gets a final message from their first-letter animal match reminding them why their letter is the best of all.

A-I Illustrations

Your little one will never forget that “N is for narwhal” after seeing Patricia’s illustration of one bouncing a beach ball on its tusk. The skateboarding “H is for hedgehog” and quail playing with sidewalk chalk are also especially adorable. 

J-R Illustrations

The fun packed into this little book is infectious. We were pleased to have a chance to speak with Patricia about the process of making her uncommon creations, following her own path as an artist, and keeping things personal.


Tell us a bit about how the Personalized My Alphabet Book came to be. How did you collaborate with the product development team here at UncommonGoods to put it together?

This one was unusual because I started the series of alphabet art on my own. Typically we start talking about ideas before anything. But I had about half of the illustrations completed before I shared it with Carolyn [our Director of New Business and Product Development] – and she immediately had the idea for the book. That’s what’s really nice about working at UncommonGoods, the collaboration. Working alone has a lot of benefits, but it’s great to have access to such a great team.

U is for Unicorn

The adorable illustrations in the Personalized My Alphabet Book really make it shine. Is watercolor a preferred medium for you? What made you choose watercolor for this particular project?

I used ink and a brush for the black line. It’s a great way for me to quickly capture the essence of the figure. Once the character was created I experimented with color. The watercolor added a nice soft depth that I liked, without overpowering the line. I really wanted the black line to be the focus.

Fill us in on your journey as an artist. In your bio, I read that you’re a former art director. How did you get from there to where you are today? Was making art what you always wanted to do, deep down?

I work on all kinds of projects. My work in advertising is about solving problems creatively, which I love to do. I still do that with illustration, but in a much more personal way. And obviously the problems are much different. Drawing is something I’ve always done, so to work at it everyday is amazing.

As Patricia says, "that co-worker who really slows you down."

As Patricia says, “that co-worker who really slows you down.”

Do you ever feel stunted creatively? What keeps you going?

I always have ideas, the problem is having the time to execute them all. And sometimes the execution takes a lot of trial and error. That can be frustrating, so sometimes I just move on to another project until I can get some perspective and approach the problem again.

Many of your UG products are family-oriented. Are there any little ones in your life? Have you tested the My Alphabet Book out on them?

I have a daughter, although she’s a little old for the book. But I have shared the book with with friends and family. And they like it, which is good, because kids will definitely be honest with you. They’re brutal.ABC Just For Me

In addition to creating products that are family-friendly, many of them are also personalized. What do you think personalization adds to a product? What do you think it adds to the My Alphabet Book in particular?

It’s really nice for kids because they’re all about ownership – maybe because there are so many things they’re not allowed to touch? And this book is for kids kind of learning about letters and spelling, so to have the child’s name printed is a nice way to connect to them as readers. In more general terms, I think personalization works to reinforce family connections. Literally, in fact, with the tandem bike art.

There’s a quote in your bio that I’d love for you to expand on. You say, “For me, paring things down to their simplest essence is always the best way to understand them.” How does this idea come out in your artwork?

I like to keep things pretty simple. I focus on warmth, humor, and emotion. I find that simple line and composition communicate most clearly for me. So I try not to overwork. Sounds easy, but you’d be surprised how many renditions you can go through before you realize the first one was best.



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  • Reply Sue Parke December 6, 2016 at 3:37 pm

    I love the tandem bike picture. Can you do a baby as a personalized option? I only see adults, kids and pets as options.

    • Reply Emily G. December 7, 2016 at 10:56 am

      Hi Sue,

      You’re right–adults, kids, and pets are the only options for now, but including babies is a great idea! We’ll have to pass that on to Patricia and the team here to think about for future products.

      Thanks for reading.

  • Reply Wendy Cochran January 4, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    I bought the ski picture for my family a few years back and love it. We also water ski, would that be an option in the futuer? I would love a ski boat with skiers following it. Let me know if we could work that one out:)

    • Reply Emily G. January 4, 2017 at 1:25 pm

      Water skiing art is a great idea, Wendy! We’ll have to pass that on to Patricia. For now, you might enjoy her new Personalized Beach Family Art, though!

  • Reply Wendy R January 23, 2017 at 5:27 pm

    Along with Wendy C’s statement, we also just purchased the ski picture for our Colorado place. We would LOVE to be able to hang a hiking picture just below it. (although the campfire and canoeing images are cute, they’re not quite us…)
    Could this be something that perhaps Patricia would do as a commissioned piece?

  • Reply Stephanie March 3, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    Hello I am looking to see if you would be able to create a scene that happened while camping at the lake. It is very funny and there would be 4 adults, 2 kids and 3 dogs with a couple bystanders. I would need it by the end of March if at all possible. Please let me know if you are up for the fun! Thanks! Stephanie

    • Reply Emily G. March 3, 2017 at 1:42 pm

      Hi Stephanie,

      Patricia does have a Personalized Campfire Art print available! You can check it out here. If you have any other questions, you can always send a message to

  • Reply Jane Pascale April 4, 2017 at 8:04 pm


    I would like to create the family bike art with my girlfriend and our 3 pets (2 cats, one dog). Is that possible? Hope so! Also, if it is, I would like to order the print and a pair of glasses. Would I be able t0 place the order once, or would I need to individualize each character twice? Thanks for any help you can give me.


    • Reply Cassie April 11, 2017 at 10:39 am

      Hi Jane. We’re glad you like Patricia’s art! Unfortunately, we can only add two pets to each piece. If you decide to order (even though one pet would have to stay home and skip the bike ride), the best option would be to order a Personalized Couple Tandem Bike Art and a set of glasses. You would need to customize your characters for each item you order.

  • Reply Tami Forcellina April 18, 2017 at 4:59 pm

    Wonderful items and creativity!!! My only request would be to add a Papillon to your Pedigree Poem Pillows, etc. That breed is one of the most beautiful!

    • Reply Marisa April 20, 2017 at 12:01 pm

      Thanks for the suggestion, Tami! We keep track of requests to help us decide how and when to expand custom options. Your vote has been counted. “Papillon” is also a beautiful name, btw!

  • Reply Suzanne April 19, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    How about a King Charles Cavalier TRICOLOR (black, tan, white) in a pillow or something?

    • Reply Marisa April 20, 2017 at 12:03 pm

      Great idea, thanks! We note every suggestion from our customers and they do help inform our decisions about how and when we can expand the options for items, so we really appreciate that you spoke up.

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