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.
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!”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.