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 Hannah December 16, 2017 at 11:35 pm

    Hello, would like to order the chairlift photo as our family is headed to Park City for Christmas! Would it be possible to have Park City 2017 added in one of the corners of the art? Just to commemorate the adventure. 🙂 Please let me know!

    • Reply Hadley December 19, 2017 at 10:20 am

      Hi, Hannah. I just sent you an e-mail about this. Let me know if you need any additional information!

  • Reply Max December 18, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    Good Afternoon,

    I am hoping to have 15 people on the customized beach scene as our family just welcomed a new member this past month. Is there any way to add one more person to the design? Thank you.

    • Reply Hadley December 18, 2017 at 4:55 pm

      Hi, Max. Congrats on the new addition! Unfortunately, our largest available size of the Personalized Beach Family Art can only accommodate a maximum of 14 characters, but we’ll pass your request on to our Product Development team–we’re always looking for new ways to improve our products, and adding more figures is certainly one way to do so. Happy holidays!

  • Reply Sarah Mulvaney December 20, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    Hi! I ordered a family lake personalized portrait and just wanted to see if it would be here by Christmas 🙂 I didn’t know how else to contact you but on here! Thanks so much!!

    • Reply Hadley December 20, 2017 at 5:26 pm

      Hi, Sarah! It looks like your order is in the works, but hasn’t shipped just yet. For more detailed updates on the status of your order, your best bet is to contact our customer service team, who can be reached at or by phone at 888-365-0056. Hope you have a great holiday!

  • Reply Christine Hernandez December 28, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    I ordered a My Little Zodiac Keepsake Box, but got the wrong sign. I need a Capricorn. I see that they are sold out on Uncommon Goods – help!

  • Reply Cassie December 28, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    Hi Christina, we don’t have any Zodiac Keepsake Boxes in stock, so I passed your comment along to our custom orders team in hopes they can request a replacement from the artist. Unfortunately, I can’t give you a firm answer right now, since I’m not sure whether Patricia still makes this item. A member of our team should be reaching out to you via email with more information once we hear back. If you have additional questions, please don’t hesitate to email or give us a call at 1.888.365.0056.

  • Reply Elvira Medus January 8, 2018 at 1:22 pm

    I’d like to know if there’s anyplace where I can buy more Zenguin Mugs. Love them and want more!!

    • Reply Hadley January 16, 2018 at 3:34 pm

      Hi, Elvira! We don’t carry Zenguin mugs any more, but I did let our Product Development team know you’re interested in purchasing more, in case they ever choose to revive them. Thanks for your feedback!

  • Reply Nancy Main January 9, 2018 at 10:58 am

    I bought and the whole family loves the reading at the beach artwork for our 10 ladies. Can you develop something similar for our 11 men? Would love a body building scene or something manly.

  • Reply Nancy Main January 9, 2018 at 11:01 am

    Love our 10 ladies reading at the beach artwork. Can you develop one for our 11 men? Like a body building scene or something manly?

    • Reply Hadley January 16, 2018 at 3:33 pm

      Hi, Nancy! Thanks for your comments; I’ve passed them on to our Product Development team. We’re glad you’re enjoying the artwork you have!

  • Reply Kathi Futornick January 21, 2018 at 6:55 pm

    Any chance to add Corgy’s to your doggy list?

    • Reply Cassie January 22, 2018 at 1:41 pm

      Hi Kathi. Thanks for the suggestion! We passed the request along to our product development team, along with your email, so they’ll let you know if Corgy joins the (kennel) club!

    • Reply Cassie January 22, 2018 at 2:10 pm

      Hello again! I spoke too soon. A member of our team just let me know that we do have your breed available! However, it’s listed under the full name: Pembroke Welsh Corgi.

  • Reply Stacey Wurtz February 16, 2018 at 1:27 pm

    Hi Patricia,
    I love your fun artwork. I am getting ready to order the beach scene for my husband. However, I was wondering if it would be possible to keep the book and watermelon off of a few of the people? I am (sadly) the only book reader in the house, and I suppose I could put a watermelon slice in one of my sons’ hands, if it’s necessary. I’m happy to pay the same price. Can you do that? If so, when is the best time to let you know? Stacey would have a book and Tom would have watermelon. Everyone else would be lounging with nothing in their hands. Seen on

    • Reply Hadley February 16, 2018 at 3:06 pm

      Hi, Stacey! This is probably a question best posed to our customer service department — please give them a call at 888-365-0056 before placing your order and they can help you.

  • Reply Linda Nobile March 23, 2018 at 7:38 pm

    Any chance of getting a Goldendoodle pillow?

    • Reply Hadley March 26, 2018 at 9:48 am

      Hi, Linda! We’re always looking for suggestions for new breeds to add, so I’ll pass your comment on to our Product Development team. Thanks for your input!

      • Reply Hadley March 26, 2018 at 10:21 am

        Quick update–I just learned that a Goldendoodle pillow is already in the works! You should see it pop up on our site sometime in the next few weeks.

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