Around the House (and Studio): with Cindy Ann Ganaden

Monday, August 16, 2010

One of the best parts of having a blog is getting showing off your talented family and friends. I met Cindy almost 15 years ago while I was living with her now husband. He was my virtual roommate because he was never there. (Kinda nice. Not gonna lie.) I remember him coming home from a business trip and telling me all about this amazing girl he had met. Enter Cindy... Their wedding was one of the most beautiful, touching and creative weddings I've ever been to. Read on and you'll see the brains and talent behind all that creativity. Cindy is funny, beautiful, talented and full of life. Enjoy!

PN: Tell us a little about yourself.
CAG: Let’s see... a bit about myself. I’m an east coast girl who has been playing house in the Bay Area for the last 10 years. I’m really good at baking brownies, I love the idea of gardening but have two brown-thumbs. I am an artist and I license my illustrations and designs for gift and retail products. I like to collect witty quotes, have been know to color outside the lines and on the walls and am Mama to Ava Blu. I was recently persuaded to talk about my an art licensing story on Artist Tara Reed’s Art Licensing Story Series you can also view the video directly on YouTube too.

PN: Which do you prefer DIY or Crafts?
CAG: I always kind of lumped DIY and Crafts together. But if I had to pick I’d say I’m more of a DIY’er, though crafting with my daughter has become one of my favorite pass times.

PN: What's your favorite project you've ever done/ had the most fun with?
CAG: For the last 3 yrs, during the holiday season, I have coordinated a Handmade Ornament Exchange. It’s always fun to see what other creative folks come up with and it’s a safe place for me to get out of my comfort zone, experiment and try new techniques and ways to apply my art. Last year I tested out and printed my art on fabric thru spoonflower and made plush mermaid ornaments.

PN: Are you organized with lists, crossing one item off at a time or sporadic with lots of projects going on at once?
CAG: I have an unusual way of keeping track of lists and goals. I carry around a sketch book that I affectingly call my creative manifesto where I write everything down. This way I can look at it daily and not lose track of the big picture. Then I break things into monthly goals and daily tasks. I have many lists and love the feeling of accomplishment when I’m able to cross something off. But, I also like to give myself room to recharge and be spontaneous when the inspiration strikes.

PN: Is there anything you are dying to learn how to do?
CAG: I’ve been wanting to take a letterpress class. The San Francisco Center for the Book offers some great classes I just need to find the time in my schedule to make it happen.

PN: Are you a self-taught illustrator/painter?
CAG: I went to college at the University of the Arts and have a BFA in Illustration. It was a good foundation, but I have to say that most of my learning has been on the fly thru trial and error. My work has really evolved since the days I was in college. Living life and collecting experiences has helped influence my work. And I have definitely had my fare share of “real world” experiences. I’ve held down many kinds of jobs. From scooping ice cream (my all time favorite flavor is Häagen-Dazs's Swiss Almond Vanilla) to ad production, magazine layout, art direction for a greeting card company and designing at a major retailer, and have now come full circle and am back on track creating art and illustrating.

PN: How did you make a name for yourself?
CAG: Well I’m still working on this. It’s an ongoing process that I expect will take me a lifetime, but I’m glad to be on the journey. I’ve always wanted to be an artist. I can remember being 8yrs old receiving a blue ribbon for a color pencil drawing I did of Mickey and Minnie Mouse in my elementary school’s art show. That was the moment that I declared to my parents that I was going to be an artist. My path in life has been clear ever since then, even if I always seem to choose the long meandering scenic route rather then the straight and narrow. I know I’ll get there. Hey, “they” say it’s just as much about the journey as it is about the destination and I definitely like to take in the scenery.

PN: What's next?
CAG: I was super inspired after attending the How Design Conference and since then I’ve been toying around with the idea of speaking and teaching an online workshop that I’ve recently started to develop. I’m hoping to have it ready to launch in the next few months.

PN: Where can people find your work?
CAG: You can find me on my website and blog as well as on twitter and Facebook.

PN: Where do you look for inspiration?
CAG: I draw my inspiration from the simple pleasures & challenges of living a fully present life. Whether it be finding a new exotic ice cream flavor or an eavesdropped conversations on my morning commute, to listening to my daughter’s perspective and observations about the world around her. She has an amazing unfiltered clarity that I hope to someday achieve myself.

PN: Are there any unlikely color combinations that you fancy?
CAG: No, not really, though I do like to stay up on the current color trends. One of my favorite places to do that and get inspired is over at Kris’s Color Strips. I also really like Hue, Sphere Trending and of course there’s always Colour Lovers where you can actually download color pallets you like.

PN: How long have you lived in your current house?
CAG: We bought our house during the boom of the Bay Area real estate market. It was our “starter” house and we were just excited to be able to just get into a place, even if it was going to require some serious sweat equity. Six years, many home improvement projects and one daughter later we have started to out grow our small 2 bedroom house. Even still, I was able to carve out a space of my own where I can create my art by converting our dining area into my studio/office space. And Ava Blu has a table too so she can create right along side me. We do our best to minimize the “stuff” and declutter on a regular basis. I love the look of sleek modern “everything put away in it’s place” homes, but living life can sometime be messy business and I have to admit that I like to collect things, so purging can sometime be difficult. I’m minimalist at heart but a clutter bug at home.

PN: What was your first project upon moving in?
CAF: Painting! I don’t even know how may gallons of paint we went thru. It was the quickest and cheapiest way to give the place a fresh and clean face lift.

PN: Do you enjoy redecorating/rearranging your home or do you find an arrangement you like and stick with it?
CAG: We have an unusual layout and have to tried arranging the furnature every which way before finding something that actually worked. Whenever I do a deep cleaning I tend to move things around and try out a new configuration.

PN: Are you a thrifter, scavenger or collector?
CAG: I’m totally a thrifter! I can spend a whole Saturday parusing the aisles of a flea market.

PN: Does your daughter get involved in your projects?
CAG: My daughter is at the age where she want to do everything that I am doing, at the same time I am doing it, which unfortunately also included using the bathroom. It’s very endearing and I know I’m going to be sad when she grows out of it. We love to craft together and Ava Blu always asks to use my art supplies. There’s no tricking her into using the cheaper more kid friendly version. We usually do some type of craft project once a week which almost always includes incorporating some type of glitter.

PN: What kinds of projects/crafts does she do along with you or on her own?
CAG: One of our all time favorite projects is to decorate and make butterfly wings. Ava Blu also has her own sketchbook and pencil pouch (which exactly match mine, so there is no tears) that she likes to use when we are drawing together on the couch. We also like to break out our sketchbooks when we are out at a restaurant wanting for our food to arrive. Ava Blu will art direct me to draw a picture, then she’ll appropriate my drawing and trace my lines color in and make any changes and modifications that I failed to draw from her original art direction

PN: What is currently on your night stand?
CAG: A glass of water, my daughters play jewelry and drawings, and the latest issue of dwell and How Magazine.

PN: What's your design motto?
CAG: Cozy modern with a little bit fun and edgy mixed with bubble gum pops of sassy sweet.

PN: Indoors or Outdoors? (preference)
CAG: I love the outdoors but I get cold really easily so in reality most of my time is spent indoors.

PN: What do you listen to while working?
CAG: I absolutely love Pandora, it makes playlist and adds variety without me having to think about it. Recently I’ve been on a bit of a country kick probably because I’ve been working on a New Cowgirl Tales Art Collection. So I’ve been dialed into Johnny Cash & Hank Williams Jr. with a bit of Sugarland and Taylor Swift thrown in. I also always love a good podcast. The Manic Mommies are one of my favorite mommy podcasts. Erin & Kristin are super funny and always have me laugh out loud. I also I love listening to Sister Diane over at Crafty Pod and for the Illustration Geek in me, I have to get my weekly dose of Escape from Illustration Island. If I know I’m going to start a project and am going to be working on it 6-8hours straight, I like listening to an audio book. I like the feeling of getting wrapped up in my work and the story at the same time. It makes the day/evening go by quickly.

Thanks so much Cindy. I have to say, Foxy Loxy and the new cowgirl collection are my faves! I mean come on, those tents are to die for. I wish I had one of those in my backyard for my boys to do a little Peter Pan rescue of Princess Tiger Lily. I hope you've had as much fun with this interview of Cindy Ann Ganaden as I did. Stay tuned for the winner of Friday's giveaway. xo


  1. Cindy sounds like an amazing friend, so creative and yet still so balanced. I love her pretty sketchbooks (wish my notebooks looked like that!!) and I love that she's sharing her passion for the arts with her gorgeous girl :)

  2. thanks for the introduction...i love meeting (virtual) new folk! hope you are having a great vacation.


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