Music Monday: Annika

ATG_9373

She’s an extremely intelligent, hardworking, multi-talented woman.  She’s the most determined and creative individual you’ll ever meet. Her name is Annika, and she’s a beautiful R&B/Pop artist that simply oozes the “it” factor elevating her miles above her competition.  Just wait until you hear her sing.  And boy, can she sing!  I’ve had the pleasure of hearing several live performances and never tire of the smooth and sultry undertones of her rich voice. Please give your undivided attention and your ears to our guest, Annika.

Describe your music style to our readers.

I am an R&B/Pop artist. A lot of the music for my current project is slow or mid-tempo. I love to go in the studio and create something people can just chill and groove to. My music is very melodic. If you listen closely you will hear how layered and textured my vocals are on each record.

How and why did you become a musician? Are you full-time?

I became a musician because it is a talent, a dream, and something I love. I am passionate about making music and entertaining. I began dancing when I was 9. The singing was inevitable. I began recording in college. I walked past a young producer named Ennis Newman playing a keyboard in the communication and fine arts building at the University of Memphis. The rest is history. I am not a full time musician. I am an independent artist and I perform mostly on the east coast. Social media has been instrumental in my ability to promote my music worldwide.

What inspires you?

My biggest source of inspiration comes from my family and friends. How can you disappoint people who love and support you unconditionally? They make me strive to be greater. Great artists like Alicia Keys and Robin Thicke are my musical inspiration.

What are 5 items you wouldn’t leave home without?

iPhone, Phone Charger, Favorite Scarf, Purse, Positive Attitude

Describe a typical day.

My daily life cycle changes every 3 to 4 months so here is a typical day for me at this present moment in time. I wake up and check my eHarmony matches. (LOL love is important too) I head to work while answering emails and tweeting. (shhh only at the red lights, don’t tell anyone) I work from 8am-5pm in an office. Throughout the day I continuously answer event planning and music related emails, tweet, Facebook, etc. (gotta stay up on your social media) I come home and change clothes before heading to the gym or dance class. I return home to my laptop to send emails I may not have been able to send earlier at work. I eat dinner or drink a protein shake. I take 30 minutes to practice my vocals. I watch some TV, organize my calendar on my iPhone, shower, say my prayers, then watch Family Guy, South Park or Golden Girls before going to bed.

What are your fondest musical memories?

I’ve had the opportunity to open for a few really great R&B artists so I am extremely proud of that, but the moment I am most proud of is right now. It has been a long road to completion of this project and it is a great feeling to have the completed work available for others to enjoy.

What advice would you give to other musicians?

Surround yourself with experienced people doing what you want to do, but on a higher level than you. Pick their brain. Most importantly support other artists. Don’t be so self consumed that you don’t pay attention to what’s going on around you. Respect the work that others like you are putting into the business. Also, don’t ever give up! Especially if it’s something you enjoy doing…don’t ever let the craziness stop you from enjoying your art.

Connect With Her

Website

Twitter

My EP (I’m In Love with SAM) will be available on iTunes December 2013.

ATG_9399 update

Advertisements

GIVEAWAY: Win A “Maura” Straw Cross!!

GIVEAWAY: Win a “Maura” straw cross!!

Go to this link on Facebook, and comment to the post with a favorite quote from any Author M.L. Gardner book for a chance to win a “Maura” handmade straw cross. Earn a second entry by posting a picture of yourself holding any M.L. Gardner book to the comments of the post. The winner will be chosen randomly by Rafflecopter tomorrow at noon. 2 entry maximum per person. Good luck, everyone!

This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. We hereby release Facebook of any liability. Winner(s) will be contacted by email 48 hours after the giveaway ends. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send us an email!

IMG_0555

Free-For-All Friday: Mountain Girl Soap With Naomi Murray

Screen Shot 2013-10-31 at 6.12.38 PM

Naomi Murray, Founder of Mountain Girl Soap

Naomi Murray, Founder of Mountain Girl Soap

Christmas is right around the corner. Wouldn’t it be lovely to receive something as thoughtful as handmade vegan soaps, lip balms and facial masks?  Enter Naomi Murray, founder of Mountain Girl Soap, and creator of some of the most eco friendly and beautifully packaged products I’ve ever seen.  She runs every aspect of her business as evidenced by the artistic touches you’ll see in everything from the photographs to the scent combinations. Naomi’s passion for Nature fuels her business. Her Etsy site says, “The name ‘Mountain Girl’ was inspired by real women, it embodies the spirit of women who are strong, Earth wise, and who nurture the connective relationship between the mind, body, spirit, and environment.”

What is your name?

My name is Naomi Murray; I am an artisan soap maker and proprietress of Mountain Girl Soap. I live in Oak Run, California with my husband, Don, and our two Boston Terriers Rogue and Raven. I received my Soap Maker’s Certification from the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild and my Associate’s Degree in Business from Shasta College.

Describe your products.

Tag Lines: Handmade in the foothills of Northern California. Inspired by mountain living. Soap for the Mountain Girl’s soul. I hand make each batch completely from scratch, using the traditional cold process method. I never use sodium laurel sulfate, detergents, dyes, or parabens. And my soap never contains animal-derived ingredients, animal by-products, nor ingredients tested on animals. Because every batch is hand stirred, hand cut, and hand wrapped, each bar is characteristically unique and will vary slightly in shape, size and weight. The charm of my soaps is that they are left natural; no trimming, no polishing.

IMG_1187

How and why did you open an Etsy store? Is your Etsy shop your full time job?

Sharing my creations with others makes me happy. I love connecting with my customers and filling special soap needs for them. I also like the challenges of being a small business owner. I’m a make-and-do person; I love doing everything myself from product photography to logo and label design, to balancing my own books, so it just followed that I would manage my own shop. In addition to running my Etsy shop I work full-time at a garbage and recycling company.

What inspires your creations? Are you working on any new products?

I find inspiration from the outdoors; my Native California Plant Series of soaps was inspired by local flora. I also take inspiration from my customers and I fill special requests often. The next creation on my to-do list is body lotion. I also have plans to make a body wash and shampoo.

Why did you begin making soap?

About 8 years ago I was helping my husband slaughter a steer that we raised on our 11 acres which we do about once every couple of years to feed our family. I looked down with disappointment at this large pile of waste (head, hooves, hide, organs, fat, etc.). My thoughts went to the Native Americans and how they never wasted any part of the buffalo. And I remembered how in the “old days” people used to make soap from animal fat. Desiring to live even just a little more sustainably I was curious to learn how this could be done. I purchased a book on soap making and asked my husband to save me the fat off the next steer. And so then I rendered my own tallow from the fat off the kidneys (suet) which is known to produce the best soap. The stench in my kitchen from rendering the fat was really bad, but I’ll never forget my very first batch of earthy Oatmeal Soap. It was a chunky dingy gray rectangle of the smoothest, hardest, longest lasting soap I’d ever used and it was my creation! Because of health reasons I later became a vegan and I no longer use animal derived materials. I now use high quality vegetable oils and non-animal ingredients.

Describe a typical day.

I spend my time researching new ingredients, wild harvesting plant materials, formulating, and designing new soaps. The endless color and scent variations provide an array that is ever exciting and new.

IMG_3285

What are 3 fun things we should know about you?

I am an advanced certified scuba diver. Pearl Jam is my favorite band. I played the clarinet in school.

What advice would you give to others beginning their own businesses?

My advice to others beginning their own business is define your brand, keep a narrow focus, and know your target audience. Always use the best materials, strive for quality rather than quantity, and learn to trust yourself.

Connect With Her

Facebook

Website

Etsy

Email: naomi@mountaingirlsoap.com

rosecube1

Writer Wednesday: Author Tracey Deming, Founder of RoM Relief

1375741_10202179418997526_619753359_n

1379473_10202179423357635_1463831534_nAuthor Tracey Deming, Founder of RoM Relief

M.L. Gardner staunchly supports special causes. For this reason, she’s delighted to introduce you to today’s Writer Wednesday featuring Author Tracey Deming and her non-profit group, RoM Relief.  Tracey and her team of authors, editors, and book designers/marketers from around the world have combined forces to produce, “Winds of Change,” a book benefiting Oklahoma storm damage victims. Please purchase the book here, and help Oklahoma residents get back on their feet.

What is RoM Relief? What inspired you to begin this non-profit?

RoM Relief is short for Realm of Meard Relief. I created Realm of Meard many eons ago when I began my writing career. The Realm of Meard is the world from which I write, it is where all my hopes and dreams have been born and where all things impossible become reality. When faced with the need to establish a non-profit venture to facilitate self-publishing book collections and other fundraising opportunities, it only made sense to me to name it after my world of dreams where everything is possible. I live in Oklahoma, and when devastation hit my state, my town, and my immediate community, I felt driven to do something. I wanted to put together a simple collection of stories, and publish online to raise funds for my neighbors, but over the course of several months I learned how NOT simple a task that would be.

What is your latest project with RoM Relief?

Our first project that inspired and created the need for RoM Relief is “Winds of Change,” a collection of fantasy short stories from authors all over the world.

1400314_10202269100119498_15467654_o

From Realms of Fantasy spring hearts of gold, as Authors across the world bring you a sampling of short stories to raise funds for Oklahoma Storm Victims. Within these pages, you will find Vampires and their Hunters, Dragons, Elves and Mutants, Twists and Turns of Fate, as well as stories of Love, Destiny, and Childhood lost.

Presented by Realm of Meard © Relief Charity Publishing, we invite you to share a glimpse of our worlds, in order to become the Winds of Change for our devastated community members.” Authors Inside Include:

Mandi Bean, Brielle C., Pete Clark, Tara Clark, Sarah Daltry, Lexi Delouvre, Tracey Deming, William D Dickerson, Lara Henley, William Lloyd Jenkins, Sara Marion, Sarah Menary, Michael Mounts, Simon Parker, Tania Penn, Jack Phillips, Cindy Ponds-Newell, Vivian K Smith, and Ron Stelle.

Editing services by Literary Editor Rogena Mitchell-Jones and Karen Jones of Rogena Mitchell-Jones Manuscript Services at www.rogenamitchell.com.

Cover and Design by www.bookdesignsbydee.com. Marketing and Promotional package by Janel Kane with www.puddingtane.com.

What specifically will the proceeds from “Winds of Change” buy?

Gift cards to be distributed to families affected by the severe storm damage in Oklahoma. While the government and large charity organizations help with the initial devastation and provide grants for rebuilding, families still need help meeting their everyday needs. When your entire home is scrubbed to the foundation, and all you have left is your life, it takes a tremendous amount of time and help to rebuild just the essentials.

Where can readers go if they wish to donate additional money to RoM Relief? Are there other ways they can help?

We have a PayPal account set up under ReliefFund@realmofmeard.com for additional donations. Local fundraising events will be announced on the official Facebook page for RoM Relief @ www.facebook.com/RoMRelief. In addition to donating money, or buying our project book collections, people can help spread the word about the books on their social media pages. We understand that not everyone has money to give, that is the reason that drove me to put together “Winds of Change”. I wanted a way to use my talents as an author to help those in need in my community.

What is the hardest and most joyful thing about putting together a collection of short stories with other authors?

The hardest thing is sorting through the submissions and rejecting the few that just wouldn’t fit with our collection. The most joyful thing was seeing what a large response to the collection there was. I had responses from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India, Africa, as well as nationwide in the United States. The willingness of people to donate their time and hard work to this project has humbled me beyond words. The people working on this project are truly a testament of the human spirit, and I look forward to creating many more collections in the future.

What advice would you give to others wishing to start a non-profit?

Research, research, research. When I first had the idea of the book collection I had no idea of the legal hoops and hurdles that came along with it. I was just a person wanting to help others, now I am an Author, Publisher, and Business Entrepreneur forged in the fires of necessity. Non-profits are a labor of love, expect to work longer, harder, and more than you ever would for a regular 9-5 gig. Be positive, keep your goal always at the forefront of your mind, do not give up. Don’t be afraid to seek assistance.

How can our readers contact you? email, Facebook, Twitter, blog

tracey@traceydeming.com is my professional email address. ReliefFund@realmofmeard.com is also available for contact and PayPal purposes. www.facebook.com/Tracey.R.Deming is my personal FB page and I do accept friend requests from other authors and readers for networking purposes, I just ask that they send a quick message with their request so I know who and why they are requesting me to friend them. www.facebook.com/RoMRelief for the charity page, www.facebook.com/RealmofMeard for fans of my personal novels, https://twitter.com/RealmofMeard is connected to FB RoM page and will also post updates. My forums are connected to my webpage at www.TraceyDeming.com, where authors and readers alike are encouraged to register and post their details.

Feel free to add anything about yourself, your books, your non-profit, etc.

Writing to me is like taking the sexiest, strangest, most powerful beings you can dream up, then scramble their heart and minds as horribly as you can possibly imagine, just to watch them come to life and surprise even me with their spirit and determination. I think I enjoy discovering the plot more than the readers do.

My first published material, “Ravenfire” will be included in the first book from RoM Relief Charity Publishing, “Winds of Change” I am currently working on my novel “Oath Keepers” which I will be splitting into three novella sections for online publication. The first of the series will be: Oath Keepers: Journey Bound, followed by Oath Keepers: Journey Lost, and Oath Keepers: Journey’s Oath. I expect the first one to be available by end of 2013 or early 2014. For updates please refer to my contact pages.

Music Monday: Musician Kaela Sinclair

Sinclair 17

She’s a musical dream. The melodies, the lyrics, the vocals, and many of the instrumentals are all her own. Meet Kaela Sinclair, a 23 year old indie musician from Denton, Texas who is making tidal waves in the industry. Kaela infuses her tracks with depth and layers yet still manages to exude a restorative simplicity. I think you readers will appreciate this unique sound so much that you’ll feel you can literally inhale it deep into your lungs like a breath of fresh air.  Enjoy.

What is your name?

Kaela Sinclair

Describe your music style to our readers.

My music has been described as alternative indie pop with a cinematic, dreamy quality. I like to think that my songs lay in the happy place between mainstream and underground music. I enjoy writing complex chord progressions, but I think melodies should be natural and easy to grab onto. My lyrical style tends to be introspective and sometimes philosophical, but relationships and romantic endeavors certainly find their way into my songs as well.

How and why did you become a musician? Are you full-time?

I am a full-time musician. When I’m not writing, recording, or performing my original music, I’m teaching private music lessons and doing all sorts of paying gigs in a variety of styles. I’ve been playing music since a very young age. My parents tell me I started singing around the same time I started talking. A few years later, I started learning piano on an old upright we had in the house, and I started writing songs shortly after that. I’ve come a long way since then, having put in years of musical training and study.

What inspires you?

I’m very inspired by the works of other musicians. I’m particularly fond of Impressionist and Romantic classical music. The piano music of Debussy and Chopin always makes me want to write. I also listen to a lot of modern bands and singers. There are too many to name in full, but my current favorites are Poliça, Local Natives, Oh Land, and Bombay Bicycle Club. Of course, I’m inspired by real life experiences too – good and bad, personal and universal.

Describe a typical day.

On a typical day, I wake up later than most people (to my credit, musicians’ schedules tend to be shifted much later). I get up, work on emails, and run errands. If it’s a weekday I drive to work around 3pm and get home around 9pm or 10pm. I teach private music lessons, mostly to kids. I teach voice, piano, guitar, songwriting, and music theory. Nighttime is my creative time. That’s when I practice, write, and continue to take care of what I call “business chores” (emails, social media, booking, etc.) Sometime after midnight I might do something relaxing like listen to music, watch TV, or read a book. On the weekend (Thursday, Friday, Saturday) I am typically performing music somewhere in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex. The gigs can start around 8 or 9pm, and can end as late as 3am. My life is really busy, but I’m so glad I get to make my living doing music.

What are 3 fun things we should know about you?

I was homeschooled for a long time. A lot of my early childhood was spent hanging out with my Mom and my brothers. I credit homeschool with my love of reading. It might have also contributed to some of the social awkwardness I exhibited in high school, but hey, who wasn’t a little awkward in high school? Speaking of reading, I’m almost finished with the very long Game of Thrones book series. It’s thousands of pages of fantastical, grown-up fun. I love it. I also love lemons. I mean, I LOVE lemons. I eat them by themselves and I put lemon juice on everything. Oh, and I’m left-handed!

What advice would you give to other musicians?

Practice. Practice hard. Spend time learning the ins and outs of your instrument and of the theory of music. Don’t stop. I’ve already seen a lot of talented musicians quit music and take day jobs in unrelated fields. If having a family is a priority, that’s fine, but if you want to have a musical career, you have to keep going. It’s not the quickest or the surest road to financial security, so you have to really be okay with some shaky times, but it’s worth it if you love it!

Connect With Her

There are many ways to stay updated on my music! For shows, news, music, videos, and other updates ‘like’ me on Facebook and ‘follow’ me on Twitter! Download my brand new album on Bandcamp and iTunes.

Facebook

Website  

Twitter

YouTube

Listen and Download 

My debut LP, Sun & Mirror, was released October 8th. It was produced by myself and drummer McKenzie Smith (Midlake, St. Vincent, Regina Spektor, Sarah Jaffe) at Redwood Studios in Denton, TX. It was called “…one of the best albums to emerge from the DFW area thus far in 2013.” by DFW.com. You can hear the album and purchase it at www.kaelasinclair.bandcamp.com and on iTunes!

Why I didn’t write for 20 years.

Once upon a time at the young age of 12, I liked to write short stories involving me and my best friend where every story involved us babysitting together and ending up needing to solve some mystery. (Who knew, right! It’s safe to say I was kicking myself in the arse a few years later when ‘The Babysitter’s Club’ hit the market.) Well, even though I knew it was the grammatically horrible ramblings of a preteen, I still loved doing it, and it validated my thoughts that I was capable of some decent ideas. After some not so great feedback from an adult (“They’re so dark and depressing!”), I tossed the stack of shorts aside, they ended up in the garbage and I dropped writing for fun for at least a year.

Then my new best friend, (Hey, we moved a lot) and I started writing this…book?…series?…serial? I’m not really sure what it was. We had some neat ideas that we used to start the story, and we would take turns writing several pages. I’d write five pages and run it over to her house. She’d read and pick it up where I left off. The story and characters took twists and turns based on what was in each of our imaginations, and we never knew what to expect when one handed her work to the other. It was terrible fun. Even after I moved again, we kept it up for almost a year, sending our chapters through the mail. Then, as we got busy with the start of junior high, it became harder to keep up long distance. Slowly it tapered off and then stopped altogether. By then I was absorbed in my life and Madonna, and though I had some fantastic stuff running through my head, I didn’t take the time to write it down. Some of the magic was lost without someone to share it with. I needed inspiration. We lost touch, and it was years later before we found each other through the internet. We talked on the phone and laughed about those stories. We still remembered quite a bit of them, too.

I found the inspiration to write again a year later in, of all places, family therapy. Hey, it was the 90’s and therapy was all the rage. In fact in my circle, if your family wasn’t in therapy, something was wrong with you. And they say the 70’s were strange.

Our family therapist was new, eager and talented.

And amazingly beautiful.

I sat hour after hour just staring at him with googly eyes, nodding at whatever he said. The first appointment my mother had to drag me to the office. Every appointment after, I was rushing her to get there.

And so, awash in fifteen year old naivety and positive I was “in love” and somehow this would work out, I started writing again. Only I didn’t pick up mine and my friend’s story or the babysitting mysteries. I started writing Love Stories. It was some of the most horrible hormonally charged crap you’ve ever read. With such a strong emphasis on crap. I laugh now thinking back on the moonlit picnics and ridiculous declarations of love. Oh, for the love of cheesy whine. Even though the main characters had different names, you and I know exactly who I was writing about. I had flaxen hair and he had bulging biceps. There was even an episode where he came in riding a white horse to spirit me away from my miserable family life.

ladyDi01

(Cringe! To this day I can’t even look at a Harlequin book cover.)

Regardless, this opened up all kinds of possibilities with writing and I was on fire. I wrote furiously every day.

UNTIL, the notebook was found.

And delivered to the therapist.

And read aloud in therapy.

And then, I died.

553916-psycho-original

Or at least I really, really wanted to. For the adults involved, they thought they were “looking out for me” and wanted to make sure that nothing unprofessional was going on. For me, it traumatically cured me of writing anything down for a very long time. I am being serious when I say that I didn’t so much as write a grocery list for the better part of twenty years. I forgot what my own handwriting looked like and that was fine with me.

After that I kept stories in my head where they were safe. No one could mock me or embarrass me if I didn’t utter a word about them. I had three or four books running in my head and I’d picture the words typed on a typewriter and could fly in my mind to this section or that. The beautiful part of writing like this is that it needed no editing. It always came out perfect. The down side was, it wasn’t enough. But with my belief that I couldn’t survive the possibility of being found out and mocked, I settled to keep it all inside my mind.

I trudged along memorizing grocery lists, settling down in Washington State, having babies and getting fat, taking college classes and losing weight. I spent many late hours in Sherry’s restaurant eating way too much cheesecake with Lisa, talking about mundane housewife stuff and what we wanted to be when we grew up.

Female-Pirates--28120

opera-singer

th (5)

When we were bored with talking about ourselves, we spent a fair amount of time gossiping, as girlfriends do. And when I went home, that gossip always spurred ideas for plot lines. Most of them were crap but the point is, my wheels were still turning.

And so went my life for the next ten years or so, lying to myself that I was content to read, gossip and write stories in my head. Until that one day.

I was sitting at home watching the bloodshed on Wall street when the market crashed in 2008. I remember the horror the day it dropped 777 points. I had always been fascinated with the Great Depression and had read everything I could get my hands on about the period. And the way things were shaping up in this country financially, I was seeing an encore performance of those hard years. I grabbed my books, compared charts and graphs and had this feeling of dread wash over me. The roaring twenties were definitely over for us. After several hours of being glued to CNBC, I had to change the channel. It wasn’t getting any better and I just couldn’t look at the train wreck any longer. I flipped through the channels with my mind floating off to one of the many far off places it loved to roam. But this one wouldn’t leave me alone. Plot lines and ideas started swirling around and quite literally haunted me. It wasn’t long before I had to force myself to sit down and start the story. It wasn’t enough to see it in my head. I did so in private, (occasionally with my laptop under a blanket) hiding my files on a thumb drive under a boring name (Clinical research studies of Paroxysmal Nocturnal Hemoglobinuria) and then hiding that thumb drive in a box, under clothes in the bottom drawer of my dresser. Eventually I found the courage to tell my husband and Lisa what I was doing. The husband was supportive though he didn’t understand my hyper-paranoia, nor why I went into a flustered freak out whenever someone walked in the room when I was writing. Lisa was engrossed and involved from the minute I let her have a peek into this secret world.

Misery-Kathy

She was a massive source of inspiration to keep goin, and I leaned pretty heavily on her in those days. I finished 1929 and then spent several months debating on whether or not to put it “out there”. Again, Lisa was encouraging, pushing and supporting. After several near nervous breakdowns and more than a few bottles of Jameson, I did. And I survived.  After I realized I would in fact live knowing strangers were reading my book, we dove into the next one. I wasn’t immediately cured, mind you. The first three releases were amazingly agonizing for me. My God, the melodrama Lisa had to put up with! But each one does get a bit easier. I’m finally to the point where I mostly look forward to a release. I keep my head in the books and the demons stay in the closet. Most of the time. And the rest, as they say, is historical fiction.

interviewwithanauthor

Free-For-All Friday: Artist Thomas Philbrook

MeOnBench1 copy-1

We’re pleased as punch to introduce you to artist Thomas Philbrook, a resident of Rockport, MA which, as most of you know, is  the setting for the majority of M.L. Gardner’s 1929 Series. And to top it off, many of Philbrook’s images portray Rockport in all sorts of bold and colorful, unusual ways. With an offbeat perspective, this photographer, illustrator and graphic designer takes his photographs to fantastical levels and creates gorgeous, inspiring, and thought-provoking digital fine art. Please, please, please check out his website here, and see his images for yourself. Go ahead, and do it now.  We’ll wait for you………… Did you see them?  They’re quite spectacular, aren’t they?  Okay, now you may continue to read more about the talented Thomas Philbrook.

What is your name?

Thomas A Philbrook (Tom)

Describe your products.

On Etsy I sell blank notecard versions of the photo-based digital images I create.

SentinelOfSummer

How and why did you open an Etsy store? Is your Etsy shop your full time job?

I started my Etsy store principally as a promotional vehicle for my images which I sell in a couple shops here in beautiful Rockport Massachusetts. And “nope” – my Etsy shop is not a full time job. I split my time between pursuing my own picture-making and working part-time as a graphic designer/illustrator – a profession I’ve had for the past 35 years.

What inspires you?

In addition to a number of favorite artists, my inspiration comes from the natural world around us — its diversity, beauty and spirituality. Also lately, I’ve enjoyed introducing whimsy into my landscapes by incorporating toys and images evocative of childhood. The creation of my images is a combo-deal, employing cameras, computer equipment, and my imagination. As I’ve already said, I’ve a deep regard for nature and my pictures reflect this. I’m especially fond of zeroing in on — and sometimes tweaking — that which goes unnoticed by the casual observer. By studying nature at a more intimate level, I might try to draw your attention to some of the more unique qualities of the wondrous world around us. The computer allows me to tinker and play with pictures, taking the viewer on a walk through a newly ‘conjured-up’ world.

Describe a typical day.

A typical day usually begins around 5:00am. If it’s light enough, I’ll grab my camera and head outdoors for a walkabout for an hour or so. After that, if I have a “real job” commitment that day I’ll stick my nose in front of a Mac computer churning out whatever graphic design challenge is queued up. But my preferred day would be one spent ‘beginning’ or ‘working on’ or ‘finalizing’ one of my own creations. As with the real job, this sort of day also involves being plopped in front of a Mac for the day. It’s where the magic happens.

What are 3 fun things we should know about you?

1. I could eat Italian food seven nights a week. 2. I’m a world-class bench-sitter. 3. I have a pumpkin stem collection.

What advice would you give to others beginning their own businesses?

Only pay attention to about half of what people advise you about. Follow your heart first and foremost.

 Connect with Thomas Philbrook

Facebook

Website

Etsy

Email: tphilbrook@verizon.net

If you are visiting Rockport Massachusetts, please visit the Rockport Art Association and the Toad Hall Bookstore where I – and others more talented than myself – have work on display. I hope my work will find an audience who enjoys it as much as I enjoy making it. Thank you!