3.23.2008

Maira Kalman

photo credit: Rick Meyerowitz


Maira Kalman is an artist, designer, author, illustrator, and photographer, among other things.

What inspires you?

Books (Sebald, Nabakov, Austen)

Music (Handel, Bach, Mozart, Monk)

Travel (India, Russia, Israel)

Odd moments and great people. Humor. Anyone that is funny inspires me.





Do you keep a sketchbook?


I have carried a sketchbook/journal since I was 18 years old. And I always carry a small camera.




How do you arrange your workspace?


I have a studio that has music and windows and organized reference material and a million books and lots of paint and brushes. No phone. No computer.

Are there places or things you avoid because they sap your creativity?

I avoid malls. They are deadly.


How do you create the best circumstances for inspiration, serendipity, ideas?

I try to take long walks and breathe deeply and stare at people going about their lives. I drink coffee and stare some more.



What do you collect, and how does it inspire you?

First and foremost I collect books. Those are my treasures and if I had to give everything up, I would in a second, but not the books.

Then there are all the collections of odd ephemera. Old notebooks, boxes, fezzes, cafe napkins, moss, doll clothes, interesting packaging.

Inspiration comes from shape, color, text, misuse of text, humor, honesty of intent. All of those things play in making something.

The endless possibilities are always encouraging.


Can you say something about found objects and how they inspire you?

First of all a found object is free. And that is always exhilarating. It was waiting for you and you took it. It had a life and now the life continues. You may pass it on to someone. Or forget it for years and then refind it in a box. It is mysterious and yet tells a story.




[My sons Dominic and Jack love Maira’s books for children, especially her books about Pete and Max. Jack, who is eight years old, wanted to ask one of the interview questions. — L.P.]

(Jack’s Question:) What do you weigh? Just kidding! What is your secret for drawing?

My secret for drawing is not a secret. It is sitting down and drawing. I do the best I can which means I try not to do it right but just to do it as I feel and as I see.

Getting it right is not a good goal.

The biggest secret is perseverance. Just not stopping no matter what.

Though I do stop to run and play tennis so I won’t weigh too much.

But that is a whole other story.

I do everything I do because I love to do it, even when I worry or am confused or slightly in despair. Those feelings usually pass. And then the next day is there.

Always a good thing. The next day.


Maira's website

Maira's TED talk

The Principles of Uncertainty

The Elements of Style Illustrated

Maira's New York Times column

Julie Saul Gallery

46 comments:

Lori Pickert said...

A huge thank you to Maira for allowing me to interview her — what an honor and a pleasure. You are my inspiration. Thank you.

jen j-m said...

very inspiring - i love her work so much. thanks to you both.

Samantha said...

Great interview. What an amazing artist Maira is.

sfgirlbybay said...

Bravo Lori!! So awesome - I am so excited for you, as she is one of my heroes. Thank you for this!!

Julie said...

Thanks!

meg said...

wow. kudos, lori!
xoxoxo

shari said...

fabulous! thanks lori and maira.

village mama said...

Loved the discussion you let us in on Lori. Thank you.

I just want to hug Maira, her honesty
is beautiful.

emily said...

absolutely delicious to read. thank you, thank you for this!

sosser said...

a lovely interview. thanks so much!

Octavine Illustration said...

lovely interview. as an illustrator, maira's work has influenced me greatly. her NY Times column allows illustration to be viewed in the context of social commentary rather than comic art or a means to sell. thank you for shedding a bit more light on this most talented artist. and wonderful blog, by the way....

dianeinjapan said...

Thanks so much for this--I've been a big fan for years! Understandably, our favorite Maira Kalman book is "Sayonara, Mrs. Kackleman."

lillie said...

wow, so so lovely. maira is such an inspiration, and i'm so glad you were able to share her with all of us! thank you!

[and now i must finally buy a copy of the principles of uncertainty!!]

cecima said...

hye there lori, this is indeed a great interview..she is so talented..like you too!
xoxo
cecima

the childcatcher//granny print said...

these are all quite great!

karin said...

Yes, she is a very inspiring and refreshing person-as I thought.
Thanks, Lori :)

Jen said...

what a lovely interview!!! Thank you so much for putting it on your blog~

Lucy said...

Hi I have just discovered you blog while searching for an interview with Maira Kalman. Can't believe I stumbled across something so recent and so fantastically in-depth :) Thankyou! I also can't believe I hadn't discovered your wonderful blog before today. I love what I see here... but I must take some time to have a proper browse through your archives :) I have a little blog of my own - www.thedesignfiles.net and have coincidently just written a little post about Maira today. I linked to you too. Thanks so much!

betsy said...

This is wonderful -- very inspiring! Thank you so much for letting us listen in. I've been a big fan of Maira Kalman's work for years!

Geninne said...

WOW Lori! Awesome interview. I loved Jack's question, so cute :)

Modern Craft said...

I am in awe that you got to talk with her and have such an interesting conversation to boot. She is wonderful.

Republic of Candy said...

She is such an inspiration to me - from the hats, illustration, embroidery, NY, and even dogs - thank you for this!

ellencrimitrent said...

I just love Maira Kalman and what a great honor to interview her. I have a few of her books I bought way back in the early 90's and remember her husband had a very famous ad agency in NY.

I will have to start to read the next couple of interviews!

ellencrimitrent said...

I just love Maira Kalman and what a great honor to interview her. I have a few of her books I bought way back in the early 90's and remember her husband had a very famous ad agency in NY.

I will have to start to read the next couple of interviews!

Anna H. said...

oh! thank you so much for this -- she's an inspiration. each one of her answers was just... right.

Teri said...

This was such a joy to read! I adore her and everything she does. I'm so excited that you interviewed her! And the way she answered Jack's question was so amazing that I think I may have levitated a tiny bit.

cindy k said...

thanks lori! maira is such a national treasure and so inspirational. she seems very down to earth. i loved her message about perseverance.

estea said...

::is in love with both of you::

dude, malls ARE deadly!

i love that red dress.

and jack's question.

and bach - but handel, not so much.

and the both of you.

this is much wonderful.

love,

me

p.s. you are a rockstar interview babe.

Carolina Eclectic said...

What a wonderful interview, I'm so excited to read it. Maira is such an inspiration to me!

fancypants said...

deeply, madly, truely inspiring!!!
I want to thank you for doing this interview! ;p

fine little day said...

Such nice tone in this, I like :)

Sandy's Space said...

Maira thank you, your perspective and words of wisdom are most inspirational. I will place them in the forefront of my mind and use them when most needed.

Jill said...

I love Maira Kalman, but I also love this blog! I just found it today. I'm a mom, a new blogger and the owner of a very small sewing/design business and this blog gives me the inspiration to keep on doing just that. Thank you for inspiring me today!

jenni said...

Great interview! This quote is so good (among several others):

"I avoid malls. They are deadly."

:)

gracia said...

Thanks for the interview... I'm delighted to have found my way here quite by chance. I'm off to explore further.

andrea said...

hi lori! thanks for letting me know about your interview!! (no computer in her workspace! brilliant!)...thank you too for interviewing her and sharing the inspiration. very uplifting on a gloomy friday. p.s. my daughter too LOOOOVES maira's books, particularly what pete ate.

comfies said...

heavens to goodness. this is a wonderfully, tremendously inspiring interview. thank you for making it happen lori pickert!

Francie said...

i just recently discovered maira kalman's book principles of uncertainty and was so excited to see and read this interview. thank you.
i love the idea of devoting a moleskine strictly to drawing one subject. maybe several of the smaller cahiers devoted to things like chairs, dogs, etc. my brain is swirling. :)

jess gonacha said...

Amazing! Thank you for introducing me to this wonderful artist and person. She seems like she would be such a kick to go out to tea with! Great interview. :)

d.Sharp said...

Love her books, thank you so much for the wonderful interview. Great post!

LIBERTY POST EDITOR said...

Isn't it interesting that she does not have a computer in her studio.

Magpie said...

what a wonderful interview!! nicely done! i love the quote about her secret to drawing not being a secret, just sitting down and doing it. SO TRUE!!

victoria thorne said...

this is such a classic interview, thoroughly enjoy it every time; beautiful job

with great thanks; much appreciated

hello gorgeous said...

I love Maira Kalman and found your interview by accident. I have linked to you from my blog for this interview if that's okay.

Nice job.

Chrisy said...

...this article has made my day...such gems of wisdom from Maira...thank you so much for putting it together and sharing...

Suzanne DeCuir said...

Just came across this - so interesting to hear Maira Kalman's wise voice and good humor coming thru in this interview the same way it does in her blog. Glad I discovered your blog, Lori, too. I'm always grateful to find something inspiring.