Secret Agent Josephine

Brenda Ponnay, AKA Super Agent Josephine, is an artist and mother, a graphic designer and illustrator, a blogger and a shop owner.

Can you tell us about some of the things on your board?

For some reason I have a lot of turquoise on my board right now. I don't know why. Maybe the Color Fashion Lords have decided that is the color they are going to push this last fall or something (most of my magazine clippings are from free magazines I was sent from fall). I really like the Tiffany ad and the cover page of the Anthropologie catalogue juxtaposed together. I don't usually like turquoise but these photos use it in the best way possible. I love the chlorine bleached out feeling of the blue. It makes me think of summer and big clear skies, dry dust deserts (where I grew up) stuff like that. I don't have a rhyme or reason for what I tear out and keep up on my board. It's purely emotional but I find myself echoing these emotions in my design work.

Who or what is inspiring you right now?

I guess I already answered that. I'd also say that fall is really inspiring me right now. Rich textures. Wallpapers (I have some on my board), dark-edged photos... I've found myself editing my own photos this way to make them more storybook-like. I think this time of year I am more eclectic in my designs. I don't mind things getting cozy and cluttered. Whereas other times of the year I will just want simple and clean lines. Right now I just want to drink hot chocolate and think about apples and pumpkin pie. I think my inspiration board reflects that.

What do you do to "refill the well"?

Drink coffee. Seriously, that's all I need. I suffer from well over-spillage. I have so many ideas trying to get out of my head I often get frustrated. It's hard being a full-time mom and still letting my inner artist have free rein. I hardly ever get writer's block or the blank-screen syndrome. If I do I just take a spin through some of my favorite artists' galleries and before I know it I'm brimming with my own new ideas.

How do you come up with your next idea?

They just hit me. In the shower, in the car... A lot of my ideas are pieces and parts of my brain trying to solve a problem. Right now I'm trying to find something for my daughter to carry on Halloween. A trick-or-treat bag. I can't find anything anywhere that I like. So I'm hatching up my own design. And of course this trick-or-treat design is overflowing into everything else too. Once I get an idea I run with it until I'm sick of it.

How long have you been making your art? How did you start?

I started at my job as a graphic designer. The company I worked for never liked to buy art so sometimes I would make my own. I was really, really bad at first but I got better and better. I used to make maps. I think that's where I got proficient at using Illustrator.

What is your background?

Journalism actually. Worked on the school paper and got good at using the computer. I broke in that way. I never went to art school. (Which to highly trained artists will be painfully obvious.)

What's your day job?


Tell us a little bit about your blog/business.

I work at night and during the baby's nap times making primarily vector graphics. Logos, web banners, etc... and graphic design. I think graphic design will haunt me forever. But that's not a bad thing.

Is there something new you want to try?

Screen printing or Gocco printing. I know it's really messy but the idea of mass producing my designs in my own home makes me get all googly eyed.

Any advice to the many people who are inspired by you?

You always find time to do what you want to do. Pick your three top things and do them well. Don't sweat it if you can't do EVERYTHING.

What is your favorite inspirational quote?

Do what you love and the money will follow. I have no idea who said that.

What activity inspires you?

Drinking coffee.

What place inspires you?

Don't laugh. Starbucks inspires me (a theme with me, they should pay me). They have great packaging designers. I should say the ocean and my daughter's eyes inspire me... and they do. My daughter is my muse. But a lot of times I'm inspired by other designers' work. I dissect what they do and try to copy them in my own way.

What craft blogs, websites, and/or books do you enjoy?

Penelope Dullaghan,
Wee Wonderfuls, Paris Breakfasts, Anna Maria Horner ... There are so many I hardly can keep up! I don't keep up. I just pick and choose randomly.

Do you have anything else you want to tell us about yourself?

I don't really take myself that seriously. It sounds like it in my answers. Really I'm just a mom and I fit some other stuff in around the edges.


Secret Agent Josephine's Blog

Secret Agent Josephine's Etsy Shop


SAJ said...


Lori said...

hey, gotta get the word out. ;^)

you *are* publicizing this on your blog, aren't you?

Lori said...

oh, wait, *i* can comment...

brenda, thank you for being the very first interviewee on the inspiration boards blog! you rock!

you know, there's a question i wish i would have added to the interview -- how often do you change your board?

SAJ said...

if I had time, I'd do it monthly. But I just change it over time, little bits here and there. In my head I like to think it makes a complete change every season.

Anonymous said...

I am cracking up at the coffee theme, SAJ! :-) Good interview, both questions and answers. It's always nice to be reminded to do what you love and not take yourself seriously.

Anonymous said...

Great interview! Loved the questions and as usual SAJ just sounds so genuine and lovely in her answers. Well done, both!

Lori said...

aw, thank you, jen -- my part is infinitely smaller in this, but still i thank you. :^)

ChristineMM said...

What a great interview. I loved it.

I also have 'well over-spillage'. I have too many ideas and things I want to write and not enough time to do it all.

I found the coolest trick or treat bags in a gift shop once for $11 each. They could easily be recreated at home by someone who sews for dirt cheap. They are felt. Like a mini tote bag, just a little rectangle shaped bag with handles. The kids like the soft handles. One is black with white accents for a skeleton face. The other is orange with black accents for a jack o lantern face. They used a blanket stitch on the edges for additional embellishment, white for the skeleton face and black on the jack o lantern. These are way cooler and nicer than plastic grocery bags if you ask me.

I have never had a special inspriation board per se. When I worked in a cubicle (at a non artsy job) I decorated all the walls with inspirational things just like the stuff on people's inspiration boards. And at home now all around my computer desk are things stuck up to inspire me. However I now want an official inspiration board and to use it to display even more stuff which I usually tear out and stash in a pile somewhere.

pixiegenne said...

such a great idea, lori! love reading these. i'm working on mine :)

Lori said...

thank you, christine & meg :^)

looking forward to your interview, meg! :^) wish i could come over & do it in person. ;^)