Mara Penny

I grew up in Lake Tahoe.
I love color. I love pattern. I love texture. I love line.
I studied both interior design and jewelry design in college. I earned my BFA at CCA(C).
I am a mother. I am a wife. I am a sister. I am a daughter.
I am inspired by fairy tales. The night sky. And sparkles.
I like to draw. I like to paint. I like to sew. I like to read.
I do not like to cook.
My husband is my best friend.
I am happy.

Mara Penny_Artist-Photo




Where do you live?
Oakland, CA, USA

Where have you lived?
Lake Tahoe (both Nevada and California sides), San Diego, San Francisco and Oakland

What medium do you use?
Pen, paper and pixels

How do you stay inspired?
I love color.  I am always looking for weird flora and unusual color combinations.

Where do you buy your art supplies?
Blick and Flax

Do you work traditionally or digitally?
I draw with pen on paper and make watercolor washes, then I assemble it digitally.

What color combination are you most excited about right now?
Nude pinks with bright lemon yellow.  I adore cool mint green next to acid chartreuse.

What blog(s) do you read?
Design Love Fest, Emily Henderson and SF Girl By The Bay

Why do you like being an illustrator?
I like making pretty things.

If you weren’t an illustrator, what would you be?
Astronomer/Cosmologist or Interior Designer

What illustration job would you love to get (your dream job)?
I would love a home decor line!  I’d also love to work with Anthropologie and Land of Nod.

Name something you do in your spare time.
Cuddle my dog and work on my house.

What’s the strangest work experience you’ve ever had?
Working in a year-round Christmas store decorating trees in sunny San Diego.

What are you reading now?
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.

What recent book do you recommend for a good read?
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker.

Where would you like to travel to next? Iceland, Stockholm and Amsterdam.

What’s your favorite TV show?

What movie have you seen several times?
I have seen the Sounds of Music and The Wizard of Oz dozens of times.

Who is your favorite cartoon character?
It’s a tie between Maleficent and Pepe Le Pew

Who are you in “The Office”?
I didn’t watch much TV when The Office was on the air.

What is your favorite cheese?
Mt. Tam Triple Cream from Cowgirl Creamery.

If you could name a nail polish, what would you name it?
Blue Satin Sashes

Do you wear shoes when you do art?
Only when it’s cold.

What do you listen to while you work?
I mostly listen to opera and classical music when I’m working.

What artist are you reincarnated from?
Mary Blair, although our lives overlapped a bit :)

What’s your middle name?
I legally dropped my middle name. I no longer have one.

What do you wish your middle name was?
Valentine. Both of my children have Valentine as their middle name.

If you could eat only one food, what would it be?

How do you stay in shape?
Less cheese.

How don’t you stay in shape?
More cheese.

What is your current favorite font?
I prefer wonky hand lettering, the 5th Grade cursive font fits the bill.

How do you take your coffee?
Iced with half-and-half and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Whom would you like to meet?
Kim Deal, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Oprah and Wes Anderson.

What question would you most like to be asked?
Would you like to spend the summer in Europe?

What was your favorite illustration assignment?
The Global Talent Search cookbook assignment.

Client List

American Greetings
Biely & Shoaf
C&T Publishing
Design House Greetings
Editions Gründ
Elena Essex
Galison Books
OH Partners
Raspberry Books
Running Press
Ste Michelle Winery
Studio Eleven Papers
Texas Highways Magazine
TJX company
Tree-free Greetings
Worthy Publishing

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