When I first discovered the blog Inchmark I felt incredibly inadequate (in the way only a truly amazing blog can). Then I found out author Brooke used to work for Martha Stewart and didn't feel so bad anymore for my lacking craftiness! Inchmark is stuffed to the brim with inspiration and projects, and her love for her children and husband nearly oozes out of it. It's a great happy place to spend a quiet afternoon on the internet. To my pleasure, Brooke has answered some of my nosy questions and shares a little more about herself...
1. What is a typical day like for you?
I live in southern California with my husband and our two kids (5 and 3), it's summertime and we're trying to enjoy it before school starts in a few weeks. There are three things that happen just about every day. First, we have some quiet solo "learning time" in the morning where the kids play with flashcards or do a few pages in workbooks. I hear many kids forget most of what they learned the year before in school during the summer, so we've been trying to do a little schoolwork each day. Second, we have one big outing. The kids go a little crazy if we stay home all day, so it's better for everyone if we can all get out of the house. I grew up going to the beach with my family, so I love that we live near the ocean and can visit at least once a week. Other outings include swimming at the pool, riding bikes at the park, or visits to the zoo. Third, we eat dinner together as a family when my husband gets home from work. I love sitting together and talking about our day.
2. You used to work for the Martha enterprise. What did you do there?
I first started as an art director on the Living magazine. When stories are developed for the magazine, a team is put together with a prop stylist and a food, craft or garden editor. It's the job of the art director to be the "team leader". You meet for weeks developing the story, refining the ideas, cutting things that aren't working. You also organize the photo shoots and haggle over budgets and then oversee the photo shoot. You are responsible for your story: you edit the film, you design the layout, and you defend your choices when your boss asks you why you did things a certain way.
After working on Living for several years and designing a few of Martha's books, I got to move over to the Kids magazine. Working on Kids was a perfect fit for me, I was newly married and thinking about having kids of my own. Every day we got to work on something fun, from rocket ship cakes to Halloween costumes to gingerbread cookies.
Working at Martha Stewart was a wonderful education. One week you're knitting in the crafts department, the next week you're learning how to build a proper sandcastle. I can honestly say I learned something new every day I worked there.
3. What are you up to these days?
I quit working full time when I had my son C, who is now 5. Now I work freelance from home, usually late at night when the kids are asleep. I am lucky to still work with several of my old colleagues at Martha, who have gone on to start their own companies (like Joelle Hoverson from purlsoho.com). Most of my clients are New York based (like Oliver + S) and now that we live in California, I rarely get to see them face to face. Which is a shame, because they are some of my favorite people. I also do custom stationery design for weddings and parties.
The past few years I've been doing a lot of book design. I started designing books while at Martha Stewart, and they've had me do a few projects freelance as well. Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook and Martha Stewart's Wedding Cakes were done working freelance from home. Some of my favorite books have been ones I've done for Stewart, Tabori & Chang like Weekend Sewing by Heather Ross, Last-Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson, and Printing by Hand by Lena Corwin.
I still art direct photo shoots, on occasion. I really love being on set, but it's hard for me to leave my kids while I go shoot for a week, so I only do a few shoots a year. I miss the days when I was shooting once a week, working together as a team with the photographer and the stylist to create something beautiful.
4. I love all of your diy crafts and projects. What is a favorite of yours?
I love quilting, but it requires a patience that I am lacking. So I am most proud of the quilt I made my son C, who just turned five. It took me about 2 years from the time I started it to the time it was completely bound and finished, but I love the way it turned out. My husband JR was ready to toss a pile of old dress shirts, ones he had worn for years where the cuffs were starting to fray. I cut the shirts into small squares and made a simple quilt and now my son sleeps with it each night. What surprises me is how much my son loves it; it somehow feels special to him, maybe because he watched me as I worked on it, and he knows it was made just for him.
5. Can we get a glimse of your craft room/area? What do you like to have around as inspiration?
I wish I had a dedicated area where I sew and do other crafts. I tend to take over the dining room table when I sew, and I do other crafts with the kids at a little craft table we have in the kitchen area. But I spend most of my creative time working on the computer in our office. My husband and I bought two vintage metal desks from the flea market in NYC. It was the first big purchase we made as a married couple. I love having a shared office where we can both work together yet each have our own space. My desk has two huge bulletin boards above it where I hang all sorts of inspiration: old 4x5 polaroids from shoots, pantone chips, fabric swatches, found objects like parking lot stubs, pictures my children draw, etc. And my board is always changing, every once in a while I just need to take everything down and start over again.
6. Where does the name "inchmark" come from? How long have you been blogging?
We have a growth chart on our wall at home and that inspired the name inchmark. The children love to be measured every few months, they try to stand as tall as they can, arching their feet and tilting their heads to gain an extra inch. We carefully write their names and the date next to each mark. I love how the marks start to tell their own story over time. I liked the idea of a blog that marked the growth of my kids, the growth of my work as a designer, and in a larger sense, my own growth as a mother. At the end of August, inchmark will be one year old.
7. I love your library book posts. What is a must have for your child's shelf? For your shelf?
I grew up in a family of readers and I still love books. I'm always reading something, right now it's Sister of My Heart (which we're reading for my book club) and In Defense of Food (which has me rethinking my grocery shopping each week). I love lots of different authors: Edith Wharton, Jhumpa Lahiri, the Bronte sisters, Willa Cather, Wallace Stegner, J.D. Salinger. I adore them all.
I hope to pass on that same love of reading to my kids, so I read to them all the time. We love picture books like Lyle, Lyle Crocodile and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and the Madeline series, and we go to the library as often as we can. Lately we have been reading chapter books, like Stuart Little and Charlotte's Web and James and the Giant Peach, and now we're starting some of Beverly Cleary's lovely tales like Henry and Ribsy. I'm so excited for my son to start reading on his own, he starts kindergarten in just a few weeks.
8. What are five things you can't live without?
1. my husband 2. my two kids 3. the beach 4. a house full of books 5. my camera