Riley Sheehey

You are a new mom as of the end of July, how has life as a new mother surprised you, or met your expectations?

The thing that has surprised me the most about motherhood is how much I love being a mom- I have always known that I wanted to be a mom, and had always hoped that I would love it, but I had a challenging pregnancy, and was extremely anxious the entire time I was pregnant. As soon as I delivered Bryn, I felt like a huge weight was lifted - being her mom is my favorite job I’ve ever had, and I feel very lucky every morning when I wake up and see her smile. 

What did you do to "get ready" for motherhood? Did you feel prepared?

Truly, I did not do very much to prepare, aside from texting my dear friend with two kids about the absolute must-have items, and ordering those - but I was too nervous to read any books or even have a shower, and any preparation I did was in the last few weeks of my pregnancy, and that was mainly setting up Bryn’s nursery and sanitizing/cleaning everything.

I didn’t feel prepared, but I also have always learned by doing, and I feel like I learned so much those first couple of weeks (and am still learning!) 

Have you seen a new side of your husband that is unexpected, or enjoyed new facets of him since your daughter's arrival?

I love this question! My husband is a stereotypical guy’s guy, and so it has been so fun to see how sweet he is with this tiny human dressed up in all of these girly clothes. I feel really lucky to be learning to be a parent alongside him.

How did you become an artist? Did you always know you were destined for that? 

I actually was an elementary school teacher for six years before I went full-time as an artist in 2017! I have always really loved art, but I don’t think I had realized that love could turn into my career until I started creating commissioned work for friends, family, and co-workers in 2014. It kind of snowballed from a hobby to a side business, and I was lucky enough for it to eventually become my full-time job. 

You now work on a range of products and projects; how have you found your way to projects as wide ranging as textiles, tabletop, apparel, and prints?

I have been really, really lucky in terms of the people/brands I’ve been able to collaborate with, especially in the past couple of years. Having the opportunity to see my artwork on things like plates and glasses and apparel is something that never gets old, and I would never have had those opportunities had I not partnered with businesses that already created those things, so I am really grateful!

We have been lucky enough to develop prints and textiles “in-house.” I launched a collection of wallpapers and textiles in May, and wouldn’t have been able to do it without my studio manager, Catherine. She has been working with me for over a year now, and has been a huge help in sourcing manufacturers and helping me to determine what works/what doesn’t as far as new products go. Designing textiles has always been a dream of mine, and I couldn’t be more thankful for her for helping make that dream come true!How has your style as an artist evolved over the course of your professional tenure? 

I think that as I have grown up and changed as a person, my artwork has grown up and changed along with me, but just like how, at my core, I’m the same person with the same principles that I was when I was younger, there are characteristics of my artwork that will always remain the same, too. When I started my art business in 2014, I was creating a lot of fashion illustrations and little patterns of things like cans of LaCroix and Goldfish crackers that were cute for social media. As I got older and moved into my first home, I started creating things that I could hang in my house, and became more interested in artwork as home decor. I designed almost our entire collection of wallpaper/textiles while I was pregnant with my daughter, and although I didn’t do it on purpose, a lot of the designs could work really well in a nursery.

Have your customers surprised you, in terms of what categories of product they demand or have an interest you?

Absolutely! I sometimes forget that my taste/what interests me isn’t necessarily the same as what interests other people, and so I’ll be surprised when something I’ve made that I love doesn’t get the same response from customers. Other times, people will go crazy for something that was almost an afterthought on our part - I really love getting to know our customers through emails and DMs, and it’s always fun to be surprised by what they’re looking for in terms of artwork and new products.

How do you structure your days in order to maximize your creativity? Do you have ebbs and flows, or are you structured in terms of how you approach your work every day?

This has changed a lot since having my daughter, and is something that is evolving every day! I thrive on routine, but finding and sticking to a routine can be difficult (impossible) with a new baby at home. I have been trying to fit in a few hours of drawing or painting/client work each morning, and have Bryn sleeping in a baby wrap on me during that time, and then I’ve been answering emails/scheduling phone calls during times when I think she will be nursing. In the afternoons, if my husband is home, I’ll do a few more hours of work while he is with her, and then I’ll go for an outdoor run to clear my head/switch from work to home mode.

I keep a running list of ideas on my phone, so that even when I’m not feeling inspired and don’t have client work scheduled, I have something to work on when I have an uninterrupted chunk of time. (All of this said- all of the above is an “ideal” work day situation, but our schedule/routine changes every day- Bryn is the captain of this ship for the foreseeable future, and where we are right now might be totally different from where we are in a week!)

Where do you get new ideas and inspiration for your work?

All over the place - I just struggle to remember them a lot of the time, which makes the list on my phone really helpful! I love florals/nature (but then again, who doesn’t!), patterns in old artwork/clothing/interior design, and classic children’s book illustrations- my favorite artists are Ludwig Bemelmans (the creator of “Madeline”) and Quentin Blake (illustrator of Roald Dahl’s books).

Have you brought your creative inspiration to product and decorative elements for your daughter's room?

Yes! I used our wallpaper on the nursery walls, and kind of used that as a jumping point for inspiration for the rest of the room. I painted her dresser with a matching floral design, and have a lily of the valley alphabet I painted for her hanging above her changing table. My mother-in-law had a baseball jersey that my husband drew on as a child framed, and so we have some of his artwork in the nursery, as well. I have had so much fun putting together her nursery these past few months, and there is still plenty of wall space for new artwork- I have an intaglio by my friend Susan Gordon and a framed print by artist Brynn Casey, and hope to add more work by female artists I admire over the next year.Shop Riley's Look: Long Sleeve Empire Waist Dress In Paisley & Leafy Bloom.