My love of illustration and my love of food are coming together in awesome and fun ways. My early art career and training came from more traditional elements of painting and technique and of using my hands with different mediums. I am particularly fond of watercolor and acrylic. But every new medium requires different skills to be learned and I am finding I have a love of graphic mediums. There is a flexibility in digital design that is unparalleled in other mediums and I am beginning to love it very much. I plan on experimenting with combing both digital and traditional mediums soon but for now I am having a lot of fun playing with the digital design.  Currently I am creating a series of cards for my local farmers market and am excited to work on new designs.

I do so love the sushi card and plan on adding to my Japanese ‘menu’. One interesting thing that I learned is that sushi does not mean ‘fish’ in Japanese as I previously thought. It means ‘vinegar rice’…who knew!?




You Were Not Born With Skills


Gentle readers I believe that anything is possible and that you CAN get what you want in life. Whether you are a small business owner, aspiring designer, artist or just trying to figure out how to get more clients and customers, there are successful ways forward. One of my goals with this blog is to help people (especially small business owners and artists, of which I am both) achieve more success (and money) by sharing what has worked for me.

One of the things that has been on my mind for a couple of days has been the idea of skills. Everywhere I look I read doom and gloom about the shrinking job market, people out of work, that there will be 50% less jobs in 15 years, job armageddon! YIKES! Super scary stuff. Even if all that is true it does not mean that YOU cannot adapt. In fact humans are the most adaptable and inventive creatures on this planet (moon landing, french fries, printing press, driverless cars, spandex) and that means we can and do learn more skills. In fact you were born with zero skills. Yep zero. Everything you do including walking, talking, balancing your checkbook, skateboarding, playing the sax,  you had to learn.  So if you think you have learned all you could or that no one will hire you or pay you for your work, or are just waiting and nothing is happening you may be in need of some new skills. You see we are living in a skills based economy. No seriously I was in the professional job market a year ago and no one cares about degrees as much as they do skills. What can you do they ask? Just look at a professional job posting and you will see a paragraph of wanted skills. It seems that the factory, mining, low skill jobs are going to be replaced by robots soon anyway (no need to blame other humans) so your skills are going to be your most important asset.  More Skills = More $$$

I did not start off my career as a graphic designer and commercial artist. I was not born knowing how to use Photoshop either.  I actually started my career aspirations in forensic anthropology and was excited until chemistry and advanced math kicked my booty. I failed. It hurt to fail. So I quit. I believed that I was too “stupid” to learn math. I wasn’t like those “smart” kids. What I did not know then is that all successful people constantly fail until they succeed because they keep trying until they find the path that works for them. Part of their success is that they do not give up and they learn new skills and scaffold those skills on top of others. For example:

Skill Scaffolding Formula: (Insert any skill) Learn to read + Learn to write+Learn to type+Learn to use a computer+ Learn adobe photoshop =many avenues to success……

Almost 20 years later I went back to school to learn computer coding and advanced maths. I did not think I could do it and I was scared, but I did so because I needed to advance in a professional career after being a stay at home mama (also had more mouths to feed which meant I needed more $$$). I knew that the educational avenues and models are so much better and easier to access today and I was excited to get going.  I upped my skills and skills do indeed pay the bills. I currently make more money than I ever thought I would or ever have. I am a believer in constantly upping my skills and will forever do so.

But where do I start you ask? Not ready to go back to university and add more debt to your debt? HA good plan! Don’t do it. Remember I said skills based economy? Well there are smart folks who know this and are making it easy for YOU to acquire new skills. Here is what I did when I said I went back to school. I just went and got a bunch of certifications and you can too.  There are several avenues and I have done all of them. Here is my take.

University Adult Learning: All universities have certification programs for people who are professionals and who may already have degrees. Here you can get certifications in areas focusing on business, technologies, industry and even fun things like ceramics. These programs can be a bit pricy but far cheaper than a degree and they pack a lot of weight on the ole’ resume.

Coursera: This organization if by far my favorite and I have most of my certifications through it. They only host top accredited universities so you know what you are learning is legit. You can take any course for free or pay to do extra projects and get the certifications. Your certifications are on file for life with the institutions. Want to get a business cert from Harvard Business school but don’t have the 150k for tuition? No problem! Get the cert and slap it on your resume. Classes are around $50-$80 which is beyond affordable for the quality you are getting.

UDEMY: Udemy is cool because they have classes on EVERYTHING. Literally everything. Prices range from $15 -$200 per class. You have to be careful because anyone can upload a class and claim to be an expert. Choose classes that are taught by reputable teachers and have good student feedback. Also Udemy has special sales and discounts and you can often get classes for 50-90% off.  ***Also RIGHT now Udemy is having a HUGE holiday sale (2016) and are discounting classes 80-90%. You can buy a $200 class for $15! DO it! I just bought 4 classes for $60 which would have cost me $800 if I paid full price. I know ya got $15 bucks!!!! Go get some classes. You can take them anytime you want after they are paid for.***

Code Academy: Free classes to learn how to code. It rules. I took a bunch of these classes when learning web design, PHP and javascript. Saved my booty! Try one. You might just surprise yourself. Free is GOOD.

Khan Academy: Again free courses in all core subjects. This is more aimed at school age kids but is relevant if you need some foundations. I used to have extreme fear of math due to bad programing and teaching when I was a kid. I used Khan Academy to break my fears by doing algebra, geometry and calculus. You can do it too. Also if you have kids struggling in school this is a great way to help them out.

Success Formula: time + effort  + failure + effort = success

Alright my friends get out there and skill up! You can DO IT! You are going to fail but that it part of the path to success! I salute your failures and successes!  I would love to hear from you! Let me know how it works out…

Best…Maya Chalee




Wine Time

Perhaps it is the holidays or the state of the world, but sometimes ya’ just have to get out with your friends and have a little wine and unwind. Living in wine country as I do and surrounded by some of the most fertile and exotic farmlands in America, I have to say that I am pretty spoiled. Great table wine is cheap and the list of tapa possibilities is endless. Below is a postcard invitation that I designed for a client who needed a wine time-out. And well who wouldn’t?


P.S. Here is a recipe for one of my favorite tapas from my childhood in Santa Fe. It is from a restaurant called the Steaksmith (sadly now closed) that my family used to take me to on special occasions.

Jeanne’s Shrimp:

6-8 Jumbo prawns

Asiago cheese

Pesto Sauce


Clean shrimp and de-vein. Stuff with mixture of pesto and asiago cheese. 
Wrap with prosciutto and pin with water soaked toothpick. Grill shrimp 
until done and prosciutto is crispy around the edge. Serve with a few
strips of red and green bell pepper and wine of course. Delicious!

Dead Serious

Welcome to the new iteration of my site. All things can be improved. All things are in flux. I am excited to share my art and design with you. But, not only that, I truly have a passion for other artists and their work. No artist can create in a vacuum. We need each other to inspire one another and to know that we have folks out there that share our needs, dreams, passions and struggles. To me when a person creates art he is intersecting with higher modes of being and going deep within his soul to express. The artist is the gauge of society and how healthy it is. If art is criminalized or people are suffering so much that there is no time or support for artists then that society is sick and suffering.

Art is a human birth-right. Creativity is the song of your soul expressing itself. All human beings make connections through art.

My hope is to not only to share my art and design here with you but to also help other artists with tricks I have found along the way. For example most artists are TERRIFIED to market themselves or to try to sell or expose their art to a wider audience. Well hopefully I can cast some light on some of these situations. I also find that many businesses, especially small businesses, are in dire need of good branding or brand refreshing and design ideas. Here I plan to help artists with business tips and help business owners with artistic tips. Let’s share, build, expand and find niches for art to grow.


Maya Chalee