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Annette Tatum Interview

Annette Tatum has enjoyed a successful Home Décor, and Baby business for over a decade, although more recently she has endeavored into a direct relationship with her customers via her own online store, www.annettetatum.com.  Catering to consumers who want a more lifestyle driven design philosophy in their home or nursery, Annette has designed space after space, and now with her new design studio, is enjoying complete home design as well.

At the root of all this creativity is Annette, who is a designer, an author, an entrepreneur, a wife and a mother to four children.  She is the quintessential multitasker who still takes the time to design every element of her line, putting herself into every piece and someone who recognizing how personal it is for a parent to choose artwork for a child’s room

Oopsy Daisy: Tell us about your background.

Annette Tatum: I graduated from UCLA with a degree in design where my studies included sculpture, textile design, mixed media and collage.  After graduating I worked at Tocca Casa, and several other designers where I cultivated my passion for textile design.

I also grew up in a creative household where my Mom was always doing some sort of project whether it be painting, ceramics, macramé, crochet.

OD: How about you, do you always have a project going?

AT: [laughs] I have four children! I have lots of ideas that I’d like to find the time to do, it’s definitely a goal to do more creative exploration. I am however creative all day at the design studio which is very fulfilling.  One project that is special to me is a table that I created with my children’s artwork for their playroom.  It made the space more “ours” and special, everyone loved it.

OD: So your children are growing up with an artist mom, just like you did. How are they being influenced by your work?

AT: Kids have such a different environment now. “Creative” has been redefined. It’s on a phone now, or Instagram or their computer. I had a lot of time in the summer. They don’t. If they do find a moment, or if they’re making a homemade card, once you separate that out and take the time, they love it.  It’s just more challenging to carve out the time for traditional crafting yet I think they are all amazingly creative with the new media.

OD: Speaking of phones and Instagram, do you do your work on a computer?

AT: Yes. I do a lot of collages on the computer to visualize a design collection or the design of a room. We have a huge library of prints that have been developed over the years and a showroom of fabrics and textiles. We enjoy developing personas with these resources to create a statement for a room. We take the collage, new design work, and translate it into a collection. It’s based on one-of-a kind pieces that we do that are not necessarily created for children, yet work beautifully in children’s rooms.

OD: How do you alter ideas so that the art fits into a child’s room?

AT: We’ll often alter color palettes so they’re not so strong.  For instance, fire engine reds don’t necessarily work if we’re not going for a primary look. Or we will alter the style of the main element so that it’s more modern or vintage. Part of our plan is to see if this [pieces] can be more about a lifestyle and used in multiple locations throughout the home —can it work for a baby, child and a charming piece in the kitchen?

OD: How does it feel knowing that your art is hanging in babies’ nurseries and children’s rooms?

AT: Wall art is often the first décor piece in the child’s room. The baby hasn’t done any artwork yet! The mom wants something that’s personal to her and as a new mom she has so much on her mind. I want her to find a piece and think, “I’ve set this comfy, cozy nest up and this feels right in my nest.“ I hope my art gives her joy, and also a platform to add on to and grow with her child.

OD: How does that hope translate into what you create?

AT: I like to think, “If there were nothing else in the nursery, could a person tell a story with this art?” We are doing a piece that reflects the personality of the child or of the adult who is decorating the room. It becomes a part of a person’s personality. It’s like a bookshelf filled with travel books and things a person loves. Personalization is often an important element, too. My mom made me a Hickory Dickory Dock banner when I was a child and she customized the design with my name down the side. I kept it on the back of my door until I was eighteen! It wasn’t just the fact that my mom had made artwork; it was my name that made the décor special. By personalizing you start to build on a persona, and it means the mom is getting a sense of “this is what my little girl or boy is like.”

OD: You seem very aware of the way early influences shape a child’s future and personality. What advice would you give to kids who are interested in becoming artists?

AT: I get asked a lot, “how do you get to do this?” I used to say, “well, what are you studying?” But in the last few years I have been saying “what are you good at? What makes you happy?” These thoughts are going to feed out into the universe and people will be attracted to these intentions. Take the path of least resistance by doing what you love and use your talents. In other words, if I stepped into a boat, where would it take me if I didn’t have an oar? Life is a journey, so just get in the boat and enjoy the ride.

OD: Any advice for parents who are choosing canvas wall art for their child’s nursery?

AT: Keep an open heart and mind. You can always change it!  Lives change, people change so be open to evolution and transition for your home, and your nursery.

OD: One more question, Annette. If you could be any type of animal, what would you be and why?

AT: My first thought is a bird. They have so much freedom and I’d love to have the vantage point of being way up above—it’s an interesting perspective. But on second thought, I’d have to say chameleon. In terms of design, people ask, “what’s your favorite style of design?” I like everything. There’s beauty in an old rusty elevator door, urban art, architecture, fashion—I am sort of an openhearted chameleon. We’re both sort of free spirits, not worrying what others think but just being ourselves.

Feel free to browse Annette Tatum's Oopsy daisy collection.