Interview with Mary Engelbreit

In 1977, Mary Engelbreit took her portfolio to New York and received a suggestion from one art director that she try illustrating greeting cards. Mary took the advice and quickly found that the single-frame illustrations for greeting cards were ideal for her style and sense of humor. Once Mary focused her talent on greeting cards, success came quickly. Today, thousands of retailers sell Mary Engelbreit calendars, T-shirts, mugs, gift books, rubber stamps, ceramic figurines, and many other  products to her countless fans.

Be sure to read our heartwarming story about a customer and how much Mary Engelbreit’s work meant to her and her mother.

See all of the 2013 options in Mary Engelbreit’s calendar line.

What was the first picture you drew?
I drew a picture of my parents when they were all dressed up to go out one night — I was so impressed with their finery I had to get it down on paper!

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
Probably from that moment! Really, as long as I can remember.

Is Ann Estelle a fictional character or is she based on a real person?
Her personality is based on me, but I named her after my maternal
grandmother.

How do you pick the quotes to go along with your art?
Before I settle down to do a calendar or a big batch of greeting cards, I take a couple of evenings to go through my quote books and/or troll the Internet quotation sites for quotes that really inspire me.

What inspires you?
Daily, everyday life inspires me, the situations that we all find ourselves in at one time or another.

What are a few of your favorite pieces of art that you’ve drawn over the years? Why?
I always tend to like the drawing I’m working on at the moment, but I do have some favorites. “Life Is Just A Chair Of Bowlies” is one of them. I also really like a calendar drawing from a couple of years ago– “The World Is Full Of Cactus”, and another called “Must. Change. Attitude.”

What do you like best about being an artist?
Just being able to express myself and reach so many other people by doing so is really great!

Do you draw all new art for your calendars each year?
Yes, I do, although I do have help coloring them all in. If I had to color in all those skies by myself, I think I would pack it in.

What is your family life like?
Chaotic, fun, frustrating — just like everybody else’s.

Do you own a Scottie dog?
No, we have a half shitzu, half poodle, all cute little puppy who goes everywhere with us, named Sophie.

What do you like to do in your free time?
I love to embroider all manner of things, and I read quite a lot, mainly mysteries and fiction.

How long does it take you to complete a new piece of art?
I would say a calendar drawing takes anywhere from 10 to 15 hours depending on how detailed it is.

Does the décor of your house resemble your artwork? Do you have cherries and fried egg flowers throughout your house?
I don’t anymore, although I used to. Our house now is very light, done mainly in yellows and oranges, and it’s a lot less cluttered than my earlier homes.

Do you ever get tired of drawing?
Never.

Which artist do you admire most?
I love William Joyce, Lizbeth Zwerger, Johnny Gruelle, Arthur Rackham — I could go on and on!

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