Hi Friends today I would like to Introduce you all to a wonderful Artist I admire Meg Smiley. I met Meg Smiley on Instagram when I saw her beautiful and adorable animal paintings and was drawn in by her infectious positive attitude and smiling personality.
Please share little about yourself:
Hello! My name is Meg Smiley yes, “Smiley” is my real name, courtesy of my husband! I lived in southern California until I was 18 ,but have since lived in three different states: Iowa, Pennsylvania, currently New York). I got started in art at a very young age– I honestly can’t remember when because I haven’t stopped drawing since I could hold a pencil. I never really considered that art could lead to a job growing up, so my first actual “art class” was a beginner’s course in high school. Thanks to my teacher’s encouragement, I decided to major in Graphic Design in college. I worked as a full-time Graphic Designer up until a year ago, when I had to quit my job due to an increasingly painful chronic health condition (called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome or EDS). A few months after that is when I finally self-published my first children’s book. It’s been a wild ride but a very rewarding one as well.
What got you started in children’s books
About three years ago now, while I was still working full-time, I decided to participate in a side project to take my mind off work. This project was an Instagram challenge called the “The 100 Days Project,” and is still hosted yearly (I believe) by “The Great Discontent.” It encourages creatives of all kinds to make something (anything) for 100 days, and post their daily progress using #The100DaysProject. I wanted to teach myself how to use acrylic paint, so I decided to go for it, and almost immediately fell in love with the medium. My favorite subjects to paint, I discovered, were whimsical, colorful animals! I painted a peacock first, then a friendly but magnificent lion with a fiery, curly mane, and I just didn’t want to stop. I didn’t have an “art” or “business” account in Instagram, but I gained followers who were also participating in the project, and they started cheering me on every day!
After I had painted 10 animals, I knew I wanted to make a book. I had dreamt of writing and illustrating my own children’s book since I was a child because I love to write silly stories as well! A couple of years passed before I could finish the book because of stressful life circumstances. My husband and I moved to New York for his doctorate program, and I was just trying to keep up with work while my EDS symptoms grew worse. After I quit my job a year ago, however, I finally finished and self-published “Animals Under the Bed!” It has easily been the most rewarding personal project I’ve ever done and inspired me to start a business as well called: Phigment Design Studio.
Please share 2 of your favorite pieces of art and tell us a little about them:
This is the mom and baby elephant painting from my children’s book, “Animals Under the Bed!” This is one of my favorite paintings, partially because it took me the longest to paint! However, I also love the sentiment behind this piece. Growing up, I was blessed with parents who encouraged my love for art and my free-spirited nature. They celebrated the fact that I colored my trees purple, drew my flowers taller than my people, and gave my people heart-shaped heads! The elephants spread in “Animals Under the Bed!” is all about the joy, silliness, and fun that parents share with their kids, which is something from my childhood that I will always be thankful for.
This painting also from my book, was originally painted for my husband in 2017 as a Valentine’s Day gift. This piece is significant to me for a few reasons. Only a few months after we got married, my husband was in a job interview and they asked him what animal he would be and why. He thought it was a strange question, but he immediately said: “Definitely a penguin. -Because i just got married and they mate for life.” I thought it was so funny that he came up with that on the fly! And then I thought it was adorable, of course, so we’ve been “penguins” ever since. This might sound silly, but I also love this painting because penguins endure a lot of hardship to take care of their mates. Since my husband and I have been married, almost 6 years, we have moved across the country twice and been through some hugely stressful circumstances including grad school programs, chronic illness, job loss, and more). However, we have still managed to take care of each other through it all and I have never been more thankful.
I would love for you to share your website with all of us:
At my website, www.animalsunderthebed.com, you can learn more about the making of my children’s book, “Animals Under the Bed!” and purchase signed copies of the book, painting prints, mugs, and greeting cards. I also JUST started a blog all about my self-publishing process there! Several of my followers have asked me for self-publishing tips, so I am gladly sharing what I have learned.
Where can we find and connect with you on social media:
Honest, heartfelt sharing: there is too much “fake” on social media, so one of my goals is to be real, vulnerable, and “human” so that I can genuinely connect with and encourage others. – Art inspiration and new paintings: Most of my inspiration comes from my faith, my marriage, or my honest life struggles!
Share something that many may not know about you:
I live in a 250 sq. ft. apartment with my husband and dog, which is certainly an adventure lol!
Any last words or advice for my readers:
Here is my “in-a-nutshell” advice to you, inspired by my life experience so far:
Never underestimate what you can learn, accomplish, and get through in life with God’s help, motivation, and willingness to learn! You are never “stuck” where you are in life. There are always new opportunities for change around the corner, even when you can’t see them yet. – Meg Smiley
Thank you so very much Meg for sharing your art and your heart with myself and my readers today!
Thank you friends for joining me for another Artist Who Inspires me feature!
xxoo – Sherry