Biely Shoaf Presents Louise Mulgrew

*The* Mary Engelbreit

This month’s dynamo guest is a trailblazer in countless senses of the word. Mary Engelbreit debuted at National Stationery Show in 1983 with just a dozen card designs and a decidedly under-decorated booth — but neither that quantity or the booth mattered. Mary paired her distinctive illustrations with clever messaging that transported viewers to an unexpected, charming place — and the world had never seen anything quite like it!

One of Mary’s most recognizable designs is available on a slew of different products today, but it was initially rejected by a greeting card company in 1979.

Mary’s cards caught the eye of a NY Magazine editor during that market, and a design empire was born. Today, having generated nearly 6,500 products and over $1 billion in lifetime retail sales, Mary shows no sign of slowing her prolific roll, lately releasing everything from wallpaper to paint-by-number kits. And, she documents it all in her excellent Instagram feed. (If you want your feed to resemble Mary’s, try following @housewrenstudio @noodleandlou @heybilljoyce @sarahvbattle @vintagebycrystal @davidwalker.)  

Engelblooms Paint By Number Kits are new this summer.

The mark of a truly inspired maker is the ability to evolve. To reflect our challenging times, Mary created her stark yet still eloquent Engeldark. Any followers she lost were more than mitigated by those she gained.

Engeldark launched in 2015, on the heels of Mary’s illustration “No One Teach.” That design marked Mary’s foray into activism, inspired by the outrage she felt following the police killing of Michael Brown in St. Louis.

Landing an interview with this doyenne of design was a dream come true for this paper nerd. Mary’s thoughtful, informed perspective on design, licensing, expansion, authenticity, activism and collaboration offer countless insights for the entire stationery community.