Artwork by Brett Blumenthal
As parents, most of us design one or two nursery spaces in our lifetime. We put everything we’ve got into making that first nursery beautiful, trendy, on theme, and adorable. In contrast, Brett Blumenthal has the unique experience of designing two children’s rooms for her home—and helping thousands of other families design theirs as well.
Brett is an artist who specializes in creating realistic and detailed artwork for children, using watercolor effects created by brush pens and pastels. She is also an architect, author, and mother, working full time as an artist out of her Charlotte, NC, home. We met with Brett to discuss her experiences in nursery design, her journey as a Mouse + Magpie artist, and her tips and tricks for new parents looking to design their first nursery.
Brett’s career as an artist began, quite unexpectedly, in the nursery. Designing a baby room for her son created a major shift in Brett’s professional life and opened her eyes to the world of children’s art.
Brett: This career was a total surprise. I started as an architect, moved into management consulting, and then went back into architecture as a strategic branding consultant. I’m also an author.
Having a father who was an artist, I learned a lot from his experience in a time when fine art wasn’t something you could sell very easily without being in a gallery or really pounding the pavement. Art was a very unexpected career path for him, and for me. I never really entertained it as a possibility.
I actually didn't really start doing art until I was pregnant with my son, almost six years ago. I chose to do his artwork for the nursery, and it was something I was excited about. I didn't want a lot of what I'd seen out there.
Having art in my blood and having a background in architecture, I felt confident that I would probably be able to create something I liked more. And then, after completing artwork for my son’s nursery, a lot of people were really interested in seeing me try to sell it. That's when it all started.
Watching her son grow up around artwork, Brett grew to understand the importance of imagery in a child’s development. She grew passionate about creating art for the nursery that was detailed, realistic, colorful, and thought-provoking.
Brett: Every person, whether they're young or old, can benefit from beauty and from seeing things that bring them happiness. One of my missions as an artist for children is to bring joy to them through imagery. My goal with my son’s nursery was to help expose him to the world in a realistic way that would also have meaning to him. I remember at a very young age, a couple months old even, he would stare at the art in his room. He would smile and coo, and we would talk about each piece together.
I feel like we shortchange children specifically in that we feel like they need primary or primitive art to be able to enjoy it. And although I can understand certain aspects in which that may be true, I don't think we should shortchange children's minds and assume they can't appreciate more detail as well. My goal is to bring joy through realistic composition for children. I’ve actually had customers say to me that they're so thankful to find art that’s more realistic than some of the other stuff they've found out there.
A behind-the-scenes look at in-production artwork by Brett Blumenthal
Brett’s Under Construction collection for Mouse + Magpie was an experiment that came later, after three years of working as a children’s artist. Brett was inspired to decorate her son’s bedroom (again) with her own art—this time, within the theme of transportation.
Brett: The story of me starting to do construction artwork is sort of a funny one! A client came to me and apologized, saying they would have to cancel their order. Their vision of a dinosaur-themed nursery was great, but apparently, their spouse wanted a transportation theme for their son's room instead.
My son was three at the time and was already over the animal-themed nursery I did. I told the client, “You’d be doing me a favor if you let me create a set of prints for you under the transportation theme. My son would be just as happy to have them in his room!”
I’d just been contacted by Mouse + Magpie asking if I'd be interested in doing a series for the site, and we thought the construction theme would be a really great one to work with. A lot of my art happens to be very minimalistic, but for Mouse + Magpie, I had to provide context and create a whole story—that there's always construction going on, everywhere we go, and there’s a team of construction vehicles that create something together. It’s an educational story that's all visual.
What I liked most about working with Mouse + Magpie was that they really wanted me to take the ball and run with it. They just wanted to see what I would come up with. It was challenging to work in this new way, and I think I learned a lot from it. It was a great learning experience for me.
When Brett designed the Under Construction collection for her son’s bedroom, she had never seen her artwork on anything other than wall prints. Receiving the entire nursery decor collection from Mouse + Magpie gave her even more inspiration.
Brett: The Under Construction collection went so far beyond just the pieces on the wall! My son could not be more thrilled when his big boy room was decorated with the art and all the components that came with it—including the lamp, the clock, the Sherpa blanket, and the throw pillow. He sleeps with that pillow every night. It’s his favorite pillow—and it's a great one!
When we received the pieces for his bedroom from Mouse + Magpie, I was floored by how great the quality was. It was the first time my work was on anything other than wall art. To see that the quality matched my vision for my work ... that’s just a testament to the company as a whole. They totally exceeded my expectations, and I was so thrilled to see how beautifully everything came out. After seeing the quality that Mouse + Magpie produces, I'm very excited about creating more works to be featured on such wonderful, quality items.
Finally, Brett shared some advice for new parents who are designing their first nursery space. From an artist who’s created countless collections for the nursery and a mom who’s designed two rooms of her own, the best recommendation is to choose a theme you love.
Brett: When we created our first nursery, we were not nearly as design-oriented. I look at nurseries today and I'm just in awe of how detailed they are! I picked my furniture and made the artwork, and it wasn’t so coordinated. But I do think choosing a style is the first thing I would do if I were to do it over again. I would create the Pinterest board and think about all the different things I like, as opposed to just going with what I find in a store.
I think if you have a theme in mind, that's a really wonderful and fun way to go. It makes the whole decision process a lot easier. For instance, I think it's great when someone wants to create a woodland-themed nursery, and they purchase the art and the decor to go around that theme. I would say choosing a theme is the first step to take before doing anything else in the nursery.
Yellow Bulldozer by Brett Blumenthal
As Brett continues to produce gorgeously detailed children’s artwork, she’s constantly thinking about what’s next. Whether that means illustrating a children’s book, expanding into other mediums, or creating a fanciful new collection for Mouse + Magpie, she is determined to create art that inspires children and fills their lives with beauty.
Follow Brett’s journey on Instagram @tinytoesdesign and check out her Under Construction collection, a set of construction-themed artwork designed exclusively for Mouse + Magpie. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Pinterest.
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