Line of Sight

What do you look at everyday? Really, what is in your line of sight while you work? I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. In keeping with how I want to feel and seeing with a fresh set of eyes, I am taking time to look around a bit more at what I live with, especially while I work. I’m not staring at a computer screen all day. My work keeps me moving and in and out a lot. What’s around me effects my mood and my presence of mind. I’ve made a conscious decision to keep things close to eye level that inspire me. While I’m thinking about changing the office design (I’m going to have to make time for that) here is what I see daily.

Photos of my grandparents. All four of my grandparents worked. In fact, my aunt used to say that if my grandmother had gone to college she probably would have been a CEO. They were hard workers and inspirational people. I was lucky to have all of my grandparents through my college years and many beyond. These pictures make me happy.

New York City. A painting of a New York City Scene. Art and the City. Two highly inspirational subjects for me so they go front and center.


What I’m not showing? Pictures of our family. My artwork from when I was a kid. You get the idea. The things I love will find a new home when I redesign. It’s important that the things that inspire me are in my work space. I spend a lot of time here and I want to be my best for those hours of the day. I want to make new art and create new products which takes inspiration and energy. You need enthusiasm about where you work and what you’re working on. What’s in your line of sight?

We have designed wallpaper and digital calendars for each month of 2017 to help you keep your visual space feeling inspired and authentic. If you would like to download your copy, please sign up for our newsletter and we will send you a download link now and for each month this year. We want to be a part of your everyday! 

Hard Light

Photoshop has a blend mode called “hard light”. In undergrad when we were drawing and painting each day we discussed hard light. Literally, a blast of illumination on the subject at hand. Yikes. (Those were some brave nude models). However, seeing with fresh eyes requires shining a bit of hard light.

I’ve been an interior designer for over 25 years now with always at least one active project going on. Over the last few years I’ve gravitated to my industrial design background and my love for surface pattern design to start to work on a line of products for interiors as well. That’s now coming to life, but the interiors work is a consistent part of our business. Designers see a lot. We’ve seen offices that are straight out of the 50’s and homes that haven’t been updated (at all) since the 70’s. I used to wonder why people left things they way they did for so long and then I realized that we just stop seeing things that become part of our daily routine. We just accept the status quo. 

"I realized that we just stop seeing things that become part of our daily routine."

One of our corporate clients, who happen to be great people that we really enjoy, called us to help them with their lobby. This is a company that is part of a large conglomerate and one that deals with multi-national corporations that are household names. When we were initially contacted we had never heard of them. We had to look up what they did. On our first visit we found out what prompted the call. Apparently most of the employees used a different entrance, a back entrance, on a daily basis and rarely went through the lobby. That winter it had snowed so much that they couldn’t use their usual entrance. The CEO and the controller both walked through the lobby from the front door for the first time in years. They were instantly aware of the problem. They saw that it hadn’t been updated in about 30 years. They greeted clients here daily but merely opened the door and invited them in to the office. That snowy day they had fresh eyes and realized that they had been bringing multi-national CEO’s and executives they were trying to close deals with through a lobby that looked like it belonged to a company that had long since closed down. Hard light and fresh eyes make for great changes. 

What’s the elephant in the room? What could use a dose of hard light in your life? I’m thinking that it’s time to rework our office. When we proceed, I’ll share the process and pictures as we go. 

Seeing With Fresh Eyes

With the turn of a page our perspective changes. The mere flip from December to January and remembering to end our year with a “7” instead of a “6” but somehow it helps us to see with fresh eyes. We take stock of the year past (if we’re smart) and we start to look forward to all of the hope the new year brings.

2016 was a little bit different for me. I started to tune in to how I wanted to feel versus the numbers of what I want to achieve. Sure, it’s important to have numbers. I know the exact number of pounds I’d like to lose and how much money we need to make. Believe me, I know. Instead of writing the usual list and staring at it while the weeks ticked by I used a different system to start thinking about my year. (Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map). While it’s a little bit new-agy in certain ways, it helped me get that fresh set of eyes I needed. It’s a whole system and I’m not here to plug it or write a review, but I will tell that it has changed how I have started approaching my goals, both work and personal.

I tapped into how I wanted to feel on a daily basis and stayed tuned into those feelings. For example, I wanted to be stronger and more fit (and lose weight) so for the first six months I kept writing that this aspect wasn’t clicking. I kept naming it and calling it out instead of sweeping it under the rug until another January rolled around. After a few dud trainers I finally found the gym I’ve been looking for since I moved here 14 years ago. They’ve only been open a little over a year, but I found them. And I can honestly say that I’m stronger, fitter and closer to my "number goal". By 35 pounds! I honestly believe that keeping the feeling of being strong and fit at the front of my mind made a difference in me taking action.

I also found that a surroundings refresh helped too. Switching up the artwork, changing the organizational stuff that wasn’t working, and making small daily changes helped me to change the way I think and what I do. Little stuff like getting a little dish that I found pretty and using it for vitamins on my nightstand. Moving the pillows. Changing my phone case. This way the change is outside of me and seeing it reminds me of the way I want to feel and what I want to move towards. When I’m in touch with how I want to feel, my days weeks and months suddenly add up to something great.

What do you do to stay tuned-in to how you want to feel and how you want your life to work? Reach out and let us know what you do to see with fresh eyes. Happy 2017!

What Is Everyone Else Ignoring?

What is everyone else ignoring? Clint sent me an email from a fine art website that posed this question. As we constantly try to keep speed with the unimaginable overload that is technology and social media I find myself asking the same question. When trying to decide where we want to be from a marketing standpoint I wonder: "What is everyone else ignoring?". Each other, it turns out.  In addition, a lot of great opportunities.

We are a small business in every sense of the word. We don't have a giant staff of junior designers and interns to delegate to when it comes to social media tasks. We could if we so desired, but is a part-time or freelance employee really the best person to be the face of my business? In addition, we find that while it's important to be present and accounted for on the main platforms, we also feel that it's important to develop relationships, serve our clients, and find unusual ways of becoming known to the right people.

We are creative. If we use our creativity to our advantage instead of using it as a calling card that says "I can't sell myself or figure out technology" we'd be a lot better off. I know there is a stereotype that creative people can't run a business and it's true that there are a bunch of vultures out there capitalizing on our insecurities. A monthly subscription to your "business therapy club"? No, thanks. Do all creative people look freaked out when people start talking about business? I don't think so and I highly doubt I'm alone on this one. If creating a club, making an e-course, and selling white-papers is your thing, jump on the bandwagon.

I try to be aware of what's out there and the small bit that I've "dipped my foot in the pool" has been horrifying. I talked to one company that clearly had multiple systems (CMS) in place to follow-up, send emails at the right time, and act as though they had a personal touch. I even got a call from the guy pictured on the web site (yeah, right) who left a message telling me that my SEO would be a lot better if I had a blog on my website. Hello? Is this thing on? I had to call him back and tell him that if he had done his research (one more click) or really cared about Bova Creative he would have seen that we DO have a blog. It's just not called "BLOG" in bright red letters. I don't care if calling it blog and making it red would get me an extra 250 visitors a month. More than likely they aren't the right 250 visitors. While I might have listened to him if he hadn't had misinformation, his system failed. I dismissed his pitch out of hand. Why? He is ignoring the obvious, the people behind the web sites and the Facebook accounts. He is not the only one. We've totally lost touch in this world.

So the initial question... what is everyone else ignoring? We are ignoring each other. We prefer to learn more about you, your company, how you operate and how we can help you make what you do genuinely better. We want to make products that matter and things that you want to keep and collect. If our audience grows it's going to be because we've done the basic marketing things right and we operate with authenticity. I can't imagine doing it any other way.




Bova Creative 2017 Calendar

Bova Creative 2017 Desk Calendar

Are you looking for a great gift? Maybe a hostess gift or a holiday surprise? We've got the perfect thing in mind! We're excited to announce the launch of our first annual Bova Creative desk calendar. We spent a lot of 2016 drawing, painting, and stamping our way through new art and designs. The 2017 calendar is a small sampling of some of our favorite work.

The calendar is printed on high quality matte coated cover stock. Each page measures 5"x7" and can be pinned or framed. Click above to see all of the pages and to buy your very own! You can also see more detail in the Bova Creative Shop.

Setting the Bar, Olympic Style

I’m semi-exhausted. I’ve been staying up too late watching Olympic coverage of the world’s most amazing athletes. It goes without saying that Michael Phelps is other-worldly, but we knew that. He came back to prove that even at 31 he can put some swimming cash in the bank. Wow. 

Last night I had a late training session at the gym. It’s been a summer of increasingly difficult workouts to try to improve my fitness and strength. I dread it, but I love it because I know I’m getting stronger and more balanced. The last workout I did was to pull the sled, from about 25 feet out, all the way to me, with weight on it. Then push it back, jog back to my original spot and pull it to me again. And push back. Rinse and repeat. (Video not me, but it looks like this: Open Video in You-Tube) After almost an hour of leg work I was struggling. Jerry said to me “I don’t want to add another pull but I will if you don’t finish strong. That’s who we are. We finish it right.” In my own little way the bar was raised and I worked to meet the challenge (I never would have come up with that torture on my own). 

A few hours later I’m sitting in bed watching the Olympics and Allyson Felix raced the 400m. There were many personal interest stories explaining her previous disappointment and how she was fully expected to pull off the gold in this race. Well, she got silver. Miller, from the Bahamas dove across the finish line (holy Twitter explosion, it’s legal) and won the gold. Right out from under her. I’m thinking, wow, great race. She medaled. In fact, I found out she is the most decorated female track athlete of ALL TIME. That’s huge. 

What came next left me speechless. The NBC announcers, two past Olympians and a sports commentator proceeded to discuss how horrible a loss this was for Allyson Felix. The female commentator said when she lost like this she spent a few months in her room crying. That it was devastating. They discussed how she could possibly get over it. You would have thought that Allyson Felix sat down on the track and started eating Twinkies instead of crossing the finish line. They practically wrote her a prescription for Zoloft right there on the air. It was like they saw an entirely different race. I was embarrassed for them.

What Allyson Felix and her competitor accomplished was amazing. Dive or no dive. Allyson Felix walks away with a silver Olympic medal and the honor of being the most decorated female track athlete of all time. Yes, we all raise the bar high for ourselves and her bar happened to be a gold medal in the 400m. If you’re an Olympian, you always want gold. No one talked about Michael Phelps getting a silver in the 100m butterfly as if it was a failure. It’s another insane achievement in a long, distinguished line of medals for both of these athletes. They both finished it strong and with their absolute best efforts. As sore as I am today, I’m going to keep raising the bar. I’m inspired by the performance of Allyson Felix and I hope you are too. 

The Memory of Making

Morning haze over North Beach and the Atlantic

Morning haze over North Beach and the Atlantic

It’s officially the dog days of summer and my mind naturally wanders to the shores of the Cape and the warm salty air. My parents made a point of making a home away from home for us on Cape Cod in order for us to be near family and spend quality time with our grandparents growing up. I had both sets of grandparents until I graduated from college. My last surviving grandparent passed away about 4 years ago. That means I had 44 years of life with my grandmother! 

My grandparents were from another world. A hands-on, hands-in, do-it-yourself kind of world. I remember when my Dad’s parents would arrive at our home in Chatham. You could always count on a home-made lasagna, sauce and meatballs, and fresh Italian bread and cannoli from Faneuil Hall. It smelled great and it was always a special feast. Even if they arrived early in the morning. 

My Mom’s parents bought a home across town (and made a giant victory garden in the backyard). I distinctly remember walking up my grandparents stone walkway from the driveway into the house. More often than not we had come from the beach and were barefoot and covered in sand. No matter. My grandmother would have spent a good part of the afternoon making dinner for the whole family. To this day the smell in her kitchen is the scent you long for after a long beach day. We’d gather around the table for hours of laughs that would end with her famous chocolate cake or apple pie. 

I have always loved to cook. I come from a strong lineage of makers that came in the form of cooks. My Mom is, not surprisingly, a great cook. I have been lucky to feel a certain level of comfort in the kitchen. I watched both grandmothers and my Mom for my whole life. I saw more apple (insert fruit of choice) pies be made than I can count. Each time it was a little bit different. I wrote down the “recipe” early on but the magic was in what was never written. It was the sidebar with the tips and tricks that made those pies magical. It was that connection. The kind a you-tube video sorely lacks.

There is a great connection in making, no matter what form it takes. It happens between the lines and off of the instruction sheet. Some days the connection happens when you fail so badly that all you can do is laugh so hard you cry. Case in point: I have the hardest time getting yeast to activate. I went out and bought about 10 packets of yeast and brought them to my grandmother’s house. She was in tears as I went through my 10th packet in utter failure. The most simple thing eluded me. Until the day she died she would laugh uncontrollably that I couldn’t get yeast to activate. I still can’t. But I laugh pretty hard now when I try and fail. 

The memory of making is a special thing. Whatever you make, share the experience and the memory with those you love. 

Must See: The Cooper Hewitt's Immersion Rooom

The Cooper Hewitt's Immersion Room

The Cooper Hewitt's Immersion Room

This is such a cool idea that I'm blogging about it without having experienced it yet! I have spent lots of time at the Cooper Hewitt on 91st Street. We had talks there in grad school. I've attend the annual design awards and been to several ISDA functions. It's a great space and I can only imagine what it was like as a family home (that backyard in Manhattan?!).  

So cudos to the brilliant curator who came up with the idea to use Margaret Hewitt's former bedroom as an immersion room to experience the museums wallpaper collection! 

As a surface pattern designer I frequently want to see my work in context. Usually this means Photoshop mock-ups. Labor intensive and still small scale, but they do the trick. The idea that a visitor can use the museum's pen tool to select OR create a pattern to project on the walls is great! The Cooper Hewitt web site says that the founders wanted the museum to remain "an exploratory lab" and this really and truly does that. 

Next stop, New York. If you're in New York get to the Cooper Hewitt. Let me know what you think. 

Inspiration: The Chef's Table

The Chef's Table on Netflix

The Chef's Table on Netflix

“Fortune favors the bold” ~ Latin proverb attributed to Virgil

I love watching people create things. Almost anything. I appreciate the thought and the care taken when someone begins the process of making, in a very broad sense of the word “making". It doesn’t matter what it is if you put your mind to creating something the world has never seen or experienced or tasted before, you’re “making".

We recently discovered a series on Netflix called The Chef’s Table. (You can see the trailer here. I think we’ve now seen every episode in both seasons. The documentaries profile the life and work of a few of the top 50 chefs in the world. Wow. If you want to be inspired about making anything this is a great place to start. 

I can’t really say that I have a favorite episode, but the 3 that stand out to me are Grant Achatz (Alinea & Next in Chicago) Dominique Crenn (Atelier Crenn in San Francisco) and Massimo Bottura (Osteria Francescana in Italy).

Grant Achatz’s story will blow you away. Adversity has not tamed his creativity. You need to see what this chef does with food. Period. I can’t put it into words. It’s not out of the box, but rather (as Pharrell Williams said…) there is no box. Think sugar balloons and a meal full of awe and surprise. You will walk away wanting to approach your work with renewed conviction and passion.

Massimo Bottura’s story is a great example of sticking with your vision and remaining true to your craft. It’s not easy to transform the Italian’s view of food, especially when reinterpreting many of his family’s traditional dishes. Ready to throw in the towel on his dream, his wife pushed him to stick with it another year. It didn’t take the whole year before he was recognized for his creativity and excellence. 

Dominique Crenn is the only female chef with two Michelin stars. Her approach to her life and her work and her dedication to the people around her is amazing. She is female in a position of power that operates with grace. Her food is about connecting with people and triggering memories. You will walk away thinking carefully about what you create and how it connects and resonates with others. Dominique Crenn is a master. 

The Chef’s Table isn’t really a show you want to binge watch, even though the energy you walk away with is addicting, it’s so nice to be able to think and process the stories of the world’s most renowned chefs. That being said, I’m ready for Season 3. Bring it on, Netflix!

Recent Work: Bova Creative

Bova Creative recent work for Nike Activewear

Bova Creative recent work for Nike Activewear

We recently had the opportunity to participate in an activewear challenge for Nike. We created several patterns reflecting the psychotropical trend we've seen on the runway. Above are a few of the designs made the cut. To see more and our full range of surface designs please contact us for access to our design library at

Must Have: A TreePod!

The TreePod by Canaima

The TreePod by Canaima

Summer is pretty much here. It's 80 and the kids have another few days of class. This gem caught my eye as I was thinking about finding some peaceful moments this summer. How great is this tent for just hanging out? With a 4 and a 6 year old the peaceful moments will be few and far between, but I think we could even get them to chill out in the tent for an afternoon. Get your sketchbook or a journal and take to the trees! You can get one here or by clicking the photo above. Happy Summer!

Bova Creative Ad in Art & Design Licensing

Above is our new ad which will run in the Summer 2016 Art & Design Licensing Source Book. The book will be circulated at the upcoming Surtex show in New York and the Licensing Show in Las Vegas. We're exploring new and creative ways to use our work and this origami collection was a fun, unexpected way of showing our designs in a 3 dimensional manner.

Book Review: Designing Textiles for the Fashion Industry by Michelle Fifis

I just downloaded and read a copy of Michelle Fifis' new book, “Designing Textiles for the Fashion Industry”. Michelle runs the popular blog Pattern Observer and is a successful textile designer with both corporate and entrepreneurial experience. 

Despite my design background, my years in interior design and my degree in industrial design I find so much of what Michelle and the Textile Design Lab offer of invaluable. This book is no exception. If you’re thinking of pursuing textile design for fashion or are just starting out, this book is a great resource. It’s also super helpful if you’re thinking of joining the Textile Design Lab and want a taste of some of the “behind the scenes” courses and resources. Michelle has a writing style that’s very easy to read. If you’ve had the opportunity to hear her narrate any of her online courses you know that she delivers complex, technical information in a calming, direct and clear manner. That same tone comes through in her writing. It’s an easy read, but one you’ll want to keep in your library to go back to again and again.

It’s got lots of “light bulb moment” tips. One of my favorite is about working with trendy colors. I love color and I know it’s important to incorporate colors that are current and on-trend, but I have struggled with an incorporating an entire palette pulled from seasonal color. Michelle suggests, “I will (also) pull one trendy color out of a popular palette and pair it with more tonal and subdued colors.”. I’ve done this subconsciously because it just works, but I’ve never put it into words before. Ah-ha. Working through color issues will be easier in the future because this will be a go-to strategy when things aren’t clicking. 

I really enjoyed reading “Designing Textiles for the Fashion Industry” and I’m happy to have it in my library. The Kindle version is out now and the print version will come later in the year. At just $7.99 it’s a great value, particularly for those that want to learn more about the fashion industry. You can find the book here or by clicking on the image above. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Event: The 2016 CCAD Fashion Show

The 2015 CCAD Fashion Show.

The 2015 CCAD Fashion Show.

It's exciting to see Columbus, and especially The Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD), making such a splash in the fashion world. You may not think of Columbus as a fashion forward place (don't get me started on white daisy dukes) but we've got some serious creative talent in this city and I love it! It seems obvious that there is fashion design in the city that The Limited Brands call home, but it hasn't always been this way. The fashion show is fairly new and already well attended. If you want to support young artists and see some amazing work, check out the 2016 show on May 13th on the CCAD campus.
You can buy tickets on the CCAD Web Page. Not yet convinced? Check out the Columbus Dispatch Slide Show from the 2015 Show. We hope to see you there!

How We Work: The Tone of Voice

Tone of Voice Board for Capricious Classics Design Challenge © 2016 Bova Creative (with credit to Sisters Gulassa for the painting in the lower right and to Clover Canyon and Leonard for the fashion images).

Tone of Voice Board for Capricious Classics Design Challenge © 2016 Bova Creative (with credit to Sisters Gulassa for the painting in the lower right and to Clover Canyon and Leonard for the fashion images).

We've said it before: we never start a project without knowing where we want to end up. Typically we are entrenched in client work and it's hard to share a current "tone of voice" board. This is a tool we have used in our work since we started. Before that we used them at the design firms where we worked. It's one of the hardest tasks to edit and complete with clarity of thought, but doing so serves as an invaluable communication tool and guide for the work which we are about to undertake. It visually defines the look and feel of the final design. If someone is new to the project, the design intent becomes clear when they see the Tone of Voice. If you've done it right, everything clicks. We take into consideration who we are designing for and how the end consumer will use or interact with our design. We don't start designing until we know where we want to land. Or as our friend and former colleague Marty Gage put it "If you can't define it, you can't design it.".

As a critical part of the design process our clients want us to keep this stuff under wraps until products and spaces are developed and launched. When the work is public, they usually just want to share the final product. The above is an unusual case where I developed a board for a design challenge we are participating in on the Textile Design Lab and Pattern Observer. The challenges we join keep us designing things we never imagined, which ultimately pushes us forward in both trend and design. Check back for a sneak peak at some of the designs we develop. Better yet, request a password to see the full collection and we'll put the designs to work for your next project.





Creative Collaborations

Collaborating is nothing new. It's how great things get done. It's exciting to see so many great designers teaming up with companies to bring design to the mass market. It elevates our overall aesthetic sensibility and puts design at the forefront without the barrier of cost.

I'm sure you've seen the commercials for Target's new collection with Merimekko. They're everywhere, even in our snail mailbox. Merimekko is an iconic Finnish company with designs that have changed the course of fashion history. The beautiful graphic quality of the prints sets them apart. One of my favorite pieces from the upcoming collection is the body board.

Merimekko for Target

Merimekko for Target

The collaboration between Target and Merimekko brings great design to everyday objects accessible to most everyone. We see similar pairings happening across the world.

Uniqlo has teamed up with Liberty of London for a collection that is fun and trendy, giving everyone the option to mix up prints, something we see happening more and more on the runway. Plus, they are just so happy!

Liberty of London for Uniqlo

Liberty of London for Uniqlo

The collaboration we're really looking forward to is NikeLab's collection with Givenchy's Creative Director Riccardo Tisci. A classic black and white collection comes out this spring. The summer release will include floral and kaleidoscope designs which are a nod to the designer's hometown, Nike's headquarters in Oregon, and Rio de Janeiro, the location for the summer Olympics.

Riccardo Tisci for NikeLab

Riccardo Tisci for NikeLab


A quote from

Regarding the collaboration, Tisci related the following:

It was interesting…a little bit of a difficult process because to make something that is very dynamic, to do sport and to do activity, and make it strongly recognizable — a fashion statement — is not easy. But we achieved something that’s amazing. There’s a lot of sensuality.

NikeLab Senior Design Director Jarrett Reynolds, meanwhile, had this to say:

This collection represents an entirely new way of thinking for Riccardo. It is engineered for performance, which is unfamiliar territory for him. But that’s the beauty of collaboration — we can help bring Riccardo into the world of sport performance, which is our expertise. On the other hand, Riccardo’s vision pushed our design to a place we wouldn’t have arrived at on our own.

Collaboration favors both the designer and the manufacturer, but in the end I think it's the end consumer that wins the most. We have a lot of amazing design out there. Don't miss an opportunity to make it a part of your everyday life.


Inspired: Bruce Munro's "Field of Light" at Uluru, Australia

Bruce Munro's "Field of Light" at Uluru, Australia. Photographer: Mark Picktall

Bruce Munro's "Field of Light" at Uluru, Australia. Photographer: Mark Picktall

When information about this exhibition came across our desks wished that supersonic travel to Australia was a reality. Based solely on the early images alone, this exhibition by Bruce Munro in Australia's Uluru, a sacred ground, is indeed as magical as it sounds. Light against dark and dusky colors has been one of the recurring themes we have been working with lately. We've explored the idea of city lights, light refracted by rain, and natural and man-made light working in unison. Undoubtedly, an evening among this "Field of Light" exhibit would be immersive and spectacular. If you're lucky enough to be in Australia over the next year, make it a point to get to Uluru and see Bruce Munro's "Field of Light". The exhibit opens on April 1, 2016 and runs through March 2017. If you can't swing it, we'd highly recommend checking out some of the images on his web site: