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Q&A | Former KC resident Maria Carluccio launches line of wall decals

The Kansas City Star

JOB DESCRIPTION: Freelance illustrator and designer. The former Kansas City resident has created designs for Land of Nod and she recently launched a new line of wall decals called Wall Stories. See .

Q. Tell us about your home.

A. My apartment has a great view of the Hudson River and is really bright and sunny. I love being close to the river and living in a neighborhood where there are many trails and ponds. I find that I can really center myself better when I’m close to nature. Since my apartment is a block from town and a block from a long trail, I feel like it’s the best of both worlds.

Q. How long did you live in Kansas City?

A. I lived in KC three years. I was hired by Hallmark at the time. Before KC I lived in Harlem, and it was hard back then to make ends meet and do my art. When I moved I felt like I could really slow down and spend time doing what I loved. I found a great community of friends and fellow artists. It’s funny, I had a few friends from NYC who warned me I’d be bored living out in the Midwest, but it was exactly the opposite. I really welcomed the change of pace and I found that I thrived.

Q. What gave you the idea for Wall Stories?

A. Many years ago I started to collect ideas that I thought would be cool as wall decals. I kept thinking that I wanted to do decals really big so they looked like a huge collage-like wall mural. Then about two years ago I got a call from my now-partner Caron. She was interested in licensing my illustrations to do wall decals for her small business in Portland, Ore. The more we talked, the more I could see we had very different skill sets but pretty much the same mission. I’m the creative director and she handles the marketing, sales, distribution and production.

Q. Which designs seem to be the most popular?

A. Our garden mural and the blossom trees are both really big sellers.

Q. What’s your next home project?

A. I found a beautiful piece of wood by the river, where all the driftwood washes up. It’s an old 2-by-4 from a piece of furniture, but it’s been painted a few times. When I picked it up and looked at it, I thought it looked like a landscape image, but later, when I got it home, I decided I would put three hooks in it and make it a coat rack.

Q. What blogs, books and magazines inspire you?

A. Recently I discovered a great podcast called the Accidental Creative. It’s an inspiring podcast for startup creative entrepreneurs. I also love a blog called Eye Likey, it’s illustration meets midcentury design meets fine artist. As far as magazines go, I love Uppercase. I always look forward to every issue. One of my favorite things to do when I need inspiration is to go to a Japanese bookstore in NYC (Kinokuniya). That stuff really gets me inspired but I have to watch my wallet or I’ll spend every penny I have there.

Q. What’s your favorite room in your home and why?

A. I guess I’d have to say my living room. I have a wall behind my couch with a collection of framed art/objects from different people I have known. It’s eclectic, all different things that just work together. I always think how it’s like a patchwork of people and things that have come in my life. There is an old letter with a poem in it, sent to my dad. which I found after he died, a painting by my brother, a collage by my daughter, an abacus from my trip to Asia with my dear friend Jenny … and so on. I love how objects remind us of people we care about.

Q. Do you collect anything?

A. I do collect objects, too many, probably. I wish I had more space to showcase my collections. I love ceramic objects but my shelves have reached full capacity. With limited space, I tend to collect smaller, less-expensive things like natural objects. A few years ago I wrote a blog about how human behavior relates to all things in nature ( I began collecting a lot of seed pods and leaves back then. You really don’t need a lot of money to create beautiful collections, just a radar that’s always on, seeking out interesting things.

To reach Stacy Downs, House + Home editor and writer, call 816-234-4780 or send email to Follow her at

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