My love for the folks over at Camden Printworks is no secret. I've been so fortunate to collaborate with them on this party invitation, this wedding suite, and this extravaganza of invite, menu, program, banner, ribbons, and on and on. The enterprise is a deliberate effort to bring more jobs and economic opportunities to struggling Camden, NJ, and I couldn't be more honored to give them my business. From top left to right: Brad, owner Adam, the Shellenberger Brothers (Nicholas and Jackson), and Joe are hands down some of my favorite collaborators. They invited me over the other day to silkscreen a bit (my technique is...lacking), throw back some beers and poke around the printshop. Just being in that infernally hot space with the riot of ink colors, blasting Katy Perry music and smell of clean cotton is enough to inspire me for weeks. The chaos of the shop is such a remarkable contrast to the impeccable, detailed, refined work they make for Neither Snow. And I adore this contrast. And most of all, I adore their company. You'll be hearing more about our partnership in the coming months. For now, some behind the scenes snaps.


Hello hello. What accounts for the radio silence is that these last couple of weeks we've been packing for our move to Italy. In this spare moment, I wanted to share Leah's story, and my most recent Gratitude Giveaway. Leah works in hospice which, to my mind, is like the work of angels on earth. And so, here is her tattoo story: 

I have been privileged to work in hospice for the last 5 years.  Whenever I mention that people always say “That must be so hard, working with people who are dying.”  In reality, it is an honor to do my imperfect best to help people at this stage in their life.  It seems to me that death is like life, amplified.  It can be sad, graceful, beautiful, messy, transcendental and mundane, all at the same time.  Seeing people in this stage makes me aware of the finite nature of my own life, and that I need to strive to make it the best that I am able.

My hope with this tattoo is to keep several ideas central in my heart.  First, the life I live is foremost under my control; a positive person lives in a positive world.  Second, the more love I give, the more love I get, in my life and at the end of my life.  Third, those things that I dislike most in others are the things I dislike most in myself.  So better to try to acknowledge and change that in myself than focus that negativity toward others.

Thanks to Cody Swigert at Temple Décor and Marianne Wiest Photography in Kalispell, Montana and to Leah for sharing her story and the final product!

As I reminder: I give away one expression of gratitude every month to a client whose story I find especially moving: commemorating a loved one, an act of kindness, a gift, etc. Email me with your story. And all the gallerty of tattoo photos can be found here



Well, there aren't really words are there? For what is going on with this wedding over here featured on Style Me Pretty that I was lucky enough to contribute to? I'm a bit gobsmacked, so I'll let Rylee's beautiful photographs and Jessica's impeccable styling speak for themselves. This event is the first that incorporated all of the "not on paper" work I'll be focusing on this year. Specifically: on linen (menus and invitations), satin (banner), silver (table numbers). I can't wait to work with more visionary couples and planners who want to dream up more projects like these. Thanks to all + the happy couple! 

Wedding Photography: Rylee Hitchner Photography / Creative Direction, Design + Styling: Jessica Sloane Event Styling & Design / Floral Design: Amy Osaba / Wedding Stationery + Decals: Neither Snow / Wedding Cake: Dream Cakes Bakery / Rentals: Special Events / Linens: Southern Events Party Rental & Vintage Prop Shop / Chandelier Installation: Allison Rhee of Enamored With / Wedding Dress: Badgley Mischka / Bride’s Veil: The Bride Room / Hair + Makeup: Joanna Ballentine

COLLABORATION WITH: Rebecca, Bruce and Manuela

How fun to return from vacation and find these beautiful photos from Rebecca of her tattoo "be still." Rebecca writes that the words are from:

Psalm 46:10 : "Be still and know that I am God"     &
Exodus 14:14: "
The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still

These two small words are a reminder of God's faithfulness, provision and love in my life, a reassurance that I never have to worry and that I can trust Him with everything. 

..and the photos were taken by Rebecca's husband and collaborator Bruce. The both are from the talented photography studio Love Made Visible in Cape Town, South Africa (and they are too adorable). I cropped in to highlight the exceptionally detailed work of tattoo artist Manuela Gray of Wildfire Tattoos. Manuela, you rocked this. Often all that matters in translating my work from a digital file to the skin is the ability of the tattoo artist to capture and interpret the "thick and thin" strokes of each letter. Manuela couldn't have done a better job. As always, see a couple more snaps in the Portfolio > Tattoos section over here. Thank you Rebecca, Bruce and Manuela!

{Photos by Bruce of Love Made Visible}


What an honor to share my latest tattoo collaboration. Darvá got in touch a while back and wrote: 

"2010 -11’ has been a blessed but at times a challenging year. The beauty is in the struggle.  Five months ago I kissed and hugged my gorgeous wife Amanda and precious son Josiah and set out from Arizona to Dallas to better support my family and further my career in the hospitality industry with my current company (Fairmont Hotels & Resorts).  Thankfully my father would not let me make the drive alone. We shared great conversation and laughs along the way. His presence was greatly appreciated however, I couldn't help to feel an empty space that started as a tiny pinhole and grew to the size of the Grand Canyon.  I miss the two people that mean the world to me everyday I wake up. Due to job availability and other finical reason they remain in Arizona. 

All we have and know is in Arizona (family, fiends, our first house, Josiah's school).  This distance is only temporally (12 more months at most) and for the greater good.  This phrase "aut viam inveniam aut faciam" means  "I will either find a way or make one." It is something that keeps me pushing forward and to overcome life changing challenges."

The phrase he chose is so poingnant and inspiring. Especially in these times of economic uncertainty when the only way to overcome adversity might be in taking an opportunity far away from loved ones. Thank you to Darva, Viet at Blink Custom Art & Tattoos, and photographer Claire Elyse. 



I know it has been a few months since the last one, but here is my latest Gratitude Giveaway client, Ben. A while back, Ben wrote: 
"I'm working on a journal that will show my appreciation for how truly remarkable my wife is (you can see her blog here). I plan to provide her with a small note every now and then, articulating a characteristic I adore about her. She can then put these notes she collects in this particular journal titled... and this is where you come in Mara :)...1,000 reasons I absolutely, positively love you.
Just a little background. Before my wife and I were officially dating (just hanging out and flirting), I told her there were 1,000 things I loved about her, which prompted a book/album a little later into our dating years that I never finished completing--I only got to 10 things! Lame-O! So, to this day she sarcastically jokes, "you only love 10 things about me?!!"
We've just completed our 6th [now 7th!] wedding anniversary, and been so busy with life (nearly 4 kids--my wife has 8 weeks left in her pregnancy--in the last 6 years) that every time I try to give the 1,000 reasons journal a little attention, it never actually gets any attention. The cover and interior I had originally put together have grown to look cheesy to me and I've wanted to change it to something more timeless (as described at the beginning)."

Ben's sweetie Rubyellen wrote a little post about receiving the gift, and what she gave him in return, over here. And here is their anniversary portrait. Her blog Cakies is such a fun read.

Here's to many more years and entries in your book!

{Photo courtesy of Rubyellen from Cakies}


I've never received an inquiry from South Korea but such was the case when I got an email from Seoul last year. The luxury Hotel Shilla (owned by the Samsung Group-- TVs and hotels, who knew?) contacted me to work on holiday branding and packaging for their pastry boutique, and an invitation to a gala dinner. They commissioned me to write out the holiday favorite "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year." One of my favorite parts of the experience was signing the contract. It involved overlapping the pages and signing across them (the first time I've done this). They, of course, used their company's much classier red stamp. What fun to think of their customers toting these bags around such a faraway place. Thanks to Jennifer + the Hotel Shilla!

{Product images courtesy of Hotel Shilla}


I'm so excited to share this tattoo with you. I think it is the most text commissioned by any client. Jessica -- a nurse at a labor and delivery ward -- tells the story best.

Ten summers ago, my now husband Derek and I took our first trip together to see the Dave Matthews Band play at the Gorge. "Heaven's ampitheatre," I like to call it, with immense views of plateaus and sky and Columbia River. It became a tradition for us, three days of music bliss every Labor Day weekend. We now have our son Lennox in tow, who's 2, and I like to say he's been making the trip even before he was born (in my belly the first time around).  He was born into this world with Dave Matthews Band ushering him in like a theme song or dramatic score to the story of our life.  And I'm pretty sure he was conceived to it ;) It's in his blood.

"One Sweet World" is a song that I came across only in the last few years, discovered at one of these shows.  The violin intro to this song is so powerful. It catches my attention and draws me in even on the darkest of days. This tattoo evolved over the course of many years and shows, and over the years I've evolved into this tattoo.

As I became a mom and motherhood became me, a line from this song began to resonate with me on many levels. "So let us sleep outside tonight, lay down in our mother's arms, for here we can rest safely." It connects so many images and ideas of who I am in just a few words. I imagine laying in my mother's arms, as a child, outside in our backyard in the Oregon countryside.  Looking up at the stars on a summer night, and being completely at peace. It's dreamlike.  I imagine me holding my newborn son, barely the length of my forearm, and cradling him so closely all those first months, each time he nursed or needed to be close to me.  I'm now working as a Nurse in Labor and Delivery, and bear witness to women becoming mothers before my eyes, and have the rare opportunity to be a part of that incredible experience every day. There is no stronger bond than a mother to her child, and no safer place to be than in that Mama Bear's arms.  I imagine also one of the more literal meanings of the song, which I think is really about this planet we live upon, holding us close, keeping us grounded, with our feet solidly planted in the soil. She keeps us safe and holds us close, and feeds our soul with sunshine and dirt and water. Each day a mother holds her child, her little piece of the earth. From dust to dust. The experience of motherhood is now imprinted on my arms, where I will continue to hold my babies and the babies of other mothers.

Thank you Mara for translating these ideas to art. It is more beautiful than I could have ever dreamed.

Thank you Monica at Mo Hines Photography for spending an evening with us and for being so creative. And thank you Robert Egbert at Slave to the Needle Tattoo for putting it on my body forever, and for not messing it up.

Thank you, Jessica, for trusting me with (both!) of your inner arms, envisioning such a thoughtful tattoo, and sharing your story with us. Thank you to Robert for inking it so precisely, and to Mo for capturing the final result so well.

{Photos by Mo Hines Photography}