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Meet the Artist Behind Our New Floral Print, Flower Friends

Photo of Meenal Patel with images of Flower Friends sketches on both sides Photo of Meenal Patel with images of Flower Friends sketches on both sides
Photo courtesy of Sarah Deragon 


It's no secret that our community loves florals! From the very earliest days of Little Sleepies (who remembers Original Floral and Bella Blooms?) to today, they remain one of our most popular print categories. Whether it's due to their intrinsic feminine energy or pretty color palettes, we love seeing how our florals add a special spin to your milestone photos, Mother’s Day celebrations, and everyday moments with your families.

Today, we're thrilled to introduce you to Meenal Patel, the artist behind our newest floral: Flower Friends! Meenal's work intertwines the beauty of florals with heartfelt storytelling — and we’re excited to share more about her story and how she went about creating her first LS print. 

Read on for an inspiring Q&A with Meenal Patel that dives into her background,  artistic process & ends with a little advice for your little Picassos & Kahlos!

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Little Sleepies: Can you share a little bit about your background and inspirations as an artist? How would you describe your work?

Meenal Patel: My professional background is in graphic design, but I’ve always liked to draw and make other forms of art. I worked at a design agency for 10 years after going to college for graphic design. While most of my work was focused on branding, packaging, and in-store experiences, I did get to dabble a bit in surface design.

I was also making art and illustrations outside of work. Those years were really important in developing technical skills, professional skills, and the beginnings of developing my aesthetic under the guidance of an amazing creative director. After I left that job, I continued doing freelance graphic design while building up my own business and slowly shifting my focus to illustration and art. 

I think some of my favorite things from childhood still influence what I make today. Kids make some of the best art, because they aren’t afraid to play. Most adults, including me, have a lot to learn from them – the idea of tapping into childlike play and curiosity when we are creating something. 

Some of the things that I loved as a child still show up in my art today, like my love of patterns. I grew up with my grandparents in the same household, and I used to go through my Ba’s closet of saris, running my hands over the textures and looking at the patterns and colors. I’ve thought a lot about why I’m attracted to patterns and why I use them throughout the art forms that I work in – both as a kid and now as an adult. And I think it comes down to three main things. I believe that patterns can hold storytelling power, memories, and delightful surprises.

Another piece from my childhood is that I loved Hello Kitty, Sanrio, and so many Japanese Kawaii characters. When I was a kid we lived in the Bay Area for a couple years and would occasionally take the bus into the city. There were a bunch of shops in Japantown that had stationery and stickers with Kawaii characters and I would pore over them. I think some of my affinity for faces on elements in nature comes from a combination of that and the way that faces are drawn in some forms of South Asian art. 

And, of course, nature is a huge inspiration for me! Especially the tiny details and patterns when I remember to take the time to look a little closer.

Image of an early draft of the Flower Friends print

LS: Were you an artist as a child? What are your earliest memories creating art?

Yes! I was a pretty quiet kid and looking back on it I think art was a way for me to express myself, process experiences, and just play. I’ve always tended to be able to process things more easily through writing and making art rather than speaking, so I’ve always been attracted to creating in those ways. I remember making an illustrated book for school that was about my family and the butterfly that I wanted to be when I grew up. I also vividly remember making tiny animals and flowers out of clay and creating whole worlds of them. 

I think that kids are truly the best artists, because they are often more uninhibited and free when they are creating. They aren’t hindered by rules. I try to tap into the kid in me when I’m making art.

LS: Where did the idea for Flower Friends come from? 

I drew this piece when I was visiting family and friends and was feeling grateful for all these people who are there for the big stuff, small stuff, happy stuff, and hard stuff. The lovely feeling and delight of togetherness. I also like to draw flowers and other natural elements in little groupings that feel like families, which is how this drawing started before it became a pattern. 

I have a memory of playing outside with one of my nieces, and she’d gone around the yard and collected flowers, stones, and leaves. And then she carefully arranged all of these treasures into little clusters and named each little one. It made me think of a family portrait of sorts. 

LS: Can you talk a little bit about your artistic process? How did this print go from an idea, through sketches and early drafts, to its final form?

Image of early sketches of the Flower Friends print

MP: I work both digitally and with analog mediums (mostly acrylic gouache, colored pencil, graphite pencil, crayon). No matter what medium I use for the final art, it is always drawn by hand with each mark made individually. I start with a very rough, tiny pencil sketch on paper, often in a sketchbook. From there I will refine the sketch, in this case I did that on my iPad with a pencil stylus. Next is working out color, which is my favorite part of the process. 

I really like bold, unexpected color combinations and find a lot of joy in coming up with those. 

I often use a limited color palette like in this illustration. Once I have chosen the colors, I will start to draw out the elements in more detail and try to balance out where the colors are placed. The final step is layering on the details like the little lines in the leaves, which I find really meditative to make.


LS: Do you have any upcoming projects you’re excited about? 

I have a new children’s picture book collaboration coming out in May! It’s called In This Familywritten by Shelly Anand, illustrated by me, and published by Simon & Schuster. It’s a story inspired by Shelly’s family and highlights how four generations of the family in the story welcome their newest member. It’s a sweet, lyrical story and it was a joy to illustrate. 

LS: Is there a piece of advice you’d like to give aspiring artists?

Be curious about the world and practice the art forms that you are interested in whether that’s writing, drawing, painting, dancing, or any of the other ways to make art. 

Dedicate yourself to making as much as you can, because it’s all about practice and finding what feels good to you. Also, know that you won’t like everything that you make, but that’s part of the process of learning.

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Are you an artist yourself, or do you have an artist at home? How do you encourage their creativity? Share your stories in the comments!



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