We’d like to introduce you to Masha’s Latest picture book “A Garden in Your Belly: Meet the Microbes in Your Gut” through our author Q&A!
Growing up, my family moved a lot and in different configurations (I’m talking neighborhoods first and continents later). Staying in touch with friends and family in those pre-social media days was everything. One of my favorite things to do was to send drawings of things I observed or ideas I had along with my letters. This led me to make illustrations and put together stories and that’s what I still do!
What was your inspiration for this book?
Me, as the little girl suffering from severe food allergies, anxiety and stomach aches. That kid could really use some ideas on regulating her well-being all those years ago. Also, since childhood I’ve been into miniatures and the idea of worlds within worlds. Our planet is part of a vast cosmos. We’re all part of this earth. We, in turn, have worlds within us. Similarly, a microbe has a world inside itself, as does each cell. I love that we can go smaller and smaller in the style of the Russian doll “Matryoshka.”
Is this book fact or fiction?
It’s art based on science. I always had an interest in nerdy things I could hardly unravel, probably because I’m a child of a scientist (who loves to paint) and an artist (who loves studying nature).
Where did the visual world come from?
It’s a huge challenge to depict a mind-blowing universe, even if microbial. My approach was to tap into the beginner’s mind, to forget the visuals typical of this subject matter. I let my imagination run so that the young reader could picture their own biology in a fun, non-clinical way. But some art history inspiration is definitely peeking through the illustrations. Can you see it?
What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
Hopefully, the book will engage the reader with fun details and visual surprises long enough to encourage good habits in kids and their adults!
Please briefly describe the theme of your book and its scope.
The human microbiome is not only a fascinating world of its own, it’s vitally important to every aspect of our lives. You are what you eat, after all.
Please summarize your book.
A Garden In Your Belly takes an imaginative look into the wondrous relationship between our bodies and the trillions of organisms we host, the microbes we call the microbiota. These tiny creatures play a huge role in whether we are sick or healthy, fit or sluggish, sunny or moody. Young readers can picture the mind-blowing microbial world inside as a journey through an adventure-filled landscape and learn some amazing science in an actionable, user-friendly way. Every kid can get excited about nourishing their tiny inner helpers or “pets” that play such an important role in their well-being. The well-nourished microbiome will in turn offer them protection from unwanted invaders and pathogens like viruses. The interconnectivity of our lifestyle and our health has become more apparent than ever. This book aims to present its importance and beauty in a fun, engaging way. The microbiome has always been with us, coevolving with humans and entwining its functions with ours. Might as well face it and make friends!
Was there anything else that inspired this book?
I’ve had health struggles since childhood and started looking into wellness and biohacking in earnest a few years ago. There’s hardly a scientific discussion about health lately without mentioning the fascinating (and only partially-explored) microbiome. The fact that we all exist as composite organisms is endlessly enchanting to me. It leads to so much potential for increased curiosity, empathy and imagination – precisely the kinds of things kids are most open to.
Why will people want to read your book? What developments, trends, and issues reflect this need? What kinds of problems does your work address and what solutions does it offer?
Wellness has become a mainstream trend, yet the state of global health is generally declining. Long before the emergence of Covid-19, nutritional experts had agreed that the modern lifestyle is harmful to our inner gardens in many ways. Our gut bacteria is being decimated by processed foods, lack of physical activity, environmental pollution and gut-harming medications. Yet this message has far to go still. Too many kids are growing up surrounded by unhealthy food, bombarded with the idea that addictive sugary treats are something rewarding to covet.
I wish I knew the importance of nutrition and how to regulate my physiological and psychological well-being as a kid. It would’ve saved me so much unnecessary angst and possibly illness. Because 80 – 90% of our immune cells reside in our gut, everything that happens there influences what goes on with our health. Our first line of defense against viral infection (Covid-19 for example) is our respiratory mucosa. Its state is directly influenced by the state of the gut.
Simply put, a healthy gut equals less disease and that extends beyond the physical. We have a chance to gift this important knowledge to the next generation, and it doesn’t have to be scary, dull, preachy or off-putting.
Who do you see as the primary audience for the book?
Anyone who eats.
Who might have a secondary interest in the book?
Parents. Anyone interested in wellness.
What do you hope readers will learn or discover from reading your book?
Healthy fascination with the mighty microbiome. The interconnectivity of our lifestyle and our health. This has become more critical than ever as the world suffers through the effects of a pandemic.
The microbiome is infinitely malleable. It’s never too early or too late to make friends with it.
As we make our way into the new year I wanted to send happy wishes and share some new cards happening in the painterly realm of Studio Masha D’yans.
The 12 designs below are currently in production – ready to travel the planet early February.
Every day I strive to remain a continual source of uplifting vibes, beauty, love, light, health, creativity, and hope, by way of the art that I create and share with the world via cards and books!
I am always grateful for the love and support of my art!
Sending a big virtual hug,
Hello March! Hello Spring! Hello Masha’s newest book Flower Talk: How Plants Use Color to Communicate!
“The best fashion show is definitely on the street. Always has been. Always will be.”
We’ve got heaps to be excited about here at Studio Masha D’yans, but we’re simply bursting at the seams over Masha’s latest passion project: Polka Dot Parade: A Book About Bill Cunningham, which will be released 8/28/18!
photo: Lika Brutyan
This picture book, highlighting the life and work of legendary New York Times street fashion photographer, Bill Cunningham, will encourage kids of all ages to search for inspiration and decide for themselves what is truly beautiful. For more history and insight into Bill and his joyful use of photography, check out his autobiographical NYT article or spend an evening watching the lovely documentary, Bill Cunningham New York. And if you’re in NYC between June and September, you’ll have the opportunity to experience the New-York Historical Society’s exhibit celebrating Cunningham’s career.
Finding artistry in daily rituals, whimsy in what others deem ordinary, and a relentless passion in your creative work… that kind of thinking is our bread and butter. This makes it no surprise that the incredible career and work of Bill Cunningham strikes such a chord!
Illustrating Polka Dot Parade was a treat for Masha, allowing her to fall back into the New York City rhythm she knows so well, and letting her love of fashion and gorgeous detail run wild and free.
Even legendary children’s author, Eric Carle, sings praise for this rolicking celebration of Bill Cunningham:
Masha’s vivid watercolor work brings Bill’s photos to life. A stunning marriage of two forms of art. The eyes are on a holiday. Well done!
And here’s even more love Polka Dot Parade is already getting:
Polka Dot Parade is a charming reminder of all the color and joy that Bill Cunningham brought to the Fashion World every day. The industry is not the same without him. Thank you, Masha D’yans and Deborah Blumenthal for creating this lovely celebration of Bill’s mark on the world.
…fabulously vivid illustrations by Masha D’yans (savor the spot-on illos of fashion luminaries Anna Wintour, Andre Leon Talley, Iris Apfel, Lynn Yaeger and Grace Coddington).
Beautifully rendered and told, the book brings to life the work of a gifted 20th-century artist whose creative vision will always be in vogue.
—Kirkus Reviews, STARRED review
With dynamic processions of swooshing colors, patterns, and fabrics, D’yans vividly conveys how Cunningham viewed New York City fashion through his eyes and lens. One figure wears a trailing cloak that features an inky landscape; elsewhere, moths and dragonflies emerge from a woman’s gown. Cunningham is portrayed as an impassioned observer who captured the beauty of his subjects in unguarded moments on the street, or from the handlebars of his beloved bicycle.
Bill Cunningham was a New York treasure and the most beloved photographer and quirky personality in the fashion business. I am so glad Deborah and Masha created this whimsical storybook, exposing our Bill to whole new audience. I miss you, Bill.
—Fern Mallis, Creator of New York Fashion Week
Your work is too wonderful and it would have made our darling Bill very happy to see it. The two of you together are a class act.
—Valerie von Sobel
Masha does splashswishsmudgesquiggles so deftly. Her fresh scented girl brains revive the spirit and invigorate the squeals. Excellent work.
Celebrate August in all its sunny glory with a page from Masha calendar! 2019 is already out!
He’s the guy who’s there when you need him — whether he’s helping you move into a nest of your own, walking you down the aisle (hello Wedding Season!), or just spotting you that “occasional” $20. And if he’s anything like ours, he doesn’t want to talk about it.
When it comes to celebrating Dad without embarrassing you both, mail is your best friend.
Think about it: you get to show your appreciation without having to make eye contact — and you come out looking like the favorite child. One of these Dad-friendly cards is sure to perk up your old man and build up a stockpile of mutual understanding for the next time you lock your keys in your car and dial his number at 2 AM.
Now, he may not say it, but we’ll bet you five bucks your Dad would love to have a gift alongside that super-thoughtful card. But don’t worry, we’ve taken the time to round up some appropriately badass gifts to bring a reluctant smile to his eyes.
If your Dad’s got a taste for spirits, it doesn’t get much better than a box-full-o-whisky. Or gin. Or tequila. Or… all three? Browse Drinks by the Dram for the perfect way to butter dad up in preparation for your next birthday.
Dads and space go together like, well… dads and space, right? Tell him to focus on Jupiter instead of your recent poor financial decisions and you’ll both be winners!
We don’t care how old you are, hammocks are the coolest. With this professional-grade hammock, Dad could sleep in a forest… on a mountain… even in a zoo if he was extra sneaky.
Happy Father’s Day from Studio Masha D’Yans!
We’re the biggest fans of finding inspiration in the world around us — and that includes the world above us!
Keeping up with celestial events like meteor showers and full moons is a fun way to stay in touch with our solar system’s breathtakingly whimsical wonders. In fact, coming up on April 29th is a Full Pink Moon, named after the creeping phlox: those perky little pink flowers that tend to crop up this time of year and officially usher in this fresh season.
A pink-themed lunar event? That’s just the right shade of perfect for us!
The color pink is a time-honored classic — whether it’s pale and delicate like the tiniest hint of coral in a vintage string of pearls, or in-your-face like a fuchsia fanny pack. We love it.
Pink, while typically pigeonholed as a “girly” color, is actually a nuanced hue that communicates a rollercoaster of feels — calmness, tenderness, and optimism are just a few. Who doesn’t need more of those things in their life? And some even consider it the most rebel Punk color there’s is!
We’ve got bushels of watercolor cards here at Studio Masha D’yans that celebrate this unforgettable color, as well as some celestial selections if you’re eyes tend to stray to the skies!
Earth tones and vibrant pinks mingle and mix in this mashup of flora and fauna!
This fantastic color is front and center in this festive celebration of spring.
Turn your eyes to the skies and let your imagination frolic among the stars!
As Mother’s Day grows nearer, you can’t get too far without hearing comments about “greeting card holidays” and “corporate cliches.”
We might be biased here at Studio Masha D’yans, but we don’t think it’s quite as glum as all that!
In fact, we think of sending a greeting card as a radical act of love!
What used to be common (sending a letter through the mail) is long considered to be quaint. The act of mailing a card through the postal service can be fun, personalized, and might just make you feel like a kid again.
When it comes to greeting cards, tenderness and affection can be found in the ritual itself. In the time it took to choose one, to compose and handwrite it. In the sealing of the envelope, in the walk to the mailbox… in the joy that comes from receiving a thoughtful piece of stationery in a box that usually delivers bills or unwanted junk .
With Mother’s Day approaching, it can be tempting to think of a greeting card as a cliche… but choosing a beautiful, artfully-created card to express your love to whomever you call “Mom” — or someone who is missing theirs — is a classic that’s hard to beat.
This bright-eyed, bushy-tailed desert friend is sure to lift Mom’s spirits and usher in spring!
This dreamy sunset scene is sure to lull the mother in your life into a luxurious, pampering mood!
Is Mom a cat lover? A music lover? Both? This jazzy cat is a unique, fun way to send some pep through the post.
It doesn’t get more classic than flowers, and this company’s sustainable practices make this gift guilt-free and gorgeous.
Smooth, warm, and luxurious… with all the bubbly feelings of a night spent in your favorite black dress. This candle is a classy complement to your favorite Mother’s Day card!
MoonJuice Cosmic Provisions Collection
Pamper Mom from the inside out with this bounty of organic, artisanal snacks!
What gives you more warm fuzzies than a playful surprise showing up on your doorstep?
Whether it’s a basketful of jelly beans in your fave color, a bottle of bubbly from someone who knows you well or daffodils popping after April showers, we think May Day surprises are the bee’s knees.
May Day is a fun, classic holiday… but did you know just how classic? We’re not talking classic like a string of pearls, we’re talking historical, ancient classic. Like, Stonehenge classic!
One of the oldest origins of May Day lies with the Druids of the British Isles, who believed May 1st symbolized the return of life and fertility to their part of the hemisphere. The Romans took this time to celebrate Flora, their goddess of flowers, and in Medieval times, the Maypole became a well-known tradition.
Frolicking, flowers, and light? That’s our kind of holiday here at Studio Masha D’yans!
The cool history of this holiday doesn’t stop with the Maypole, however. In the US in 1886, May 1st was the beginning of the 8 hour work week, making great strides in the improvement of American working conditions.
There’s just something about spring that makes you want to share some love, and that’s a trend that isn’t changing anytime soon. With massive springtime arts festivals like Coachella and Primavera Sound happening all over the world, it’s clear: it’s time to let loose!
So, whether you’re celebrating those tiny little blooms cropping up in your flower pots, or recognizing a hard worker in your life, we’d love to help you find the perfect way to say “Thinking of You!”