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!
Celebrate August in all its sunny glory with a page from Masha calendar! 2019 is already out!
January may be in full swing with its blustery winds and frigid nights, but here at Masha D’yans Designs, we know the warmth of Valentine’s Day is just around the bend.
How comforting it is to have this gem of a holiday nestled up cozily in the coldest months of the year, providing a quick pick-me-up of connection and togetherness!
Take “A Rose from Bat,” for instance. Send this spunky Valentine’s Day card for a little romance with a whimsical twist, or simply let an old friend know you’d like to wish them well. Our little bat friend is all about spreading the love, no matter the recipient.
Or our “Bleeding Hearts Bunny,” combining the stunning romantic charm inherently found in nature with a little bit of magic, characteristic of Masha D’yans’ enchanting style.
“Petals Dragonfly” is a versatile card, full of softness, and a gentle reminder of the delicate nature of love. With its pastoral feel and quiet, multifaceted meaning, this card can be used for many different occasions, ranging from a Valentine’s Day note to an expression of sympathy or care.
Masha’s “Heart Balloon Tree” offers a beautiful way to convey love, even in a time of loneliness or melancholy.
With Valentine’s Day so near, it’s a great time to place your individual and wholesale orders so you can warm someone’s mailbox this February!
We’re all about making someone’s day here at masha.com. Below we’ve collected 4 of this year’s hits created by Masha sure to surprise and delight your recipient. Let the gift giving party commence! Just don’t forget the fun holiday cards to go with them!
From top down: 1. Color Me Enchanted is an intricate coloring book of fairytales from around the world from Masha D’yans and Gala Lazuli. There’s over 50 artworks to color and display. Available on Amazon and wherever fine books are sold. 2. Winter Skyline is a pop-up greeting card designed by Masha for MoMA. Express your city love with fun watercolor splatters mixed with metallic ink and glitter details. Available in boxes of 8 from the MoMA store. 3. 2018 Calendar collects 12 of Masha’s painting in a luscious 12×12″ format to display on any wall – a perennial best seller. Available on Amazon and wherever fine books are sold. 4. Modern Chalet is a pop-up greeting card designed by Masha for MoMA. It features neon and metallic inks for one magically cozy effect. Available in boxes of 8 from the MoMA store.
Say hello to 10 fresh greeting cards to have and to write now! You don’t have to wait til spring to get your paws on these critters, landscapes and rainbows for all occasions. We had a blast painting them and hope you enjoy sending and giving them around for maximum fun. Scroll through all the newbies below or check them out at masha.com/shop.
Spring is in!
From Masha with Love.
Our new calendar has been released into the world and is awaiting your lovely walls!
Available now at Amazon and wherever fine wall calendars are sold. Get yours (and a few for deserving others) before they flit away like so many summer butterflies.
Resplendent June’s here reminding us to celebrate our favorite heroes of the father-variety! Pick a card, any card for the warrior who’s had your back, be it dad, uncle, grandpa, husband, brother, or mom or friend who played the role! They’d all love a fun token of your appreciation. Even if they’d never admit it in public.
As we get ready to attend the National Stationery Show next week, we thought we’d take a walk down memory lane (strewn with plenty of fleurs, of course). Please enjoy a look back at our last show.
It was a real labor of love and art to compose the blooms into lush compositions of color gradations on the walls. Masha’s idea for light shelving was to use feathers to hold up the cards. Alignment was difficult to achieve by hand but everyone loved the unique effect. Best of all, the cards were the heaviest thing about this booth design.
Silk petals served as flooring. It was a welcome zen activity to brush them back in place with a small broom after each busy day.
The lighting was a bit harsh for photos, but we spotted many a fake “selfie” being taken in order to photograph our booth design OTDL. That’s a compliment, right?
Here’s Masha with friend (and fellow curly girl) Emily McDowell enjoying the show.
See you in NY!