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Michelle Romo is a graphic artist and product designer working out of Los Angeles. She recently released her first children’s book, Frankie’s Magical Day, and has also designed children’s products as well as her own creative line of products. Michelle was kind enough to recently take a little time to Spill The Beans for us!

Michelle Romo
Michelle Romo

Hi Michelle! Could you tell me a little bit about yourself and what you do?
Hi! I’m Michelle Romo. I am an illustrator,  product designer, and maker of stuff. I currently live in Los Angeles, CA with my dude, Adam, and our 3 cats, Chu Chu, Deli, and Bimmy.

Tell me about Crowded Teeth.
Crowded Teeth is an umbrella name for a project that I’ve been working on for 17 years.

When it started I idolized Paul Frank and Sanrio and I wanted to build a product line of cuteness and fun. I taught myself to draw in Adobe Illustrator and created a group of characters. Eventually I started making  apparel, handbags, kids products, and other fun stuff.

I had built it into a brand, but I’ve kind of abandoned that concept. Crowded Teeth lives on as an art project.

I just want to make someone’s favorite something.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I am inspired by all cuteness!

I think my brain started  putting things together during childhood from my grandma’s styles. My dad’s mom had a mid century kitsch style to her home, and my mom’s mom would send me kawaii care packages straight from Japan. I think those influences, and 80’s/90’s pop culture sent me in the direction of making colorful fun art.

Crowded Teeth

Crowded Teeth


What are some favorite creations of yours, as well as projects you’ve worked on?
My all time favorite creation were these concrete cat head figurines. I worked with a really cool company, Concrete Cat, to create them.

Concrete Cat
Concrete Cats

They were 3D 2 sided figures of my cats Chu Chu and Deli. I made them as a tribute to my dad who worked in concrete in his career. I also donated proceeds to PAWS Chicago, the animal shelter where I got Chu and Deli. The project involved many things I love: my cats, my dad, and helping out animals.

My other favorite project was the kids’ book I just put out - Frankie’s Magical Day.

Have you ever been surprised by the reception of some of your work?
Generally people  have been very kind and supportive of me throughout my career.

About 8 years ago Michelle Kohanzo (former CEO at The Land of Nod (now Crate&Kids),  found my artwork randomly through Pinterest, and asked me to collaborate on kids products. That begin a really wonderful relationship I had with The Land of Nod for many years. Michelle Kohanzo is one of my favorite humans in the world. Her reception and embracing of me was really touching and helped elevate my career. I’m thankful to her, and for the opportunity she gave me.

Land of Nod

Bedroom design by Michelle Romo

You just released you first children’s book, Frankie’s Magical DayCongratulations! Let’s talk about it.
Thanks! Frankie’s Magical Day came about because I was approached to create a kids book, and I wanted to make something that I would have liked as a kid! I wanted to create involved scenes that kids could get lost in, and keep revisiting over and over.

Frankie’s Magical Day follows Frankie on a typical day hanging out with her parents. She goes to the park, the city, the grocery store and hangs out at home. It wraps up with her having bedtime, and a super magical dream spread. The story is very simple, and it’s more about detailed, colorful illustrations and learning new vocabulary.

Originally I wanted the book ALL fantastical magical scenarios (like the dream sequence). But that really lacks educational value - haha! So I made it a nice day for a nice kid, but sprinkled in some whimsical surprises throughout.

Frankie's Magical Day

Frankie's Magical Day

How did you come up with the locations in Frankie’s town? Are any of them based on your current surroundings?
I snuck a drawing of my fella and me on a picnic in the park near Frankie’s house. I illustrated my parents next to the “spooky house” and there is an actual spooky house in my current neighborhood! I honestly wish my house was as big as Frankie’s! Most of the locations are generic versions of fond things I remember from childhood.


Adam and Michelle enjoy a picnic in “Frankie’s Magical Day.”

Spooky House

A spooky house.

Let’s talk about coffee. How big of a role does it have in your day to day?
Sadly, I’m a decaf lady these days. I used to drink caffeinated coffee regularly but in my 30’s it started to amp up my anxiety. But I LOVE COFFEE and I couldn’t abandon it! Decaf has been my buddy for years now and I  really enjoy it!

If I’m feeling saucy I’ll get 1/3 real espresso in a 2/3 decaf americano.

Also by “saucy” I mean “really tired.”

Coffee serves as a ritualistic part of my morning routine. The smell alone is enough to get my brain going in the morning.

What sort of effect do you see Coffee having on your creative process?
I see coffee as a companion to my creative process. It’s like a reliable friend. I have a day job as a creative person, and I use coffee to get my brain going on those days.

For my personal creative projects I’m usually listening to music and drinking coffee when creating new artwork. But for whatever reason when I do technical drawings or busy work  it’s podcasts and sparkling water. Coffee is mini muse!

What is your favorite coffee drink?
Decaf Americano with Oat Milk (just a little on top - and if oat milk isn’t available I also enjoy half and half, or almond milk).

What’s your preferred brew method?
My boyfriend Adam is a barista, and my preferred method is when he makes it for me.

I am not a coffee superstar. I went through a phase where I was very anti owning stuff, and all I had was a single cup ceramic pour over situation and 2 mugs. I wanted NOTHING MORE! So that was my only method of at home coffee making for about 2 years. I still never got very good at it.

We now have a fancy coffee maker that does the job for me.

I’m not picky as long as it tastes good.

Favorite region?

Thanks Michelle!
Thank you!


Glassworks Coffee

Spillin' The Beans

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