“I always wanted to [create] a character that would live forever and ever, that everyone knows,” Patty Sjolin says. “I want it to give that feeling in your heart.”

Sjolin started out in a small town in Texas, but her concepts have reached around the world and been loved by millions of young girls. During the 1990s, Sjolin worked at Lisa Frank Inc., one of the world’s most creative and successful design companies at the time, known internationally for its school supplies, toys, and clothing for girls with colorful, whimsical designs featuring cute animals.

Sjolin came to Miami, Arizona, last March and has been establishing a new career here as a painter and muralist.

“Art has always been part of my life,” Sjolin says. She started drawing and painting when she was still a young child. “I drew all the time, all the time,”
Sjolin does both large, bold paintings that she can complete in a few hours, and complex, detailed work, such as a pair of fanciful roosters where every tail feather is intricately painted. Her favorite way to work is big and bold.

Sjolin has custom painted pieces ranging from a peacock on a wooden chair to a swath of flowers on a chest of drawers.

Sjolin has created signage, murals on both interior and exterior walls, and logo designs. Sjolin enjoys creating custom murals, when she works closely with a client, looking at photos for ideas, developing a concept, and then taking over and creating a one-of-a-kind painting. For two large murals at the Cedar Hill B&B (Globe, Arizona), Sjolin brought 20 to 30 ideas for sunflowers and irises to proprietor Linda Gross. Linda selected the images she liked, and Sjolin used those as a guide for the murals.

Some of Sjolin’s paintings have Western themes, while some feature large-eyed, brightly colored animals. There are shaggy buffalos, blue alpacas, and luminescent birds and butterflies that look like they’re pieced together in stained glass.

Sjolin’s work is currently available at the Sullivan Emporium in Miami (AZ), but this fall she plans to open her own shop. It will be housed in the pink house at the end of Inspiration Drive in Miami, and she’s already picked out a name: the Bubblegum Boutique. The boutique will sell home decor, including handmade and handpainted items.

Sjolin hopes to bring more public art to Globe-Miami by painting murals in public spaces and perhaps helping develop a unique series of sculptures, like the painted horses in some Western towns. She’s looking for walls to paint on, and anyone who would like to offer a wall is encouraged to get in touch with her with ideas for subject matter.

“I love small towns,” Sjolin says. “You connect with people right away. … You get in touch with the whole town, and it’s available for you to reach out and be part of it. You can be as much as you dream of being.”

Sjolin is an example of those courageous and persistent artists who come up through the school of hard knocks, who might start out short on cash but are always long on passion and innate talent. Artists like this will bring color and inspiration with them wherever they go. We’re fortunate that Patty Sjolin has decided to bring her magic to Globe-Miami.

Originally published in the Globe-Miami Times, Fall 2016
(c) 2016 Globe Miami Times