What Matters: Adrienne Grace on Color, Texture and Flavor

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Debbie Millman has started a new project at PRINT titled “What Matters.” This is an ongoing effort to understand the interior life of artists, designers and creative thinkers. This facet of the project is a request of each invited respondent to answer 10 identical questions, and submit a decidedly nonprofessional photograph.

Up next: Adrienne Grace, a Southern California–based graphic and web designer (and executive chef for two cats). Her business partner in Vim & Vigor also happens to be her husband, Tony Pinto.

What is the thing you like doing most in the world?

Do I really have to pick just one? Being with family and friends—laughing, talking and maybe eating. Playing with cats. Learning. Teaching. Just about anything that is about color, texture and maybe flavor, too—cooking, baking, sewing.

What is the first memory you have of being creative?

Being in fabric stores with my mom and, later, my mom and younger sister. I loved all the colors and textures. Stores used to fold the bolts of fabric with a cone shape of fabric facing out. For actual customers, this made it easy to feel the texture and get a sense of the pattern’s scale and repeat. For a kid? These were endless forts and castles!

My mom made most all our clothes when I was a kid, so I could pick any fabric, color or pattern I wanted. My favorite was a purple corduroy jumper (by which I mean dress, not British for sweater) and a white shirt with buttons that said “Panic” in crazy colors.

What is your biggest regret?

I’ve always tried to live by my grandmother’s motto, “You’ll never do it any younger.” I may look back and think, Well, that sucked, but to me that’s better than looking back and thinking, What if …?

How have you gotten over heartbreak?

It’s so odd to read this question today. I was thinking about this last night in relation to two people I know going through heartbreak right now.

Grieving is a process. It takes time, tears, sadness, fear, rage, despair. There doesn’t seem to be a shortcut or an early graduation test. It’s showing up for others when you don’t feel like it, and letting them show up for you when you think you don’t want them to. It’s taking the shards of your life, examining each piece, and keeping only the strong pieces, the valuable ones, the ones that add beauty and dimension. Then, slowly, using them to rebuild your foundation, but better and stronger.

What makes you cry?

Acknowledging the reality that I will, at some point, lose my parents. My family is my foundation and I’m fearful I’ll be a complete wreck. Also, stories about hurt or abused animals. Having to read Where the Red Fern Grows and Black Beauty in elementary school was awful.

How long does the pride and joy of accomplishing something last for you?

I’m still learning to let myself feel pride in accomplishments and acknowledge the little wins. I don’t know that I was ever explicitly taught that pride was arrogant, but I definitely was raised to believe you don’t ever boast or brag. I’m trying to be better about not comparing myself or my work to others. What I do may not be as good, as fast, or whatever the measure of success is, but if it’s better than before, that’s an accomplishment.

Do you believe in an afterlife, and if so, what does that look like to you?

I’m not a particularly spiritual person, so while I think it’s a very appealing and comforting concept, I haven’t seen anything that makes me feel it’s true. If there is one, I want to know if I get to come back and haunt people that do horrible things in the world.

What do you hate most about yourself?

There’s any number of insecurities and habits vying for the top of this list each and every day. So here’s the same blah-blah-blah about giving ourselves grace, recognizing we can only take it a day at a time. Which is 100% true. But I’m really impatient. So if someone could just teach me how to fast-track personal growth and change, that’d be grand. Thanks.

What do you love most about yourself?

I’m loyal, kind (well, generally—some people are jerks) and I’m not afraid of hard work.

What is your absolute favorite meal?

Pasta dishes. I’m half Italian and I love a classic bolognese (which I now do with fake ground beef, as Tony is vegetarian). I need to figure out a vegetarian substitute for pancetta, so I can make a yummy carbonara.