Mafe Maria: Personal stories by autism parent mentor, Maria Stultz

My Signature Style

Oh dear…

Anabel Sousa, creator behind the super chic “Crear es Creer”, has honored me throwing this challenge my way… She’s figured out hers, and now asks me to define which of my artisan works can be considered my “sello personal”. Meaning — as I understand it — which item (or collection of items) has that “je ne sais quoi” that shows up over an over on the things I create so that when people sees them, they quickly recognize them as mine.

The question is a very good one, and after thinking some about it, I’m not quite sure I can answer it. First, because my body of work as a public artisan is tiny and extremely eclectic… I have not specialized on a single area or product… I haven’t made tons of one thing to get to the point where that thing has become full of my artistic essence. And so, here’s the second reason… I doubt that my work has yet any specific “brand recognition” for people to see something and spot it immediately as mine, or at least think of me as the possible creator behind it. Although, now that I just wrote this, perhaps I should ask my friend Marla, who a few times has shown me things that she thinks have my artistic style. Hmmm…

So when I thought of this question, I couldn’t pinpoint a signature item. I couldn’t define my signature style either. Yes, there are techniques or ideas that you may see repeated in several of my creations. But have I worked long enough with them for a specific unique style to emerge worth of brand recognition?… I’m not sure.

I believe my most unique creation is perhaps my small collection of vueltiaítos. Although they are inspired by the very well known Colombian vueltiao hat, my translation as a baby item with textile material is something I have never seen anywhere else, and no baby hat I have ever seen looks anything like mine. Unfortunately though, I have not made enough of them for the product to be a recurring and prominent part of my shop and get any kind of public awareness.

When I was an art student, it was other people’s reactions to my work that made me realize my style… My figure drawings were always recognizably soft among all others; people called them “subtle” and “soothing”. And in 2–D Design class, my work mixed traditional media with computer-generated bits. I hadn’t realized that this made my pieces unique among all others until I met these two young guys in my class who were completely fascinated by my technique.

When I became a web designer and managed to produce a large enough body of work, people started bookmarking my online portfolio as “clean design”. Prospective customers would contact me and point to this same aspect… How clean and well organized my web pages appeared.

Now as an artisan, I have no earthly clue of what others perceive as my style. I do, however, have a very good idea of what differentiates my work from many others I’ve seen…

  • If I make a pair of earrings, I don’t pick a beautiful set of beads and attach them to ear hooks.
  • If I make children clothing, I don’t cut a shape out of colorful and cutely designed Amy Butler fabric and stitch it to the chest of a pre–made white shirt or onesie.
  • If I make a purse, I don’t pick a piece of exquisite vintage silk and glue it to a purse frame.
  • If I make anything, I don’t sew the fabric straight out of the purchase bag and call the finished product “spot clean only”.

Instead, I am an artisan who likes to create beautiful things out of the most simple and raw materials… Not because I like to suffer, no… But because I like to design and do my self a lot of the stuff, and because I come up with the most complicated ideas that involve a lot of production steps, and it’s the combination of those steps that will make the product beautiful; not the pre–made beauty of the materials.

Felix by Maria StultzBiggest Fish in the Pond by Maria StultzPaco by Maria Stultz
  • So I don’t go shopping for beautifully designed fabric. It’s so much more fun to design and hand print my own.
  • I don’t make a silhouette appliqué out of worldwide recognized designer fabric. It’s so much more fun to design a Paco, a Felix, a Felicity, and cut out all the little shapes to reveal a multi-color reverse appliqué.
  • I don’t buy beautiful beads. Its’ so much more fun to dream, design, and make textile and wire jewelry.
  • And for anything I make that is ever meant to be cleaned, I always pre–wash all fabrics and heat-set any textile ink, because I think that “spot clean only” is bullshit and complete laziness on the part of the creator. (OK, this one has nothing to do with artistic style, but I have wanted to say it for such a long time!)
Ofra textile necklace by Maria StultzNina textile earrings by Maria Stultz

Are all these things evident to others looking at my work? I really don’t know… Are they parts of what may constitute my signature style? I’d love to know… Anyone of you familiar with my public or private creations, I would so love to know what you perceive as my artisan style. This is one of those things where it doesn’t matter what I think; my “signature style” is all about what others perceive.


  1. On , Anabel wrote:

    W-O-W! I’m so fascinated with your answer!!! I feel something simmilar in the sense of create starting of nothing… I mean… that is really create, or design not matter how much time you put on it, it is the result which is going to reflect your energy and I appreciate works when there is a “work” behind it… by the way your volteaito is divine!!!!!!(obvious helped but your beautiful petit enfant) it’s a pitty I don’t have kids (yet) because it’s so charming! (but maybe is Crear es creer is a succes I can order you one for me :))
    Now there are many words I can say of you without knowing more than your work and interventions, you are an artisan (with a latinamerican sense and a global view), an estheticienne (I don’t know which is the word in english but in France is somebody with a big sense of the beauty) a deep conceiver, a sensible human being (that is why you prefer textiles to beads) and a great communicative person (your posts are a gem!)
    Thanks for having accepted the challenge and is not as long as I thought… very useful indeed… and thanks for the “super chic” ;)

  2. On , Maria wrote:

    Yes, my friend… Your creations are super–super chic. I mean it.

    Thank you sooooo much for this beautiful comment. I loved all the grand adjectives you called me. If this is what you perceive of me as an artist… If this is what my work and words reflect… Man!… That is one of the best compliments I’ve ever gotten. Thank you again!… and if Mafemaria ever becomes a success (he! he!), I will so be ordering that olive echarpe. So beautiful!

  3. On , Jennifer wrote:

    I totally think you have a signature style! Everything you do has this earthiness to it – even the outfits and tees you create. And, I don’t mean earthy simply in that you use earth tones; instead I mean that your work shows that you do things by hand with those ‘raw materials’ you mentioned. And yes, apart from the colorful tees, you do use a lot of neutral earth tones (which I love) in your work, which I think highlights the design of the items inherently.

    So, I disagree: you have a relatively definitive style, to me at least!

  4. On , Maria wrote:

    That is so cool!
    I could’ve never come up with that as my style. I’m so inside my process and my things, that it’s hard to back up to see the whole collection of “my work”, observe it objectively and formulate some statement about what it’s like, partly because I don’t know if what I may think of it is in fact what others see.

    Thanks to you I can totally see those patterns now. And I think you’re right… It makes sense that earthiness would reflect on my creations since it is something I gravitate around when it comes to design for me and my home. Remember, I love poopoo colors ;).

    Thank you Jennifer!… That was some really interesting view to share with me. I like it :)

  5. On , Jennifer wrote:

    I’m glad you enjoyed my point of view. :) I personally love organic and earthy feeling things, color-wise as well as craft-wise. So, I look at your body of work and think how wonderfully simple and clean – and natural – looking it is. To me, an item that is worth having simply accents the person, not overpowers or makes it’s own statement. That’s what I see with your work. Keep it coming!

  6. On , Maria wrote:

    Ha! Those words… “simple and clean”… there they are again.
    That’s exactly how people always refers to my web design work as well. I didn’t know that my handmade work also reflected this. Cool!… I guess I’m consistently clean and simple. Those are good things to be when it comes to design.

  7. On , Ivan wrote:

    “A quality process creates a quality product” Anselmo Escobar….
    Nunca se me olvida el dibujo a lápiz blanco que hiciste de nacho. a esa edad y yo no lo podía creer … ahora veo una mezcla entre diseños con monstruos chistosos que son bastante divertidos, accesorios .. todo muy bonito y con un valor importante en el proceso lo cual es un sello en sí. La marca del artista no son sólo el producto como tal sino todo su entorno y los procesos que lleva a cabo para llevar a la luz sus creaciones

  8. On , Maria wrote:

    Gracias Ivanchi. Estoy de acuerdo contigo… Todo eso forma el paquete, y me gusta saber que en mi caso, se nota que hay un proceso interesante. Rico verte por aqui otra vez :)