Interview with Riley Sheehey, Artist

We couldn't be more excited to sit down with Riley Sheehey, the watercolor and multimedia artist and textile designer, with whom we collaborated on our Spring 2022 Collection floral print. Before becoming an artist full-time, Riley taught elementary school art and developed a love for whimsical styles and playful details.  Her artwork reflects this childlike view of the world with fun color palettes and an attention to detail that evokes a viewer’s curiosity.  

Read on to learn more about the inspired journey of Riley Sheehey. She shares what's inspiring her right now, her favorite family travel traditions, and where she'll be taking her Pamela Munson bag this spring season.

Tell us about your career trajectory. Did you always know you wanted to be an artist? 

I have always loved art, but I actually went to school to be a teacher, and taught elementary school for six years before taking my career as an artist full-time. I had a few years of overlap, and one where I more or less worked two full-time jobs- it was a hard but wonderful year that taught me a lot about planning and time management.

I started my art business in summer 2014- I was on summer vacation from teaching, and the camp I had worked at the previous summer closed, so I was looking for a creative outlet and way to make some extra income, and started an online shop. I originally planned on selling painted mason jars and linocut prints! Things have changed a lot since then, as I discovered watercolor, and slowly made my way into the design world!

What inspires you?  Many of Pam’s designs are inspired by childhood travel memories and time with her family. Do you have a go-to source of inspiration?

I am inspired by pattern (both in nature and in interior and fashion design), children’s book illustrators/illustrations (I love Bemelmans!), and old things/art history (if I am ever in a creative rut, a trip to my favorite local antique store or an art museum in DC usually helps).

Do you have any treasured travel memories with your family? Or destinations you keep going back to?  Where do you go and what is one of your favorite memories?

Most of my travel memories from growing up are of being at the beach with my family- we still go to Bethany Beach every summer, and basically every day is the same (wake up, go to the beach, and spend the day there until happy hour, where we walk back to the house and make drinks/food to bring back to the beach until sunset) and I really love the simplicity of it- we don’t really leave the house other than to go to the beach, and so we are able to focus all of our time on each other. I am the oldest of four siblings, and we are all grown up and moved out now, so that time together gets more and more precious each year!

Can you share with us one of your family travel traditions?  What puts you at ease and ready to relax?

I love to run, and try to go on at least a few long runs whenever we travel some place new (or old)- I think there is something so great about being able to explore somewhere by foot! I also love happy hour on the beach with family, whether we’re in Bethany with my parents, or Lake Michigan with my in-laws.

We have to ask: what’s in your bag?  Tell us about your everyday essentials in your Pamela Munson bag. 

Oh my gosh, literally everything. I am one of those people that friends always know to ask for XYZ while we are out and about, because they’ll know I have it in my bag. For myself, I usually bring a few chapstick, my wallet, an extra phone charger, an apple or clementine, pencils/pens, sometimes a sketch book, a water bottle…

I have to say that everything I carry with me has recently doubled (at least) since having my daughter. Now I have all of those items plus burp cloths/diapers/wipes/extra onesies… I just like to be prepared!

How has your style changed over the years? Especially since becoming a mother this year?

I feel like this is probably a pretty basic answer, but I have tried to make a point to purchase fewer, higher quality things, and I think that has changed my style because whatever I am wearing is something that I really love, and will hopefully love for at least the next decade. I try and ask myself if whatever I am buying will last me at least the next five years, and if I will still love it in five years. 

Since becoming a mom, I’ve focused more on comfort and practicality in what I wear every day (I am mostly in workout clothes so that I don’t need to change if I get inevitably spit up on or go for a run), and done the opposite for when I go out- because I don’t wear anything special day to day, I really love getting extra dressed up for special occasions (which is now any time I leave the house!).

You have have the most refined eye.  What is your favorite style from our Riley Sheehey x Pamela Munson collection? 

Oh my goodness, this is such a compliment, especially coming from you! Thank you! I love all three bags so much, but my favorite might have to be the Grace Fleur clutch- I have never seen my artwork embroidered with straw, and think it is just so lovely.

Straw isn’t solely reserved for summer or beach getaways – how will you be styling your Pamela Munson handbag this March?

I plan on carrying mine out to dinner wearing my usual jeans, white sweater, and flats winter uniform- I am hoping that it wills spring to come a little early!

If you could take your new Pamela Munson handbag anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

We are headed to Bermuda in September- it will be my first time there in over 20 years! I will definitely be bringing my clutch along for the ride!

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