Travel Journal: Smile Songs
Today's edition of the Travel Journal has us heading off to Colorado to meet Sharon Glassman, the owner of Smile Songs. She makes empowering artwork which actually sings to you! Yep, you read that right! She's managed to incorporate her love of singing into printed artwork which actually plays a song to you when scan the QR code! Such a unique idea, and great way to share a special message with loved ones.
Keep reading below to find out more about how Sharon came up with the idea for Smile Songs, the process behind making her designs, and more about her travels to Italy. You can also check out all of her work at smilesongs.com.
Tell us about your journey with Smile Songs. It’s such an unusual idea, I’d love to hear a bit about the story behind it, and how you got started?
You know the commercial where the chocolate accidentally falls into the peanut butter and a peanut butter cup is born? That’s how Smile Songs got started. Only in this case, the chocolate and peanut butter were music and visual art. And instead of falling together, they were the result of a really lovely (and creatively challenging!) request from kind folks at my live music shows.
A little background: I’m a Colorado performing singer-songwriter with a background as a New York City fashion writer. My professional mission is to help people feel happy by harnessing the power of colors, sounds and positive messages.
Personally? I’m an optimistic introvert who listens a lot.
I perform my music in sunny, small places for super kind folks. And suddenly, I heard them making the same request: “If only there were a way I could feel as happy as I do hearing your songs now every day, while seeing cheerful things around me …”
The fashion writer part of me knew how to use colors and messages to convey positive things. The songwriter part of me knew how to create music that sang to heart.
But the big challenge was: how could I make a poster or T-shirt literally sing for you?
Designing custom QR's and web links seems like such a simple solution now. But you know what they say about simplicity being super hard to achieve? It’s so true.
What’s so exciting for me, is that art that sings happy songs really does help people feel loved and appreciated. And share those positive emotions with special folks in their life. Just yesterday, a woman cried happy tears as she listened to the song on a Smile Songs art print. She’s giving it as a gift for someone she loves.
How would you say your work impacts your customers?
Smile Songs makes folks say, “Yes! That’s my story. And that’s what my kindest inner voice would say to me. Wow, do I feel happy. And truly seen.”
What’s really exciting to me is that strangers I meet on Instagram have this response as well I folks I’ve met face to face. (Altho, they’re not strangers for long! One thing I love about Smile Songs is how it’s creating a community of friends.)
What’s your favourite Smile Songs product and/or best seller?
I truly love all my products; they’re like my kids!
Having said that: The “Beautiful with a Y-O-U” inspirational beauty quotes poster is super popular. And I love it, too.
Another personal favorite is the Introvert AF T-shirts and framed poster. I tend to be really G-rated with the language on my art prints. But my intuition told me these would make other introverts smile. And they really do. And they actually make people treat you nicer. Which is a really neat side-effect.
Can you tell us a bit more about the design and making process for your products?
Each product conveys a message caring folks want to hear. I custom write a song that expresses it, literally and emotionally. Design a graphic image that amplifies it. Create a QR code and a web link to play the song from the art. And voila! (Although the process actually takes quite a while, that Eureka! feeling is such a big part of it) That’s how I create art and wearables that sing you happy songs.
I also stay aware of design trends so I can create products that are on point and uniquely Smile Songs at the same time. So, in the case of the Introvert AF T-shirt, a yellow T. And in the case of our Abuzz 2 Bee Me print, the happy bee character. Folks really relate to her and her happy smile.
I imagine learning how to set up QR codes was a challenge! How did you go about the process?
Thank you so saying that! Creating custom QR codes that match my designs is something that’s relatively easy for me now. But it really took a lot of trial and error to discover.
Honestly? My first thought was to create mechanical, wooden music boxes that played my songs. With gears.
I was driving myself crazy trying to source mechanical parts and wooden boxes until a new friend who’s one of my core customers said, “Um. Just so you know? I don’t like wood. Or boxes.”
She was looking at her phone at the time. And I had this Eureka moment: QR codes!
I later learned that music boxes were only created to hold all the gears that played songs the old-fashioned way. So, yes. I had spent a ton of time trying to go backwards when I needed to be forging ahead. Lesson learned!
What does a typical work day look like for you?
My day starts around 3 am. That’s when my brain starts adding new song lyrics, colors ideas, possible typographic messages, to my idea bank. I’ve learned to let them flow through me. Although sometimes, I need to wake up and write them down, just in case!
I wake up for real between 5:30 and 7:30 depending on the day. My husband and our dog, bb the Bichon, have breakfast together. And then it’s back to the studio to fulfill orders, create, post social media and cheer other makers on. I try to go for a run every other day. I actually ran a half marathon back in NYC. But these days I’m working back to doing three miles. Lunch, correspondence. I try to cook a homemade dinner when I can. And then, guilty pleasure time (The Voice, Mrs. Maisel, Food Network) with a little more socmedia before bed. I’m a big newspaper fan, so my nightstand is full of sections of the weekend paper a friend shares with me when’s finished with them.
The exception to this rule are songwriting and recording days. These are morning to night, forget to eat situations! The Muse rules on these days. Depending on the song, I’m playing acoustic guitar, electric bass, a kids’ glockenspiel, fiddle, mandolin or meditation chime. Some of which I learn to make the song work to its fullest happy potential.
Where’s your special place (or places)? The Country or place with happy memories, that means the most to you.
My special place is right here in Colorado. We live near a lake with a view of the mountains. As a life-long city dweller, I’m in awe each morning to find myself living in the country with nature all around me.
What inspires you about travel, either locally or abroad, and how do you incorporate that into your work?
I traveled a lot after college. I lived in a seaside town in Italy between my first job in fashion PR and journalism graduate school. I would catch cheap flights to Venice and wander around over Thanksgiving. And I still turn to Italy as my inspiration for food, light, color and friendships full of heart and a kind of small town kindness.
What would your dream home look like, and where in the World would it be?
Right now, I have to say, exactly where I am! In a dream scenario, I’d have bigger windows (ex-city dweller! There’s never enough natural light to suit my hunger for it). Perhaps a loft space with two levels on an acre of land? Country best meets city best …
How would you describe your interiors style?
Calmly eclectic. I just painted my office white. And I smile here every day. Again, I think my former life living in a one-room apartment with a northern view of an alley really makes me crave simplicity.
The best room in our house (beside my office) for me is the the kitchen. It has a skylight over the workspace.
The counter-top is a light green granite. And the cabinets are white with black hardware. Nothing fancy. But so full of happiness.
(Are you sensing a recurring theme about natural light and white for me?)
Style-wise, in terms of brands? I’m a mix of Modernica mid-century modern inspired pieces, my grandmother’s slipper chair recovered in a bold floral with a white ground, and other bedroom pieces in pale green and white; my husband’s family vintage tasseled floor lamp, dark wood music stand and what looks to me like a Fortuny peacock printed chair.
Where do you like to shop for interior decor items?
We have a couple spots in town, one a vintage resource. I particularly like to buy interior decor pieces from local makers. I have a beautiful new floral ceramic fruit bowl from a local art show where my husband and I played the music with friends and got to shop on our breaks for locally-crafted items for our home.
What’s next for Smile Songs?
This is such an exciting time for Smile Songs. My goal is to keep creating products that make kind folks smile that you can buy directly from my online store while expanding into wholesale, product collaborations and licensing.
I'm also going to produce another season of my "Tiny Bathroom Concert Series" on Insta where I chat with positively creative folks. And let you hear them perform for you, live. (I shoot it in our upstairs bathroom because the light and acoustics are really nice there. And my shower curtain looks like one of the curtains you'd see on a classic TV interview show, bonus!) So please stay tuned for that.
Thank you so much for including me in this beautiful series with so many other powerfully positive creative folks.
I really appreciate this opportunity to chat with you!
Don’t forget to go and check out the Smile Songs website here. You can also follow Sharon on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. As well as that you can see and hear more of her videos and songs on her YouTube channel. I'd love to know which is your favourite Smile Songs piece in the comments below too!
Ta muchly to Sharon for agreeing to be featured in today's blog post, and for a lovely interview!
All images copyright and courtesy of Smile Songs.
Note - This blog post is not sponsored, I'm just doing my bit to support fellow small businesses that I love! Help support them too by sharing this page with others! Ta Muchly!