Maizie Clarke: Artist, Designer, Savvy Southern Business Woman

Maizie Clarke: Artist, Designer, Savvy Southern Business Woman

Story by Kristina Hendrix


Maizie Clarke is a Louisville, Kentucky, designer and illustrator who has garnered some prestigious acclaim lately…she illustrated a watercolor birthday card for Reese Witherspoon  commissioned by the actress’s Draper James colleagues. But when we met up over Zoom, the only star I wanted to talk about was Maizie herself.

She has lit up the Southeast with a career that encompasses several disciplines across the design and art community, and new designers should take heed: you can be a savvy business woman with a thriving illustrating business, work behind the scenes at museums, build a solid reputation as a designer, and still be able to chill out in your chic basement studio with headphones, drawing and painting all day long.  Maizie has a breezy affability,  wit, and a beautiful smile.

Maizie holds a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design from Marymount in Arlington, and a master’s degree in Exhibition Design from what is now George Washington University. She worked for the Smithsonian Museums of Air and Space and American History while living near Washington, D.C. In 2014, she relocated to Louisville, where she currently  resides with her husband and their dog and cat. She loves Louisville,  and has particularly enjoyed  collaborations with other designers, the local artists’ community, and teaching opportunities that have come her way during her time there. I especially wanted to know more about her museum design projects.

“There are built-in parameters with a traveling show, and it’s my job to work the art exhibit to fit within the space, in accordance with the art owners, private or public, who have loaned their collections. Curators of the exhibition have already created the “feel,” she says.

Within her online illustrating brand, Maizie Clarke, LLC,  she has built a career that seems ideal, the diversity of her work and creative freedom giving her an independence rarely found in young designers. Her fine architectural drawing skills - she started early in life drawing houses as a small girl - are showcased in delicate watercolor portraits  of homes, museums and hotels commissioned by clients from across the country. On her website she writes,

“I’ve always loved hearing the details of what you cherish about your home: the swing on your front porch or the red geraniums your mom always planted in the yard and bringing those to life. These little details are the fabric of our lives and they deserve to be celebrated and commemorated.”

These days, along with her bespoke illustrations and heirloom gift business, she tells me that she is designing a silk scarf, just in time for this year’s Kentucky Derby, and is illustrating a book cover. During Covid, she found herself illustrating interiors for an art photographer who had  to cancel in-person shoots; the opportunity provided some much-needed optimism during those times, and she now has a new avenue for positioning her business in custom marketing and social media.

Her entrepreneurial spirit sparked early on, when she sold jewelry from her boarding school dorm room. Even earlier,  she  sold snacks to peckish neighborhood children from her snack bar business. “I have two older brothers,”  she explains. “They would tell you I’m bossy, but you have to make yourself heard.”

Seeing young, empowered women making their way in the world today with passion and love for what they do inspires me as I grow older. I marvel at the confident and intelligent women  designing thoughtful, meaningful lives for themselves across all industries and finding their voices early in their careers. My thanks to you, Maizie Clarke, for giving us a glimpse of your beautifully loud life. And save me one of those scarves by the way.

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