We are so SO excited to announce our brand new artist collab with the amazing and talented Michelle Romo of Crowded Teeth! Hannah, the creator of Pals is a gigantic fan of Michelle’s art and it is a personal dream realized to be working with her. Michelle’s style is super fun, cute and colorful and a perfect match for Pals Socks! We wanted to make the first ever food series, a new series of characters who are not animals.
Introducing Donut & Ice Cream, Burger & Fries, and Milk & Cookies!
To us, the perfect representation of Pals are 2 different foods that totally go together. Foods that at one point seemed super random, but you can’t imagine one without the other. These Pals magically came together from the powers of fate, to remind us of the perfection in exploration, discovery and keeping an open mind (and open mouth)! Meet Michelle, our epic new Pals artist series designer in our interview below!
NAME: Michelle Romo
HOMETOWN: Temecula, CA
CURRENT LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
How did you come up with the name for your brand, Crowded Teeth and how long have you been designing for?
I was drawing a cutesy skull for a project for my day job and it had crowded teeth. I thought the words sounded cute together (even though actual crowded teeth are totally not fun). At the time I was trying to create a brand that was separate from my personal work, so I didn’t want to use my name. Now Crowded Teeth and my name are interchangeable.
I’ve been designing under the name Crowded Teeth since 2004, but before that I designed under the name Yellow Toothpick (from 1999-2004).
Was there a certain point in your life when you knew you wanted to pursue art as your career or have you always known?
I’ve always been an arts and crafts person! But my mom is a graphic designer, and when I was 16 she brought home a fancy Mac that had Adobe programs on it. I taught myself the programs – I was very bad at them for a long time. I learned to be better over time until people trusted to give me money to design things for them!
I started my own brand because I wanted to be a combo of Sanrio and Paul Frank. I just wanted to make cool stuff!
What were some of your earliest childhood career dreams?
I recently found a drawing at my parent’s house that said I wanted to be a ballerina. I have no memory of that, and also have zero dancing skills!
I remember wanting to be a marine biologist because I liked animals. Now I just have cats, and volunteer at an animal shelter – I think that fulfills that need without having to be a scientist.
I also wanted to be an animator because I was obsessed with Tiny Toons and Animaniacs. I still love animation – my favorite show is Steven Universe!
What do you consider to be your artistic style?
Colorful blobs that have feelings.
What inspires the ideas for your artwork?
Everything! My cats (mostly), my friends, my sweet guy, other artists, nature.
Do you look for anything in particular when taking on certain projects?
Mostly that it’s fun! If the people I get to work with are cool that is such an added bonus. I don’t want to make anything, or work with people that bum me out!
What is your creative process?
My ideas come from anywhere and any time. I don’t really have a focused way of coming up with stuff.
I start with a super loose sketch that only I can understand. Then I try to work it out in Adobe Illustrator in a way that makes sense.
If it’s a paper or wood piece of artwork it’s a little more complex because I have to work out how the layers work together. But it’s all done in Illustrator. My brain works best in that program.
What was your experience like collaborating with companies such as Disney, Sanrio, etc.?
It was great. Both Disney and Sanrio were a huge part of my childhood. It’s really cool to work with such iconic characters!
It’s a fun challenge to create something that is recognizable as Hello Kitty, Mickey, etc. but also has the flair of my style integrated in. My art isn’t so far from those characters – but I wanted to change it enough that it feels like my own.
What are some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on throughout your journey as Michelle Romo “Crowded Teeth”?
I loved working with The Land of Nod. I licensed my artwork to them (and continue to now that they are Crate & Kids), but I was also one of their in-house designers for 3 years. I got to work with so many amazing artists and created beautiful products.
I worked on a big Charley Harper collaboration with them and that was really cool because he is a huge inspiration and influence on my artwork.
I also had a really fun art show at The Flaming Lips art gallery – The Womb. It was so much work, but I made a lot of fun and big stuff. I’m a big fan of The Flaming Lips so that felt very special.
My kids book – Frankie’s Magical Day – is also something I’m proud of! It’s my first story book, and I got to draw a lot of cool things for it. I hope to get to expand on Frankie’s universe in the future!
Why did you want to work with Pals Socks and design our new food artists series?
I love making cute and fun things, and Pals Socks are definitely cute and fun things.
After working with Pals Socks, do you have a favorite food pair?
I like the Cookies and Milk. I like that combination of food the best, and that cookie looks like he’s up to something.
You post pictures of your cats on your Instagram often, so cute! Tell us about them!
I currently have 3! They are my favorite thing to talk about.
Chu Chu is 5, a dude, and a tabby with a short tail. He’s very noisy, and tells me all of his problems.
Deli is 3, a fancy lady, and a black and white kitty. She’s missing 10 teeth even though she’s pretty young (she was just born with bad teeth 🙁). She was found next to a dumpster!
Bimmy is 2, a dude, also a tabby, but with a looooooooong tail. He’s a little shy around strangers, but when it’s just me and my boyfriend at home he is very active and silly.
What is your favorite color?
SIDENOTE** this was a style we sadly did not produce this round, but was on the concept table for Pals. Bet this
would have been Michelle’s favorite pair!
And lastly, what is your one wish for humanity?
For everyone to relax, and be generally nicer to each other. Maybe this is incredibly morbid – but we’re all dying! So I wish we could just hang out and be cool to each other while we’re here together.