Category Archives: art

Interview with the Renowned Artist and Native New Yorker, Ida Pearle


We are so very honored to interview Ida Pearle this month, a mother and patient of Dr. Cao’s, as well as a highly accomplished and renowned artist, writer (and violinist)!   Her artwork is both comforting and inspiring, beautifully depicting movement and capturing the innocence and magic of childhood.  Her first book, A Child’s Day: An Alphabet of Play was chosen as a best children’s book of 2008 by Bank Street College, and her newest title just released last year, The Moon is Going to Addy’s House, is an American Library Association Notable book and has received exceptional reviews.    Make sure to keep your eyes open at your next visit…her incredible artwork is about to grace the walls of South Slope Pediatric’s lobby!

SSP: Can you please tell us a bit about your background growing up in NYC and how the culture helped shape you as an artist and as an author?

I recently published a book about my childhood in New York called “The Moon is Going to Addy’s House”. It’s about a car ride from city to country that I took every weekend as a child.  I spent 5 years creating it, which was a wonderful opportunity to meditate and reflect on my New York city childhood and it’s richness.  I feel very attached and connected to my childhood places, be they neighborhoods or homes. I grew up in New York- late 70s/80s it was a very different place; my experience was a much more bohemian one than is possible today I think. My father was a sound engineer, and had a recording studio in our loft, and my mother was a painter.  I was surrounded by people creating constantly and my identity as an “artist” already strongly formed in childhood. My parents protected my free time and made sure I always had paper and pencil. I spent a lot of time as a child at the city’s art museums, The Met and The MoMA, and had access to tons of visual material, like my own large collection of children’s books and my mother’s art monographs. My parents were incredibly encouraging and really made art the center of my universe. In this way my focus today is very much a continuation of what it was in childhood, and my work is very much the blossoming of seeds planted in my childhood. The other lucky thing that plants my work geographically in New York was my going to the United Nations International School as a child. New York is already an incredibly diverse place, but UNIS was even more of a microcosm- every student hailed from a different country and that experience more than anything has informed my aesthetic. I aim to create inclusive imagery and a diverse representation of children. My commitment to celebrating the beauty of diversity is rooted in my experience as a child in playing with children who were different from me. Celebrating our common humanity is something I like to think we are especially good at doing as New Yorkers.

SSP: Who were your favorite illustrators and authors as a child, and how did they influence you?

Growing up I loved Robert McClosky, Ezra Jack Keats, Nancy Ekholm Burkert, Ludwig Bemelmans, Leo Lionni and Maurice Sendek of course. I think a few on this list were incredible draftsman- like Robert McClosky and  Nancy Ekholm Burkert, who also made work outside of the tradition of children’s literature. I think perhaps Ezra Jack Keats and Leo Lionni have influenced my work more directly in terms of simplifying forms in my own work (as well my our medium – cut paper) I think children are attracted to that simplification, and I have always been attracted to minimalism. It takes a lot more mastery of form to pare things down to their most essential.

SSP: As a creator of fine art for children, what mediums do you use? How would you describe your work?

My work is originally created in cut paper collage. I use a lot of drawing to produce the imagery- but then it all has to be cut out with an exacto knife and glued together.  I suppose I would describe my work as being about gesture, movement, and pattern. I’m very interested in the human form, how it moves through space, and the challenges of depicting that on a flat plane. It’s very interesting to have to create something from nothing and to have it convince the eye of something very specific, like weight, volume and/or velocity. I think there is a magic in art- the marriage of technique and imagination which transports you to a place beyond the page. Thematically, I aim to capture the happy and care free nature of childhood, and to create images where all children see themselves represented.

SSP: I understand you do unique customized pieces of artwork in addition to fine art prints – can you please tell us more about that?

I love to create collages for children and families’s homes. Mostly these pieces are bespoke and one of a kind. I’ve been doing this for nearly 20 years and I’ve gotten to hear how these pieces have become special family keepsakes that are treasured for a long time- which makes me very happy! It’s a very special process getting to know and depict a family through creating an art work for them! I treasure these experiences.

SSP: Your most recent book, The Moon is Going to Addy’s House, has received such incredible high praise. To quote Martin Scorcese, “The Moon is Going to Addy’s House is visual storytelling at its very best. The emotional journey of the children is beautifully expressed through Ida Pearle’s stunning use of collage, color, texture, and movement”.  How do you think you are able to connect so strongly to the reader? 

Well, first of thank you.  I’m very honored by these words, to say the least. I had the great honor of teaching Scorsese’s daughter private art lessons for 6 years, which is how he and his family came to know my book. I think the subject matter is highly relatable – how the moon follows us at night is a universal experience, and I think the visual part – the illustrations probably have as much if not more to do with how people consume this book in particular. I think children’s books are just as much about the pictures as they are about the story. We are visual thinkers first and foremost, we read in pictures before we read in words. Almost like hieroglyphs, they pick up on shapes and symbols first. There is a pictorial language that children react to and apply to their understanding of what is outside the page. I tried with Addy’s House to create a world children could really beam themselves into and see their own experience reflected. It’s an early and important phenomenological experience which is why we see it so much in children’s literature.

SSP: There is a very special relationship between a child and the moon, I see it in my own personal experience daily with my 4 year old daughter who almost treats it as a friend or family member of hers. “Look, mama – the moon followed us”! as we drive home at night. You capture that innocence and joy so well. Does this mirror personal experiences of yours as a child?

Creating ‘The Moon Is Going to Addy’s House’ was deeply meaningful for me. It is based on a phrase I used to repeat as a child on car ride from city to county to a cottage that has been in my family since the 1940s. My father and uncle, city kids used to play there in the summer, as did myself and my sister. My family over the years agreed that this phrase, (or idea) would make a beautiful children’s story. Children’s literature was very important in my family life as a child..

My father became ill about 8 years ago, and told me he really wanted me to focus on bringing this book into being. So, I did. He passed away 6 years ago and the last conversation we had was about the book; he looked at my sketches and encouraged me – he was an incredible cheerleader for my work. It was my opportunity to meditate on my childhood, his loss and to try to transform pain into beauty, which I think is the tool that art is. It’s a healing act, creating or engaging with art of any kind.

SSP: How has having a daughter of your own affected your work?

After depicting childhood, and motherhood for so long it’s opened up another dimension of my practice to me. I understand a mother’s love for the first time, which is different from only understanding a child’s love. I haven’t had the chance yet to make much new work, but when I do- I know I will have a deeper connection and understanding of children, and of parental love.

To learn more about Ida Pearle and her work, go to:




Photo by Lindsey Turner (Lindsey Victoria Photography:

A few weeks ago I came to South Slope Pediatrics’ offices for a meeting with Matteo, and he showed me around the new lower level of offices.  Bright and cheery, the space is beautifully laid out and decorated (as the entry level is)!  Immediately what I noticed was an accent wall…this amazing repeat-pattern of wallpaper in bright pops of color.  Then again in the kitchen as a backsplash…another modern and funky design.  Matteo proceeded to tell me all about his good friend, Nicole Block, and the product line she designs, Tyles.  Not only is she an innovative, smart and driven entrepreneur, she is a mom of 2 and patient of Dr. Cao’s!

SSP:  How did you get inspired to start Tyles and what is your background?

First and foremost, I’m an artist. I am an illustrator by training — I graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in illustration. Since then, I’ve been doing graphic design and illustration in tandem, and finally started working for myself some years ago. I own and run The Nic Studio, which specializes in stationery, graphic design, and illustration.

My family moved into our apartment 3 years ago, which needed some renovations. When we finally finished the kitchen a year later, our backsplash was still bare. We were hosting family and friends at our home for our son’s 1st birthday, and I just wanted the kitchen *finished* by then! But we had run out of time, and funds, for tiling. I tried to find a temporary solution that would look great and would also come off without ruining the walls, but I couldn’t find anything that suit the bill. At 2am, an idea came to me (because all great ideas come to you at 2am). I drew out a pattern that resembled Moroccan mosaic tile, and then contacted a vinyl printer to ask if we could make it into a cut-vinyl backsplash for the kitchen. Within a week I had the backsplash pattern in my hands. When it was up, it looked so great that I posted a how-to and sent it over to Apartment Therapy, who ran it on their site. When I realized how many people loved the project and needed this as an option, I decided to make it into a product. And so Tyles was born!

SSP:   What exactly are Tyles, and how/where are they made?

Tyles are a completely unique vinyl product designed in the spirit of tiles. They are not faux tiles, they aren’t meant to fool anyone — they’re a versatile, removable alternative to tile or wallpaper. I hand-draw every pattern myself, mostly inspired by Moroccan and traditional tile design, as well as otherwise mundane elements such as utensils or plates. It’s very important to me that the patterns have maximum visual impact. I want them to be original, I want them to feel stylish and upscale, and I want them to transform a space. After the patterns are complete, I convert the drawings to vector files and choose the colorways. And then I send them off to my production team in California.

Tyles are a cut vinyl product. It’s the same material that most wall decals are made from, but they are assembled in a very different way. Because it’s important that they are in a size and shape that is easy to handle and easy to apply, Tyles are cut and then assembled by hand onto individual 8×8″ square sheets. It’s actually quite a laborious process, so I’m grateful to have found a production team that’s able to make them for me. That was very hard to find!

SSP:   Your designs can truly transform and re-energize a space.  I LOVE how they look in South Slope Pediatrics’ new lower level.  What are the most popular uses for these Tyles – is it a particular room or tending to a particular need?

Thank you! I love how they look at South Slope Pediatrics too!
Like in the staff space at SSP, Tyles were originally intended for use on a kitchen backsplash. It’s an area that’s so very lacking in beautiful, temporary, removable options that can still withstand grease, dirt, and cleaning. A few of my patterns are clearly geared towards use in the kitchen or another food-centric space, like a dining room. But when I made the original sets, i heard from several people that they would love Tyles for other rooms, such as bathrooms, entryways, bedrooms… really, any space where someone might want to change their style and environment, but may not want to — or be able to — commit to a long-term option. Of course, renters and business-owners are natural clients, but there are plenty of homeowners like myself who would want a designer temporary option.

SSP:  How easy are these Tyles to apply (and how does one remove)?

They are super easy to apply! Each one comes in an 8×8″ square, and most are divided by “grout” lines into a pattern of four 4″ squares. Almost everything you need comes in the package — twelve 8”x8” Tyles, instructions, a plastic smoother for application, and a small test sample of the vinyl material so that you can make sure it sticks to your walls. As long as you have a smooth, clean surface, Tyles should stick without an issue — though, if your walls are painted, please make sure that the paint had been able to cure for at least 2 weeks before applying Tyles. The only other things you will need for application are blue painter’s tape to line up the Tyles, and scissors to cut the Tyles for tough areas, like in corners or around outlets.

To remove them, simply pull the vinyl up at the corners. They’re easy to remove, and don’t damage your walls — which is key! If you have any trouble pulling up the vinyl, simply use a hairdryer on hot for a minute or so, and that will loosen up the adhesive so that they pull up without issue.

SSP:  I understand that they are temporary.  How long should one expect the Tyles to last?

With proper care, they should last at least 3 years, if not more. I can tell you that the original Tyles have been up in my kitchen for just about 2 years, and they still look great.

SSP:  Do you have a few designs that are top sellers, and can you share those with us and why you think they perform so strongly?

The same pattern that SSP chose for their staff kitchen, Renovated Souk, is currently my best seller. I think the colors and the impact of the pattern make it very popular. It’s cheery, feels a bit exotic, and just brings life to the space.

Citrus Plates and Marbled Starburst are also big sellers. I think they have broad appeal and work for a number of different home furnishing styles. But my personal favorite is the Utensils Cascade pattern. It’s just so much fun! It’s a little 70s, it’s a little bold, it’s more than a bit tongue-in-cheek… I just think it’s fun.

(see all Tyles patterns here:

SSP:  What do you hear most from clients as feedback?

Just how quickly it changes their space. The reaction is immediate. It takes very little time and effort, and even very little product, to make a huge impact.

SSP:  Where does one purchase these?  

Right now, they’re available exclusively online. You can shop directly from the website, They can also be found on

SSP:  I understand you are part of a contest on Martha Stewart!  How does one learn more and vote for Tyles?

Yes!!!! I’m very proud to say that Tyles is a 2015 Martha Stewart American Made finalist! The American Made contest recognizes businesses that cares about well-designed goods being made in America. Voting is currently underway for the Audience Choice Award, and I need your vote! You can vote up to 6 times a day. Just go to my finalist page at:  t

SSP:  What is the future for Tyles?  Anything else you’d like our readers to know about your company?

Oh boy… I don’t know. I’m just really excited to be making a new and totally unique product that’s really useful for people! And I’m doubly-excited that I can get to draw these, by hand, and that my drawings translate into this final product. I would love to grow Tyles as much as I can — make a lot more patterns, maybe employ a few people, and continue to make a difference in someone’s home or professional space. There aren’t a lot of options out there that cater to life as we know it in NYC — there are a lot of people who are lifelong renters, who move a lot, or who lease an office/storefront, and they deserve a space they can be happy in and proud of. I’m glad to provide a means to that end. =)

I personally could always find a reason to spice up and rejuvenate my apartment.  I get so bored looking at the same thing, day in and day out, every day.  Until now my solution has always been “buy new throw pillows for the couch”!  Not a big investment, can be temporary and a way to introduce a new color or add energy into a room.  Tyles seems to deliver the same thing but with a much larger punch.  A new accent wall, a new backsplash, a new decoration for your (until now) uninspiring work space!  For us NY’ers, especially renters, this is a super exciting new option.  I know I personally cannot wait to see how I can introduce Tyles into our home!