Rhody Maker: Illustrator and Designer Olivia Chin Mueller

The Providence-based artist, who illustrates children's books for Scholastic and Golden Books, also designs uniquely adorable plush.
Olivia Copy

Olivia Chin Mueller

Rhode Island Monthly: When did you realize you wanted to be an artist?

Olivia Chin Mueller: I knew I wanted to be an artist of some sort pretty early on. There was definitely a phase where I wanted to be a vet, but I think I realized pretty quickly that it wasn’t just playing with animals all day! Both of my parents are artists (my mom studied graphic design and my dad is an architect) so I think it was just meant to be.


RIM: What did you study at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)? Were you always drawn to digital illustration over traditional sketching?

OCM: I studied illustration at RISD. At first I thought I wanted to major in animation, but quickly realized it wasn’t for me. And yes, I got my first drawing tablet early on in high school, and basically never went back to paper after that. I like being able to fix my mistakes over and over and being able to zoom in forever to get things perfect!


Published by Cottage Door Press, 2017


RIM: Your animal illustrations are incredible. (Your book, Babies in the Forest, is a favorite.) Are you an animal lover?

OCM: Thank you so much! That’s one of my favorites, too. Yes, I am definitely an animal lover. The only TV I watched as a kid was Animal Planet, and almost exclusively drew cats until I was in high school.


RIM: You also have an accessories line, Lumichee. Could you tell me more about why you decided to launch this in addition to your illustration work? I love that it’s a collaboration with your mom.

OCM: Lumichee started out because I loved enamel pins. I always wanted to make my own, but it wasn’t until my mom said she would help out with ordering and shipping that we decided to take the plunge. Now we make clothes, plush and jewelry as well. It’s so much fun working with my mom, and we really balance each other out in terms of running a business. She’s very numbers oriented and organized, which you definitely need for a business, and I design and photograph the products.


RIM: Also, Mousemoth! How did you come up with the idea to merge a mouse and a moth in a plush?

Mousemoth With Enamel Pin Copy

The sold-out “Luna” Mousemoth with enamel pin.

OCM: It sounds silly, but I actually had a dream about Mousemoth! They looked different then, though. It was just a little white mouse wearing a moth cape. I drew it the next day and started making handmade needle felted versions of them soon after. So many people liked the design I decided to make plush.


RIM: What are some sources of inspiration for you?

OCM: Other artists and things in nature are huge inspirations for me. I spend a lot of time just scrolling through other artists’ work and taking it all in! As for animals and nature, I raise silk moths as a hobby, and am always drawing inspiration from them! Inspiration for my Lumichee work comes from my huge plush and toy collection. I’ve always been a child at heart and have collected cute and childlike things for my whole life.
Mirabel Sterling Kids Copy

Published by Sterling Kids, 2018


RIM: Do you have a favorite book project? A favorite Lumichee product?

OCM: I think my favorite book was Mirabel’s Missing Valentines. It was the book that helped me find my illustration style that I use today, so I’m very grateful for that project! My favorite Lumichee product is definitely the most recent Mousemoth plush we did, the “Sweet Dreams” Mousemoth (sold out). However, I think that might be toppled soon by the plush coming out this summer, the Mothmoths!


RIM: What’s next on the horizon for you?

OCM: I have some very exciting books coming out soon that I can’t talk about yet, sadly. But I am also dabbling in writing my own books as well, which would be a dream come true for me. That’s definitely a far-off goal for me but one I am very excited about. As for Lumichee, we have tons of new plush coming out, including a lemonade-themed Mousemoth! oliviachinmueller.com