The Truly Profiles: Meet Psychologist, Author, and Etsy Shop Owner, Dr. Tiffany Tuttle

I've always wanted to pen a column. And for several years, I did. It was a quarterly column about research and its impact on practice for an esoteric psychology journal. Not exactly easy reading, but it worked for the journal. I got the chance to interview psychologists about the cool research they were doing, like relationship, design psychology, and creativity research. It was all part of my plan to develop my own research career. I figured while I was reviewing their work, I could hone my own research project and perhaps even collaborate with some of them. It was a solid plan. But after I made the decision to grow my business and blog, I stopped writing the column so that I could use the time to recreate one I'd be able share with the masses. One that would allow me to interview cool people, doing cool things. That's how The Truly Profiles was born (formally known as Truly Inspired By). My plan is to interview people with a wide range of interests and careers— the only requirement is that they must have a passion for what they do. So when I came upon the work of Dr. Tiffany Tuttle, I knew I was onto something. I was thrilled to find that she was a psychologist like me and still had enough time in her day to design products and run a shop, Spazz Happy Line Design. Her self-effacing humor sets her apart and reminds us all to relax a little and not take ourselves too seriously. When I reached out to her for an interview, she couldn't have been more inviting, and agreed to do the interview immediately! Read on to see what Dr. Tiff Tutt had to say about how she balances her roles as a clinical psychologist and creative entrepreneur. And I've included pictures of her book and designs for you to peruse while reading. Dr. Tiff Tuff book cover

TB: So you're a psychologist, blogger, shop owner, and author. Let me first start off by saying I think it's amazing you have been able to pursue so many of your passions. What motivated you to make it all happen?

TT: Thank you for the kind words, I feel the same way about you and all you seem to be juggling, with so much grace and style to boot! About pursuing multiple passions... I am able to do so because I have always enjoyed the process of creating + completion. Be it an idea, a drawing, a piece of writing, a degree, or even a batch of cookies, no matter how big or small, I genuinely derive meaning out of creating/doing and the process of completion. I'm not always fast at making things happen, and at any given moment I likely have 5 things on the burner and 3 up in the air, but being in process is part of the process, and I've learned to be patient. It was also modeled to me early on to not half-ass anything and to take pride in your work, so part of what makes "making" rewarding for me is that I take pride in and value my work. So my motivation is from the feelings of joy, value, fulfillment and validation I get when I am able to work hard, vest my energies into something, creating that "something," and completing my vision to the best of my abilities.

Dr. Tiff Tuff triangle wall sconce

TB: I totally agree. Like you, I spend a lot of time doing clinical work, and while I enjoy helping others, being able to create something for people to enjoy is really important to me. Your creativity is evident not just in your designs, but also in your writing, and you've described yourself as an atypical psychologist. Share a little about what that means to you and how it shapes your work?

TT: I often describe myself as an "atypical psychologist" because I'm pretty energetic and my language is not always PC. Not that I have a filthy gutter mouth all the time, but I am known to use some pretty vivid language when describing something, or offering a client an analogy. For example, I describe my latest self-help book as "taking the 'sigh' out of 'psychology' " and being "...a toilet of enlightenment that will teach you how to flush your problems away." I am goofy and I think that comes across as non-threatening to many. I mean yes, I have my doctorate and I know when to shut up and just listen, it's not like I'm doing stand-up comedy in my therapy sessions. I know it's not about me in there, it's about my client and the work which I can have some part in facilitating so that person can heal and grow. I find that using colorful language supports the client's process sometimes. Plus being quirky and goofy is who I am and I don't know how to be any other way!

Dr. Tiff Tuff pic yellow wall

TB: Knowing who you are and what you're on about makes life so much easier, and it certainly inspires others to be themselves. I don't know many psychologists who also own a shop so you certainly are an inspiration. How do you balance your role as a psychologist with your role as a business owner? Do you find that you use your skills as a psychologist to run your business?

TT: Thank you Sarah, you are truly an inspiration as well! I find that my work as a business owner and psychologist blend well together. Since I like to "create" and "complete" as I mentioned earlier, being able to come home from a clinical day where you don't visually see tangible "results" so to speak (because growth and change happen gradually), and use my hands to make something feels good. It's also great because while I'm making my designs, I am still able to think and process ideas— creative ideas or just process things from my day. Everyday things that we all think about, family, friends, plans etc. And sometimes I just don't think about anything and I just make. Of course some thought goes into structuring my designs and mathematics are involved, but I've been doing it for so long now that many of my designs are stored as rote memory.

And yes, indeed my psychology background comes into play as a business owner because when you're in business you deal with people and all sorts of human behavior can come out! Being introspective and reflective of my own tendencies is certainly something that the study of psychology has helped me learn about. I am more aware of how to manage my own feelings when dealing with the different personalities of people who contact me. Having a handle on my feelings helps me manage questions— be they kind hearted or blatantly mean, in a respectful manner. And doing so makes me feel good. So being a psychologist has certainly enhanced my ability to manage a business, and helped me learn how to "think like a boss."

Dr. Tiff Tuff pic flower pic

TB: I've browsed through your lovely shop, and see that you sell everything from hanging planters, to frames, to holiday décor, all of which have a geometric, modern design. What inspired you to sell these particular products? Do you design them all yourself, and are they an extension of your personal style?

TT: My inspiration comes from the beauty of simplicity and minimal decor. I also love, as in totally LOVE, mathematics and geometry. Blending my adoration for these things helped me create all the various designs I fill my shop with. I love the clean lines, the negative space, and the shadows they cast as the sun goes down. Plus, as someone who constantly has loads of ideas swimming around her head— hence Spazz Happy (!), I've found that creating symmetrical designs instills a sense of balance. I find something very soothing about looking at a piece that captures symmetry with its balanced use of equal sized pieces. Those pieces are all precisely cut by hand by me, and they help to create a kind of mental peace and clarity. I do consider them an extension of my personality style, and having lots of variety for people to select from is definitely something I sought to do, because I like options myself!

Dr. Tiff Tuff pic black wall

TB: That's awesome. And speaking of Awesome, Congratulations on your self-help book Being and Awesomeness: Get Rad, Stay Rad. How did you come up with the idea for the book?

TT: Thank you! I wrote my book "Being and Awesomeness: Get Rad, Stay Rad" because I wanted to be able to reach, teach, and empower all people. Since it uses the kind of humor I referenced above (non-PC) it is tailored to someone who is open to the idea of learning more about themselves— in order to be the baddest assed version of themselves, and can also laugh at seeing the word "weenie" or "dweeb" in order to illustrate a point. My goal was to take some of the most relevant topics I cover in psychotherapy and condense them into a useful handbook to humanize psychology and self-help (ie, make it approachable and non-threatening). Whether you think therapy is great, or you're not impressed with it, this book is designed to help anyone willing to help themselves.

Dr. Tiff Tuff pic wall sconce

TB: Sometimes when we have varied interests, we tend to believe we have to pick one career because we think no one can be a psychologist AND a shop owner, AND have a family AND... [fill in your and]. What is your advice to someone who may want to pursue multiple career interests?

TT: Great question, my advice for pursuing multiple interests is GO FOR IT! I am not totally delusional, I realize there are many things in our life competing for our time and energy, and that there are only so many minutes in a day, but I also know that life without art is dull! And "art" doesn't have to mean you went to art school. Art to me is the process of creating. Planting a garden, baking, taking a picture, and other things like interior design, sewing clothes, styling yourself, painting, welding etc., all qualify. You don't have to be the best at what you do, but I encourage you to do it because you derive meaning and happiness from it. It is important to stay creative, to stay hungry and to stay unique because losing track of these things can make life so mundane. I mean, vegging out and watching movies at home with my husband is certainly a great night in my opinion, but it's balanced out by the nights I spend up until 4 because I am in the mutha f*#%ing ZONE! And being in the zone is thrilling. Whether the world notices what I create or not, the meaning I get is from the process, and the process is from within. So don't ever stop being creative- it does a body good!

Dr. Tiff Tuff pic table top

TB: Woohoo! (virtual high-five). And if that doesn't make someone want to get out and make something, I don't know what will. Thanks Dr. Tiff for taking the time to share.

TT: THANK YOU so much for reaching out and taking the time to get to know me!

If you'd like to see more of Dr. Tiff Tutt's work, just click on any of the links below:

Shop: Spazz Happy Line Design Blog: TiffTutts Instagram: SpazzHappyLineDesign Book: Being and Awesomeness: Get Rad, Stay Rad

*All photos can be found in Dr. Tiff Tutt's Etsy shop

5 Interior Design Trends to Try This Spring

Finally spring is in full swing, and what better time to spruce up the space a bit. I've always enjoyed learning about the newest trends, but I've never been one to follow them blindly. Usually when I learn of a new trend, I take a step back to see if it resonates with me, and if so, how I can make it my own. If I don't think it will work for me, I leave it alone. I've also  adamantly rejected trends, mostly because I get tired of seeing everyone do the same thing. This is one of the reasons I really appreciate trailblazers (Kelly Wearstler comes to mind) because they are not  inclined to follow what everyone is doing. I remember when Kelly Wearstler featured her home in Domino way back in 2007-08, and many people didn't understand it. Now fast forward years later, her unique blend of colors and homage to 70's glam seems to be everywhere. But of course, this post is not about Kelly Wearstler or the 70's. I'd like to share with you some trends that seem to be going strong, and are fairly easy to achieve for spring. Take a look: 1. Abstract Patterns/Bleeding Colors

Abstract Patterns

 1. Pospsugar  2. Denydesigns duvet 3. Madebygirl 4. Arianna Belle pillow

Abstract patterns or as they are also known, blotting patterns, or bleeding colors, is a refreshing change from the very structured, graphic patterns we have been seeing the last couple years (Yes, I'm looking at you chevron). If you have a structured, symmertical graphic wallpaper or pattern in a room, the fluidity of an abstract pattern can add an extra dose of fun and excitement, perfect for an upbeat spring attitude.

2. Oversized Plants


Oversized Plants

 1. The Everygirl 2. Elle 3. Weekday Carnival

I'm no green thumb, but with all these oversized, luscious plants I've been seeing in home décor, I think that's about to change. Every home needs an organic element to enhance the space and make it feel alive (literally). And these oversized plants feel so glamorous and bohemian. I just love them.

3. Geometric Shapes

 Geomtric Shapes

1. Vintage Revivals Sharpie Wallpaper 2.   Savvy Vintage Boutique 3.Vintage Revivals Plant Hanger 

Geometric shapes in fabrics and wallpaper have been going strong for some time. And while some geometric shapes seem to have grown tired, others feel new and fresh. I really enjoy unique geometric shapes in furniture and other household items (like that plant hanger. Love.) because we are so used to seeing the standard square, rectangular or circular shapes. I really fell in love with the side table above from Etsy, so much so that I bought it myself. But there are many more options out there.

4. Quirky Wall Art

Quirky Art

1. Hus & Hem via Pink Lady 2. Lulu & Georgia 3.  Lula & Georgia

I always love quirky wall art, and even more so when it's mixed in with serious art. Because really, décor shouldn't be all serious business and no fun, right? These images can add a light, fun touch to your very sensible walls.

5. Blush & Navy

Blush and Navy

  1. Domino 2. Baz Bagels via My Instagram 3. Skona Hem

I love the combination of blush and navy. Most people use black as their go-to dark color, and while I love black as much as the next person, I love that extra "something" that navy brings. It's tailored, rich, and unexpected.

So what trends have you noticed this spring? Would you incorporate any of the trends mentioned above? ♥

Newsworthy: The New Bohemians by Justina Blakeney

I love bohemian style. I think it's because I enjoy all different styles: the clean lines of modern décor, the cool classics of midcentury furniture, a little Hollywood glamour, and a good dose of romantic furnishings, the kind that feels proper, but not too precious. And bohemian décor has all that and more. So when I heard that Justina Blakeney was coming out with a new book on bohemian style, I pre-ordered it right away. New Boho 1 Justina Blakeney has built an awesome career around her bohemian sensibilities. In the book she makes reference to her multicultural background and love of travel, all which have informed her free-spirited sense of style. The book is packed full of beautiful bohemian homes categorized into six different types of bohemian looks including modern, folksy, romantic, earthy, nomadic, and maximal. And she invites us not to just look at pretty things, but encourages us to put our inspiration into action with an "Adapt an Idea" section for each home. It's a great way to hone your creativity, and you might even come up with some ideas of your own in the process. Justina also  sprinkles DIY treats throughout the book, an ode to her craftiness and belief in building a home that represents you. According to design psychology, needs for shelter are basic, but not sufficient for a self-actualized home, one that offers pleasure and beauty.  This book reinforces my desire to create a home that's beautiful and pleasurable to me. One I love to spend time in. Here are a few of my favorite looks from the book: New Boho 2 Just the other day I posted about my affinity for tassels and pom-poms (see here), and one look at this chandelier certainly shows you why. It's such a show stopper, and EXUDES major bohemian glamour. I love it. New Boho 12 Plants, plants, plants. I love how cozy and settled they make a home feel. It's hard to be tense and anxious when you've got bits of nature spread throughout your home. I like how it's presented here with midcentury modern furnishings. It feels so seasoned woman to me. New Boho 14aThe unabashed combo of colors and patterns here are so fun. Such a mix always seems to work in bohemian styled homes. The styling is not mechanical (like trying to remember what goes with what), rather it's more about being attuned to what colors or patterns "speak" to each other, and creating a vignette based upon that, even if the colors or patterns do not work together in theory. new boho extra 6 This room feels very glamorous to me, kind of like the owner spends her days at home with her dogs writing music while barefoot and wearing a long flowy dress with a myriad of bangles on her arm. Can you see it? bath1 What can I say about this turquoise, Navajo wallpaper. It goes to show you that multicultural style doesn't have to feel moody and woodsy, it can be bright and pretty too. dressing room I've always wanted a dressing area that was bursting at the seams with beautiful clothing and accessories. This little dressing room makes me want to just dig in and see what treasures I can find.New Boho 11aaa I really like big luscious plants like this, and the brass table lamp and mural gives such an East village vibe. I bet the person who lives here is down to earth, and all around cool--wouldn't you agree? bed This bedroom oozes with confidence and creativity. It's so bright with thoughtful details like the painting in place of a headboard, and pretty clothes displayed for all to see. I like the use of non-traditional window coverings, And that light! It has so much dramatic flair. new boho cover back1So what do you think of bohemian style? Do you see yourself incorporating any ideas from these homes into your space? If you'd like to see more of the book, you can get it here.

A Trip to Dwell on Design New York

If you read my last post, you know that I've been trying to catch you up to speed on what I've been up to these last few months. This week I wanted to share with you the Dwell on Design conference I attended in October. Organized by the the editors of Dwell magazine, it was an informative three day affair that included top architects, designers, design professionals, and cultural and educational leaders in the field of design. Honestly, I've never gone to a design conference before, and didn't know what to expect. It was certainly more than just a showcase for pretty things. It was a full-fledged, academic-like conference that inspired thought provoking ideas on design and its impact on the lives of everyday folks like you and me. I was glad I went-- I learned a lot about  major issues in design, particularly as it relates to public spaces and building a sense of community.  I attended the conference on one of the three days. Here are a few pics from the event that I took from my iphone (I accidentally left my camera). Dwell StoreA classic Dwell space--modern design that evokes an updated mid-century feel.

Steven LaddThis is Steven Ladd of Steven and William, New York-based artists (and brothers) known for their collaborative art projects made from recycled materials. Throughout the event Steven and William held what they called a "Scrollathon." Scrolls are rolled-up strips of old fabric that come in all different colors. Conference attendees were invited to create their own scrolls as part of a larger shared artwork meant to promote a sense of community and togetherness. It's also promotes a healthier environment by using recycled material that would otherwise be thrown away. Steven was nice to pose for my picture (and he's pretty cute too).

ScrollsHere are the scrolls. People were invited to mix and match as they pleased.

Shared ScrollsAnd here are what the scrolls look like as a larger artwork- pretty impressive, right?

Sibling Revelry ArticleIf you want to know more about Steven and William, they've been featured in a variety of publications including Architectural Digest shown above.

MarimekkoMarimekko, a Finnish textile and clothing design company known for its original prints and colors, were one of the sponsors at the event. Love the vibrant patterns shown here.

Dwell ViewA view from the entrance.

HumanscaleHumanscale, another sponsor for the event, is a company that specializes in ergonomic design-- "good" design that promotes well-being and productivity by enhancing people's strengths and abilities. They are known for designing innovative pieces for the workplace that are comfortable, functional and user-friendly. Those mushroom seats don't look comfortable, but they really are! I could've sat on them all day.

Thomas BalsleyI also attended one of the hour-long workshops, Reimagining New York City's Terra Firma. Before the workshop, I hadn't thought much about public landscapes or wayfinding. But this workshop really highlighted the issues involved in these types of designs. Here is a synopsis of what each of these architects/designers had to say about it.

Thomas Balsley (the one with the mic) is a renowned landscape architect who has designed bonus plazas in New York city. Bonus plaza's are small outdoor parks, not to be confused with destination parks. NYC bonus plazas make up 90 acres altogether, and in a city like New York, people definitely need somewhere to relax and connect with nature for brief periods during a busy day. Due to the the city's limited space, landscape architects have had to be very creative with where these parks are situated, and many are in unexpected places such as over parking decks. Thomas gave an historical view of these bonus plazas, and noted that plazas designed in the 60's failed because they were either not people centric or only designed for a specific purpose that later became irrevelant (such as for a theater that eventually closed down).  But with the rise of humanism (a big movement in many professions including psychology), architects studied and developed a better understanding of how people used such spaces and the elements that were essential to the way people lived. According to Thomas, people change and so does the use of the neighborhood. Therefore bonus plazas should be designed to be temporary to adjust to the changes.

Michael BierutMichael Bierut is a leading graphic designer working with both the Look campaign and Walk NYC program to improve typography on parking signs and overall wayfinding. Of course, we could all benefit from easier ways to get around the city. He noted that one of the major challenges is learning how different types of transportation can "live" together, including motor vehicles, bikes, and pedestrians. With the new bicycle parking racks, transportation has gotten pretty hectic, and creating easy to read signage is one way to offset potential confusion.

Susan ChinAnd Susan Chin, an architect and Executive Director of the Design Trust for Public Space, talked about the importance of thinking about how neglected, vacant spaces in underprivileged areas can be used in a new way to promote a sense of pride and trust in the community. She mentioned several programs including Under the Elevated, a program designed to make use of public space below the transit; and the Five Borough Farm where gardens are created on rooftops. These programs focus on ways to promote the welfare of the people which in turn improves overall well-being. She noted that data was collected to determine the benefits of urban agriculture including social welfare and job creation. It would be great to conduct research on the impact these spaces have on mental health and emotional well-being with specific populations.

Dwell endDespite the very rainy New York City day, I would say that the event was a success overall. As a psychologist, I have an appreciation for forums that discuss the impact of design on people, particularly the emotional impact it has on them. It makes me realize  how relevant psychology is in the field of design, and strengthens my desire to build a career in design psychology through research and consultation.

So have you been to a design conference? What do you think of them?