in partnership
(Image courtesy of Madeline Puckette).

Artist of the Week: Madeline Puckette

Seattle might be notorious for niche coffee shops and scenic waterways, but locals know it's also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is chock-full of artists who we love to feature weekly on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you!

Seattle Refined: How long have you been creating? Do you work with other mediums?
Madeline Puckette: I've been using my creative juices for as long as I can remember! That said, I really didn't get into my current craft of wine + design-communication until the mid 2000s. It was around this time (in my twenties) that created a series of "visual note cards" to help me pass the certified sommelier exam. Friends encouraged me to take my visual communication methods online and so I did! I started a wine blog in 2011. It's now known throughout the world. Crazy to think it all started in a tiny studio apartment on Capitol Hill. As far as medium: I really enjoy translating analog illustrations into the digital realm.

Can you tell us about your artistic process and how the different stages work into it?
It starts with a goal. For example, with my poster design "Different Types of Wine," started with the idea that there ought to be simple visual way to break down the complexity of wines. After devising a method (using a variant of a dendrogram or "tree diagram") I created an outline. Then, translated that into a visual space using Adobe Illustrator. For the new Wine Folly book, it was a very long, arduous process of testing different visual communication methods and then breaking them. I think we went through at least 15 iterations until something really worked. The problem with complex topics like wine is that you don't want to "over-simplify" them!

Tell us about where your inspiration for your art come from?
I love cartography, minimalism, and information design. People like Edward Tufte wrote the book (literally! - Envisioning Information, 1990) on the concepts of information design. Then there are people like Josef Müller-Brockmann (Grid systems, 1981) who got me thinking much more technically about how images and text can be balanced together. And then, I follow a bunch of great designers out there in the world, like Bureau Oberhauser, who combine minimalist design with multi-media communications. I am constantly looking outward. I love seeing what others do - I find it deeply inspiring!

Do you have a specific “beat” you like best - nature, food, profiles etc?
My greatest design efforts come out of "deep work." It's a state of mind when you can produce high volume and high quality at the same time. When I'm transitioning into "deep work" I like to be alone, unbothered, and I listen music. Mostly instrumental electronica, because it's hypnotic and very effective. I usually forget to eat, drink, and I'm usually really annoyed when I have to get up to use the restroom (such a huge interruption!). Deep work is hard to transition into and out of. It's a state of un-interrupted obsession.

Do you have one piece of art that means more to you, or is extremely special to you?
I love design that is simple and obvious. Design that communicates without additional help explaining what it means. I created a design like this very recently. I managed to sneak it into the front of my new book. It's a venn-diagram with "art" in one circle, "science" in another circle, and "wine" at the intersection. It completely expresses the enjoyment and complexity of wine in just two circles and three words. It doesn't get more simple than that! When I first made it, I drew it on a note card rather absentmindedly. It was only later that I realized how powerful it was!

What experiences in your life have affected your art the most?
Honestly, forcing myself to learn new techniques and skills is what moves my design forward. The thing that motivates this movement is seeing outside inspiration that makes me feel like my talent is very small an unimportant. I love being stupefied by others' talents. I love to see other artists killing it in their own genres.

If we want to see more of your work where should we go to find?
If you want to learn about wine, go to my website, If you'd like to buy some of my work, go to

What is next for you? Anything you’re working on right now that you’re really excited about?
In late September we launch Wine Folly: Magnum Edition: The Master Guide. As a partner to the book, I designed and created a custom box set of wine tools and a custom-designed tasting journal so readers can track their wines and learn faster. It's called the Collector's Edition and I'm super excited about it!

Find the book here:
Collector's Edition link:

Lastly, how do you take your coffee? We ask everyone!
Oolong at 91 C everyday. After a wine dinner, I drink a shot of espresso with a sparkling water back.