About Maria

I am an idea-generator and visual storyteller who is endlessly curious about people in general and kids in particular. What motivates them? What makes them laugh? What makes them love? And I’m passionate about using these insights to tell stories, create characters and design solutions.

I grew up in Holland, and graduated from George Washington University with a BFA in Visual Communications. My first job was as Graphic Designer for the Smithsonian’s Air&Space Museum. Then I joined Coca-Cola’s Brand Marketing Department in Holland, where I developed packaging, advertising and brand communications.

As Brand Manager in Coke’s Global Brand Innovation Group, I interviewed people all over the world, and developed new brand concepts based on what we’d learned.

As Creative Director for Coke’s Licensing Business, I developed style guides with creative direction for licensees. I also developed and rolled out new branding for Levi Strauss’ Dockers brand.

I am an award-winning Author, Illustrator and Designer of more than 15 books and a game for children, all published by large, established publishers. My books have been translated into five languages and have been published in more than ten countries. They have been reviewed by the New York Times, People and Wired, and are sold by SFMOMA and the DeYoung Museum. Seymour Chwast called one of my books "A great idea, beautifully produced."

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area with my Dutchman Peter and young son Max Pelle.