Do you think these are the cutest clutches you ever did see?  

I do!

We all know we can all use just one more clutch in our collection but, how do you choose? 

Meet the talented maker and artist behind them.

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 Ann Howell Bullard

Raleigh, North Carolina

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 What is your training? 

I haven’t really had any formal training in terms of technique (no leather working; no formal art training), but I’ve had loads of experiences that built up my brain catalogue of colors, images,  feelings, moods, etc. that I think I pull most of my work from. I graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with degrees in English Literature and Art History, and all day long I read books and looked at art. It was magical.

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 I spent a summer interning at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, and again, I spent all day looking at art. After college I went to India for six months, and the colors and patterns and feelings there are like WHOA. That definitely left a pretty big brain stamp. Then I moved to rural northeastern North Carolina, which has a totally different mood and pace and landscape… slower, more muted, crumbling, peaceful. So, if I had to sum it up, I’d say that my “training” has been loads of diverse seeing experiences, where I just absorb, like a little sponge. And I hope that keeps happening! I’d like to travel and see more. 

What inspires you and your designs?

I tend to be drawn to the same aesthetic over and over — I love the contrast of black and white,  with natural wood textures, and pops of neon, global textiles, abstract paintings with insanely bright colors and wacky brushstrokes, objects that look rough or unfinished or like they were just pulled out of a turn-of-the-century crumbling farmhouse, and also I love glitter. I think I just try to put little bits of all the things I love into my work. 

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What is your favorite piece?

Right now it’s my Glittering Eyes Zip Clutch — I’m obsessed with that triangle-eye pattern.

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And I’ve got my Jungle Queen painting hanging in my dining room right now, and it makes me feel like I’ve escaped to my own personal tropical island!  The colors change with the sunlight… lush and vivid during the day; moody and mysterious at night. 

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How has your area influenced your work?

I’ve certainly absorbed images and scenes from my landscapes over the past few years… colors from India, crumbling and unfinished textures from rural NC… and all of the shops and happenings around Raleigh, NC are quite inspiring — Revival Antiques is one of my favorites. There’s also a shop in Wilmington called Uptown Market Antiques, and I always find treasures there. 

What is your favorite restaurant in (your city)?

In Raleigh, the tavern downstairs at Second Empire is my favorite for special occasions — I always try new things that I never would order anywhere else.

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For Saturday date nights, Bida Manda in Raleigh!

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Their Herb Salad with Lemongrass Grilled Chicken is divine. It’s like a thousand delicious Laotian flavors. And there’s an egg roll IN THE SALAD. 

What is your favorite cocktail?

It’s called “Kevin’s Dancing Potion.” I invented it because it’s the only thing that will get my husband to dance. It’s tequila poured over ice in a glass, with freshly squeezed juice from three limes and one whole orange, shaken up! The orange gives a touch of sweetness, but not too much. I hate too-sweet margaritas. It’s also delicious with fresh-squeezed grapefruit and lemon, or any combination of citrus, if you’re in a pinch. 

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How do you balance personal life and work?

Ugh. I don’t know. I don’t think I do a very good job of that right now. I work full-time, and paint on the side, so pretty much all my free time is art time! I try to listen to my body a lot, and my mood… when I’m exhausted and grumpy and feel like I’m making a lot of mistakes, I take the night off and eat Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss ice cream on the couch and watch shows with my husband.  

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Dream trip?

I’m dying see the Louvre and go underneath the Vatican in Rome, so an art and architecture tour of France and Italy complete with lots of cheese and wine would be ideal. And I would like to drive a Vespa while I’m there, because YOLO. 

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Dream commission?

I was recently asked by a friend to paint an abstract piece for their nursery and I’m so excited about it! I taught elementary special education for several years, and absolutely love children interacting with abstract art.  Children are so creative, perceptive, and influenced by their surroundings… the idea of a brand new little mind interacting with my art (and creating art of their own!) is really humbling. 

Your favorite host / hostess gift to give?

Flowers! I like to do lots of greenery from my yard with a couple of power flowers sprinkled in — a peony or two (duh), dahlias and lisianthus work well. I always bring them arranged in a jar they can keep so it’s ready to rock and roll. 

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Who is your style icon?

I don’t know if I have a single definitive style icon… Currently, I’ve been liking Georgia May Jagger (she nails the rockstar vibe that I’d have in my secret double-life),

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Lily Aldridge (she makes basics like skinny jeans, a loose tee and red lips look amazing), and someone I recently discovered — style blogger Camilla from Avenue Camilla (she has this old-world European glamour, but it’s so fresh and natural.)

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Your favorite up and coming artist?

My favorite artists right now are: Cy Twombly, Clyfford Still, and all the Fauves. A contemporary artist I really admire is Sally King Benedict (whom I interviewed HERE)!

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And Donald Robertson (whom I interviewed HERE), I’d probably faint if I met either of them. 

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What is your most treasured possession?

A scrapbook my mom made for me when I graduated college! It’s the best. 

What are you reading?

I’m re-reading an all-time favorite: “A Long and Happy Life” by Reynolds Price.

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What are you listening to?

Fleetwood Mac and the Rolling Stones. I just saw Mick Jagger perform live for the first time this summer and keep playing the Stones on repeat (can’t stop, won’t stop)! 

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What are your favorite blogs / publications?

The Jungalow by Justina Blakeney,

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Dust Jacket Attic,

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and sfgirlbybay are daily reads. 

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Head over the Ann Howell Art to see more of her art and grab a hand painted clutch for yourself.

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All photography by Anna Routh Barzin, Summer 2015.

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I am going to dream of that beautiful and giant Jungle Queen painting tonight.

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One Response to Killer Clutches and More by Ann Howell Bullard
  1. […] friends and talented artist, Ann Howell Bullard, (featured HERE) has just launched her latest handbag collection, The Dead Flowers Collection. It is stunning and […]


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