artists

Booth Tour {Surtex 2015}

In my last post, I explained our booth design and why we made certain choices. Today, I'd like to give you a little tour. Welcome to the Happy Happy Art Collective booth!

tammie, emily and Jill at the start of the show. Come on in!

 

As I previously explained, we decided to have one wall dedicated to patterns (the raindrop wall) and one wall dedicated to characters. Jill did a quick sketch of the character wall to get an idea of how everything would lay out.

Jill's sketch of the character wall.

 

I designed a simple scene for our characters to walk on consisting of some rolling, grassy hills and a rainy blue sky. We all contributed a few flowers to sprinkle throughout the grass. Our characters, umbrellas and cloud were all printed on foam core. Some pieces ended up being four feet tall! I found some giant pipe cleaners that worked perfectly as the handles for the umbrellas - and their fuzzy texture was super fun!

Once the characters were attached, we cut raindrops out of adhesive white vinyl that we stuck all around. We didn't want to get them printed directly on the banners, so we would have some flexibility with placement. 

Singing in the rain!

 

For the raindrop wall, we each had a cloud that "rained" giant raindrops full of our patterns. The raindrops ranged from 1' to 2' tall - pretty big! tammie designed the bold painted plaid pattern for the background banner which allowed our raindrops to really pop.

It's raining, it's pouring...patterns!

 

As you can see in the above photo, we had a skinny wall that was kinda hidden from view. We decided to make our useless wall into our Happiness Soaker display. Jill painted some cork board for hanging our soakers and we stuck some more white raindrops all around.

Soaker wall!

 

Because there were three of us sharing the booth, we thought having two tables would allow us to have multiple options for displaying our work and promos. The tall table was for our promos.

The tall table worked great for grab-and-go promos.

 

Jill picked up some Poppin boxes to keep our postcards, business cards, magnets, pencils and stickers organized.

Look at all the fun stuff!

 

The low table was perfect for sitting down and browsing our books. And when we were extra busy, we were able to utilize the tall table for sharing our portfolios, as well.

Have a seat!

 

We had a box full of props for our selfie station. Grab a prop and snap a pic!

#HHACselfie

 

I also liked having a prop as I stood in the aisle trying to convince people to stop by our booth. I mean, how can you resist this? ;-)

Hammin' it up.

 

Last, but not least, here is our lovely raindrop garland and sign. I just love how those raindrops look when the light hits them.

I absolutely love how our booth turned out. It was not only unique, but it perfectly represented us as artists. And just in case you're not smiling yet, here are a few more shots to sum up the experience:

In case you missed my other four Surtex posts, you can find them here:

Part 1 - Promo Mailers

Promo Mailers Part 2

Part 3 - Final Prep

Part 4 - Building the Booth

Until next time,

Building the Booth {Surtex 2015}

One of the challenges of sharing a Surtex booth with other artists is coming to a consensus on big decisions. While prepping for this year's show, the booth design was probably the toughest decision to navigate. Don't get me wrong - the process was still fairly smooth and cordial - but we did have many, many conversations in order to get to the final design.

Part of the challenge was designing a booth that would play to ALL of our strengths. Jill and I have a more character-based approach, while tammie is the queen of geo and floral patterns.  We needed to figure out a way to showcase all of our skills in a cohesive manner. Since we had secured a corner booth, we'd have two main walls - so we decided to make one wall pattern-focused and the other wall character-focused. 

We also wanted our booth to look different from the rest of the booths. Last year when I walked the show I remember thinking that after a certain point, the booths started homogenizing even though the individual styles were different. Much of this had to do with utilizing the standard vertical banners to decorate. Don't get me wrong - I totally understand why that is such a popular approach - the vertical wall panels lend themselves perfectly to the banners. But how could we make our booth stand out among the sea of other booths?

The Happy Happy Surtex booth before. There is so much potential!
Once we agreed that we would have a character wall and a pattern wall, we needed to figure out a booth theme. Our theme for 2015 was Rain. As in, "raining happiness". We also worked within a loose color palette of red, pink, light blue and yellow. A common theme and color scheme would start to pull everything together. The 1st wall would have our characters walking along wearing rain slickers and carrying umbrellas, while the 2nd wall would be raining patterns - large raindrops filled with our patterns.

In lieu of the aforementioned vertical banners, we chose to get large, wall-sized banners that would cover all of the framework of the wall panels (see above). Those large banners, though incredibly unwieldy, looked fantastic once mounted - they eliminated all unnecessary seams and gave us a nice, clean canvas to apply the next portion of our booth design. We were a little worried about the weight and how we would hang them - but tammie had used some 3M velcro strips the year before with success, so we decided to use them again and they worked GREAT!

tammie smoothing down the corners of our ginormous banners during setup.
Admittedly, the walls don't look like much yet. We really liked the idea of getting our characters and raindrops printed on foamcore. This way we could attach them to the background banners with some flexibility and the added dimension would add some interest to our booth design. Again, we used those 3M velcro strips for hanging. Not one piece fell down!

One downfall of getting giant characters printed on foamcore and shipped across the country was the potential for damage. When tammie received the initial shipment, there were a few bumps and bruises:

Poor kitty and fox. (Photos by tammie)

Thankfully we had them shipped early enough that we had time to get them re-printed and re-shipped - this time with a lot more padding. Crisis diverted!

We had talked about doing some sort of raindrop garland to string across the booth. Jill found some super cool translucent colored vinyl that would add some funky texture and color. We ended up cutting and assembling the raindrops on the fly during setup:

Look at those colors!
We also got some props made out of foamcore to encourage people to stop by our "Selfie Station", take some photos and have some fun. Tammie took some quick practice selfies to whet our curiosity a couple weeks before the show:

tammie perfecting her selfie with our custom props. (photos by tammie)

Jill had the brilliant idea of handing out squirt guns swag to go along with our rainy theme. She created custom header cards with her awesome lettering which we stapled onto the bags back at our hotel. Get drenched in happiness!

A big pile o' happiness soakers. (no, they're not guns!)

As you can see, we had a lot of different ideas and pieces which all needed to come together. Since we are located all over the country, all of our conversations happened over Google Chat, email, FB or text. (thank goodness for technology!) I'll be honest - there was a tiny part of me that was a little nervous that it would look horrific once the booth was set up. I mean, we didn't even mock it up beforehand! :-O

But by the end of setup, our booth transformed into this:

Our booth after a long afternoon of setup. Now all we need is carpet!

Wowza! That's a big difference! As you can see, we had a wall for prancing characters, a wall for raining clouds, and that happy happy wall on the far left? That was the backdrop for our Selfie Station. Since there were three of us, we elected to have a tall table and a short table to help with the flow of traffic. The swag and promos ended up on the tall table for easy access, and the short table contained our portfolio books. The cute IKEA chairs allowed our guests to peruse our books and chat in a comfortable way. 

We were thrilled with how it turned out. Yes, it is bold and loud and colorful. But it reflects who we are as artists - and it was almost impossible to not look (or smile) when walking by. That was our goal - to spread happy-happiness!

Stay tuned for an in-depth look at our booth during the show. For all of my other Surtex-related posts, check them out here, here and here.

Until next time,

Final Prep {Surtex 2015}

All I could think about for the last three months was Surtex

Surtex this, Surtex that. 

I'm sure Stephen and Stella were SO over it. And now the show is done. It's hard to believe! 

Let's get back to the last 10 days before the show.

After I sent out all of my promo stuff I buckled down and pulled together some collections. My original goal was 12 collections. As I got closer to Surtex I realized I'd never be able to pull that off, so my revised goal was 8. Then 4. Four seemed like a good number, right?

I ended up designing a Surtex flyer for every collection. I not only used them for my Surtex countdown on social media (40 days > 30 days > 20 days > 10 days), but they became the placeholder on my portfolio site for all of my new work and postcards for the aforementioned promo mailers. Plus it was a good way to put some of my new imagery to use and throw in a little hand-lettering. 

I made 2 flyers for my first collection : 10,000 Thrills



My 2nd collection, inspired by Stella - was about a super girl and her sidekick. It is called Flying High:


My 3rd collection is called Little Explorers:


And finally, my colored pencil florals, Joyful Garden:


Each collection had between 6-9 pieces. When I felt they were dialed I went through the rest of my portfolio and determined what needed to be freshened up and where the holes were. I spent a week refining and creating new work. At the end I had about 85 pieces of art ready to go. I had two portfolio books - one with my new collections, and the other with everything else. Thankfully I had the foresight to order enough paper and ink - because I went through a lot! Here are all the paper scraps after I cut the portfolio pages down to size:


I wanted to go the traditional route of having physical portfolio books to show my art. Call me old-school, but I always prefer being able to turn pages - you can go your own speed, start and stop when you want, start in the middle and jump to a certain page quickly without fumbling around on a screen. Not to mention the pages are big (11x14") and you can see the work very clearly. Plus, when someone buys your art, the page can be removed without ruining the rest of your book. Don't get me wrong - the Blurb books are beautiful - but I consider them more of a supplement to the rest of your portfolio. At one point I had also contemplated using an iPad to show my portfolio digitally. But in the end I chose to just stick with the portfolio books and they ended up working awesome. 

Once the portfolio was done I had about 3 days before I left for New York. I spend that time doing last minute prep such as printing, cutting and folding the header cards Jill designed for our booth swag:


I also made a bunch more pennant flags to give out at the show. Here are a pile of ends cut and pressed, waiting to be sewn onto the felt:


My last goal (and lowest priority) was to make shirts out of some of my own Spoonflower fabric. I bought a cute pattern called the Scout Tee by Grainline Studio and went to town. Sara from The Sewcial Lounge told me the finished shirt is a bit short, so I modified the pattern slightly and added on two inches to the length which ended up being perfect. This is one of the shirts all pressed, ready to be worn:


I wasn't sure what type of fabric to order from Spoonflower - so I ordered some Cotton Lawn. It was a nice fabric, but I have to say - it was still a bit stiff for a shirt. It didn't have a lot of drape, and it gets SO wrinkly every time I wash it. But it looks cute, and the shirts were a hit at the show, so I guess it was worth it!

That's all for the pre-show prep! Stay tuned for another post all about the booth. 

Until then, have a wonderful day!

Brava Artist Feature

This month I am extremely honored to be featured in Brava Magazine as December's Portrait of an Artist!


I've done a bit of work for the publication (remember this post?) and I look forward to receiving my issue every month. Brava is a Madison-based magazine focused on women + style + substance - and as the editor-in-chief puts it, "[Brava] is the most fun, interesting and inspiring girlfriend we could think of". That just makes me smile! :-)

Hopefully you can read from my photo, but if not, here is the link to my feature in the online publication. Basically, it tells my story of going from a graphic designer at Pacific Cycle to full-time illustrator. What a whirlwind it has been!

And I am happy a snippet of my studio was included - the top photo is my inspiration wall that hangs right above my computer. It consists not only of some of my work, but some of my favorite artists' work as well. You should check out their work, while you're at it! Seen here is the work of Lesley Barnes, Mikey Burton, Hamiliton Wood Type Museum, Eight Hour Day and Shauna Lynn Panczyszyn.

Thanks again to the fabulous ladies at Brava for including me in their magazine!

Who Inspires Me {Blog Hop}

Since I took Lilla's Make Art That Sells course in 2013 I have met so many wonderful artists from around the world. I am a big believer in making connections and starting conversations both online and in real life, and the recent "Who Inspires Me" blog hop is a great example of this. 

Liz Ablashi, the designer/illustrator behind Eine Kleine Design Studio recently wrote a lovely post and asked me to participate in this international blog hop. How fun! 


Liz and her adorable family live in Maryland, where she is not only designs sweet patterns and illustrations, but she turns them into lovely product with her sewing and crafting skills! From bags and pouches to scarves and cushions, her designs are bursting with fun themes and fresh color palettes.


If you've been following the 2014 Global Talent Search, you may have noticed that Liz has gotten all the way to the semi-finals. Yay, Liz! 



Thanks so much to Liz for inviting me along on this blog hop. Please be sure to check out her wonderful work here!

I'm also supposed to answer a few questions as part of the blog hop:

1) What am I working on?
I am currently in the middle of my first book project with Storey Publishing. Unfortunately, I can't show any images right now, but I CAN tell you it is right up my alley and I can't wait to share more! I am also about to start the roughs for a local animation project and initial concepts for a logo design this week. This is one of the things I love about what I do - there is always so much variety - it really keeps me fresh!

2) How does my work differ from other work in its genre?
I'd like to think the humor and quirkiness of my art sets it apart from other illustrators. My influences vary from mid-century picture books to JCrew catalogs to block prints, so I feel these bring a unique perspective to my illustrations as well.


3) Why do I create what I do?
The simple answer is, it makes me happy. The fact that my hand, head and heart creates art that has never existed before is such an amazing feeling. 

4) How does my creative process work?
When I first tackle a project, I initially think about the assignment - a lot. I rarely jump in and start drawing from the get-go. I let the ideas swim around, form concepts, problem-solve - all in my head, so when I do finally sit down with my sketchbook, I have some pretty solid ideas to start working through. I create sketches; first pencil, then inked - for I prefer seeing a more finished drawing before I scan it in. Once it's scanned, I work primarily in Photoshop, re-drawing the color flats with a Wacom tablet in several layers. I generally work with a limited color palette, between 6-8 colors, and I set up my files almost as if I'm planning to screen print it. If I am planning on adding texture, I print out the illustrated color flats, tape it down to my light box, overlay a sheet of tracing paper, and manually add the texture with a pencil or china marker. Once all the analog texture is complete, I scan it back in, make it into a transparent layer, and add it on top of my digital color flats, recoloring the texture as I see fit. 

Now, I am excited to share two artists that inspire me!

First up, Lucky Nielsen, an artist hailing from Minneapolis, Minnesota. (go mid-west!)


I first discovered Lucky when I read her insightful blog post all about her Surtex experience last year. And shortly thereafter, Lucky and I both approached the initial 2013 Global Talent Search assignment from a similar perspective - the climbing apparatus! Since then, I have really enjoyed her charming characters, bright patterns and needle felted creatures.


I absolutely fell in love with Lucky's entry for the 2014 Global Talent Search semi-finals! Between the hand lettering, textures and darling outfit - I think this print is going to have to be showcased in Stella's bedroom - don't you think?


Good luck getting to the finals, Lucky! I can't wait to hear the results.

Next up, a Swede living in London, England - Monika Forsberg! I cannot help but get lost in the quirky cut-paper worlds that Monika creates:


Combining colored paper, crayons, paint and markers, Monika loves the adventure of not knowing exactly how her illustrations are going to get from start to finish, growing organically as she listens to audio books. 


She describes her work as "technicolor", and I couldn't agree more. She is a master at combining dark, moody shades with bright pops of color, creating lush palettes with neverending texture. I especially enjoyed following her recent project on Instagram - illustrating all the matches of the World Cup


Monika also made it to the semi-finals of the 2014 Global Talent Search - way to go!! You can see her piece here.

Thanks for following as I hop - hop - hopped through 3 amazing artists' work. Please check out their portfolios and stay tuned for when they share their inspirations next week!

Have an awesome week,






Palm Springs Mini-Collection {Happy Happy}

I am so excited to share my latest group project from Happy Happy Art Collective! This summer Lauren taught a class geared towards art licensing at Watkin's College of Art, Design & Film. She thought it would be fun to assign the Happy Happy ladies the same project as her students - creating an mini collection using a city as inspiration.

My first thought was Seattle, since my family was headed there for vacation. And though I truly loved my time in Seattle (what a fun city!), I had a hard time coming up with a theme for my collection - sure, there's coffee and rain and music, but those themes just weren't ME. 

As I was contemplating other cities, I decided to do something more architecture-based. Usually, my illustrations are pretty organic - so I thought focusing on buildings could be a nice change. Then I started thinking about different types of architecture, and of course, I decided to do something from the 1950s/60s. What city is known for their mid-century architecture? Palm Springs!

I've never been there, but I'd love to go some day. And once I started researching the Desert Modern Architecture and Eichler homes, of course I HAD to check out the going rate for one of them on Air BnB. Yikes! I'll have to start saving ASAP. :-)

First I started out by drawing the Palm Springs Houses.


I couldn't stop!


Those rooflines! The textures! The patterns! Even the landscaping was perfectly proportioned. I decided to focus on the different elements.


And just for fun, I did a quick pattern using my Pentel brush pen:



I intended to create my main pattern utilizing the houses, then create two more inspired by the elements. I envisioned a warm, pastel/coral palette, inspired by the desert. 

And without further ado, here is my Palm Springs Mini Collection!


Here's a closer look:





If I ever get the opportunity to visit Palm Springs, I am DEFINITELY making myself a bag out of this fabric!

Please, please please head over to the HHAC blog to see the rest of the city collections. They are amazing!!

Have a fantastic weekend,






Women in Baseball {Wisconsin Storytime}

I recently got to participate in an ongoing collaboration all about the history of Wisconsin. The guys that brought you Project Wisconsin [365 towns : 365 logos] decided to delve even deeper into what makes Wisconsin a great state by focusing on its history. Each Wednesday, Wisconsin Storytime pairs a different designer with a different story from our state's amazing past. 



My assignment was exploring the All-American Girls' Baseball League, which was right up my alley! It was fun poring through the old photographs from the ladies on the original teams - and drawing them was even better! What a great exercise in different body positions.


And here is the final illustration! Please head over to Project Wisconsin to see more info about my story and read all the others from the first 6 months of 2014 - you'll learn a lot, I promise!




Surtex 2014 {Walking}

Hello!

Well, it has been a week since I've been home from Surtex 2014. And I'm STILL processing it all! Wow, what an experience.

I decided to check it out after I learned all about it in Make Art That Sells - Surtex is a tradeshow where artists sell or license their work to companies who will, in turn, use it on their products. The art consists mostly of surface pattern designs, but there are some stand-alone images featured as well. Since one of my goals is to some day have my own fabric line, I thought it would probably be worth my time to see what it was all about. I didn't necessarily want to have a booth YET, since it is quite the investment, so scoping it out was Step 1 of the process.

Since I was walking the show as an artist, there was some etiquette to keep in mind - most importantly, don't linger too much in the booths. The artists who were showing spent a LOT of time and money on being there, and they were there to generate business and make connections with potential customers. Having long conversations with walkers could potentially detract customers from their booths, so out of respect, we needed to make our chats short and sweet. And if someone walks up who looks like they're there for business, excuse yourself and come back another time.

Though I knew there would be some dream clients there, my goal wasn't to get business - since they were there for the Surtex artists. I didn't carry a formal portfolio, though I did make a few "mini" portfolios which consisted of twenty of my Moo business cards clipped together - to hand out JUST IN CASE I happened to meet a potential client. There were a few moments I could have taken advantage of, but I was too much of a wimp to sell myself. NOTE TO SELF: Work on pitching my art; have confidence in myself!


My "mini" portfolios and shoulder bag, created just for Surtex
I also made a quick shoulder bag consisting of my Science Fair fabric from Spoonflower. I figured that might generate some attention, so why not? Plus it was fun to sew again. It has been too long!

Lauren and Tammie, two of my fellow Happy Happy Art Collective artists were there showing their work for the first time (woo hoo!) so it would also be a good opportunity to support them (not to mention MEET them)! I ended up rooming with Muffin (another Happy Happy artist) in an Air BnB apartment just a ten minute walk from the Javits Center where Surtex was located. It was a great location, not only close to Surtex, but within walking distance of Times Square where we hung out in the evenings. It sounds like many of the Surtex participants found hotels close by Javits - which is ideal, since they were most likely hauling stuff to and from every day.


Muffin and I in front of the Javits Center on Day 1
Once we got into Surtex, we made a beeline to Tammie and Lauren's booths to say hi. We had never officially met, after all! Both ladies had wonderful booths. It was obvious that they took a lot of care and consideration in selecting what art hung on the walls and how they showcased their portfolios. Again, being conscious of blocking potential customers, Muffin and I set off through the aisles of Surtex. 

It didn't take us long to bump in to some of our classmates from Make Art That Sells! We anticipated a sort of MATS "reunion" (can you call it a reunion if you've never actually met?), but I was still blown away by how many people I recognized from class. It was so fun meeting our fellow "Matties" in real life. There was a lot of business card exchanging and hugs, and I loved every bit of it. I also got to meet several of my illustrator crushes: Helen Dardik, Elizabeth Olwen, Zoe Ingram, Dinara Mirtalipova and Allison Cole, to name a few! And I got a hug from the one and only Lilla Rogers. Wow. I was surrounded by greatness!


Elizabeth Olwen, Muffin, Jill and I
On Day 2, Jill joined us from Massachusetts! After doing our round of hellos, we decided to buckle down and walk the show with intention. Aisle after aisle, we took notes about the decisions artists made when designing their booth. Some of the things we noted:

  • Portfolio : Loose prints vs. bound book
  • Booth sign :Standard Surtex sign vs. design your own
  • Products with your art in the booth
  • Flat wall vs. bracketed wall
  • Corner booth vs. middle aisle booth
  • Tall table vs. short table
  • Code or number all your art for future referencing
  • Brand every print
  • Walls : Banners vs. framed art
  • Show personal work or original art 
  • The buzz : License or buy outright

Some of us also had an opportunity to participate in Lilla's MATS meet-up. A few things I learned from that session:

  • If buying outright - What is the life of the product? In other words, when can I get it back again?
  • As you make money, invest it back into your business
  • When you have a large body of work, display some on your website, but save some to only show potential clients. 
  • Have a worksheet for your customers which lists all the categories/sub-categories so they can check off their interests.
  • Always ask for a little more.

MATS meet-up with Lilla Rogers
On Day 3, Muffin, Jill and I walked a bit of the National Stationery Show, which was right next to Surtex. Talk about overwhelming! We were there for a couple hours and I don't think we got through 1/3 of it. I would have actually liked to have spend more time there, but my flight back to Wisconsin was beckoning me. I did see enough, however, to realize there are a lot of independent stationery companies - and many of them are wonderfully creative. Oh - and gold foil is trending. We saw it everywhere! 

Now that I have had time to process my Surtex experience, I know that it is something I can definitely handle. I will be able to produce a body of work to have a successful show. My hesitation at this point, aside from the expense, is whether or not I want to put all my eggs in this particular basket. There are many markets of which to focus my illustration, but dedicating a better part of my year in preparing for the surface pattern and licensing segment kinda makes me nervous. I have been hearing from various Surtex artists, that there is the potential for work outside of licensing, such as publishing, so that is good to know. My other option is sharing a booth with the other artists in the Happy Happy Art Collective, which I know would be amazing. Ah! So many decisions! 

To wrap up, I am very happy I got to experience Surtex. It was complete eye-candy, and it was delightful meeting so many of the artists I've admired over the last few years. I loved hanging out with my Happy Happy sisters (we missed you, Denise!) and I'm glad I was able to share the experience with them. On the other hand, it has given me a lot to ponder, and I think it's going to take me a while to figure out my game plan. 

Until then, thanks for sticking through my super-long Surtex re-cap! If you're interested in learning more, be sure to check out Lauren's, Tammie's, Jill's and Muffin's blog posts about their Surtex experience.



Tiny Green Worlds {Spoonflower Fabric}

Life has been crazy-busy here. But when I realized the Spoonflower theme was terrariums, I had to make time for it!

But I didn't have time to do all the research and preliminary drawings like I usually do. I decided to jump right into Photoshop and start drawing. This is the first time I've ever skipped the sketching process and started on the computer. It is not my ideal, but I have to say, the spontaneity was a bit exhilarating! And since the design was very organic, it worked well with drawing on the tablet - I didn't have to worry about super straight lines or perfect spacing. I could just roll with it!


This was my final pattern block. When I set it up as a repeat it looked like this:


I think it turned out pretty well! There is a lot of detail in each of the terrariums, so I have to keep the design on the bigger side in order to appreciate it all. 

There is still a bit of time to vote in this week's contest, so head on over to pick your favorites!

And speaking of patterns, I am heading to NYC this weekend to check out Surtex - the surface pattern & textile licensing show. I am looking forward to seeing the setup to see if this is something I'd like to pursue at some point in the near future. Not to mention I get to finally meet my Happy Happy Art Collective friends and other artists I've met online the last few years. It should be a fantastic experience!

I'll be back next week to tell you all about it!



K is For... {Happy Happy}

Oy. I haven't been posting much, have I? April has been kinda crazy. I have been traveling a bit, and I am working on a few client projects that I am VERY excited about, but unfortunately I can't share much!

But I did have a chance to work on another project for Happy Happy Art Collective - the Letter K! I thought I would keep it simple with a knitting kangaroo, but once again, my naïveté got the best of me! You'll see what I'm talking about:


Look at all those stitches! What was I thinking?!?

You can find the rest of the Happy Happy letters here.

Silly me.


Surface Pattern Design Guide {Uppercase}

Hello!

I found out some very exciting news last week - I have been accepted into the Uppercase Surface Pattern Design Guide


Cover design by one of my fellow MATS classmates, Jan Avellana

My work was selected from almost 300 entrants and 2000+ designs - wow! Since surface pattern design is something I've been focusing on this year, this news couldn't happen at a better time. The guide will be a part of issue #21 of Uppercase Magazine, and 1500 copies will be sent to Surtex in May. What an amazing honor!

Here's a fun video all about the Uppercase Surface Pattern Design Guide and 10 Tips for How to Stand Out in Surface Pattern Design:





I know I've gushed about how fabulous Uppercase Magazine is (remember when I made it into Work/Life 3 last Fall?), but just in case you are unfamiliar with the publication, YOU NEED TO CHECK IT OUT. Seriously. I adore this magazine. Each issue is so chocked full of artsy goodness it is impossible to put down. If you're interested (and you SHOULD be!), use the discount code USPDG2014 and receive $15 dollars off your subscription! What are you waiting for? Get it here.

I hope you are having a glorious Monday - I know I am!

Happy Happy Art Collective

Hello!

Shortly after Christmas, my online friend Tammie emailed me and a few other graduates of Lilla's Make Art That Sells class inquiring whether we'd be interested in forming an artist collective. Heck Yeah! Denise (another friend and MATS buddy) and I had already been discussing the same thing a couple months earlier and it seemed the stars were aligning.

After a month of planning and lots of preparation, we finally launched our website this week. I am now a proud member of the Happy Happy Art Collective!




Over the next several days, we will be introducing the members one-by-one on our blog (mine was just posted today!). After you've had a chance to get to know us, then we'll start posting lots of fun group projects and freebies we've been happily creating! Head on over and check it all out. And while you're there, be sure to sign up for our monthly newsletter for a little dose of happiness in your inbox!

I'm really excited about the possibilities that will come from being a part of this collective! It's such a creative, supportive group of ladies, and we're chock full of ideas - I don't think there is room in the blogosphere for all of them! 

Can you tell I'm a little happy happy?



Guest Posts

Howdy! 

In the last two weeks I have been honored to be a part of two lovely ladies' blogs: 

First up, Kate Erickson, of KMericks Spreadable Joy




Kate is a painter with a wonderful blog showcasing her art and inspirations and talks about adding joy to your life. She shares her favorites, tips on exploring your style, boosting creativity and even interviews artists. Recently, I was interviewed on Kate's blog! Get to know me a little bit better right here. It was so fun - please check it out and say hi to Kate!

Next, I was a guest blogger on Lilla Rogers's blog!


Since I've been talking about Lilla for months, I probably don't need to introduce her. But just in case, Lilla Rogers was a full-time, very successful illustrator in the 1980s. In the mid-90s, her top students asked her to represent them and Lilla Rogers Studio was born. Today her studio represents 30+ artists internationally. Since Lilla is an artist herself, she really understands the creative process and how to maximize her artists' potential. I participated in her inaugural Make Art That Sells course, where we focused on 10 illustration markets and learned a TON about the illustration business.  

In my guest post, I talked about my experiences with Make Art That Sells and the Global Talent Search and my recent journey into illustration. Please read it here!

Thanks for letting me share my story with you!



Party Paper {Make Art That Sells Week 10}

I made it! School is officially out. Meaning, Make Art That Sells with Lilla Rogers is over. What a whirlwind the last five months have been! I plan to do a post to summarize my projects and thoughts about MATS, but for now, I am going to focus on the final week : Party Paper.

What is party paper? Well, simply put, it encompasses paper goods associated with a party - paper plates, napkins, cups, tablecloths, crepe paper streamers, etc. Lilla asked us to focus on Ukrainian and Bavarian folk art for our inspiration, as birds and florals are such an important theme in party paper goods. 

Wow. I had SO much fun perusing folk art inspiration. I already utilize many elements of folk art in my illustration so I knew this was going to be a good fit. First I started filling a page with the amazing patterns I was seeing on Ukrainian Eggs (I have always been a huge fan):


During my research, I stumbled across some fantastic folk art in the fashion world:

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These were from the Spring 2013 collection of fashion designer Mara Hoffman. Gorgeous, right? I was completely smitten by the background images. Turns out this was a collaboration between Mara and Ukrainian folk artist Maria Primachenko. I had to find out more. Oh my gosh. I was blown away by her work - the color...the patterns...the creatures! I had to start drawing. I filled a page with Maria-inspired doodles:


At that point, I knew where I wanted my pieces to go. I drew up a round plate and a square napkin.



Now came the fun part - adding color! I wanted it to be bold and bright. I ended up putting the bird on a white background and the giraffe on a black background for maximum POP. Here are my finished party paper goods!


I had a blast with this assignment. In fact, I recently acquired a tired, old toy chest that we are going to utilize in our mudroom as a storage bench. I just put a fresh coat of black paint on it, and I have now been inspired to do some folk-art inspired hand painting on it to give it a little personality. I can't wait to share it!

Thanks again for following my journey through Make Art That Sells. It has been a wonderful experience! Check out some of my other classmates, while you're at it: Denise • Ine • Sam • Johanna.


Scrapbooking {Make Art That Sells Week 8}

Hi there! 

I'm back with another Make Art That Sells recap. Last week was all about the scrapbooking market. I'll be honest - I was probably the least excited about this topic. I think it's because I had preconceived ideas about what scrapbooking was all about and I generalized who the target consumer would be. I apologize if this offends you. But what I realized after Lilla's instruction, there is opportunity for many different styles and mediums - including mine! That's what I get for being close-minded! :-O

Wow, scrapbooking is all about STUFF. Borders, stickers, stamps, fancy papers, buttons and other embellishments - I can see why people have so much fun with it! Lilla showed us lots of examples and assigned us our mini assignment focusing on vintage cameras and typewriters. 




What an assignment! I choose to do my initial drawings using only pen (no pencil sketches), so the angles and high level of detail in these instruments really flexed my brain - trying to get it right the first time. Lilla chose these subjects BECAUSE of the details - and boy, was she right. I have to say - it was fun deconstructing the objects into their little parts and pieces - it really gave me a good idea of what they were all about. And you'll see later in my icons - I was able to incorporate some of these details in a fun and unexpected way!

For our main assignment, we were supposed to design a full page of scrapbooking 'bits and bobs' that could eventually become stickers, chip board cutouts, buttons, washi tape - you name it. And of course, use the cameras and typewriter drawings to create a "Recording Your Life" theme.




I started out by drawing a bunch of simplified typewriters, but it quickly turned into typewriter and camera characters - robots, maybe? I was really attracted to the form of the type bars, and I thought it would be fun to transform them into fancy hairdos, teeth and facial hair. Things were getting goofy, and I was trying to figure out how to tie all of my ideas together into one concise theme. 


I utilized some sound effects, phrases and positivity, along with a happy color scheme to pull it all together. I'm still not sure if it exactly meets Lilla's Recording Your Life theme, but I sure had fun with it! After learning all about the scrapbooking market, I think I could really enjoy immersing myself in themes and creating lots of these bits!

Once again, it was so neat seeing my classmates' interpretations. Here are a few for your perusal: Gabriella, MarianaIne and Denise.




Childrens' Apparel {Make Art That Sells Week 7}


Week 2 of Make Art That Sells part B was all about the Childrens' Apparel Market. Though I have never really thought about creating for kids' clothes specifically, anything for kids sounds fun, so I was all in.

Lilla gave us Camping as our theme - awesome! There are so many directions I could go. I started this assignment by writing a giant list of anything camping/woodsy related I could think of. The sketches came easily - instead of only focusing on objects, I could draw activities, as well. I decided a moose and a fox would be the stars of my collection.








I came up with a few fun scenes and phrases, and I thought they'd be nice placement graphics. I tried really, really hard to pick a color palette that wasn't typical for me. I wanted it to be a bit more sophisticated and masculine. That was tough! Way to push me out of my comfort zone...






I was having a blast with the lettering as well! I chose to keep my backgrounds simple since there was so much detail in the characters.

Once I created the three concepts, I built a few patterns that coordinate with them. The first is the main pattern, comprising of all the camping gear the fox and moose would need to hike, hang out by the fire and canoe.



And then some trees and stripes for the next two patterns:



By the time I finished with these six pieces I was almost out of time! I have never pushed it so close to the deadline. I had planned on creating a hoodie with the campfire graphic and the stripe pattern inside the hood; a pajama set with the canoe graphic for the shirt and the tree pattern for the pajama pants; and two coordinating onesies with the hiking graphic on one and the gear pattern on the other. Unfortunately I didn't have time! :-(

I'm pretty proud of this collection. Though looking at it in it's entirety, I think it's a bit to dark for your typical kids' clothes. I'm planning on revisiting the palette at some point and brightening it up a bit.

Whattya think? This was super fun!

And be sure to check out some of my other classmates' work, too! Ine • Johanna • Denise

Thanks for stopping by!


Global Talent Search {Final Entry}

Hello!

Today I am back to share my Global Talent Search final entry with y'all. As you probably already know, the lovely Zoe Ingram won the big prize last week - yay, Zoe!

Our final assignment was to design a home decor/gift collection for Midwest CBK. We were given four trend boards in which we were to pick one to use as our inspiration for our collection. I went with Boho, since the color palette and detail suited my illustration style quite nicely.

Our collection was to include a main pattern with 2-3 coordinates, 2-3 products, some placement graphics and type.

When deciding my theme, I wanted it to exhibit a few things:

- reflect my personality
- something I would display in my own home
- speak to my illustration style

- have some fun elements that could be showcased 3-dimensionally

After lots of sketches, I chose a Sun theme. Why suns? First of all, it's one of my favorite things to draw. It represents happiness. I can bring in other celestial elements to sprinkle throughout the collection. I can have lots of fun with different types of rays, and it gave me some more dimensional options. I also didn't want to do birds, butterflies or flowers - I thought that was too common - suns were a  little more "out there". :-)

I now introduce to you, Shiny Happy Day!





I tried to incorporate a good blend of organic elements, geometric shapes, texture and a bit of whimsy. When I saw Boho was one of our choices, I immediately thought "pom-poms!" - one of my favorite decorative styles - so I knew I was going to include pom-pom trim somewhere!

My three products are a macrame hanging planter, a lamp and a pillow. I love house plants, especially hanging ones, so I thought it would be fun (and very Boho) to create a macrame planter with red beads. And, yes - I actually made that planter and painted those wood beads. Remember this photo from Instagram?
 

I created a geometric pattern on a white background that I thought would make for a very striking lampshade.

And the pillow is my favorite! As I said above, I am a sucker for pom-pom trim, so I knew I wanted to do a sun pillow, where the pom-poms would represent the rays. And, depending on your mood, you can flip it over for a fun, inspirational quote!

I also created a chair out of the main pattern, but decided not to use it at the last minute. Here's a peek (and please don't mind the crappy seam-y pattern - I was just trying to visualize...).





In addition to the main sun pattern and the geometric pattern, I also created two more coordinates - a stripey clouds and sun bursts. I am so in love with that cloud pattern I think I'm definitely going to get some of it printed so I can make some fun throw pillows.

The final assignment was a great exercise, and quite the challenge. I am glad I got the opportunity to design a mini-collection, because it forced me to think across a range of products and applications. Now I know I want to do more of this type of work!

Thanks again for all your support throughout this competition. Though I didn't "win" the final prize, I still feel I have won so much - the experience was so valuable - it something I will carry through all my future work.

Now it's time to focus on school again. Make Art That Sells is back in session!




Keep On Keepin' On


Today we found out the final results of the Lilla Rogers Global Talent Search! Unfortunately, I didn't win. Zoe Ingram took the grand prize and Daniel Roode won the special studio award. I have to say - their designs were stellar! Lilla and her team definitely couldn't go wrong with those two. My heartfelt congratulations go out to Zoe and Daniel!

I'm a bit disappointed, but I have to say, I am at peace with their decision. When I turned in my final assignment, I was extremely proud. I put my best foot forward and have absolutely no regrets. I didn't stress about it while waiting for the results - there was nothing that I could do at that point besides wait it out!

The fact that I made it this far in the competition is validation that I am on the right path. Since I have dedicated myself to illustration, I have been so happy. I am going to continue to push myself - learn more, (Make Art That Sells Part B starts on Monday!) create more, inspire more. I want to put myself out there, because I am learning that's how things happen.

Today has been a series of ups and downs. Though I am okay with the decision, seeing all the buzz surrounding the winners does sting a bit. Several people have checked in with me to see how I am fairing, and I really appreciate their sentiments! In fact, I cry every time I read their wonderful, supportive words. I am so lucky to be surrounded (both physically and virtually) by such amazing people. Thank you!

For now, I am going to keep on keepin' on!




Sh*tty Barn Poster {Pieta Brown 2013}

Last night I finally got to experience The Barn. What barn, you may ask? The Sh*tty Barn is located in Spring Green, Wisconsin and it is an absolutely wonderful music venue. 


As they describe it, The Sh*tty Barn is where "Audience and performer coexist in an intimate and integrated space with as little separating instruments and ears as possible. No stage. Stripped down. Pure music love. Like having the performance in your living room (except, in this case, a sh*tty barn)." This rustic space is decorated with twinkle lights and decoupaged herons flying across the walls - and is furnished with old theater seats and log benches around the perimeter. It's bring-you-own-chair, and we all squeeze in to the cozy space. They have a great selection of beer and wine and a campfire warms those who are hanging outside on the lawn. It is quite the experience.

My friend Erin is very involved in the Barn. When it first opened, she took on the task of designing the gig posters for every show - quite the task, when there are dozens of shows every season. These days, she puts the call out to her designer friends to help her with the work load. I got the opportunity to design my first gig poster for the Pieta Brown show!

 

Me and my poster at the Sh*tty Barn
When I started the project, I was unfamiliar with Pieta's music. But I really loved it once I started listening to it - folksy, ethereal - she tells her stories with her wonderfully sweet and calming voice. I wanted my poster to reflect how I felt when I immersed myself in her music.

Pieta has long bangs and full lips. And she often sings with her eyes closed. So I decided to create a portrait of her, filling her hair with an intricate pattern of folksy icons. I even included a corn cob or two since she is from Iowa.


This was such a fun challenge! I'll admit I was a little overwhelmed at first, because I felt the pressure of making the poster represent Pieta and her music. But once I got settled in, I really enjoyed the process.

After the show last night, I got to meet Pieta and her band - they were so sweet and kind! I got a couple photos taken with them and had them all sign my poster. What a way to remember my experience. It was perfect.

If you're ever in the Madison, I highly recommend taking the hour drive west of Madison to visit Spring Green. It has a lot to offer - in addition to The Sh*tty Barn, you can find American Players Theatre, Taliesin and The House on the Rock. In fact, Huffington Post just named Spring Green, Wisconsin #2 on their America's Best Small Towns list. Pretty cool, eh?