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!

Grandma's Garden

When Alison of tiny blue orange approached me last year to collaborate on a project, I didn't have to think twice. She is an awesome Madison-based web extraordinaire and super-savvy business lady that I am lucky to call a friend. The project involved gardening, and kids and television - sounds pretty cool, right? 

Essentially, Alison was tasked with building a website for Grandma's Garden - an "...educational television program...focusing on equipping children to live healthy and productive lives, teaching them how to engage with their environment and their caretakers in meaningful ways". The program was coming to life with help from a successful Kickstarter campaign

Alison asked me to help her create a natural world for the website content to live. Since the theme was gardening, we thought it would be cool to a garden graphic that would run along the entire bottom of the site, and a sky/sun/clouds graphic to encompass the top half. Here are some of the initial sketches:

There were also a few characters that would help out around the site, and eventually be the inspiration for costumes on the television show! Here we have some concept sketches for Billi the Bee, Sammy the Snail and Betty the Butterfly:

The concept sketches were pretty close to Alison's vision, so I fleshed them out, digitized and added color. I made the garden footer into a repeat, so it would be seamless once it was placed along the bottom of the page. Alison worked her magic (including fun, moving clouds!) and everything came together beautifully. Here are a couple screen grabs so you can get the idea:

Didn't it turn out great? It was such a fantastic experience, collaborating with Alison, and illustrating for a website (a first for me!). I love how it looks - perfect for both kids and their grown-ups. Be sure to head over to the Grandma's Garden website to check it out for yourself, and while you're at it, here is what Alison had to say about the project. So fun!

Have a great weekend,

Wedding Invitations {Laurie + Michele}

One thing I love about designing wedding invitations is the challenge of creating something that showcases who the couple is. Everybody is different - and on their wedding day, it is especially important to create a one-of-a-kind piece that represents them at this special time.

Laurie and Michele are from Florida and were celebrating their love with a beach wedding. Though the beach was an integral part of their celebration, they didn't necessarily want their invitations to exhibit the typical beach-y imagery - nothing overly nautical and avoid an abundance of seashells and dolphins - we wanted to imply beach without being so literal. They were also looking for something classic with a touch of whimsy.

To start, I sent them a few different concepts:

After deciding on a variation of #2, it was time to start applying the concept to the rest of the pieces. Because we were going for a nice balance of classic and whimsical, we thought incorporating a more formal script, letterpress printing and pocket folder would cater to the more traditional, while the quirky characters, illustrated map and bright color scheme would be super fun.

It just so happened that I had just taken a class to learn formal calligraphy techniques, so these invitations were the perfect excuse to apply my new skills. Here is a sample of some of my writing:

My friend Kate of Flying Rabbit Press did the letterpress printing and was so helpful and patient with me as I learned how to set up these fairly complicated files. The suite consisted of five 3-color pieces, after all - that's 15 plates right there! Kate is a rockstar. She even sent me sneak peeks during the printing process which was awesome to see:

Photo courtesy of Flying Rabbit Press

And here we have the final invitation suite:

The main invitation was glued to the left panel of the pocket folder and the rest of the inserts stack in descending order when placed in the pocket. The printing is beautiful, and I am extremely happy with how they turned out. Thanks to Laurie and Michele for letting me do my thing! Yay!

Wedding Invitations {Part 1}


Well, I finally have a bit of a break from my client work, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to share some of the fun projects I've worked on the last several months. 

First up, wedding invitations! I have been getting a few more requests for custom illustrated invitations, which has been amazing and challenging. 

I'm going to start with two couples that chose to have their invitations screen printed:

Anna and Ryan got married at a 150-year old brewery by the river in downtown Rockford, Illinois. Inspired by the building's iron beams and timber posts, they wanted their invitations to have a classic, yet industrial feel. The black French Paper screen printed with white ink gave a nod to the chalkboard signage that welcomed their guests to their big day.

They wanted to keep their suite simple - with a custom monogram surrounded by laurel leaves and hand-drawn type. I got to draw that cool old brewery for the map and a cow, chicken and carrot for the food choices. They even ordered some custom stamps made to match. I heart rubber stamps!

Lisa and Mark are an active couple who can often be found running or riding their bikes. It was no surprise that they chose a nature conservancy as the setting for their outdoor wedding. This screen printed invitation suite showcases the picturesque stone wall and the canopy of trees, under which their ceremony took place.

Both wedding suites were screen printed locally at Screen Door Studio on French Paper.

Thanks for stopping by! I'll be back soon with another invitation suite. 

MAKE! Conference 2014

It's no secret that Madison, Wisconsin is a creative community. Between the University, art museums, Gallery Nights, Art Fair on the Square and craft shows, being an artist in this city is pretty great. 

A couple years ago, after I started focusing on illustration, I rediscovered Design Madison - a local group of "creative thinkers...where talent meets inspiration". Before joining DM, I had made friends with several local designers/illustrators via social media. But working from home, alone - virtual friendships only get you so far. I wanted to get out and actually meet these people I knew on Twitter and Instagram! That's when I attended my first Design Madison meeting and "IRL" friendships were forged. It has been so amazing getting to know everybody.

Fast forward to July of 2014. I got an email from the president of Design Madison, asking if I would be interested in speaking at the MAKE! Conference - a conference dedicated to connecting, learning and being inspired by others in the creative community. Honestly, my first instinct was NO WAY! I do NOT do public speaking. But after a few moments, I reconsidered. This was a HUGE honor. I really respect what DM is doing for our community - and this would be an amazing opportunity.

So I got over the initial shock and answered YES.



I'll be honest. I have never been as terrified as I was last week preparing for my presentation. I had ample notes, but gathering all the images from the last half of my life was tricky and time-consuming. Plus if there was any info I needed to show, I wanted to hand-write the slides - so that took a lot of effort, too. I knew I had a half-hour to talk. But how many slides would that take? I know when I get nervous I tend to ramble. Should I bring notes to keep me on track? And then the whole technical side of creating the slides threw me - I refuse to use Powerpoint, but I've never used Keynote or Prezi. And what size should my images be? (Thanks to Alex for technical and moral support!). So, so many questions. That was NOT helping my stress level. 

Well, I put together the slide show. I ended up with 62 slides. (Too many? Don't think about it, emily!) My talk was on Saturday, so I went to the conference on Friday as an attendee. Wow. So many amazing speakers. (Don't get intimidated!) I got to see long-lost designer friends also attending the conference. There was a meet-and-greet Friday night which was another opportunity to connect (and get even more nervous). 

Saturday rolled around and I was still nervous. I hardly ate anything in the morning in fear that I was going to hurl. Prior to my talk, my friends were super encouraging and supportive. They did their best to build me up. (Thank you! You know who you are!) It was time. My mic was placed, my slides were ready. I somehow made it onto the stage without tripping. I was introduced, and it was all me. 

I introduced myself and as I mentioned my "husband and daughter", I motioned to them in the crowd. (Yes they were in attendance!). Stella stands up, puts her "paws" up and starts panting like a puppy. The audience chuckles. Then she yells, "Can I have a doughnut?" and everyone laughed. I announced to the crowd, "If I get through this, I'll get you a doughnut!" and the ice was broke. It was brilliant. I couldn't have planned it better! Thank goodness for my family because it was exactly the distraction I needed. And I started talking!

Here are a few key slides:

And at the end I gave everyone a postcard and custom emily balsley illustration pencil. The back of the card was blank with the prompt "Doodle what 'Make' means to you". I was hoping to generate some MAKE! doodle love on Instagram and there were several participants! It was super fun to see everyone's interpretations.


I made it! (without puking!)

As far as I'm concerned, I thought it went really well. I didn't forget much and I hardly used my notes. I even survived some Q&A. I am really, REALLY proud of myself. I knew that this was something I needed to do. Not only for my career, but for myself. I know I need to scare myself once in awhile in order to grow. And presenting at MAKE! was probably one of the scariest things I've done. And I am forever grateful to my friends and family who were uber supportive of me. I am SO lucky.

One thing that made me particularly nervous was presenting in front of my peers. As I mentioned in the beginning, Madison is chock-full of so many talented creatives. And I am friends with a lot of them. Any one of us could have been chosen to speak at MAKE!. For some reason, it was me. So I felt added pressure to present something not only exceptional, but something they didn't know about me. I hope I was successful.

Whew! Long post. But I wanted to document this very pivotal moment in my career (public speaking! say what?). Now, IF I'm ever asked to present again (!!!), I will at least have my "first time" under my belt. Not to mention all the stuff I've collected, scanned, sized and filed. Yay! That is a good feeling.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading! I'm not sure if my talk was recorded. But if it was, I will be sure to share it!

Sh*tty Barn Poster {Spirit Family Reunion 2013}

Recently, I got the opportunity to design another gig poster for the Sh*tty Barn. This was a fun one : Spirit Family Reunion! Their music is so full of energy, it is almost impossible not to clap or stomp along while listening to it.

They paint some beautiful imagery with their lyrics, so I decided to focus on a phrase from their song, On That Day: " the clothes upon the line...". I thought it would be fun to create the letters of their band name out of pieces of clothing hanging on a clothesline.

Here's the sketch:

And here's the final poster!

I played with texture in the knockout areas of the clothing which adds a bit of visual interest and balances the linework pretty well. Also, I made myself use colors that weren't red or pink or turquoise! It was tough, but I think it speaks to their music better than my typical bubblegum pop color schemes. 

Unfortunately, I had to miss the show this year, which was a bummer. Fingers crossed that I'll get back to The Barn sometime this season yet!

Have a great week!

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!

Walter the Whale {Spoonflower Fabric}

I'm back with another fun Spoonflower pattern! This week the theme was Whales. Apparently, whales are going to be the next big thing in 2014...

I liked the idea of making a happy whale with a big, toothy smile. That's when I decided to sketch Walter the Whale. Since whales have such a big expanse of nothingness, I added a little dotty design element for visual interest. 

We were given a color palette. Initially I liked it, but when I started putting the colors together I had a hard time getting them to gel how I preferred. So I decided to forego the cream all together and used the rose-y color sparingly. I was hoping for more contrast with the rose and raspberry, but unfortunately, it got kinda lost...

And here is my final piece!

As you can see, Walter is having a blast frolicking in the sea. If you're feeling inclined, head on over to the weekly Spoonflower contest and give Walter some love! There are a LOT of super whale designs - apparently everyone wanted to get in on the whale trend!

Have an awesome weekend,

Porchlight Chef's Auction

This week I got the opportunity to attend a very special event : Porchlight's Original Chef's Auction. This was a fundraiser to raise money for Porchlight Inc. - an organization dedicated to helping the homeless of Dane County - by offering shelter, food, counseling and employment services. An extension of Porchlight includes Porchlight Products. Utilizing produce from local farms, the employees turn the crops into high quality canned and preserved goods to be sold to local markets and restaurants. This amazing program not only provides employment and confidence for the less-fortunate, it also helps support our local farm community. 

I was able to contribute to this fundraiser by creating all the marketing collateral. How fun! This was a chef's auction, meaning ten of Madison's top chefs and restaurants came together to provide some wonderful food, incorporating some of the Porchlight Products. I wanted to focus on the stars of the event - the chefs - and their wonderful food made with local ingredients. These were my initial sketches for the ad:

We ended up going with the marching chef, and turned his swirl of food into the shape of Wisconsin. After adding a bit of color, here is the final poster:

Not only did I get to create a cute little chef, I got to draw lots of yummy food and do some hand lettering! This project was right up my alley.

After sampling some of the Porchlight Products, I was highly impressed! I will definitely be picking some up on future grocery shopping excursions. For those of you who are local, you can find them at Metcalfe's Hilldale, Regent Market and Willy Street Co-op. Be sure to check them out!

Almost There {Trek + Design Madison + Allan Peters}

Last night was a very special night for Design Madison. DM teamed up with Trek Bicycles and Target Creative Director, Allan Peters to put together an art show called Almost There.

Anyone could participate. Any medium was welcome. All we had to do was create a piece a piece of art that is inspired by our interaction with biking. This was right up my alley!

I have a lot of memories and experiences with riding my bike. From learning to ride on my orange sunshine-speckled banana seat bike as a 4-year old, to saving up enough allowance for my first 10-speed when I was 12, biking was a big part of my life growing up. As a college student living on the UW-Madison campus, my bike WAS my transportation. And then, of course, landing a job at Pacific Cycle led me to a couple years of racing bikes - road, mountain and cyclocross. Now, since having Stella, biking is still a very important part of our life, from riding the amazing bike trails in Madison to pulling Stella to and from school in her trailer, we are a crazy biking family.

Late last summer, Stella finally learned to ride her two-wheeler. It was a pretty big deal. She had been flying around on her balance bike for a year, and we KNEW she could totally do it - we just had to figure out how to convince HER that she could do it. If any of you are parents, you know just how hard that can be. Basically we had to wait for her to want to do it ON HER TERMS. And then she was off.

That was the idea I was trying to portray in my poster - my girl with her long flowy locks flying behind her - riding off to who knows where - on her bicycle. Now it's time for her to form some biking memories of her own!

I'll leave you with a few photos and videos.

And another fun fact - that little orange bike with the streamers Stella is riding? I designed that for Schwinn! I actually had her in mind when I drew the little characters. It makes my heart soar watching her ride one of my creations!

Let's hope for some warmer weather soon...because now I want to go ride!

Great Barrier Reef {Spoonflower Fabric}

Once of my 2014 goals is to do more patterns. I would love to get some work in the surface design category, whether wrapping paper, fabric or home decor - so I figured in order to make this happen, I need to make more patterns! 

I love assignments - they challenge me to create something out of my usual wheelhouse. So I decided I would start partaking in Spoonflower's weekly fabric design contests. I've been meaning to spend more time on Spoonflower's  lovely site, especially now that they offer wallpaper and gift wrap options, so this would be a win-win. 

The theme for the current design contest was Great Barrier Reef. If there is one thing I don't draw a lot of, it is fish - or any water creatures, for that matter. I usually prefer a hairier subject matter! But this is what the challenge is all about, right?

I started out by drawing a lot of coral - so many beautiful colors, shapes and sizes! I was having a lot of fun.

I decided at that point that I was going to stick with the coral - no fish. I liked the idea of focusing on the underwater flora. Inspired by these IKEA glasses one evening,

I found my color palette!

And here is the full Great Barrier Reef design, in all it's glory:

If you're digging it, I'd love your vote over at Spoonflower! To vote in this week's contest, please click here. Thanks!

I have to say, this was super fun. Though I wasn't particularly thrilled by the theme at first, I am really happy with how the pattern turned out. It just goes to show, it is worth going out of your comfort zone once in a while!

Have a great week,

Lean In Lean Out {Brava Magazine}

Last Fall, I had an illustration first - my first editorial illustration was published!

Brava Magazine is a Madison-based publication focused on women + style + substance. It recently got a facelift, thanks to my good friend and fellow designer, Jinger. As the editor-in-chief puts it, "We've reimagined Brava as the most fun, interesting and inspiring girlfriend we could think of.". Neat, huh?

I got the opportunity to create a full-page illustration for the article Lean In. Lean Out. What's on Madison women's minds by Anne Morrissy. Inspired by the book Lean In : Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg, the article focused on "the controversy over women's roles in a 21st-century 'post-feminist' society". 

I can definitely relate to the discussion regarding women choosing work over family. Since I own my own business, I am constantly struggling to find a balance between work and life. And working from home doesn't help, either - it is much too easy to hop on the computer while Stella is playing in the next room. As my business as grown, I have made an effort to separate the two, but it isn't easy. This was a very compelling read.

If you're interested in reading the article (or the rest of the magazine, for that matter), here is a link to the September 2013 issue. The Lean In article is on page 42.


Global Talent Search {Final Entry}


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!

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?

School Newsletter {Process}


Today I'm going to share a fun community project I got the opportunity to illustrate. 

A few months ago, my friend and fellow designer, Jinger, approached me with the challenge of beautifying the shared newsletter of two of Madison's public schools. Her daughter, who is Stella's age, currently attends one of the schools, and, being a visual person, she noticed the newsletter was looking a little bland. Since Stella will be going to Kindergarten at one of the said schools next year, she thought perhaps I would be interested in freshening up the newsletter.

Of course I would! I'm always up for a little beautification project! Jinger had a couple fun ideas incorporating the two schools' mascots - a falcon and a raccoon. I came up with some sketches based on her thoughts:

We decided to try combining some of the elements, focusing on the framed mascots holding a banner: 

Thinking the composition was a little busy, we simplified it a bit:

Nice! Now it was time to add some color. There weren't any official school colors as far as we could tell, so my first attempt was a little more subdued. I wanted it to appeal to both boys and girls.

But it just didn't feel right. I tried again, this time letting go of any restraints and focusing on fun:

Yes! SO much better. Jinger liked this one as well, so this was the header that was presented to the school. 

It was a hit! And after chatting with some parents about the new look, it seems like it may inspire some new initiatives to help integrate more art into school correspondence. This is a cause I will definitely support! 

Until next time,

Wintery Wedding Invites


Today I'm excited to share one of my favorite projects from the past year. Our close friends Brian and Courtney got married in January and I had the pleasure of designing their wedding invitation suite.

They decided to profess their love for each other in a snowy field on a cold Wisconsin afternoon. With this beautiful setting in mind, we played around with a wintery theme for their invites.

I sent them a few concept sketches to get things started. 1) Every year they go on a ski trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. They envisioned a scene of the two of them sitting on a bench facing the mountains with their trusty dogs at their sides. 2) Their party was to be held at the High Noon Saloon - we explored the idea of a subtle western-style theme. 3) They also liked the idea of an image of their dogs pulling them in their wooden dog sled.

They were ecstatic about the sketches, and chose to combine the concepts and use bits and pieces from the three. The winter theme was the focus of the invitations, but I was able to pull in the wood board sign to represent the rugged nature of the saloon.

Brian and Courtney encouraged me to 'do my thing', so I ran with it! I loved having the freedom to express their love in my style, and I even decided to paint the whole thing in gouache. 

Since this was the first time I had to reproduce my paintings, I decided to get them professionally printed - and I am SO happy with that decision. The printer did an amazing job, and you can even see my brush strokes - exactly what I wanted.

I had such a blast with this project! I learned so much throughout the process and I am so happy I got to be a part of our friends' special day.

CB Massage {Logo}


Today I'd like to share a logo design I finished up a few months ago. It is for a company called Cindi Bannink Massage, or CB Massage, for short. Cindi is the owner of a successful triathlon training business called Madison Multisport, which I blogged about here. She is also a certified massage therapist, which is a fantastic complement to the triathlon training.

There were a few things she was looking for in her new logo:
- A sense of 'oneness' in the number 3: How it relates to Triathlon; Bringing together Body • Mind • Spirit; An underlying faith in the Trinity
-She liked the color purple, but also wanted something that would complement her Madison Multisport Logo which is turquoise, orange, grey and black.
-Though she works with a lot of athletes, she didn't want it to look too 'sporty' - she wanted something more on the softer side.

With that great feedback, I started sketching. Here are some of the initial sketches:

I focused on three concepts - the letters 'CB', hands (representing massage) and a 3-part icon. I digitized the strongest concepts and sent them to her to get the conversation rolling.

After some discussions and revisions, here is the final logo!

So if you're in the Madison area and need an amazing massage (I've had one!), check out CB Massage!


Indie Art + Design Trunk Show

I realize it has been pretty quiet here lately - I want to assure you it's not for lack of creativity or projects - I've been more busy than ever!

In addition to finishing up some major graphic design projects, I've been humming away in my studio creating product for an upcoming art show: The Indie Art + Design Trunk Show!

In less than 2 weeks I will be joined by 7 other fabulous local artists who will be selling our wares in preparation for the upcoming holidays.

In addition to what you can currently find in my Bluestar Ink shop and Bluestar Fuzzies shop, I will also have lots of NEW product! There will be oodles of new Fuzzies, new prints, new illustrations, new greeting cards and {hopefully} a couple new bags. I found some amazing fabric for said bags, I'm just hoping I have enough time to produce them - because in my head they are SWEET!  :-)

So if you're in the Madison area the Saturday before Thanksgiving, stop by! You will not be disappointed. 

For more info, check out our informational site and our Facebook events page.

Hope to see you there!

Wyatt & Katie {Part 2}


Remember this post where I showed you Wyatt & Katie's screen printed Save the Date postcards? Well, last Friday, they got married! And I had the pleasure of designing their whole set of wedding invitations.

Keeping with the charcoal grey - magenta - white color scheme, my original plan was to screen print the whole set. But unfortunately, with our move to a new house, I wasn't able to get my screen printing studio set up in time. So instead I printed them on my spiffy Epson. Because I wasn't limited by the screen printing process, I was able to have a little more freedom with the detail and color variations. 

Here we have the whole set:

We kept with the bike theme and all of the text is hand-drawn type. Some more details:

It was such a fun project! I loved having the freedom to "do my thing".

And tomorrow I'll show you one more related project.

Until then, have a wonderful day!

Bootstrap Social Media Logo


I wanted to share a new logo I created for a very cool company: Bootstrap Social Media. As their website states, they 'help individuals, businesses and non-profits obtain social media focus within their network and industry vertical'. In today's age it is so important to have your social media marketing strategy established, and this is the company to help you accomplish that goal.
Bootstrap Social Media is the idea of pulling yourself up by your 'bootstraps'. My direction was the idea of a stick dude inside some huge boots. The logo was to look 'professional, yet funky', since the company has a caring, yet alternative approach.

I decided to create a person that was a bit more complex than the 'stick dude', exhibiting an old-school handyman-type look. I figured this would work, considering the purpose of Bootstrap Social Media is to help build a strong social media structure within your company.
Doesn't he look like someone who would be happy to help you out?

Have a great day! I'll be back later with a new Daily Animal Doodle.