global talent search

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,

Guest Posts


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!

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!

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!

Global Talent Search {Finalist!!!}

Yesterday I found out some amazingly huge news. Remember this?

Now take a look at my smiling face!

The judges picked me as a finalist in Lilla Rogers Global Talent Search! Wow. 

Knowing September 10th was the day of the big reveal, I woke up hoping to get the news right away so I wouldn't have to incessantly check my email all day. There WAS a new blog post from Lilla, but psych! It was just to tell us the finalists would be named later. Ugh!

Thankfully I had an early morning breakfast planned with two of my favorite ladies, so I welcomed the distraction. 

During my lovely breakfast, Lilla revealed the finalists. Seriously, what an amazing post! I loved that she included some of the judges' thoughts on each of our totes. And the summary was extremely thoughtful - giving a bit of insight into what is marketable.

As my shaky doodle above shows, I went through a LOT of emotions when I found out the results - I was stunned; I wept; I couldn't stop talk-talk-talking about it; I paced a lot; I freaked out. When I drew this, my hands were shaking so bad. But all of it was out of sheer excitement! I have to say - yesterday's productivity level was pretty low - it was so hard to focus!

It is still so hard to believe. I never thought I'd make the top 50, much less all the way to the finals! There were SO many fantastic artists in the pool, I can't even imagine how hard it was for the judges to narrow it down.

Now, onto the final round! The challenge was put together by Lilla and Margo Tantau of Midwest CBK - we are to essentially come up with our own line of home decor and/or gift products based off one of four trend boards provided to us. How awesome is that?

I don't have much experience in this category, but I welcome the challenge. I already have some fun ideas brewing and I'm ready to start putting them to paper. And there are five amazing artists joining me in the final - if you get a chance, you should definitely check out the others - Zoe Ingram, Lizzie Mackay, Daniel Roode, Josephine Kimberling and Vesper Stamper!

And - to all of you that voted for me in the People's Choice - THANK YOU! Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Seriously. I am so grateful that you took the time to take a look at the semifinalists and cast your vote. I know how easy it is to ignore requests like that, but you didn't. I can't express my appreciation enough!

Just in case you missed the other posts about my journey to the GTS finals, you can find them here and here.

Now, off to do some sketches!!

Global Talent Search {Round 2}

As I've mentioned in a previous post, I made it to the semi-final round in the Lilla Rogers Global Talent search. Wowee!

Our round 2 assignment was designing a Fall-themed Farmer's Market Tote. It was pretty open-ended, other than we had to focus on nature. AND it was suggested we incorporate people and hand-drawn type. Suggested? Yup. I'm doing it.

I love going to the Farmer's Market and Autumn is my favorite season. I thought about WHY I love them so much. Our family always rides our bikes to the market and we find a good place on the grass to call our "base". Then Stephen and I take turns running around the market picking up our favorite stuff. We end up just chilling out watching the people shuffle by as we munch on raspberries, beef jerky and Stella's favorite cookies. (We don't buy a ton of produce at the market because we get a CSA). When we're done, I load up my cute wicker basket with all of our goodies and we ride home.

And in Fall, I love, love love the fallen leaves! I love the sound of them crunching under my feet. I love watching them fall quietly to the ground as the sun illuminates what's left on the trees. But my favorite part is walking through the piles that accumulate on the edges of the sidewalk. I'll admit I may kick a bit harder than normal, just to see them scatter in my wake.

So I knew I wanted to incorporate biking and fallen leaves. I wanted to focus on the experience of traveling from the market, gliding silently through the fallen leaves with our precious goodness strapped to our bikes. Though browns, oranges and yellow are so typical, I wanted to throw in some bright colors to complement their warmth. If this design were screen printed on a canvas bag, I think they'd really pop.

With all of this being said, 6 finalists will be chosen to move onto the next round. Five will be picked by the amazing panel of judges, and one will be the "People's Choice" finalist. This is where you come in

Please take a look at the online gallery of all the phenomenal semifinalists. I would love your support, but you can vote for up to five different artists, so please share the love! Voting ends Monday, so don't delay!

Thanks again for your vote and all of your support throughout my journey. This has been an incredible year.