Happy 2016!! I hope you had a wonderful holiday and your first week of January has been great. Though we had an awesome winter break, it is always nice to get back to the normal schedule.
Day 02 was a fancy ornament coloring sheet.
To celebrate Hanukkah, I created this whimsical foldable dreidel for Day 06.
I played explored some watercolor textures for this set of holiday stickers for Day 14.
Finally, for Day 20, I thought it would be fun to create a winter-y board game to play with the kiddos! I gotta say, we've played several times and it is quite addicting!
Don't forget to check out the other 20 holiday printables on the Happy Happy site - there were some good ones this year! Bookmark the page so you can easily find them again next December.
I hope you and yours have a wonderful 2016!
It's that time of year again! The ladies of Happy Happy Art Collective are back with 24 brand-new holiday printables for you!
I created this fun ornament coloring sheet for Day 02:
Ferocious Quarterly is a "slightly-larger-than-pocket-sized coffee table zine filled with illustrations, comics and pulp-inspired short stories". I was asked by Nate Utesch, the brains behind FQ, to participate in the latest issue no. 4, DEEP.
Whoa. I was SO honored to be asked! The list of artists that have been featured in the publication over the last several years includes many of my idols. It kinda blew my mind that I was being asked to join the ranks of those talented contributors. But despite my intimidation, I said YES!
The theme for Ferocious Quarterly no. 4 was DEEP. Artists were divided into two groups - deep sea and deep space. The deep sea group was tasked with creating an illustration set in a deep sea environment. They were then partnered with a deep space artist who took the round 1 deep sea illustration and used that as inspiration for their deep space piece.
I was partnered with Brandon Rike who created this bad-ass octopus:
We had two colors to work with - navy and mint green. As you can see, Brandon trailed the octopus legs off the right side of the page, and I really wanted to continue his lines on my side.
I don't do a lot of work in the science fiction genre, so when I was doing research for this project, I really gravitated towards futuristic cityscapes on distant planets. I liked the idea of incorporating space-age buildings set in a barren landscape. Once I started sketching I focused on two concepts:
The first concept had one of the aforementioned space cities surrounded by highways mounted on sky-high pillars. The roadways would be an extension of Brandon's octopus legs. The second concept was a bit more whimsical and literal, with alien legs attacking the surprised astronaut. I decided to finalize concept 1.
I liked how it turned out, but the skyway looked pretty random to me. If we're in space, wouldn't the vehicles be flying? Why would they need roads? It just didn't make sense to me and it seemed too safe. I decided to scrap it and flesh out concept 2.
As I worked, I decided I wanted more illustrated elements in this illustration, so I created a network of controls to give our hero a greater sense of purpose before he is attacked.
I wanted to share a bit of my process - after I create all the color flats, I print out the illustration, and utilizing tracing paper and a light box, I manually draw in the textures with a pencil. I then layer the transparent textures over my illustration in Photoshop and color them to create different effects.
I was happy with how the final art turned out, and I thought it was a good complement to Brandon's piece. I couldn't wait to see them together!
Last week, this showed up:
Ahhh! Isn't it beautiful? The simplicity of the cover, paired with the gold foil is just gorgeous. And I love the heavy stock and the perfect binding. Nate was so thoughtful when designing the book and it really shows.
I flipped it open, and right there in the middle was our spread!
It turned out so great! Even though I laid the two pieces together digitally, it has so much more impact side-by-side in the book. I am really glad I decided to go with the second concept. Though I feel bad for the poor astronaut. Hope he survived.
This was SUCH an amazing project. Though I was super intimated by the awesomeness of my fellow contributors and the exquisite corpse idea provided it's own challenge, I couldn't be happier with the end result. Plus, it turns out a couple of my talented artist pals were also included, so it's fun to share the excitement with them. (I'm looking at you, Nate and Scotty!) Thank you again, Nate, for taking me along on your ride!
If you want to purchase your own copy of Ferocious Quarterly no. 4, head on over to their shop. It would make a pretty great gift for the upcoming holidays, if I do say so myself!
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.
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!
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:
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!|
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.|
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!|
|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,
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.
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!
Yup. Ten days. And so much to do. But I have to say - after the stress of the last month, I'm definitely more chill than I was, despite the pile of work and lack of time. I don't want to go into the show totally exhausted, so I'm trying to get to bed at a decent hour (you know - 6 hours of sleep as opposed to 4 hours!) and I think that is helping to clear my head a bit. Ask me in five days if I'm still playing it cool!
I wanted to finish my series on the promo mailers I sent out two weeks ago. After the flags were all sewed and ready to go I realized I needed to mount them to something to keep them flat in their envelopes. I got some backing board, cut it to fit and stamped them with my Emily Balsley Illustration stamp to make them even more official. Here they are, drying:
It may be hard to see in the photo, but I also designed a large rubber stamp for addressing the front of the envelopes. I love how it turned out, but it wasn't the easiest to print - the coverage wasn't as solid as I hoped and that big blank space was next to impossible to keep clean. I actually had to put a little piece of paper there to block the ink for every print. It was a pain, but it was still worth it. They're super fun!
And here are the flags on their boards. I secured them with cute washi tape.
I had also ordered some Surtex postcards, stickers and new business cards, so I stuffed the envelopes with those as well. The back of the postcard has a whimsical "nice to meet you" design.
If you missed Part 1 of my Surtex promo mailers, you can find it here.
'Til next time,
I'll be back soon with the rest of my Surtex promo plan.
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:
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,
Have an awesome day!
Jill, Tammie and I will be representing HHAC at booth 532, and Lauren will be on her own at booth 559.
We're super excited! If you're interested in setting up an appointment, please head here to fill out the request.
Hope to see you there!
Why was I so excited about that box? Because it contained copies of a book that I did illustrations for! Plus, I haven't really talked about it yet - so I had extra suppressed excitement that was finally able to be unleashed. Stella and I opened the box together which was pretty cool and looked through it page by page. It was a special moment.
The book is called Cooking Class by Deanna F. Cook and is published by Storey Publishing. It is such a fun book! I got an opportunity to see the recipes while working on the illustrations last year and they look so good. Stella and I will definitely be doing some cooking now!
The book is organized by meals, but has a whole chapter on getting started in the kitchen - including rules, safety tips, vocabulary and measurements. There are wonderful photos throughout showing step-by-step instructions, lifestyle shots and fun little vignettes. I got to draw lots of little spot illustrations to accompany the recipes and photography throughout the book.
There are so many awesome ideas that will help kids get creative in the kitchen!
I created a repeat pattern of miscellaneous food items that was used on the chapter pages and inside front cover.
The back of the book contains some bonus goodies for the kids including labels...
stickers... (the Guacamole Guy is my favorite!)
stickers to fold over toothpicks to make flags for sticking in various foods...
There are also recipe cards and conversation-starting game cards. Seriously - what DOESN'T this book have?!?
This was my first published illustrated book, and I couldn't be more proud. The process was so smooth - thanks to the wonderful art direction at Storey. It was definitely a lot of work, but I knew exactly what was needed and I was given reasonable deadlines - all which led to a really great experience. Hopefully this is the first of many book gigs! Plus - the fact that the subject was food (I love to eat!) and it was geared for kids was just icing on the cake. It was a fantastic job.
So - now that you're hungry or are looking for a fun cookbook for your kids (it would also make a great gift!) - you need to pick up the book for yourself! Of course, I'd recommend to buy local, but for convenience, here is where you can find it on Amazon.
I just missed the American Girl craze growing up, but I've always had the utmost respect for the products. When I graduated college, they were one of the few companies I sent my portfolio to (I was rejected, unfortunately). So they've always been on my radar.
Fast-forward to the present. My daughter, Stella (7-years old) loves American Girl. I mean, LOVES American Girl. From the dolls to the books, she can't get enough. One of her favorite days of the month is when the AG catalog arrives in the mail. So it's pretty cool to see the impact the company and products have on a kiddo from a mom's perspective. And since I've been back in the illustration game, I thought it would be especially cool to do work for a company that means so much to my daughter. That would up my hipness-quotient with her, right? ;-)
So when I was asked to do the illustrations for the holiday craft feature in the November/December issue, of course I said yes!!
I got to illustrate all the step-by-step instructions, along with the wrapping paper, window, tree and fireplace scene.
The creative team took my illustrations, blew them up huge, and displayed the holiday crafts on them like a real tree or mantle - isn't that a cool concept? I love seeing how my flat drawings suddenly become dimensional when used in this application.
It was such an honor being a part of such a fabulous publication. And I gotta say, Stella seemed pretty proud when she saw her mom's work in her favorite magazine. And that is just the best.
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|
- an organic, laid-back style
- eco-friendly - limit the number of pieces
- incorporating bikes and the city
- a fall wedding = a warm, autumnal color palette
|2-color block print|
- Work with dream clients
- Join Happy Happy Art Collective
- Immerse myself in an amazing passion project
- Travel to NYC to walk Surtex
- Survive my first-ever speaking engagement
|Hand-lettered mantra for the #52handlettered Instagram challenge with @penandpeplum|
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!
I wanted to pop in to share my Day 4 contribution to 24 Days of Holiday Printables with Happy Happy Art Collective:
It is a Santa Gift Card Holder. Lift up his beard, and voila - gift card! Sometimes it's nice to dress it up a bit. I know I'll be making several of these for the holidays this year!
To download the free template, head over the Happy Happy blog. And check out the rest of the holiday printables so far - they're so fun!
Have a great weekend,