pattern

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!

Promo Mailers Part 2 {Surtex 2015}

ONLY TEN DAYS UNTIL SURTEX 2015!


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.



Each mailer contained a flag on backing board, a hand-written note, a postcard, stickers and business card. I was relieved that the stuffed envelopes still fit through the sorter at the post office - that saved me a bit of $$ for shipping!


I'll be honest - I was a bit nervous mailing these out. There was so much love put into these mailers, I couldn't help but feel a little vulnerable! But that's okay. I want people to know who I am as an artist and I think these packages were the perfect representation of me and my work. And maybe...just maybe...I'll get a job or two from it!

If you missed Part 1 of my Surtex promo mailers, you can find it here.

'Til next time,

Promo Mailers Part 1 {Surtex 2015}

I can't believe there are only 17 more days until Surtex. I am SUPER excited, yet I can't wait for it to be over. I'm sure Stephen would agree with that, too, since that is ALL I talk about lately! 


The last few weeks have been absolutely insane with preparations. Even though I didn't have a lot of new art at the time, we needed to start thinking about the booth design. Which meant ordering banners. But of course, I don't want to put a lot of old work on the banners, right? So not only were we designing our booth, I was making new art at the same time. It was kind of a chicken-and-egg situation. I-need-art-for-the-banners-but-the-art-needs-to-be-created-before-I-can-put-the-art-on-the-banners. Ya know? Whew! So needless to say, there were a lot of almost-sleepless nights and sacrificed weekends while I pushed through. Once everything was ordered, a huge weight was lifted off me and I could breathe a bit. 

But just a bit.

Then I had to start thinking about promos. Originally, I wasn't planning on doing much promotion so I could focus on making new art. But then I thought, I am investing a lot of time, effort and money on this show, so it would be pretty unfortunate if no one even knew I was there! I've never done any kind of physical promotion, so I wanted to get it right. Lots of people do postcards, which are great - but I still think it's pretty easy to toss them in the wastebasket or lose them in a pile of papers. I needed something more memorable that an Art Director wouldn't want to throw away. Maybe they'd even pin it to their wall.

My answer? Felt pennant flags! I know they're nothing new - but they're right up my alley. They're throwback (vintage!), involve felt (my favorite material!) and they could be screen printed (my favorite printing method!). Plus if I really got my act together I could incorporate some of my newly-designed fabric as the binding. 

I was working on some Super Girl illustrations at the time, so I thought that theme would be fitting. A local screen printer, Screen Door Studio did the printing on some yummy colored felt. I scaled my colored pencil floral designs down to be proportionate to the flags and got some Spoonflower fabric printed. My friend Michelle saved me several hours by cutting, pressing and sewing the binding. And all of a sudden, I had a stack of amazing custom felt pennant flags!!


Ahhh. They make me so happy! I think they are a perfect representation of me. 

I'll be back soon with the rest of my Surtex promo plan.
Later!


Desktop Calendar {December 2014}

Well, in my last post, I promised more project posts - and I couldn't follow through! :-(
Unfortunately, my computer broke and it was in the shop for a week. What a bummer! I know I'm on my computer a LOT, but when it's inaccessible, it makes me realize just how dependent I am on it. Yikes. Thankfully, the awesome folks at Swink let me hang out with them for a few days and use their spare computer. That was a tremendous help, but I have to say it is nice to be back on my baby. Now to work through the mountain of projects that piled up in my computer's absence!

Now let's get to the point - the December desktop calendar! I painted this pattern a couple weeks ago and it got a good response on Instagram, so I decided to make it into this month's calendar:



To download the December calendar, you can click on the above image and save it to your computer. Please note that this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. 

ALSO! To celebrate the holiday season, the ladies at Happy Happy Art Collective are doing 24 Days of Holiday Printables!


We have lots of fun stuff in store for you! All you have to do is follow our blog to download the goodies. And be sure to Like us on Facebook to ensure you don't miss a thing! 

Have an awesome week,

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,






Desktop Calendar {September 2014}

It's that time of year - Back to School! Stella starts First Grade tomorrow (wha?!?) so that's all we've been talking about in our house.



To download the September calendar, you can click on the above image and save it to your computer, or you can also find it herePlease note that this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. 

Have a great 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,






Desktop Calendar {June 2014}

Wow, I think this is the latest I've posted a desktop calendar! My apologies. By now, you are well aware of the new month, but just in case you are still need of a new calendar, here you go!

Last week I created a space-themed pattern for a Spoonflower contest. I was going between a mid-century style and a fun, dog-themed pattern. I ended up going the more sophisticated route for Spoonflower (which I'll share in a later post), but I still wanted to flesh out the doggy idea.



Here we have Dogs in Space, complete with a rubber ball planet, a meatball moon, and alien squirrels zooming around. This pattern also fulfills another of my creative goals - creating more boy-centric art. Whenever I get a moment, I'll try to put this together as a formal pattern and/or print.

So, again - I am sorry this is so late, but hopefully you get a few weeks worth of use.

To download the June calendar, you can click on the above image and save it to your computer, or you can also find it herePlease note that this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. 

Have an awesome June!

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!



Desktop Calendar {May 2014}

Hello and Happy May!

According to the calendar, it is Spring here in Wisconsin, though winter sure has taken it's time moving on. We thankfully don't have snow anymore, and there have been a few gorgeous Spring-y days, but in general, it has been a cold, rainy Spring. 

One of my favorite parts of Spring is when those first flowers break through the ground (and even snow!). For this month's desktop I decided to focus on said flowers : crocuses, snowdrops and scilla to be specific.



Something I realized when drawing these flowers, is even though I incorporate a lot of flowers in my work, I have never done a 100% floral pattern. Crazy, eh? I'm going to create a pattern out of this calendar next. 

To download the May calendar, you can click on the above image and save it to your computer, or you can also find it herePlease note that this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. 

Have a great May!

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,



Mad Science {Spoonflower Fabric}

I was super excited for the latest Spoonflower challenge - it was a Science Fair theme! Something you may not know about me is my love for Science (biology and anatomy, specifically). I took several science classes in college, and thoroughly enjoyed drawing things I saw under the microscope. At one point, my Zoology professor actually suggested medical illustration as a career path for me. I was really interested in that idea until I found out there were only a few universities in the U.S. where I could get that highly specialized degree. Oh well. Such is life.

Fast forward to last week when I was working on sketches for this pattern. I was having a blast creating little Science-y icons!



For this composition, I wanted to create a more organized pattern. Rows of icons could be cool...but how could I make it more interesting? I decided to first create a hex pattern which was a nod to molecular structures, THEN fill in the hex shapes with my icons.


When I was working on my sketches, I had a pale yellow - red - light blue - black color scheme in my head. I applied it to my pattern, and I was very happy with how it complemented my icons. It has a sort of vintage feel which I love.

If you're feeling inclined, head on over to Spoonflower and vote for your favorite Science Fair designs - it is so interesting seeing everyone's interpretations!

Have an awesome weekend!



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!

Bedtime for Bunnies {Spoonflower Fabric}

Though I didn't have a lot of time this week, I managed to squeeze another pattern in for the weekly Spoonflower contest. The theme was so fun, I hated to pass it up just because I wanted a few extra ZZZs. Which is ironic, considering the theme was 

Bedtime!

Stella's bedtime routine is VERY important - if we happen to miss something, she is right there reminding us what we forgot. She is quite the task master when she wants to be! I decided to use her bedtime as my inspiration for a few sketches.


Is it weird that I put bunny slippers on a bunny?



For this contest, Spoonflower provided us with a color scheme. Usually I love limited color palettes. This one, not so much - the yellow and purple were really intense. Oh well - those were the parameters and I was going to make it work!


One thing I discovered during this process, was, even though I am getting better at setting up square repeat patterns in Photoshop, I can't seem to figure out other types of repeats - namely half-drop. I have a couple books that I've been referencing, but these novelty patterns that are a bit more complicated are really tripping me up. If any of you have any tips or resources, I'm all ears! 

And of course, I have to plug the contest! Head on over to Spoonflower and give my Bedtime for Bunnies pattern some love! Thanks!

xo


Gems + Geodes {Spoonflower Fabric}

Hello!

This week I decided to create an entry for the current Spoonflower contest. The theme was Geodes and Gemstones.

As I've mentioned before, my typical subject matter consists of flowers, animals and Stella - NOT stones...or anything geometric, for that matter! I thought it would be a fun challenge.

After researching what EXACTLY gems and geodes were, I decided I would focus on gems. I drew a whole page of these cute little structures!



After I brought them into Photoshop, I set my palette and tried to figure out how to show the gems' dimension without adding too many colors. My solution was some crosshatching!



By layering the colors of my basic palette, I was able to not only add dimension, but some nifty tones with the "transparency" the crosshatching created. My eyes were watering like crazy from drawing all of these fine lines, but I am really happy with how it turned out.

Tomorrow Spoonflower voting begins! Be sure to head on over to the contest and check out all the awesome selections. If you're interested in my other Spoonflower patterns, check 'em out right here.




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,


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:

source

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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.


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!