Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Planning For Surtex 2015? Think About These Things.

So you may have already read my summary about Surtex 2014 and what it was like to have a booth there. I’m so excited to be working on several new projects resulting from the show and hear that so many of my artist friends are gonna sign up for next year! As creative colleagues and myself help others plan their Surtex attack, I realize that I’m getting much more into the nitty gritty of how to prepare for Surtex and, most importantly, MAKE ART for the show! Yeah, we’ve talked about where we get our printing done…or which candy seems to attract the best clients (mine is laced with dollar bills and vodka), but sometimes you just have to see the man behind the curtain.

For those of you not familiar with the all-encompassing surface design trade show call Surtex, this is basically a year-round thing. Even if you’re not actively making artwork for it, you’re already planning your booth design in your head or taking note of new trends while shopping. Experienced people start gearing up in early Fall for the May show, if not sooner (like the day after the previous show ends).

So if YOU’RE thinking about doing Surtex 2015 or are just curious about the whole darn thing, I’m gonna tell you some extra thoughts about what you can expect and how you should approach this new adventure:

You will NEVER be 100% ready.

Let’s just get this point addressed right out of the gate. I didn’t think I was going to make Surtex in 2014. In fact, I was aiming for 2015, but the more I thought about what else I wanted to do in my life (like starting a family somewhat soonish after I got married this Fall), I suddenly realized that I had to do it NOW to make sure too many life changes didn’t pile up at once.  So I signed up with 5 months to go until the big day.  In the end, you will not make as many portfolio pieces as you planned. You will have to abandon one or two booth design dreams. You will be there on day one of the show with coffee in hand and lots of questions still weighing heavily on you.

And that’s totally ok. You gotta start somewhere, and much like learning a foreign language and landing in a country that speaks it all the time, you learn REALLY fast when you get thrown into the thick of it.  

I had about 60 something pieces of art, which included 12 “collections”.

Yup. 12. Not a BUH-ZILL-EEE-UHN. Just 12. But I had 12 solid collections that showed my range, skills, and what I like to call “flavor”. The other images were illustrations that I felt like would work for the licensing industry. Also, I didn’t throw everything I had into my portfolio- don’t be afraid to edit! Clutter in your portfolio is just distracting.

Think about having art to sell outright if possible

Now, my first year I didn’t have enough work to warrant a separate category of “buy outright” art (art and designs that you sell the copyright to in exchange for a flat fee from clients), but next time I will have art for this purpose because it helps bring in a significant amount of money for some artists I know (and money is important, let’s be honest). Many people ask how you do both licensing AND selling your work outright without it being confusing for you or your clients. In general, my “buy outright” work tends to be a little more mass-market friendly (I don’t want to say “generic”, but let’s say some of the characters aren’t as developed as my art meant for licensing). It might be a little simpler, maybe less characters, or the characters aren’t as unique. This actually works out because the couple of clients at my booth who did want to buy outright said that my characters were too specific for them and would need to be changed anyway! So hooray- everyone gets a pony!

I think a good way to make art for this category is to consciously tell yourself when you sit down to work, “I am making art today that I will sell outright”. If you start a new piece with that in mind, it helps a lot.

A final note on this subject: many colleagues mention a good point about not giving away your “signature look” in a piece that you sell outright, because you technically are giving up your copyright and that could cause problems in the future if you keep making the exact same icon or motif in future designs. For instance, one friend of mine draws these cartoon clouds a very specific way. She would draw a slightly different cloud for a piece that was being sold outright, while still having it fit in her style comfortably.

Use trends that make sense to you and your art.

It’s easy for artists to get paralyzed when thinking about their brand and what they’re “suppose to have”.  Most likely you will start looking for trends and other hints in the market to help you develop new pieces that will attract clients. This is smart. However, there are a lot of trends out there, and you shouldn’t feel like you need to tackle every single one. Some trends right now are things I’m very interested in; others, not so much. Don’t try to force any trends, styles, or subject matter in your art if it’s not meant to be- you’ll be miserable and the work will probably suffer, too.

On that point…

Don’t try to be someone else

With the web, pintrest, blogs, podcasts, and other numerous sources that expose people to new art and artists every day, it’s normal for everyone to have their idols and inspirations. The trick is to not let these inspirations scare you into trying to be something that “you think clients will want”. If someone is really big and you want to be just like them, or you aspire to be the next so-and-so… don’t. I’m not talking about broad strokes and trends, like you do vector hedgehogs and that other artist does vector hedgehogs. That happens. What I mean is…have faith in your skills and the uniqueness you can bring to clients.  I know deep in my heart that I have the most fun when I focus on my quirky, humorous characters, like an 80’s themed unicorn wearing a jetpack delivering a birthday pizza (© Lauren Minco!). At Surtex, clients definitely noticed this side of me and that’s what they were interested in. So even when you see someone on the biggest design blog, or being carried by your dream client, don’t look at them and say oh, that’s the kind of art I should be doing- that’s the answer!  If you like to work in watercolor, work in watercolor. If you love nature-inspired imagery, do that. We all need to grow and experiment, but there is no need to completely reinvent who you are. 


Everyone’s journey is different, but I hope this helps. Take care and let me know if you are thinking about being at Surtex next year for the first time!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My Mom's View On Surtex

Well, golly…my mom had so many fans from Surtex this year (that tiger shirt she made me was a real hit!) that I figured it would be fun to get HER outlook on what it was like at the show. No matter how much you try to explain the wacky three-day trade show to family and friends, it is never 100% clear until you actually experience it. My Mom was super excited to join me in New York City and she helped out a bunch! If you are enlisting family or friends for your Surtex adventure (or have already had that happen), then hopefully you'll find this amusing. Read on to hear her give advice about making your own custom Surtex clothing and how the trade show compared to other ones she's been to.


What surprised you the most about Surtex and The National Stationery Show?

The eye fatique!  The booths at both Surtex and the National Stationery Show were abundant with color and design.  On the Surtex side, I was impressed and overwhelmed by the creativity of the artists.  At the National Stationary Show, I was impressed and overwhelmed by the wealth of products manufactured using that creativity.

You actually are a business owner and are very familiar with other trade show environments-how was this different?

I actually enjoyed this one?  Seriously, the most notable difference was presentation.  At both shows, the booths were created to attract and stimulate the visual senses.  One was allowed to absorb and observe, and then, engage in conversation if desired.  My experience at business shows and exhibitions—both as an exhibitor and a participant—has been one of connecting with the attendees in a more aggressive manner.  Exhibitors will meet and greet, use both visual and sound stimuli to attract people to their booths, and hand out promotional items like candy. And, they do hand out candy…and hats…and pens…


Why do you think everyone thought you were the artist and not me?

I found that so amusing!  And, I have no idea.  I certainly received the misidentification as a compliment.  Your art seems hip and trendy so by transference, that made me feel hip and trendy.


People loved the tiger shirt! Any advice for people wanting to make their own custom clothing for Surtex?

Be certain to match fabric to pattern style.  I wrestled with the tiger fabric because it was cotton; the pattern we selected did not lend itself to cotton…at all.

Did you notice any interesting trends as you walked around?

Most of all, I was delighted to see so many small independent card companies.  The cards were quirky, fun, humorous and a testament that people still are interested in connecting in ways other than smart phone or tablet.

What advice do you have for friends or family members that may be helping artists at the show?

Relish the experience, follow and trust your artist’s lead, and come without expectations.  You’ll have more fun, and you’ll be open to whatever comes your artist’s way.  I learned so much about your work and about you, being with you those three days of the convention.  I don’t know if that really helped you, but it was great for me!


Monday, June 16, 2014

Vote For Space Bunnies!

Wow! So much has happened after Surtex that I have seriously backed up on blogging, but I'm looking forward to catching up and showing you some recent projects (as well as telling you about some new ones).


One of the most recent pieces of news is that my design "Bunnies In Space" was picked to be a semi-finalist in the Cosmic Voyage themed contest put on by Spoonflower and Robert Kaufman Fabrics. RKF had to narrow it down to 100 from hundreds of submissions, and now the public (this means YOU) gets to vote on the top 8. After that, the remaining artists will develop 3 additional patterns for their original design in the next round. Finally, those collections get turned around to the public AGAIN and the winner will have their collection printed by RKF. So cool!

You can vote here for as many artists that you like. Yup! Not just me, not just your favorite three…vote for any design you think is worthy. You don't even have to make an account or anything like that- just click and submit! But hurry- voting closes in a few days.

If you think mine is good enough for your vote, thank you! I sincerely appreciate your support.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Ambition


As part of the Doodle Dream Party put on by the lovely Jenipher Lyn Gallardo, I have decided to do this week's theme, AMBITION. Jenipher has a new and exciting illustrated book coming out titled "How Being Stubborn, Depressed, and Unpopular Saved My Life". Go to her website to see how you can get a copy! It's full of positive messages and uplifting, colorful illustrations. #doodledream


For my ambition doodle, I was inspired by something I heard once from a successful CEO at a lecture, "You should have plans, and those plans should scare you". It's so true! I think big dreams, big plans, and big ambition means going for something even though you don't have all the answers or have to learn as you go. That's been very true the last year of my life. A year ago I was still an in-house designer and never thought I'd leave my job only to end up at Surtex a few weeks ago. There were so many "unknowns", but I was determined and just knew that if I focused and worked hard it would work out.

Now you have to ask yourself, what plan do you have for YOUR ambition??

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Surtex 2014: Let's Break It Down, My Art Peeps!

I got a lot of feedback asking if my Surtex follow up post could be as honest and open as my pre-show posts, and I will try! So, here we go. Was it worth it?

Absolutely, 110% yes.

I met a lot of great clients and manufactures, plus I got to meet some wonderful people including Kathy Weller, Lilla Rogers and Margo Tantau (who may have been the Oprah/Gayle power tag team of Surtex 2014…I'll let them decide who is who), the lovely Ronnie Walter (I may have actually told her "I like the cut of your jib" but I was too star-struck to remember anything), some of the girls from Happy Happy Art Collective (finally!), Monica Lee of Smart Creative Women, and countless MATS people I've gotten to know through out the last year. I was there with Keith and my absolute secret weapon, my mother (because mothers can fix anything). And yes…many people would start talking to her thinking she was the artist! Sigh…

 My Mom and Keith. Back off, ladies.  He's mine! :)

Let me say real quick that our hotel on West 39th street and right before 9th ave was a perfect location. It was a Hampton Express,  but there were a few more hotels right along there. We got the Surtex rate, and it was just a quick walk each morning to the show. There was a drug store along the way, and we had plenty of food options nearby, which was super convenient after a long day. Plus, we were still close to Times Square and other popular areas.

Ok, let's get to the good stuff!


My Booth (And The One Booth Design Tip I'll Give You)


Frankly? My booth was a little boring. I was completely wowed by many other booths on display (some who were first-timers as well and made me feel absolutely lazy!). However, this year I needed to get my work seen, and that meant thinking of my walls like a website, especially since I have a variety of work to some degree. This meant having more larger images with breathing room rather than trying to have every piece up on my wall and risk it being too busy. 

Kind of "eh", but the art is so colorful and full of characters I didn't want to over complicate it.

Also, have you ever seen Bar Rescue? Random question, I know, but stay with me. The show features Jon Taffer as he visits failing bars and fixes them up. He talks a lot about Bar Science and how people naturally flow in an area and how their eyes travel through a space. Let's call this Booth Science. As I was setting up Saturday, I noticed that as I passed booths I was naturally turning my head slightly to catch the panels closest to the aisle. As Keith and I set up, I realized that these aisle panels were going to make or break someone stopping and turning a full ninety degrees to see the entirety of my booth.

My point is, people are moving so fast through the aisles that sometimes "checking out the show" means potential clients briskly walking through the aisles and barely turning their necks, catching only a glimpse of booths in their peripheral vision (and only stopping if something catches their eye). SO, put something on the aisle panels that will slow down someone and get them to look fully at your booth. If you think people go to each booth and give each one a full look up and down, you're wrong.

Of course, your whole booth design is important, but something should be close to the aisles to call attention as people start to come up on your booth- products on shelves (whether real or mock ups), a bold piece of work that is one of your best, something like that. For me, this was my "Know Your Santas" collection which covered two hot topics for Surtex, Holiday and Humor.

When you walk up and down the aisles, the first banner you will see of any artist is the one facing you by the aisle. This makes a first impression to anyone walking the floor.

It was almost like clockwork through out the three days- people would be cruising by at a pretty steady pace (almost completely passing my booth) but at the last minute they would see the Santas, slow down out of curiosity, and usually smile or laugh upon closer inspection. At this point they would turn to see what else was in the booth, talk to me, or even flag down the rest of their party so they could see it, too. It was a great way to start a conversation, especially since I could offer them a mailer of the same collection "to enjoy the santas year round". Even though that collection wasn't perfect for everyone who stopped, it led them to see other work that perhaps was a good fit. Plus, everyone knows someone in this business. I had a few conversations that started with someone saying "So-and-so says I need to stop by and see you". Network with everyone! 

My friend and fellow artist Tracy Mattocks had an equally eye-catching banner right off the aisle. 



You could see this artwork from far away- it's bright, bold, and has a great variety of characters and icons that are easy to see.


No One Used My IPad, But I'm Glad I Had It.


I had a three-ring binder and an iPad portfolio. No one opted for the iPad, but I'm still glad I had it as some of my print outs weren't perfect color-wise. What I DID like about the binder is that I could lay it flat and open, and it was just one more thing to catch people's interest as they walked up. Plus, many people came up with coffee and Surtex swag taking up one hand completely, so it was very easy for them to deal with flipping through the binder (instead of a bound book that maybe wanted to shut). The iPad will become more important as I build my portfolio, and I will probably keep older collections on it next year with only my newest work actually printed.
And speaking of people carrying Surtex swag, Keith had surprised me with 8"x 10" bags with my name printed on them this past Christmas, so we used them for the show (he witnessed me at one past art show putting items in crumpled grocery bags, so he figured I needed to step it up a little with my branding)! They were extremely popular and let's just say Keith is very proud of himself (thanks, honey).


I Actually Didn't Get The "Buy Outright" Question That Much.


I have read a few Surtex blog summaries from people, and I'm noticing one thing sticking out- only a few people asked if I sold outright. I'm not sure why? The only guess I have is that my stuff is more Illustration-based, and clients looking for that kind of work are in the habit of licensing it more. The show gave me the opportunity to think about it, however, and I figured out that I would consider selling outright in the future, but those pieces would probably not feature my characters so much (or be replaced with more mass-market versions). Coincidentally, for people looking to buy outright, that was perfect for them! For instance, my characters are a little too funky for baby apparel (which buys art outright for the most part), so they would want something more generic, anyway. Eveyrbody wins! 

I ordered fabric with my Tigers At Work design on it so I could make a shirt out of it. I mean so my mom could make a shirt out of it.

Some Mailers Got To People…Annnnd Some Didn't.


I did a small run of promotional mailers before the show, and it was so exciting when people would bounce up saying "We got your mailer and wanted to see you!". At the same time, many dream clients visited my booth, only for me to say at some point "oh, I sent a mailer to you guys" and have them report that they never got it! Luckily, they still managed to discover me at the show. In addition, people did recognize me from Print and Pattern and other online sources (but they were mostly other artists, not manufacturers).

Hands Down, The Students Win The Award For Most Polite Floor Walkers.


There is a lot of discussion about artists walking the show, but you may not realize that college faculty and students are also invited to walk the floor at Surtex (you can see them coming a mile away because of the bright dinner-plate-sized stickers on their chests). These students were so respectful and shy to  the point of being absolutely adorable. My mom and I would see them walk by, and because of my teaching background I was always more than happy to strike up a conversation with them. Well, when I would say "hi", pretty much they would freeze like a deer hearing a twig snap in the woods. I could see them hesitate to respond, as if I would report them wasting my time and get them kicked out! Nine times out of ten the first thing out of their mouths was "Hi-I'm-just-a-student", but we assured them that we didn't bite and invited them to take mailers and ask any questions they may have. Truth is, most people do want to help you and share tips! Just find them at the right time. :)


I Do Have One Surtex Horror Story.


Many people exhibiting at the show had at least one horror story to share- whether it be a rude booth visitor or something that went wrong with their materials, etc. Mine involved- and you may have seen this if you follow me on Facebook- an individual who bought an artist badge so they could hire an artist for a personal project. This was not someone involved in the industry, and frankly I'm going to try to discuss it in a vague way. Basically, someone came to my booth saying they were a manufacturer and wanted to hire me for a project. Once we started talking, I could tell this person didn't know the industry at all after a series of normal questions. They could not provide any legit business materials or even a company name, so there were a lot of red flags. Afterwards, my mom pointed out that they were not even wearing a badge, but she noticed an artist badge peeking out of their bag. This definitely disturbed me. I had heard stories about people sneaking into the show as artists or even shop owners when they had other agendas, and I really didn't like the idea of this person trying to take advantage of me or any of my peers. 
So I did something about it.
I went down to the check-in point and explained the situation to a couple of Surtex personal, who immediately took the situation very seriously. They looked up the person and confirmed that they were signed up as an artist, not a manufacturer or company. Even weirder is the fact that the security person immediately recognized the name and proclaimed "oh, I remember them. They were obnoxious!". In the end they made a note right there in the file and assured me it would be taken care of if they tried to sign up again. It was pretty impossible for them to locate the individual on the floor, but I'm happy I prevented them from seedy business next year.
I have mix feelings about this. On one hand, I'm glad I turned this person in who was taking advantage of the show. On the OTHER hand, I knew I was giving Surtex one more reason to not want artists on the floor because of such fraud (again, I don't believe this person was an actual artist- it was someone taking advantage of the fact that artists could walk the show). Just know that if you are a legit artist just walking the show and checking it out, you have nothing to worry about. This is why people will tell you to not flip your badge over, don't hide it with your notebook, and please don't take it off because it clashes with your outfit. It's because of these rare bad apples that people have to be on their toes, but if you're just honest and open on the floor, you will be one more positive example to offset the negative ones!


So What Are The Quick Points?


Let's end on a positive note, shall we? So what was the most popular at my booth?

- People liked the fact that I did hand-lettering.

- It was a plus that I could handle contained illustrations as well as overall patterns.

- I brought some original paintings which really connected with people.

- My background as an in-house designer came in handy when discussing production schedules and the needs of potential clients. They were relieved that I understood their concerns and how the process worked as far as building a collection, terms & lingo, etc. 

- Many companies who I figured were on a different planet than me were interested in introducing products that would attract a new, contemporary audience.

Now begins the follow-up process! Thanks for reading- before I know it I'll be planning for Surtex 2015!

And speaking of Art Peeps…




Friday, May 9, 2014

"What If They Hate My Face?" And Other Surtex Thoughts

There seem to be two types of surtex updates out there. Artist "A" is the amazing but seemingly unbelievable hybrid of Martha Stewart/Julia Child/A Magical Unicorn that posts stylish photos of all their mailers, new art, and 50 bazillion pillow covers they somehow have time to sew for their booth. Their web presence seems to suggest that they get up on perfect sunny mornings and sketch in their garden with a pet napping at their feet. These posts are great because they inspire you and make you proclaim "Yes! That can be me!".

THEN there is Artist "B" who shows you all the nitty gritty of what one has to do to prepare for Surtex. They aren't shy about sharing the one-week illness that prevented them from doing a single thing on their To-Do List (and by the way the virus has now infected the kids), the fact that their booth banners printed WAAAAAY too dark, or that they are scrambling every extra minute trying to squeeze one last portfolio piece out of themselves. These posts are equally as important, because they make you proclaim "Thank goodness it's not just me!" when you're in the thick of it.

In a week I will be leaving for Surtex, which is kind of surreal and mind-boggling. It almost seems like Christmas or a vacation you've been looking forward to- not exactly "real" until it's right upon you. Also, I realize over the last few weeks many of my sentences include the phrase "after Surtex", as in "I will clean my studio after Surtex. I will go to the gym five times a week with Keith after Surtex. I will brush my hair after Surtex." (ok, maybe I'm exaggerating that last one).

I find myself asking a lot of questions. Questions like:

- "What if people think my art is too weird?"

- "Heck to that, what if people think I'm too weird?"

- No seriously, Vegas is taking bets on how many times I will hear "We really like your work, but it's just not our customer."

- "What if it rains and there is a leak in the Javits Center?"

- "What if the air conditioning goes out in the Javits Center and we're super hot?"

- "What if the Javits Center gets infested with a swarm of bees? Or even worse, ZOMBIE BEES."

- "What if I meet one of my idols and high-five them out of excitement, only for it to go horribly wrong and smack them right in the nose; thus sending them to the hospital? (note to self: DO NOT  high-five anyone. Probably the safest thing to do.)

But seriously, am I excited? Yes. Am I absolutely terrified? YES. 

But...I remember a lecture where a noted CEO said "You should have plans, and those plans should scare you", so I guess I'm doing something right.

Right? See you there!






Thursday, May 1, 2014

Interview for KMerick's Blog Spreadable Joy.

What a DELIGHT to work with Kate Merick on an interview for her blog. I really enjoy her thoughtful look at how joy not only influences our life, but our art! Hop on over to her site to see what I discussed with her, including:
- Advice I have for emerging artists and illustrators
- What I think creativity is
-How I knew I wanted to become an artist

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Surtex Update


Oh, boy! I have not really had a chance to write a Surtex update! Mainly this is because I've just been making art, and if I had an update every week it would pretty much be "Made more art. Can't show you yet". Not very exciting, right? Rrrrrright. Moving on! Now it's the end of April, and I'm working on all that "other" stuff like booth banners, contacting potential clients, and trying to come up with Plan B (and C, and all the way to Plan K) if something goes wrong while I'm setting up in NYC the day before.

Let's back up. Surtex stands for SURface & TEXtile Design. It's a trade show/convention for the industry of art for products and manufactured commercial goods. Artists & designers will be there showing art that companies such as Target and Pier1 Imports can buy and then reproduce on items- from tote bags to shower curtains- in exchange for payment to the artist. Sometimes art is purchased outright from the creator, while other times it is licensed for a limited time and usage. I am tackling the licensing side of things, and will be there at trusty booth #252 May 18-20! It's truly been exciting and hectic because I am one of many artists that is coming from a different field (illustration in my case) and have been working on a portfolio that is appropriate for this industry. I haven't had to change my art so much as adapt it, and along the way I have made some pieces that I really enjoy and feel very "me". Needless to say, my experience as an in-house designer at my previous job has been priceless towards this experience, and the Make Art That Sells e-course helped me find my voice (which is silly, sarcastic, and…sarcastic). Thank goodness there is a place (and need) for that in the industry!

So for those of you who are curious about more of the logistics, here we go:


Quality, Not Quantity.

If you're doing Surtex, you definitely need enough art to actually show. Unlike other markets such as editorial and publishing, you don't just have examples of your work to show clients as examples of your skill…you make art beforehand that a company looks at and says "that would make a great XYZ! We'll take it!". Sure, there are still jobs in the industry that artists are commissioned for, but much of your work is made beforehand and is then available to license as you show your portfolio.

Because of this, some people have hundreds and hundreds of pieces (sometimes even more!) depending how long they've been in the game. There are a lot of opinions about how many pieces or collections of art a newbie should have. I have enough work, but not as much as some of my peers do. However, I know that each piece is solid and nothing is filler. So even if an art director comes up and only has time to see a few pages out of my portfolio, I know they are gonna see my best work. This makes me feel better than hoping that they will get through 30 pages of so-so portfolio pieces to reach that one home run piece of art I'm dying to have them see. (Can you imagine me chasing them down the aisle going "Waaaaaait!!! You didn't look at page 82!!!").

I'm Focusing On What I NEED, Not What I WANT.

I've read past blog posts and articles that echo this piece of advice, and it's important! There is SO much to handle while preparing for the show (and so many unforeseen speed bumps along the way), that it's important to consider what you really need and make sure you're not getting carried away by a case of the oh-wouldn't-it-be-cool-if's. Believe me, your sanity and budget will thank you. This has meant passing on elaborate give-aways and a fancy look book I wanted to make (Keith is very good at pointing out when I have ideas that are redundant, like a portfolio plus a "Look Book". Save it for next year, kiddo). The banners for my booth and last minute portfolio pieces are more important than me being distracted by all the extras like a surtex video and cool props. Don't get me wrong, those are awesome and effective tools and I want to do them for next year. BUT, knowing how overly-ambitious I can get,  I just need to make sure all my fundamental bases are covered in 2014. I can conquer the world next year. Let's just find it this time around and say "hi". Baby steps.

The Challenge Of Booth Design.

Like many artists, I was planning on the floor length banners that cover each panel of the booths (these are commonly about  37" x 89"). Tons of my friends and peers do this. I thought I was, too, until I remembered that my art can't be blown up to extremly large proportions that are pleasing to the eye. Furthermore, it may be beneficial to have some negative space around the art to give it some breathing room (if you have ever been to Surtex, you know it is VISUAL OVERLOAD.) In case you didn't know, my work always starts with a sketch. After that , sometimes it's 100% painted, and other times it's a combination of scanned ink sketches and coloring in photoshop…while other times it may be done 100% in illustrator and is a vector image that CAN be scaled up to very large sizes. 

If you ARE an artist scanning sketches or other hand done elements into photoshop like watercolor, etc, I recommend always scanning items at 600 dpi so you can scale up. This is helpful for two reasons. First, allowing your work to reproduce as large as possible will allow clients to put it on a larger array of products (like a 12"x 12" pillow or wall art). Secondly, you want to be able to reproduce art at a large scale for…oh, I don't know…maybe a SURTEX BANNER????  so that painting I did last month can now be comfortably printed at 24"x 24" for my booth and I won't have a problem with the image degrading. Usually 600 dpi will allow you to about double the size of the original art without loosing quality. HOWEVER, don't think you can just make it as big as you want like vector art. There is still a limit to how big the art can be enlarged.

With all this is in consideration, I still had my patterns at a very large scale, but decided they would read better as 3"x 5" banners instead of floor length. I am also bringing some original work, which I've learned is a great conversation starter and can invite people inside my booth space (this is an old trick from past art sales I've done). It's also super easy to just pack my large portfolio book since I paint on paper or throw the paintings on wood in my carry-on. No fragile glass! Ok, one will be in fragile glass…that one is going in my friend's car!



Thursday, April 10, 2014

New Website (FINALLY)


Recently I decided to try squarespace.com for a new website, and I'm happy to say it is up! It takes a while to get settled in, but after that it's very easy to use and manage, which is a BIG plus for me.  It also means that my blog will eventually be moved there, although for a while I'll probably be posting here as well.

In other news, I am also starting a monthly newsletter. Feel free to sign up!




Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Interview with Amy Ng of Pikaland

Hey there! Back from vacation and ready to get back in the studio. I have been busy plugging away at Surtex, and I'm starting to see it all come together! Although I'm busy making art, April is the month I have to start thinking about promotional mailings and contacting clients so they know I'll be there, printing banners for my booth, updating my website….phew! It's going to be a busy month.

In other news, I had the amazing opportunity to interview Amy Ng. She founded the Illustration blog Pikaland six years ago, and if you aren't familiar with the site I recommend checking it out. Amy was a magazine editor and illustration lover who now teaches her views on contemporary illustration and marketing in college classrooms and online at Pikaland. She also has an awesome e-course called Work/Art/Play that will be starting it's second run in September (link on the site).

The interview is on Happy Happy Art Collective's blog. Check it out!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Runner Up!


I'm a little behind in reporting that I was a Runner-Up in the Make In Design Scholarship hosted in part with Print & Pattern! I get to take Module 1 of the class The Art & Business of Surface Design for free and am currently finishing up week 1. So far so good! There are a lot of new faces and some familiar ones from MATS, too. It's a huge honor, and I thank everyone involved with the judging process.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Taking a Class? What You Should Consider.

I had such a great time teaching Illustration this spring with all my enthusiastic students! In celebration of finishing up my continuing education class at Watkin's College of Art and Design, I decided it would be nice to write down my thoughts about what you should look for when selecting a creative class for yourself. Whether it's for fun or building towards a professional goal, you can find community classes at your local college or look online for e-courses.

I like to divide classes into three categories: Skills & Techniques, Discipline & Application, and Professional Practice. A class can stay firmly in one category, while sometimes it may overlap two or even all three categories to some degree.

Skills & Techniques

These types of classes focus on getting you familiar with a certain medium or tool (for instance, Photoshop for Beginners or Acrylic Landscape Painting). You should take these kind of classes before tackling higher goals, such as starting a new career as an illustrator or graphic designer. Skills & Techniques classes are also a great way for art and design professionals to broaden their horizons and have fun being creative without any of the normal pressure that comes with their job.

Great for: beginners, hobbyists, creative professionals

Discipline & Application

Once you feel like you have some basic skills under your belt, you may want to take classes that introduce you to markets where artists work professionally. However, it's important to read class descriptions and understand what a course offers. Don't assume a class titled Introduction to Graphic Design will have you designing brochures and posters on the computer right away. The teacher may include assignments like that, or it could solely focus on design principles, history and philosophies pertaining to graphic designers. Introduction to Graphic Design could be based 100% on elements such as typography, composition, and text layout without ever touching any sort of "mock" project.

On the other hand, you could take a class that is more of a 50/50 split of Discipline & Application and Professional Practice. Most of the classes I teach follow this formula, where students experience "real-life" assignments while also learning business matters such as how to market your work or write up an invoice. Again, if you are unsure, contact the program coordinators (or teacher if possible) and find out what the class will cover specifically if you need more insight. This will help you figure out if it's right for you.

Great for: individuals interested in an artistic career, professionals looking to broaden their skills and services.

Professional Practice

Professional Practice classes will get into the nitty gritty of business savvy and how to work professionally as an artist and designer. These classes could include projects that serve as portfolio pieces. Sometimes they are purely about the business matters, like writing a professional artist statement or understanding social media.  Professional Practice classes can be several weeks long or just a one time workshop. Either way, I recommend these classes for both emerging artists as well as more seasoned ones. With technology and resources constantly evolving at a fast rate, it's always nice to get a refresher and pick up some new tricks along the way, too.

Great for: artists who are ready to debut their work and approach clients, working professionals who want to stay sharp.

It's worth mentioning that if a class grabs your interest, go for it! It's good to know what your goals are when picking a course, but sometimes you can stumble upon a subject that really clicks with you in surprising ways. Don't feel like there are classes you can't take just because they seem unrelated to your goals or current interests. Teachers will share more than just the subject matter at hand- they will share how they collect ideas, work through "creative ruts", and inspire you in ways that influence the rest of your creative life. Balance is important in every matter of your life, and it's good to think of yourself as a well-rounded artist rather than just a label ("Children's Book Illustrator"; "Web Designer"). Maybe after all those Photoshop classes you reward yourself with a watercolor class! You'd be surprised how seemingly different things compliment one another.

Check your local colleges for community classes that are usually held at night or on the weekends. Online e-courses I recommend include Make Art That Sells, Daring Adventures in Paint, and The Art & Business of Surface Design.