Thursday, February 27, 2014

Letter E

I've just added another letter to Happy Happy Art Collective's alphabet project. Check it out on our blog to see the full illustration!

Monday, February 24, 2014


One of my Christmas gifts from Keith this year was Lilla Rogers's new e-course Make Art That Sells Bootcamp, which is a more independent continuation of MATS Part A & B (I took both parts and loved them). It's six months long with one assignment per month, which feels like a HUGE amount of time compared to the original MATS courses.

Our first assignment was based on the trend of cuckoo clocks. This didn't surprise me- Lilla is always right on trend, and this past Christmas I remembered a wonderful collection at World Market that was based on cuckoo clocks.

Adorable? Adorable!

So here is obviously a subject matter that has tonnnnnns of detail! Little windows with shutters, trees, birds, hearts, flowers, cute cuckoo people in their little cuckoo homes, just cuckoo! I did my sketches the first week and had a lot of great stuff to use.

The next week, we got the full assignment. It was...a smart phone case! Let me show you my submission before I get into the back story.

I had two reactions to this. On one hand, I thought thank goodness it's just one phone case because that is a very manageable thing for me to do in a month. The second reaction was oh my goodness that is a lot of inspiration for one phone case. How the heck am I gonna narrow it down for an item that's a little bigger than the size of a playing card???

Now, obviously the good news is that one can always expand on the collection beyond the initial assignment, but since all submissions are posted on Lilla's website for industry people to check out, I wanted my phone case to be as good as possible! To be honest, this subject matter was tricky for me because my work tends to be best when it uses my characters...and with cuckoo clocks I felt like the clock was the main ingredient, with all the little forest critters and cuckoo people secondary elements. I was stuck with small real estate and a big challenge.

I started with a cuckoo clock that was going to have two large birds on each side, hoping they could be the stars of the image. However, I realized they weren't dominant enough and would get lost. In addition, it felt tense and too timid (in college, I was the queen of teachers preferring my 5 minute sketch over a final that I spent weeks on. Of course!).

the initial idea

This wasn't working. The next morning, I woke up with a slight vision of 3 of my favorite sketches on the case- a cuckoo clock, a bird, and a boy in lederhosen. The next day I worked on the boy and then the NEXT morning I woke up again with a fuzzy idea in my head: with that big circle/clock face, wouldn't it be fun if the clock was doubled and turned into speakers? Like a boom box? I was half asleep, but apparently that's a good creative stage for me. So I didn't even worry about the second idea I was fleshing out- I just jumped into the cuckoo boom box (idea number 3) and didn't turn back. In the end, I was really proud that I didn't turn away from the challenge of the cuckoo clock and try to just avoid it. I've gotten a lot of Say Anything comments and my classmates have had a good laugh over it! 

 It's worth mentioning that the other thing I had to work through was that first-assignment-jitters of MATS Bootcamp. The beginning is exciting since you're checking out each other's awesomeness, going to people's websites, reading about everyone's backgrounds...but then the work comes and I somehow forget who I am or what my art looks like for a day or two. Other people post their work on Facebook and you "ohh"and "ahh" over it, which can kinda mess with your head when you get back in the studio (this is also why I don't torture myself by lingering on pintrest or other illustration sites for too long- I get overwhelmed!). It took a while to find my grounding.

So take that, February! It has been a great start to the class and I'm excited to be working with familiar faces and some new ones. Can't wait for March's assignment!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Art Is For Happy Happy People

Happy Happy Art Collective is doing a fun group project: hand-lettered quotes! Well, we kind of made up our own quote. From my time at C.R. Gibson, I had to take art and move it between programs and combine lots of techniques. This is actually a mix of scanned sketches turned into vector and then moved into Photoshop for some additional work with custom brushes. Usually straight up vector just seems too flat for my taste, so this is an interesting way to bring my painterly gouache feel into my work and have it look more controlled (rather than random clipping masks in Illustrator).

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Valentine Printables By Happy Happy Art Collective

Happy Happy Art Collective, the new artist group I mentioned a while ago, is up and running! I'm so happy to work on this with Denise Holmes, Jill Howarth, Tammie Bennett, Pauline "Muffin" Grayson, and Emily Balsley. We met in Lilla Rogers's Make Art That Sells e-course and decided to join forces to spread our happy art all over the world. Visit our new website at to see group projects, print free downloads, and read our bios. 

Some quick highlights about the other members:
  • Emily Balsley made it to the the Top 5 of Lilla Rogers's Global Talent Search out of 1,500 entries. In addition, Denise Holmes and Jill Howarth were both in the Top 50!
  • Jill Howarth was a senior designer and art director at Hasbro Toys before embarking on a successful illustration career. 
  • Tammie Bennett will be featured in the upcoming Print & Pattern Geometrics Book.
  • Denise Holmes is celebrating her first illustrated Children's Book this May, If I Wrote A Book About You, Written by Stephany Aulenback and published by Simply Read Books. Two more books are coming out soon!
  • Pauline "Muffin" Grayson has had her popular free downloads featured on blogs such as How About Orange, Creature Comforts, Everything Etsy and Mom Picks.

ALSO, why not score our latest free download: Valentine Cards! We have several for every personality (Jill's are crazy- check out the strong bunny!).

Saturday, February 8, 2014

3 Things I Listen To While Working

For years I always plugged into music while working.  However, I find sometimes that music- although wonderful and energizing- can get monotonous and leave me alone with my own thoughts too much (and sometimes I don't want to hear my own thoughts! Let me listen to other thoughts!). It makes me understand why so many of my colleagues listen to things like NPR in the background while they flutter around their studios.

I wanted to share some of my favorite things to listen to while I work. Some of them are very much art-related...some not!

1)  Smart Creative Women

This website was started by Monica Lee in 2011, and serves as a platform for great interviews with artists and industry leaders that are meant to educate and inspire. Watch her talk business and the creative life with big names like Lilla Rogers, Kathy Davis, and Kelly Rae Roberts. You can also find out more about her e-course, Smart Creative Style

2)  Serious Jibber-Jabber with Conan O'Brien

I stumbled upon this online interview series featuring the always delightful funny man about six months ago. These one-on-one interviews are actually very centered on the creative process, as Conan talks shop with individuals like Mel Brooks, Jack White, and the old writing team from Coco's days working on The Simpsons. While obviously full of humor, the interviews are also intimate and humble.

3) Star Wars Prequels / Star Trek Movie Reviews by Red Letter Media

In all seriousness, I have lost count of how many times I have listened to these video reviews where fictional character Mr. Plinkett tears apart the Star Wars prequels and Next Gen cast Star Trek movies. What makes them so great is the humor and clever editing that delivers these well-made points to you, whether it's the horrible dialogue written by Lucas or Picard's inconsistent movie persona (and the fact that dune buggies do NOT make sense in space exploration, people). These videos have a huge following and have spurred reviews for other movies like Avatar and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Always good for a laugh!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Interview on Happy Happy Blog

Bounce over to the Happy Happy Art Collective Blog to see my interview! You can also scroll down and meet some of the other artists. We talk about our inspirations, struggles, and what we love about making art.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Happy Happy Art Collective

A while ago I mentioned being part of an art collective with other graduates from the Make Art That Sells e-course. I'm so happy to say our website and blog are up! Feel free to check it out and meet everyone.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Next Lilla Adventure

I am starting Lilla Roger's MATS Assignment Bootcamp this week, which is a slower and longer e-course that breaks down assignments over a whole month (rather than a week like in regular MATS). If you are interested in taking Lilla Roger's Make Art That Sells e-course, I heavily recommend you take Part A or Part B first before doing bootcamp. Part A and B includes insightful observations about multiple markets, interviews with industry professionals, and detailed homework reviews by Lilla each week. In these classes you will be re-wired in a wonderful way. Then you'll be ready for bootcamp, which is a more self-directed and allows you take all this new information and apply it towards more in-depth assignments. Very excited!