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.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Studio Tour

The artists I work with at Happy Happy are doing a series of studio tours. How great is that? I usually have only had a small corner in a room for my studio in the past, but now I have a fairly large half of a room, which is great! It's so interesting to see where people work.

Here is the main shot of my studio, which takes up half of our guest room/ we-don't-have-anywhere-to-put-this-oh-heck-let's-throw-it-in-here room. I have a small $20 Ikea desk for my laptop and a large 6 foot long fold out table that I use for my painting desk (you can get one for $50 at your local home improvement store. Totally recommend it! It also doubles as a display table for art shows).

You may notice that I don't have a wiacom tablet out. I actually don't even have a mouse! I do all my digital work with my finger and the built in "track pad" on my laptop, including redrawing sketches as vector with the pen tool. Crazy? Yes. I have just grown so accustomed to this that I really don't mind. I'm sure this will change later in the year, but for now it's second nature.

Want to see the rest of the interview? Go here!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Back To The Paintbrush!

I have been very excited about some recent digital work (and using technology to work with hand-done elements), but gosh darn...sometimes a girl just needs to paint! It was was a great change of pace to get back into a full gouache painting again (This was for Happy Happy- see the other covers displayed here throughout March!). The funny this, as I get more savvy with my digital work, I find that it really influences my analog work. Everything is so precise and almost surgical with software that I like to be more organic and loose with my paintings. Switching between the two has been a great way to work. It truly goes to show that you don't need to just pick one method of art-making. Keep scrolling to see some in-progress shots!