Art bench process from start to finish!Read More
It's only summer, but already this year I have a lot to be thankful for. Back in February, I was very fortunate to win a spot with a mentor in the Writing With the Stars program organized by Tara Luebbe of Becky Tara Books site and author of Shark Nate-O and I Am Famous.
The incredibly generous and fabulous mentor that decided to take me on was Brianne Farley (pronounced /BREE-ehn/ rhymes with 'Ian'). She'd never met me before, but took a chance on me and was my mentor earlier this year. Brianne's got a wry sense of humor and was the perfect match. If you're not familiar with her work, you can see her quirk-tastical illustrations in her author-illustrated books Secret Tree Fort, Ike's Incredible Ink and also in the Charlotte the Scientist series (by author Camille Andros).
The Goal: create a kidlit friendly portfolio to exhibit at my regional SCBWI conference in Orlando this past June. Brianne had an excellent plan which I set about executing.
This is something I know about myself - I need accountability by way of a deadline or art direction. It's hard for me to work on projects strictly for portfolio purposes. I'm very pragmatic so it feels too indulgent, so the WWTS program gave me the opportunity to have an accountability mentor.
I learned in a studio environment, and worked in studios, but these days I work from home. I miss having that rapport with other artists and designers. Getting that outside perspective is absolutely critical to getting out of my own head and so Brianne was a great guiding force to bounce ideas off of. She guided me with regularly scheduled critiques and I managed to make the most of the experience to create these portfolio pieces...
THANK YOU, BRIANNE!!
Juicy June Update
We're more than halfway through Juicy June, an effort started by Este MacLeod to brighten up our Instagram feeds with art in every color of the rainbow. And as you can see, I've been painting right along on some miniature canvases! I've painted little suns, and mini-pineapples, a peace dove, fast food items, a sweet pale pink flamingo, and a somewhat boastful giraffe. And now these little visual delights are in the shop.
I'm trying to clear a bit of room in my studio, raising funds for the next workshop, so I'm offering them up for sale first to you all, dear readers, before they go in the local gallery. They'll be hanging up at the Green Circle Art Gallery in Cocoa Village at month's end.
SCBWI - Kid's Books Illustration Goal Update
Last week, I went to my first SCBWI conference, and it went really well. The one I attended was the mid-year Florida regional conference in Orlando so it wasn't too far away. I took the Illustrator Intensive track and also chose to add on a 1:1 portfolio review with the Art Director from Viking Press! I'm so glad I did that. And, I'm also so very glad I brought my commercial portfolio. My reviewer loved it!
The Illustrator Intensive was taught half by Viking Art Director, Nancy Brennan, and half by Floyd Cooper, illustrator extraordinaire. Seriously, check out his work, he's amazing. Classmates from the class were ranging in experience from 'newly minted' illustrator to veteran, lifetime illustrators with many titles under their belts. The course covered how art directors look at illustrators work, how they are commissioned to a picture book, and the process by which the team publishes a book. It was extremely informative to me, a relative newcomer to the industry.
I shared my homework for the intensive which was to retell a nursery rhyme in a new way. I chose Twinkle, Twinkle... I did this piece in less than a week! I wasn't sure until after Blueprint show in May whether I'd be able to swing the conference, so I didn't want to commit unless I was sure I could deliver, you know? But, it all worked out. Here's my homework:
I received lots of really positive feedback on my work and my portfolio, and I picked up a few tricks from my classmates and teachers at the conference. I also really enjoyed networking in this environment and displaying my portfolio by itself. I may add a feedback box next time. :) I want to know what people thought!
As for specific feedback on my homework assignment... I've got lots to refine, but first I'm in the 2nd week of my Highlights workshop to revise my manuscript. This is the workshop I mentioned in the newsletter that culminates in an in-person retreat in Pennsylvania in September. I'd like to have a mock-up of the picture book to show prospective agents, publishers, and art directors.
Have a great summer!
I am back from New York and ready for a break! It was the first time we (my art collective artists and I) exhibited at Blueprint Show in New York, and it was a great success! The show is much more boutique and targeted to clients who were looking for work like ours. It was nice to see new and old faces and chat on a more personal level with buyers. The show is a business to business expo so it was targeted and focused and a bit intense because you do on-site negotiations, but it's also nice to do this in front of a real person, and they know you're a real person too rather than crazy long email chains.
SURTEX vs. Blueprint Show
Apples to Oranges. They're nothing alike except they share some of their buyers. The Blueprint Show is small, no walls, friendly atmosphere. Surtex has a cutthroat feel to it since the smallest booth is $5k. So exhibitors are in it 100% to sell and have no patience for small talk, time-wasters, amateur art, etc because of the pressure to recoup one's investment. You're frequently bombarded with promotional, up-selling type emails and the Javits is majorly overwhelming to the senses.
Blueprint Show is less than half that price and it's curated so the work feels more cohesive. It's a no-frills show with heart. The work I must say skews toward hand-painted, hand-crafted look. There's no bureaucratic 50 page PDFs to sift through to understand how to exhibit. It's a straightforward show that depends on exhibitors to help market the show. Blueprint really does count on exhibitors to be in the licensing world already in order to contact existing clients and get them to come. So, foot traffic was not as high, but the quality of the buyers was high. Capiche?
Also, ugh tradeshows!! Does anyone else have anxiety? Love seeing fellow artists, really dread the lead-up and travelling fully loaded up with stuff. But, by this go-around, I've got a really good handle on what each part costs which helps prepare. Sigh.
On "Leveling Up"
I feel like I have leveled up this year and here's how... I'm continuously focusing on improving my work. I see what it can be and I see what I produce, and I see what's selling, and I want to maintain a high, commercially viable quality to my work. My level of taste and my skill level are finally meeting! But, I also want to keep moving forward on my goal of getting published in the children's book market! Will it prove to be a distraction or the next best thing in my career?
But-BUT, as many of you have probably figured out by now, it's VERY very difficult to live solely upon the income you make by licensing your art. Perhaps in times past you could easily do this, but the art licensing market is flooded with good artwork and we're all pitching to the same buyers. Since I don't have a brand-type illustration style that I sell, I have got to diversify.
So, how do I live?! I'm translating. I'm doing graphic design. I'm selling my art on Etsy. I'm licensing my knitting patterns, fonts, and artwork. It's a patchwork career. I'm still hustling on the daily, y'all. On. the. daily. Oh, and let's not forget I'm not dependent on a single income. This is huge.
There are no shortcuts unless you're born into wealth.
Just hard work... even if it's cute work.
Speaking of which, you should totally buy from my Etsy shop. Seriously! So much cute work.
And if you're not in the mood to buy, you should 'heart' a couple of paintings so it helps others see my work. I appreciate it! Thank you so much!
And, let me know if you have any questions about the shows. That's what these here comment sections are for!
It's a real treat to see work made into something beautiful. Today, I'd like to share how a series of sketches for my son became gift wrap.
It all started out last year with a family visit. Someone mentioned that my brother-in-law was a whiz kid at memory when he was a tot. So, the thought of a memory game was planted. My son is very much interested in all things mechanical and vehicular, so I went ahead and sketched out some of his favorite vehicles.
Then, I chose a set of colors that were modern, eye-catching, and child-friendly. I used the primary colors red, yellow, and blue, plus the complementary color lime green and the neutral grey.
I then used a DIY printer (Shutterfly) to produce a set of memory cards. He promptly learned to play and they are much loved and scuffed and full of crayon dust.
Later that year, I took the images to a tradeshow as a last-minute addition to my portfolio. This was where the art was spotted by the art buyers from a wonderful gift-wrap company in California.
They produced the wrap using a beautiful shimmery silver in place of the neutral grey. At an angle you can see the shimmer. I'm so pleased to have my work out in the world, and I hope you'll let me know if you see the gift wrap wherever you are!