Hello 2016!

Whoah!  Where did 2015 go?  It just flew by I tell you!
I can't believe it was already a year ago I was sitting at my studio in Munich getting ready to get my illustration career back on track, and here I am now in California ready to launch the sales portion of my career!

In 2016, I hope to make some sales of my artwork as greeting cards and prints, as licenses on products and fabric!  Lots of work to do!  I'll keep you posted... and don't forget, you can always see my most recent work on instagram here.

MATS Part A - Overview and Review

5 weeks of illustrating like crazy!
 The following is a two part review of the Make Art That Sells course Part A as it was presented this year (2015).

1) A Review of the Make Art That Sells Course, Part A (from the heart)

MATS is a meeting place for people all around the world who are looking for their "tribe."  I know that's a word that's flung around a lot these days, but I don't have a better word for it... I guess I could say like-minded or similar seekers.  The community that is created after sharing our work, well, it's kind of intimate.  When you're working so hard on a dream that you hold dear, and you share it with others who have a similar dream, it's not difficult to see why we come together and why the course begins to take on a deeper meaning. MATS has a following because we feel connected to one another.

What about the work?  I can only speak for myself.  I have grown a lot and I think you can see it most in my final two assignments.  I used the five weeks of the course to try and discover a style within my work.  I wrote in my pre-course planner, "I have invested in this course because I want to make marketable art that feels true to me in a style that rocks!" So, I experimented with various mediums and line and hoped a style would jump out at me.  I can see a common thread running through all five pieces, mostly it's a color-based thread, but no obvious style jumped out at me.  The biggest thing I learned is to stop being slap-dash about my work.  I can see in my final piece a deliberateness that wasn't there before.  I am taking the lesson of deliberate mark-making as my biggest achievement in these past 5 weeks.  Did I achieve my original goal?  I think I kind of did.  I think all of my work feels true to me, but I don't think I'm far enough along in my illustration journey to say, "Yes! I love this style!  You, oh thick line and wavy brush, you will be my style from this time henceforward!" or whatever.  Not there yet...

2) A Review of the MATS Course, Part A by the numbers

Let me give you an idea of how dense this course is.  I created an outline in order to keep track of all the materials after the final wrap-up post, and it took me 12 hours to do a cursory review and download the course materials.  TWELVE HOURS!!  If I were to collate all the pages and content of this course, it would amount to a very, very thick 3 ring binder.  It would be somewhere between 200 and 300 pages of material.  The first photo in this post is just a fraction of the content.  I printed out only what I intended to fill out or jot notes on.  And this is just Part A! There are several hours of videos including interviews with successful working illustrators and artists.  There are written interviews with experts in the business.  The course includes so many helpful tips, tricks, lists of possible clients, and a very large, supportive community (see part 1 of this review).

It is an intense course requiring the quick turnaround of 5 briefs from concept to layout/mock-up in five weeks.  Each project is broken up into a mini assignment at the start of each week, and then the fleshed out brief is given mid-week with the deadline of Sunday.  I loved the deadlines, and I happily met each one.  I loved being given the assignments, too.  It was nice having direction given to me. :)

And finally, many people who are reading this review are wondering about the reviews.  I will be straight with you.  My work never made it to the reviews.  Each week, Lilla Rogers chose 9 to 13 pieces to talk about.  There were over 150 people signed up for the course.  Many of these people, I'll say 20% are professionals.  Remember people take the course for all kinds of reasons including re-booting a career or refreshing a portfolio.  Some of my peers taking the course had already done editorial work with big name magazines and others had illustrated entire children's books, others were total beginners.  I was... in the middle.  So, I wasn't surprised that my work was not chosen for review.

On one level, of course I was disappointed!  I want to feel validated just as much as the next artist.  But, after every single review without fail, I looked at the checklist Lilla used to discuss the merits and drawbacks of each piece and I saw that even though my work had some of the elements listed, there were always a few missing.  The work reviewed often had a little something extra or something special about them that my work just didn't have (or doesn't have YET!).

It's also a matter of taste!  I know my work runs a bit dark (see troll and mash-up creatures), and Lilla represents some really joyful and happy art.  I'd like to make art that makes people feel joy, and I need to get back to that place.  I was there once.  Here's a throwback photo for you all.  This photo is from the RISD Graduate Student Publication "Making Something with Some Things" from 2008...

It's my entry into our class book.  I still haven't given up on that dream, I just got a little sidetracked is all.

So was it worth it?  Hell, yeah!

If you have any questions about the course or are considering it, but aren't sure, just send me an e-mail and I'll answer the best I can.  You can also write to the school itself, they're super helpful and friendly.

Sewing Knits: Vogue V9056

I always knew the three-quarter view was the most flattering!  Hah!

deep INHALE!
This was my first knit top of the year, and I think of it as a "lukewarm" project.  The cut of the pattern is not too friendly for those with poochy bottom-belly pouches like myself.  It makes the wearer look a bit "full" in the belly with just the slightest exhalation.  I'm still going to wear it, but possibly with shapewear underneath. It's not my favorite top, but I'll be wearing it anyway because I love the fabric.

And somehow I managed to mistakenly align the stripes along the sleeve and create a mobius!  That made for a heck of a time when I was doing the twin-needle top-stitching.  I had a big laugh when I realized what happened.  I could've sewn a spiral up the sleeve! HAH!
EXHALE again...
My biggest frustration with Very Easy Vogue's V9056, though, is the sizing.  Its sizing is so off!  I even checked with the finished measurements, and made the size 12 with 14 sleeves.  I made an adjustment to the torso and lengthened it to make sure waistline really hit where it said.  I've never had to do that.  I'm short-waisted usually.  After trying it on, I was swimming in it!  I had to take it to the serger and lop off 3/4" on each side seam.  Yes, 1 1/2" total of fabric removed which in woven fabric patterns is ridiculous, but in a knit it's upsetting.  Negative ease, people! Cutting off the fabric, in turn, affected the drape of the peplum, but I can deal with that.  Just argh.

And the pattern illustration looked so promising, too!  One of my friends made it, and she looks awesome in it!  I asked her about the fitting, and she admitted to ignoring the measurements and just making the smallest size regardless.  So much for following instructions!  Hah!


Well, it's a non-maternity, non-nursing top and I need those so I'll keep making them!  Next on my list is Colette Pattern's Moneta.  We'll see how that one goes.  They're a bit more conscientious about modern fit, so hopefully I won't have to make too many changes to the pattern.

⁃ Fabric: grey and cream stripe knit
⁃ Pattern: Vogue V9056
⁃ Year: contemporary
⁃ Notions: twin-needle
 Time to complete: 4 hours
⁃ First worn: this week
⁃ Wear again? Yes, but with reservations.
⁃ Modifications:  bodice dropped, side-seams taken in

March 19: I made a rookie mistake.  I forgot to wash the fabric before sewing, but in this case it's worked in the favor of this piece and it fits really well now!

A New Year's Post

Each year, I start by looking back at the previous year and making goals for the year ahead.  This year is no different in that sense. I started by reviewing the work I had made, etc. but, I feel like I am in such a different head-space than I was a year ago.  Everything has changed.  My eyes have a razor-sharp focus on the prize, and the stakes feel so much higher now that I have a baby.

Last January, when I made my list for 2014 I was well into my pregnancy, but I could only imagine my future as a mom in a really vague way.  Here were last year's goals:
1) make some art:  get back into pen and ink, finish digital illustration commissions
2) make some things with yarn: finish hand-knit projects, use machine to stash bust
3) make some things with fabric: continue on the quilting and sewing goodness track
4) blog more efficiently and step away from the internet traps (facebook and cheesy news sites) 
With that nesting energy, I made things like there was no tomorrow.  I hit all of my goals - made some art, knit by hand and by machine, quilted baby F's zig-zag quilt, and blogged more efficiently.  I think I was kind of scared that there wouldn't be time after the baby came.  My fear of having no time to do anything was somewhat justified.  Luckily, I think F is very healthy and pretty independent, so that affords me snippets of time to work here and there when he's playing or napping.

Clockwise from top left: Mitered Detail Cardigan, Ottobre Nursing Top,
Wind & Storm Pullover (now lost at sea!!), Ottobre Kids, Laren Mitts, and the cover of Knit Now

Clockwise from top left: my entry for an artist's book collaboration, Ottobre kids, "playful" hand lettering, quilted zip bags, steeked fairisle vest, knit baby romper from Deramores, and Oktoberfest dirndl skirt & apron
Now I'm looking forward to 2015, and that same innate sense of urgency that came with pregnancy remains in my system.  Maybe it's the hormones? Whatever it is, I feel like I must create right now -- now or never!!  Yes, it's that dramatic a feeling.

Anyway, without further ado... my goals for the coming year:
  • Find my personal illustrative style, and figure out how/where to sell my art work.
  • Sew a few new non-maternity knit tops for myself.
  • Make another quilt.
  • Create another font.
  • Knit a bit.
  • Be a good mom.  (!!!)
Kind of a mixed bag of goals, right?
That last goal is so huge, it threatens to take over my brain. So, in the spirit of getting things done, I break down each goal into action-oriented tasks.  In terms of motherhood, what that means for me, is that I just take it one day at a time.

Happy 2015, everyone!  May it be a great year.