= February Calendar =

NickyOvitt_2015FebCalendar_PunkLyric A little punk rock love song for this month of love. We've all been there, right? ...Right?

February's phrase is from the The Stooges' classic, I Wanna Be Your Dog. This video is from their 2010 UK concert and powerhouse Iggy is 63 years old, YEAH! Note Minuteman co-founder Mike Watt on bass and the jazzy twist this version of the song takes. Full lyrics here, and some interesting tidbits about this 1969 classic from Wikipedia here.

I’ve chosen some favorite short phrases of punk song lyrics to flourishly illustrate these expressions that were of such importance to me and my generation. I'm calling the series #PunkLyric and offering them as free desktop calendar downloads each month. [see full explanation here]

Click image to download for your desktop and please enjoy... and, go discover some new/old music!


Note: These cannot be used elsewhere or commercially. The artwork is mine and the lyrics are ownership of the original songwriters and bands. Artist and writer Emily McDowell explains the intellectual property copyright limitations for us really well right here.

= January Calendar =

Happy New Year, friends! NickyOvitt_2015JanCalendar_PunkLyric

As I enjoy my review of 2014 client work and events a personal project that was on the back burner all this past year comes to mind as something that's ready to see the light of day.

The idea for this lettering work began in late 2013 when again I got to see my all-time favorite band, X play a show here in Petaluma. As hoped, that show was raw, intense, and the anything-is-possible feeling from my youth was re-ignited. In the late 70s and early 80s early punk and hardcore bands like The Clash, X, Gang of Four, Black Flag, T.S.O.L. and The Minutemen were writing songs to inspire, to call attention to social injustice, and to affect change. The poetry of a good punk song represents a DIY culture that proposed we could make a difference if we acted on our beliefs.

I’ve chosen some favorite short phrases of punk song lyrics to flourishly illustrate these expressions that were of such importance to me and my generation. I'm calling the series #PunkLyric Words to live by and I'm offering them as free desktop calendar downloads each month. This month's phrase is from the Sex Pistols' classic, God Save the Queen.

Click image to download and please enjoy... and, go discover some new/old music!


Note: These cannot be used elsewhere or commercially. The artwork is mine and the lyrics are ownership of the original songwriters and bands. Artist and writer Emily McDowell explains the intellectual property copyright limitations for us really well right here.

Reflections and Regalos (Gifts)

[Note: Photo collages below are formatted to enlarge when clicked.] In February I attended the funeral of a good friend's mom. She was a lovely, artistic lady who had a very full life before a long struggle with cancer claimed her life. Her funeral was held in our beautiful and grand Catholic Church in the center of town, called St. Vincent's. The similarities of Mary Ann's life and of my mom’s, Helen, are striking. As I sat there alone and reflected upon family and mortality, I kept wondering, In this life that is so unpredictable and short, what would my mom want from ME before the end?

There in the church pew I wondered: how to make the most of her time, my time, a lifetime. My mom's own latest struggle with cancer last year kept her in a very sad but necessary place of only living only for today. The unknown future prohibited her from making future plans and "being with the living" as she once described it. All her energies were focused on healing and surviving. Of course!

Soon after that funeral, I asked my mom what she would want my help with. She described an upcoming trip to Mexico that was similar to a trip she took with her mom when she was around my age. With the recent passing of my grandma, my mom now decided to pay it forward and invite me on a similar trip. We had 9 months to plan.

For those of you who know my mom, you know what a fan of traveling she is. The Lucero gene to DO and SEE ALL THE THINGS runs strong in her. She's an adventurous lover of different, excitement, and mind-expanding experiences! She would go on 5 big trips a year if her body would cooperate but with all she's been through, she knows it's not realistic for her to walk solo through crowded, uneven streets to try and keep pace with a busy tour group. As for me, I can admit to loving the part of travel once I’m at the destination, but I am not the best for airports, flying and the limbo of the in-between. However, THIS was what I could do for her, and as many friends said, what a gift— time with your mom alone, you will never forget or regret it! NickyOvitt_MexicoBlog1

My Instagram feed has some of the best photos I took on the trip.

On Nov. 5 we set out on our epic 14-day trip through central colonial Mexico. The tour was organized by the Spanish Colonial Arts Society based in Santa Fe. Our itinerary was: Querétaro (2 nights) > Jalpan (1 night) > San Luis Potosí (2 nights) > Zacatecas (3 nights) > Guanajuato (4 nights) > San Miguel de Allende (1 day) > Mexico City (3 nights) all via chartered coach bus and walking tours. This created a giant 1,035 mile loop on the map through these amazing and ancient places to experience Spanish Colonial cities, churches, art and architecture from the 1500's and later. Our group numbered 31 and consisted of mostly retired and passionate history, art, architecture fans and collectors from Santa Fe. My mom already knew the guides as well as some of the other people she had traveled or worked with before so that was a bonus.

It took me at least 10 hours of phone calls, emails and organizing to put together the 3 page/3 week calendar for my husband and daughter to follow while I was gone. Carpool, after school dates, lessons, class and school commitments, so much to be recorded and an incredible commitment by my family and close friends to make this happen for my mom and me. I am so thankful.

It would be impossible to describe all that happened during this once-in-a-lifetime trip (and some should be kept as special memories between us only), but some of the things that stood out for me as true highlights and life lessons I'd like to carry with me into 2015 are described here.

LANGUAGE Overall I feel like so many doors were opened to us because of my mom's beautiful and fluent Spanish. Spanish was her first language and she's maintained her skill even though I'd say 95% of her American day-to-day life is in English. Quite often we left the main group to do something in a town that was not on the schedule because of the security we felt by her being bilingual.

CULTURE My mom and I were immediately struck by the lack of stress on people's faces. In the evenings families and friends would gather at the local plaza and stroll. Families were enjoying each other's  company, the community around them and nature. They may have had homework, housework and the business of life to get home to but for the moment, there looked to be nothing more important than enjoying each other's company and going for a sunset stroll. This cost them nothing but a little time. My mom and I would have coffee and watch the parade of people, enjoying the evening air, holding hands, exchanging kisses and offering smiles and buenas noches to their neighbors. Their faces were not glued to cell phones, they looked up and out at the world around them. Their example was such a breath of fresh air.

The custom of saying buenos días, buenas tardes and buenas noches and de nada became a constant in our days. These phrases felt like a respectful, goodwill offering to a fellow human being. A connection that brings people together if only for a moment. I wondered more than once what would happen if only we could carry on this custom here in the U.S. Not just the usual "good morning" to people we know or want something of. But a buenos días that carries with it the implied REALNESS of: "Hey, I'm wishing you a good day! It is, right?"

NATURE I was especially enchanted with the importance and maintenance of the gardens in each town's plaza, church and public area. The natural world is a huge part of daily life in the towns we visited. In San Luis Potosí we must have walked to 10 or more beautiful plazas, often connected to a church. Each unique jardin with a life of it's own: food and souvenir vendors, street musicians and performers, kissing couples, kids playing and dogs rough housing. The feeling is that to be outside, enjoying nature is not just a relaxing luxury but an important part of your day. It didn't seem as though people were having to make time time to go to the park, they automatically had a date with the park as part of their day. We enjoyed beautifully manicured trees trimmed and shaped to create giant overhangs of shade, stunningly bright walls of bougainvillea, and a driver pointed out to us a gigantic poinsettia TREE in full bloom.

ART Although this trip was ALL ABOUT ART this would be the one area I had to let go of. Right away I could see that there was going to be no way to fully absorb all that we would get to see in terms of unique, historical, mind-blowingly precious art. By the end of each day we had experienced visual overload! I also recognize that I have a very limited bit of my brain left for details and facts so I decided to enjoy what I was seeing via the photographs I took, but could not tell you the who/what/when/why of most of it. From town to town in the bus different people would take the microphone and generously share of their expertise in a particular subject. It's a fascinating way to hear about a place. Looking out the window at the passing Chihuahuan desert listening to stories of the conquerors who traveled this very trail on the Camino Real all the way North to Santa Fe. Our fellow travelers were people who really know their stuff. From the process of getting a statue of a saint's skin to look realistic, to little known facts about Pancho Villa, to archaeological work with local colleagues, to Mexico's role in the world silver trade. So much to think about, shared by such thoughtful and educated people. I'm grateful for all they contributed.


PEOPLE Here I'll try my best not to compare the Mexican people we met with Americans in generalizations. Again, because we had the luxury of my mom speaking the language, we enjoyed some of the most heartfelt interactions with people. Thoughtful, helpful and sincere conversations occurred over a simple request or mundane observation.

One of our days in Zacatecas was spent seeking food other than Mexican. We ended up at a beautiful hotel called the Quinto Real that was once a famous bullfighting ring. After our delicious spaghetti lunch we walked across the street to the lush "lovers park" where "2 go in and 3 come out!" and were taking our daily selfie when a young woman asked if we wanted her help taking our picture. That small exchange turned into a lovely evening spent getting to know her and her older sister who were also visiting the town. Our new friends were there to check out school and the younger sister's English was quite good. They offered to walk us back to our hotel and we obliged; walking arm in arm, 2 by 2 we strolled along, Mexican-style. We discussed the student protest that was happening just ahead of us, education, novios and the contrasts between the United States and Mexico. As I questioned my new friend about why she would want to come back to the U.S. when life in Mexico seemed so bucolic, she noted her other family that were here and the opportunities that seem to come inherently with being in the U.S. I respectfully described how much happier people seemed in Mexico and what a shame it would be to take on the American lifestyle to which she did agree by saying that "In America people live to work and in Mexico we work to live." We've all heard some version of this before but at that very moment she had nailed the feeling what we had been observing and enjoying in Mexico so far.

As described above, we were also in Mexico during protests to call attention to the 43 Mexican students who were mass kidnapped and disappeared in Iguala on September 24. Iguala is only 3 hours from Mexico City and protests of 60,000 people only 2 blocks from our hotel were planned on the Zocalo for the day we were to leave the airport. Some of us chose to spend our last night in Mexico at a hotel attached to the airport just in case (as reportedly would happen) the protesters shut down the airport on Thurs., Nov. 20. This was likely as that day is also Día de la Revolución. During the stress of the unknown and fear for our safety I wrote to my husband about "this horrid event." Wanting sympathy, wanting to be assured. And this is from the email I received back from Roland:

“I'm not sure what horrible event you mean. If you mean the planned protest, please take a minute to remember why it is happening. 43 people were kidnapped, murdered and their bodies burned, put in trash bags and dumped in a river. Before that some of their compatriots were shot and one had his face cut off. All by, and under the auspices, of the police acting at the behest of the mayor of the town. All very horrible, but the tip of the iceberg of corruption and ties between politicians and drug gangs that has until now left the Mexican people in terror of making any protest for fear of the same thing happening to them. So this protest is ordinary people saying they've had enough of living with fear and corruption and being willing to die for change. This protest is human beings at their best.”

A reminder. That my personal inconvenience was one thing, but we are talking about citizens making a life in a country with a long history of corruption and violence. They must endure a military and government that are neither trustworthy or supportive. I'll never forget standing by the lovers’ park in Zacatecas watching as a huge group of students and other supporters came over a hill chanting in unison. Statements of protest. Calls for responsibility and truth. Sharp whistles saying, “hear us now!” A young woman with a bandana covering identity ran to hand us a flyer. In Spanish, it was a poem calling for answers. She was running ahead of the crowd with such serious intent that her flyers would be taken and word would get out. But her face was covered. She had to fear for her own safety as she spoke up. It was chilling. The differences between our rights and theirs. The desperation of not knowing, wanting answers, living with the obvious criminality and injustice. That woman's face was burned into my memory. That could be me, or you. Living that reality.


TRAVELING After the initial break-in period I really came to enjoy the alluring state of suspension that is the rhythm of traveling. While on this trip life for us got really simple. Not much to worry about, everything you own is all in one suitcase. What to eat? The choices were often quite limited so no need to over think it. Client projects? Phone bills? Everything of my U.S. daily life was on hold— and out of sight, out of mind.

This also applied to my family. For the most part we spoke or emailed every day but it was the first time I'd been away from my daughter for more than 3 nights and she's 10 years old! At first the pull was very acute and even painful but it started to ease up for both of us as she relied more on Roland and I got to appreciate time with my mind for long uninterrupted periods again. They did fine without me, which was a relief and an eye opener.

I made an unexpected travel bestie and at the end of some days Ann and I would email each other from our hotel rooms about our observations or latest health updates, it was comic relief from the day and so fun to get to know the incredibly interesting folks on the tour like her. So many other really gracious people in our group will always be remembered by me. Both for their generosity towards my mom and me and for their genuine sharing of themselves and their experiences. I hope to visit them in Santa Fe on my next trip to the Southwest!

FAVORITES You know those moments you won't ever forget? Like they are seared into your brain as a moment in time like a picture you took yesterday? A moment you know will feel like déjà vu later. A few times my mom and I both recognized when these special events were happening and I think we'd both silently let them happen— knowing how very special it was, about to be stored for forever keeping.

The day we arrived in Zacatecas, my mom really wanted to take the Teléferico (tram) above the town. Even through both our apprehension, we knew we'd want to say we had done this famous ride in this city. We hailed a taxi and were driven to the low point headed towards La Bufa, the bluff that overlooks the town where my mom had been years before on another tour. The little glass box tram that would hold 6 comfortably travels high in the air— the ride is about 10 minutes and the view is incredible. If you think too hard about it, you won't go, but we deemed it safe and had a thrilling private ride with the operator who spoke very good English and assured us of it's safety and laughed at our slight squeals of excitement as we climbed higher and saw the entire town's rooftops and laundry and freeways under us get smaller and smaller. My Instagram has a video of part of the ride.

Upon our arrival in the city of Guanajuato we were greeted by hoards of people on the plaza outside our hotel. It was a 4-day Mexican holiday and everyone was in a party spirit. We took a perch on a park bench to observe the Cervantes players, the street performers, and the Mariachi bands peddle their talents. As we were watching the people 2 young mariachi musicians kept staring at my arm. They started a conversation with my mom about tattoos asking if mine were real (they had not seen a woman with such a large tattoo that was visible). The charmer of the two then asked if we'd like a song— not something my mom would normally want to spend money on but I told her I wanted to pay for a song. They suggested a certain tourist standard to which she inquired about cost and said she'd really rather have a song by Mexican superstar crooner, Juan Gabriel. Suddenly, at least 8 other musicians were there, one even had a harp! A medley of Juan Gabriel heartbreak songs were then played for at least the next 5 minutes and we felt like queens! So romantic! So special! We topped off that night by buying flowers for our room from a street vendor and enjoyed the fragrance of tiger lilies for the next 4 days.

Another favorite was the day we spent with a private driver. It was our last day in Mexico City and we wanted to see as much as possible. A painful altitude-induced migraine had kept me down for our first 12 hours in the city. Our wonderful driver Ricardo arrived at our hotel at 10am and for the next 5 hours he drove us to the places we wanted to see most. Although his car was a nice VW sedan and not marked as a taxi he drove Mexico City road warrior-style with the best of them. I was never able to get a good video of the dance that is the Mexican way of city driving. There are no rules, lanes matter little, and the split-second decision-making and trust in other drivers is mind-boggling. We got to know “Carro” thoughout the day and in his tie and with his professional take-charge way he ushered us though a beautiful mercado in the neighborhood of Coyoacán where we found excellent handmade trinkets and tasted REAL molé you could eat by the spoonful. I had the best tostada of my entire life and washed it down with the freshest coconut juice! We also went to the Frida museum which was like mecca for us. To be at this beautiful blue house where this incredible artist had lived and created, if you believe in spirits, she is still there— as are her ashes. It was purely magical and again, the gardens were divine.

As simple as it sounds, another one of my favorite recurring themes was each evening spent in our room. My mom had told me we probably wouldn't be going out to eat dinner every night with the group because of the lateness, darkness, and because we wouldn't need it (she was so right after those big lunches). So we would wind down around 6:00 with our bottled water, Cheetos or leftovers, and enjoy the stillness of our room after a busy day. Often the only sound would be a nearby church bell sounding the time or issuing a call to mass. She would lie in bed with a novel and I would go through photos of the day, do a little Instagramming and we'd "be in the review" as my grandma used to say. We would usually shut the lights out early and were thankful for many restful nights of sleep given all the variations in rooms, beds and environments we experienced.

GIFTS Although this was not a trip I'd probably seek out on my own it was a huge gift.

My digital and work life can tend to create an addiction to connection and sharing. Combined with my self-imposed stresses to move forward, achieve, grow, make, build, and do, my daily life is more often than I would like to admit a miserable mess of never-ending, self-consuming NOT ENOUGH. I really hope that I can continue to remember the important lessons learned from this rare chance to leave my life for a little while. We are NOT. ALL. THAT. The world is a big and mysterious place with much more important issues than whether I get my next promo postcard print job ordered or not.

By taking this trip I was taken out of the comfort zone of my structured daily life and provided the opportunity to see a-new. My perspective on the world and my life was expanded. My thoughts about others and myself were upturned and reassembled or some were thrown out altogether. By missing my family I gained a much needed re-set and re-appreciation. My admiration and love for my mom grew more than I thought possible. We made memories that I will always carry with me. We shared more than we have in many years. Thank you mom for this gift. You are a gift and by brave example have shown me the value of a life well lived!

POSTSCRIPT: I am pleased to say that at the beginning of this year with an "all clear" from her doctor, my mom has come out of the surviving phase and moved into thriving— she has taken 2 history classes, has plans to return to painting, works in her yard and continues to enjoy many dates with friends.

PS #2: I took over 1,000 photos and did a little sketching on the road. An upcoming post will have the lettering I created with images.


* November Calendar *

It's pie time to give THANKS! I'm back from Mexico and lots to share but for now, a better-late-than-never donkey desktop calendar. Click image to download. NickyOvitt2014NovemberCalendar

An Exquisite Corpse

A year ago this month my mom was visiting and we ended up at the local hospital emergency room. She received the care she needed but during the long stay in the waiting room Ramona and I made busy with one of my favorite games from childhood, exquisite corpse. I have fond memories of my dad carefully folding a piece of paper from his small shirt pocket notepad to begin the collaboration. He, my mom and I would pass the paper around with tiny indicator lines to show where the next drawing should begin. Inevitably, the suspense would begin to build as my dad would take a very long time with his drawing— this was serious business. What would this 3 part creature look like? Did we all draw a human or something else? Upon opening, the artists are rewarded with a fantastic surprise; the mix of drawing styles, the freaky surrealist advent of a unique collaboration. I wish I still had some of those original drawings.

As Halloween nears, I'm thinking an exquisite corpse just might be a great costume idea.

NickyOvitt_ExquisiteCorpse1 MORE exquisite corpse examples: My collaboration with I DREW THIS Epic Exquisite Corpse Artes Magazine ArticleJake and Dinos Chapman Armitage Dance


Just Something She Made.

Yesterday I basked. In the glow of friendship. Literally, on my sunny porch steps in the middle of the afternoon, in the middle of an ordinary week, I basked in the heartfelt, sincere gift of a friend who really thought of me. JUST BECAUSE. A friend who just showed up to offer me a gift... of art. JUST BECAUSE. I’ve written about the importance of Cathe Holden in my life before. She’s someone I’m meant to know in this life and we get each other. NickyOvitt_CatheHolden_Donkey1

Cathe created this piece. I’m touched beyond words. There is so much to love in here; the exquisite details are enchanting, the concept and craftsmanship are so wonderful. This sweet donkey even has a little glint in his eye and don't forget the wrapping! The book text talks about George Washington's donkeys and the stamps are George Washington, the date on the emblem is my birth year! So very personalized and the love she put into this really shows. From the text: "Long ago kings and rich men rode from place to place on donkeys. They were counted as part of a rich man's wealth. They took part in the wars and in the grand processions after victories."

And from my research: "George Washington received his donkeys from some notable sources. Royal Gift was a donkey that was gifted to George Washington in 1785 by Charles III, the King of Spain."

When a friend shows up for you, she is ever more valuable in your life. A True Gift. Thank you, Cathe Holden!

PS: And to really top it off, TOMORROW I get to spend the entire day at her Inspired Barn making this Luminary house and bottle brush trees! Sign up for her newsletter or a workshop, they are all that!


* October Calendar *

Time for pumpkin spiced lattes and other tricky treats. Click image to download this month's donkey desktop calendar. NickyOvitt2014OctoberCalendar

Artists Around the World Blog Hop

ALT TITLE: LONGEST BLOG POST EVER... (but worth it) I've been invited by one of my very favorite children's illustrators, Denise Holmes to join this giant artist's blog hop. I don't know the history of it but quick research gives me the idea it's like a many years-long chain letter and you know how we don't like to break THOSE... right?

First, I get to show off some Denise's work. She reminded me that we met online on a freelancer board. I remember being so smitten by her drawings of little girls with incredible expressions, sweet scenes of daily life, and her really refined style. I would know Denise's drawings ANYWHERE! This summer her second book was published called, If I Wrote a Book About You. It's an award-winning, touching story with a forever mommy message and Denise's way of combining words in her illustrations is no small feat. She is also a member of Happy Happy Art Collective, sells her illustrations on Etsy and The Ink Nest, and was a semi-finalist in the 2013 Lilla Rogers Global Talent Search. Oh, and I love this cute video she made. Last month I got to meet Denise as she traveled the west coast on an epic trip with her family. I know we'd hang out a lot if she lived nearby, but I'll take whatever Niseemade I can get!



Now I answer the requisite questions:

1. What Are You Writing/Working on? This week I’m finishing some lettering work for packaging/drink labels, designing a friend’s brand and business cards, developing and drawing out new ideas for a 2015 tea towel, hand painting some cards I want to sell at a boutique downtown, and preparing long overdue packages and thank you mail.

2. How Does Your Work Differ from Others in Your Genre? I guess the pen and ink technique that I use is a bit distinct. There are other blobby line artists but we all have a particular drawing style. I’d say I have a particular style in drawing elements (actual icons or people) but maybe not a signature look to my “characters” as that is somewhat new to me.

3. Why Do You Create? Probably like a lot of folks I don’t have a perfect answer for that. My gut wants to say: “Because it has to come out!” Before going freelance this last time I used to hear artists say something to that effect and think, “Oh yeah, right.” But maybe now that I’m older and have more to say I can better relate. I’m very interested in the NEED to create. I would watch it in my parents, the endless ideas and shifting direction and focus, but they had incredible curiosity and I think that’s part of where the NEED comes from.

4. What is your creative process? Think. Drive kid. Draw. Pick up kid. Get on Computer. Drive kid. Just joking! But in my days there is a certain amount I’ve learned to DO in short and concentrated spurts. And some weekends. When I get a project I almost always research what else is out there on the market that covers the same subject. For ideas, but also to avoid any comparisons or see what I don’t like. I have a small library of books that I use often but like most designers now, it’s Google the magic word combo. Then I always sketch out my ideas. Often, they are little thumbnails only I would be able to see any potential in— deciphering and getting my thoughts down to make room in my head for new ones. When I’m happy with an idea I enlarge the sketch to a size I know will work well with my pen and ink and then trace or refine the sketch by drawing it over and over. I will mark the best ones, scan them in the computer and then use Illustrator to fix/finalize and color the illustrations. In process, I like to show sketches to clients I know will be able to imagine where I’m going and who have selected to work with me based on a certain style. Other clients I just show the final product to and it’s a more efficient way to get the idea accepted.



Next, 2 artists that I've been following for a while. I'm pleased to call them my online friends and share their work that makes you feel good: Roxy Marj and Amy Peppler Adams.

Roxy Marj is an artist I stumbled upon a couple years ago and has one of those very deep blogs that will take you down the rabbit hole of distraction for the rest of the afternoon. Roxy enjoys an outdoorsy life in Utah now after graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design. Like Denise, I think Roxy’s style is so incredibly strong. Her folky, native-inspired look is truly original and enchanting— not the least because she sees faces on everything. Her blog is where everything happens. On her blog you’ll find new product announcements, freebies, recipes, DIY and home projects, some philosophy and sincere life lessons. Part of what I really like about Roxy’s writing is that she’s always storytelling... little snippets of her day and chats with her sweet dog, Harley become animated happenings. Maybe this is because she spends a lot of time working alone, like me.

After one of my first real successes as a freelancer, I treated myself to her hand-painted bear blanket that I wrote about here. She also makes a brilliant lion version of this bear blanket using twisted fringe for the mane. In her shop right now are handmade totebags, cushions, banners, prints and accessory cases. Sadly for us, Roxy will be closing her Etsy shop at the end of December, so scoop up her beautiful goods while you can! Here is a link to her Society6 shop where you can find her gorgeous iphone cases. In the new year Roxy will be concentrating on some other important life work and children’s illustration. Roxy's Instagram is also a good place to see her life. Good luck to you, Roxy! You’ve cheered my day many times... I’m very much looking forward to your next creation!



Amy Peppler Adams of Penny Candy Handmade uses the tagline, Art  |  Craft  |  Vintage. Seattle-based Amy knows herself well and as a fellow child of the 70s and 80s this appreciation and vintage influence is clear. She’s been an entrepreneur since the age of 10 when she would sell things she made from her garage, like stickers and stationery, to buy penny candy!

I remember seeing Amy’s 2012 winning Spoonflower calendar and thinking just how very incredibly perfect it was, one of those; "wow— wish I had thought of that." She’s a bit of a Spoonflower superstar with over 449 prints in her shop! I especially love Amy’s sense of color, the unexpected and well-researched themes and lighthearted retro fun in all her work.

Amy is also a co-author of Vintage Scratch & Sniff Sticker Collector’s Guide, a licensed fabric designer for Riley Blake, and sells her designs and goods through Etsy, Society6, and her very extensive Spoonflower shop. Recently, her Geekly Chic line for Riley Blake was chosen to cover the newest Rag and Bone Bindery albums. Her works have been published in Uppercase magazine, the Handmade Sewing book, and featured on some of your favorite lifestyle and design blogs.

Here is Amy’s Instagram link and check out the Penny Candy Handmade blog—it had me hooked early on with the rich resources of DIY crafts and design research and appreciation shares! Amy also sews and she’s been posting some great coin purse tutorials. Lastly, anyone who puts Charles Nelson Riley on their about page has my heart. It’s so nice to be your surface design pal, Amy! Continued success to you!


Mollie Makes Feature

The good month of September got even better as our house and my studio were featured in the November issue of Mollie Makes USA— out on stands now. I am so thankful for this opportunity. Not the least because I took on the task of REALLY cleaning our house for the shoot. Since I wasn't sure what they would want to focus on, I attacked every corner, cubby, and dust bunny for 2 weeks. It was a great chance to get some stuff out of here, take on little projects I had been wanting to do, and start fresh. During my obsessive revamp, my 10 year old daughter asked why I was working so hard and I explained that basically when she was born, everything stopped— we did only the necessary rearranging and upkeep to keep chugging along in life. This grand attention to the house has created a new slate and even if the magazine had called it off, I would have thanked them for getting me to the task.

There are a lot of other great reads and eye candy in this issue: an interview with Liberty Fabrics designer, Keighley Shepherdly, my buddy Cathe Holden's Tartlet Tin Pincushion tutorial, and a tour of some cool spots to shop in Portland.

PDF of the article here.


Fog Valley Crush

I've been an avid reader of local journalist and author, Frances Rivetti since discovering her quite a few years back. She's one of those people who's name and good reputation you hear around town and in her case, someone I associate with the foodie crowd. Frances blogs at Southern Sonoma Country Life and writes a regular column for our local paper, The Argus Courier. She has a gift for capturing so well the human interest and local-ness of living in Sonoma County: quality, crafted and community-minded. This past Spring, Frances contacted me to talk about her first book project. She had seen my Oh Petaluma tea towel and was assembling a local team to help with her Kickstarter book project which launched today!

Please consider supporting this Fog Valley Crush campaign. With Sonoma County stories, history, and recipes from this British transplant's love for the area, Fog Valley Crush will make an excellent gift for anyone on your holiday list!

Lastly, when a client is someone so very nice, who likes what you do, and who's dream you also believe in, it makes a project that much more tasty. My glass is raised to you, Frances! Congratulations!



Quilting Radio with Pat Sloan— Interview

In sending out promotions for Homestead I was enthusiastically greeted by the support of quilter, teacher, pattern maker, blogger and fabric designer extraordinaire, Pat Sloan. Pat is known as "the voice of quilting" and has been interviewing an incredible range of quilting-related guests since 2011! Her podcast guest list a giant quilting who's who. Lately, I have enjoyed following Pat on Instagram and she REALLY IS as busy as that sounds— she's on the road a lot and showing tons of new projects all the time. Pat was intrigued by the story of Homestead came to be so she has invited me on her show to chat a little about the process of creating the collection. Next Monday, Sept. 15 at 4:00 pm Eastern, 1:00 Pacific time I'll be speaking with Pat on the American Patchwork and Quilting Radio show. Please tune in live or subscribe to her podcast series and listen to it later. Thanks so much for the opportunity, Pat!

American Patchwork and Quilting Pocast Nicky Ovitt Sept 2014

* September Calendar *

Give peace a chance. September 21 is International Day of Peace. You can read about the history and planned world events like tree plantings and flashmobs here. Click on image to download this desktop calendar. #peaceday NickyOvitt2014September-Calendar

Lilla Rogers' Global Talent Search

It's a small world... with some big opportunities! My full entry to the 2014 Lilla Rogers' Global Talent Search. Although I didn't make it into the top 50, I'm glad I pursued it and really like what I experimented with for this challenge. So, as my great redhead friend Susan says with gusto: "ONWARD!"... and as Lilla says in her video, consider entering next year, the growth will be evident. Nicky_Ovitt_GTS14A1_Small_World


Licensed to Clothworks Fabrics. Collection here.

All kinda joy.

LillaRogers_Studio_Illos This month, along with a couple juicy lettering and illustration projects in process, I’ve created a piece to submit to the Lilla Rogers Global Talent Search. Lilla is a renowned illustrator, teacher, mentor, author, and artist's agent studio owner. This contest will earn someone 2 years of representation (!) and a host of licensing and other “prizes.” A connection with Lilla’s well-connected, hip studio with it’s stable of unique and talented artists is a common aspiration for so many of us looking to license work. One of her oft-quoted phrases which sums up her philosophy of creating art for the licensing world is: "PEOPLE BUY YOUR JOY." I understand this to mean; make from the original expression that we all are and the delight in your work will be evident and enticing.

Last year was Lilla’s first time running the course, Make Art that Sells and the subsequent GTS contest. By all accounts, both were a huge success and growth experience for so many of my artist and illustrator friends. But this time last year my heart and mind were with my mom. I had traveled to New Mexico to cheer her spirits and lift her up from the daily ordeals of chemo treatments so needless to say, my hopes and wishes were of a different nature.

This year my mom is in remission! For quite a few months now! And she’s well and I had the time and desire to enter the Global Talent Search! OH JOY! I’ve been back to prepping my art and website to approach agents in earnest. I don’t know if I’m 100% ready, but more and more I can see where forward movement without perfectionism is what I need to accomplish. Ready or not, maybe I'm ready.


I really enjoyed the extensive 13-page brief and Lilla is indeed inspiring in her words and art direction of what to consider. The theme for Round 1 of the GTS contest is “Little Terrariums” and the market is wall art—for adult or children. The requirements also specify a hand-lettered word or phrase.

My first wording idea was "Room to Grow" but that's pretty much the opposite of what's going on in a terrarium so I nixed that. A few of my initial sketches and inking are here. I knew I wanted to include a little gnome or gnome home and a fairy girl with some cactus illustrations I had been developing for my next fabric line with Clothworks felt the most right— after all, I'm a high desert girl at heart. I took my time developing the concept and changed final details over a few days time as I encouraged myself to imagine it as a piece of art for mass sale. I'm pleased with the final result and it feels monumental to have accomplished this delayed goal.


The gallery of 999 entries and my final submission goes live on Tuesday, Aug. 26th. 50 artists will be chosen to move to the next round, then culled to the final competitors for assignment 3.

I had so much fun with this project and I know I’ll be in awe of the other entries with their fascinating, varied solutions to the same theme. Below is a sneak peek of my final submission. Good luck to everyone who entered! MAY THE JOY BE WITH YOU!


* August Calendar *

Back to school time. Are you book smart or barn smart... or both? Click image to download the calendar for your desktop. NickyOvitt2014AugustCalendar

All donkey, all the time.

I dunno what will happen for 2015, but for now I'm still on the donkey trail, so to speak. My love for donkey images and art have brought some lovely gifts into my life that I wanted to share. 1 ||  The first you see here being a painting by my incredibly talented friend, Ginny Hautau of Urban Cowgirl Design. Ginny absolutely floored me when this sweet little painting was dropped off after one of our epic coffee chats. The product maker in me is dying for her to get these licensed for wall art or to sell on Sundance! She also has a way with home design— look her up. I was very touched to receive this treasure and feel blessed by her friendship all the time.


2 ||  You may know my mom is an oil pastel artist and when I visit New Mexico we usually get together with one of  her pastel friends named Sally Prince. When Sally heard about my love of donkeys, she gave me this adorable miniature in sunflowers that I framed for my desk. She also sent me this card with an image from a painting she did a while back. Aren't these so full of personality?

NickyOvitt_Donkeyblog_SallyPrince3 ||  These next two images are from Katherine Dunn of Apifera Farm in Oregon. She is an accomplished illustrator who runs a farm of rescued "misfit" animals and earlier this year I supported her 2nd Kickstarter campaign to publish another book seen here on the right. It's a gorgeous publication and I have yet to read it but I'm so happy to have these unique donkeys in my life. The original drawing (with hair bow) has yet to be framed, it was a mother's day present from my husband who appreciates a good gift hint. Originals like this can be found at Katherine's Etsy shop.


4 ||  Choreography! This poster was a present from one of my oldest friends who attends Sundance Film Festival every year. Robin said this award-winning short film was fantastic and she went through some pretty great effort to get me this poster. Not only is she always thinking of what someone else might like for a "prezzie," she WRAPS said gifts in the most beautiful ways— almost too cool to open. Robin is a prolific collector and master of assemblage. She will be announcing some beautiful assembled art boxes for sale soon so I'll update you on that when it happens. Her graphic design work and blog can be found at 314Gallery.

5 & 6 ||  These two books were gifts to myself. Our local library has a children's book sale every few months. If you've never read the story of Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, you should request it from your local library— it's quite philosophical and deep: "Oh how I wish I were my real self again."