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!