May 27, 2008

What are your favorite artist websites?

I realize I haven't blogged all week. My husband and I spent the Memorial Day weekend on a mini-getaway to a gorgeous bed and breakfast to celebrate our one-year anniversary. I haven't really gotten out of vacation-mode since then. (Hence the slacking off.) In fact, it's to the point where I'm thinking about taking a personal day tomorrow and not coming in to work. The weather is beautiful, and I can't deal with being stuck at the keyboard right now.

That said, a few computer-related things do need to get done. Specifically, my personal website. I've been paying my brother-in-law (who is a graphic and web designer) to host my site for the past several years, but we haven't actually created it. I only have the summer before my insane school/work schedule gets going again, so I need to do it soon.

This is where you come in. I want to look at the personal websites of your favorite illustrators. You know, it'll usually be "their name dot com". Some examples are: Keri Smith's, Tomie DiPaola's, or Jan Brett's sites. I want to look at illustrator sites in particular, because I need some inspiration. What are the basic ingrediants to a sucessful site?
Anyway, I look forward to taking a peek at everyone's choices. Thanks for your help!

May 23, 2008

Illustration Friday: Worry

Aren't you a bit worried about this kitty's fate? Me too!

May 22, 2008

Tag! I'm It!

First, a little game. I got tagged today by Gina. So, here are the rules:

1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.*
3. Find the fifth sentence.**
4. Post the next three sentences, so if my math is correct that’d be sentences six, seven and eight.
5. Tag five people and post a comment to the blogger who tagged you.

Here's mine: "Trade books have become part of the curriculum because we hope they will interest children and help them become literate in the full sense of the word. Given this goal, it is important to let the trade books be as interesting as they can be. It is important not to ruin the power of trade books by turning them into nothing more than material fore exercises, mere sources of information on topics or for teaching moral lessons."

Meh. I'm at work (at a literacy-based school), so whaddya expect? Lol. I don't have time to tag others right now, so I'll have to get to that part later. Thanks for the little brain-break, Gina! (o:

In other news, I got a ton encouragement from everyone yesterday regarding entering that local art contest in two weeks. So much so, in fact, that last night I went back to work on my long-abandoned painting. I only had an hour to work on it before bed, but you'd be surprised how far you can get with a mere 60 minutes. I feel pretty good about it (so far). I'll try desperately to get it done in time for the competition. Thank you for all the support and feedback. I'll keep you all posted!

May 21, 2008

For some reason...

I'm a nervous wreck! Let me give you a little background first:

Two years ago, I submitted a painting to an annual art contest, and won second place in the professional category. (Cash prizes, folks! Woo-hoo!) I didn't submit last year because I had no finished and framed artwork to enter. This year, the contest is going on again (I just found out today) and I really want to enter. The problem? The deadline to turn in the registration form is June 9.

I kinda sorta have something to submit this year. It's a painting I started working on last summer that was put on hold (I was interrupted by 4 commissions, and then school), so it's still not finished. I have a lot of work to do on it, as it was going to be a rather complicated piece. I am absolutely DYING to submit something this year!!! The question is - can I finish a rather complex piece in 2 weeks?!?! What if I send in my registration form, but then can't complete the piece I said I was submitting???

Anyone care to help me with a solution to this dilemma? Or should I just start painting my butt off and pray? (C'mon guys, tell me I'm nuts or cheer me on! I need one or the other. Lol.)

May 20, 2008


Creatively speaking, the first few years after I graduated art school were terrible. I was desperately trying to find my way in my field, and doing temp work for barely any pay in the meantime...just to survive. I felt so isolated from other artists - all my art school friends were miles and miles away. I was sorely lacking any feeling of community. Not to mention a solid critique. Your family looking over your painting and stating, "That's nice." is simply not going to cut it. I needed solid criticism and suggestions from another artist's eye. But the art pulse in NH felt to me as if it had flat lined. Dead. I couldn't find "the scene" or any scene, for that matter. I started to wonder if I was the only artist in the entire state. You might as well have dropped me off in the desert.

Even back then, I was an avid National Public Radio junkie. NHPR was on all the time. In the car, in the house. I honestly don't think I could live without the radio on. I'm still that way. (If anything, I've just gotten worse!) One night, on the very long drive home from another miserable day of temp work, I was listening to the (now retired) NHPR show "On The Front Porch" and heard an interview with the illustrator John Stadler:

Of course any interview with any illustrator was going to grab my attention and keep it. And here was a published children's book illustrator...IN MY STATE! During the interview he stated, "In New Hampshire and Vermont, there must be the highest per capita children's book population in the world. We have picnics three times a day, then we feel much better and we go back to work." In the interview, he went on to say that he couldn't leave his house without bumping into a fellow illustrator or children's book writer. WHAT???? I thought my head was going to explode. Where was this "close and supportive community"? Have they been hiding from me all this time? Finding them out felt like a search for a faerie village.

I got home, ran into the house, logged onto John Stadler's website where I found his e-mail address. And I e-mailed him. Oh yes I did. I don't remember exactly what I wrote but it was probably along the lines of, "I heard you on NHPR and you said there was a huge illustration community in the state...where oh WHERE??? HELP!!!" (I probably said it less crazy, but that was my point none the less.) To my surprise, he e-mailed me back promptly. He was really nice, and directed me to the Society of Children's book Writers and Illustrators.

Through their website, I found a local SCBWI children's book illustrators critique group near my house. I signed up to join the SCBWI, paid my dues, and was off. Our crit group meets up approximately once a month. It's been a part of my life ever since. Though certainly not as big or prevalent as in NYC or Boston - yes, Virginia, there is an arts community in NH.

We have some great people in our little group. Some published, some not (like me!). Though I can't talk about them all individually, I have previously mentioned Gina Perry. (She's the one whose gallery show I recently attended.)

Illustrator and children's book author, Lita Judge is also a member of our SCBWI branch. Lita's career has really taken off. She has published several books, been interviewed for tv and various other publications, and basically works 24/7. Though she's unable to attend meetings these days, she is always supportive and helpful with any questions that our group has about publishing or illustrating full time. At one of the last meetings I attended, our group went to see her read from her book One Thousand Tracings at Barnes and Nobles. Here are a couple of her book covers:

I haven't been attending the SCBWI meetings very regularly over the past year. Last year, the run up to my wedding was madness, so I missed quite a few meetings. This year, I started attending night classes and that was insanity. Going anywhere would mean homework got neglected for 2 seconds, and that was pretty much out of the question. School is finally over for the summer, so at last I get to attend tonight's SCBWI meeting. (Hooray!) I'll keep you posted on how it goes. (o:

May 19, 2008

"Free" time?

As most of you know, I completed the final class of spring semester last Tuesday. It's amazing how wonderful free time feels after you haven't had any in a year. The funny part is that I couldn't even use my newfound time to relax. I feel like I now have to play "catch up". I was SO productive on Saturday. I was up early, getting estimates for things that needed fixing in the house, writing out bills, doing errands, cleaning my studio, and generally being overly productive. I've also been able to kick my work-out schedule up a notch now that I actually have time to make it to the classes. Aaaaand, I got a chance to make a few phonecalls and even went out on Friday night to catch up with close friends who've been neglected.

My schedule over the next few days isn't any better. Tonight the hubby and I have to catch up with my sister-in-law who is visiting from Florida and my MIL who is about to head back down. Tomorrow, I have a long-awaited SCBWI meeting. Wednesday, I have a hair cut appointment...etc.

Oh, and I forgot to sooner do I finish classes for the summer, but I get an e-mail from my college saying that I need to register for fall courses by June 2. Ugh!

I'll finally get to unwined (I'm hoping) this coming weekend. My husband and I are taking off to a bed and breakfast for a couple nights to celebrate our one year wedding anniversary. I think we're both counting down the days. Sigh...

May 16, 2008

When it rains, it pours

I suppose I also could have titled this blog "zero to sixty", "all or nothing", or any other cliche you'd like.

The point is that within the last week, I seem to have received a mimi-avalanche of exposure online. Today I got an e-mail notifying me that I was included in yet another treasury. This time, it's Beeda Kahlo who is making an appearance:
Keep your fingers crossed for me that this one makes it to the front page. Really, that's my biggest Etsy dream (second only to the dream of oodles of sales, of course). Lol.

Happy Friday!!!

May 15, 2008

Blogs, School, and Helvetica (the movie)

I woke up this morning to yet another lovely piece of news. Fellow Etsy seller DecMeadow has featured me on her blog! Read her lovely feature of me here.

I had my last typography class of the semester on Tuesday. (Phew!) It was pretty laid-back and even involved cookies. The only issue I'm having now is that our teacher collected our projects. In fact, he still has ALL our projects from the entire year. He'll be returning them all to the Continuing Ed office by the end of the month (after he grades us) for people to drop in and pick them up.

The only problem with that is I can't "drop by" since I don't live in the City. I live an hour away. More than an hour away, if you factor in traffic. Sigh. The office will supposedly hold student work for up to a year, but I don't want to take that chance. Especially not with potential portfolio pieces. But I'm also not going to drive all the way down there just to grab my work and drive all the way back home either. I'm thinking I'll have to take a personal day off of work next month (hopefully I can convince the hubby to play hooky with me) and make a day of it. I have a couple RISD pals down there who I haven't seen in ages anyway.

The result of me not having my final project in my possession is that I can't take photos of it to post on here. It came out well, but it's not really the impressive masterpiece I expected it to be, so I suppose it's no big deal. The challenge of organizing and arranging 250 business cards was a real obstacle to overcome. I tried and tried to avoid going the Rolodex route. I even recruited my mom (who has some experience with amateur book-binding) to help me brainstorm. In the end, the only way out of my self-inflicted mess was to use a Rolodex. Someone has already stared down (and solved) the "too many business cards" problem, and their solution clearly is the best one. I did create a front and back book "cover" for the Rolodex (hand-painted and everything!). I categorized, alphabetized, and slid each card into a clear plastic Rolodex sleeve before putting them in. So, if you can imagine that, you can probably live without pics for a little while longer.

Now that I have an iota of free time before the fall semester, I plan on getting my studio in shape (you literally can't take one step in there without putting your foot down on some randomly scattered art supply or project). I'm praying that I'll have time to finish a couple paintings I started last year and work on some new ideas I have brewing. I'll be working two jobs this summer though, so we'll see if this is a pipe dream or not. (o:

I've already started to relax a little bit. Last night, the husband and I had a "dinner and a movie" date. (The stay-in-the-house kind, not the go-out kind.) I made a massive pan of my ever-popular healthy (or...healthier, anyway) lasagna and we settled in to watch...Helvetica. That's right. My husband voluntarily watched a documentary about graphic design and typography. I swear, I didn't tie him to the chair or anything! He even tolerated me whooping every time a famous graphic designer (or even a term I learned this semester) came on the screen. Not to mention all the laughing I did at design jokes. Though, my behavior might have had a teeny bit to do with the 2 or 3 glasses of Chianti I had. *Ahem* Anyway, Chianti or no, I enjoyed the film. I especially enjoyed my non-artist non-designer husband watching it with me. Then again, I've watched an awful lot of sports with him. I regularly hear him cheering (or swearing) at the tv from 3 floors above. He probably knows that he owes me.
Next up? Basquiat. (It's already in our Netflix queue. Shhhhh...don't tell my husband!) (o:

May 13, 2008

Hot off the Press!

Once again, this will be a short post. My last class of the semester is tonight, and aside from hitting a couple snags, my business card project is just about finished. (Keep an eye out for pics later this week!)
I still haven't had a chance to post pictures or blog about the gallery exhibit I attended on Friday, so I figured the least I could do is post some links for you. First, here's Gina's blog about her first show. There was also an article feature about her in today's Portsmouth Herald. Congrats, Gina! Here's wishing you continued exposure and success! (o:

May 12, 2008


I wasn't quick enough posting this, but I was in yet another treasury over the weekend. This one featured my newest hedgehog illustration:

That treasury has since expired, so unfortunately I can't link you to it. But that's the third treasury in 2 days that I was featured in! None of them made it to Etsy's front page, but I'm hoping someday one will.
I do have lots to blog about - the gallery exhibit this past Friday, my final project, and tomorrow's last class (for this semester, anyway), etc. However, I can't seem to find the time to create a lengthy post at the moment. I am sooo busy! I promise a more in-depth blog a bit later...possibly on Wednesday. For now, it's back to work! /o:

May 09, 2008

Starting off on a Good Foot!

My Friday has gotten off to a great start! I opened my e-mail this morning to discover that I won a giveaway hosted by Deckled Edge Bindery. She was holding the contest to celebrate her 100th Etsy sale. All you had to do was drop her a line on her blog, she would collect everyone's comments and pull a name from a hat. As it turns out, that name was mine! I won one of her beautiful little handmade sketchbooks. I'm so excited! Just look at this gorgeousness:

I also received a second e-mail this morning from someone interested in having me create a commissioned piece for them. *Cheers quietly to self.*

THEN, I discovered I'm included in yet another treasury this week! This one was created by EllieDee and features my Pollinator bumble bee ornament:

I expect that today's awesomeness will continue into this evening. Directly after work, I'll be picking up my sister and driving out to see the first gallery show of fellow SCBWI member (and fantastic illustrator), Gina Perry:

This all follows on the heels of a fabulous night out with my husband last night. We had dinner at our absolute favorite little Italian restaurant, and then went to see Iron Man. We had great dinner conversation, and continued our discussions long after we got home. We've been together for so long, but somehow we never fail to still find something to gab about. Haha!
Anyway, here's hoping for an equally fabulous weekend. Cheers!

May 08, 2008

I'm in an Etsy Treasury!

My Madame Meow plush character made it into an Etsy treasury this morning!

Go take a peek! Everything in this treasury is NH-Made. It was put together by a member of our Street Team, Sweet Lollipop Shop. (Yes, she actually makes yummy lollipops...that isn't just the name of her shop! Lol.)

May 07, 2008

Small World

Last night was my second to last typography class of the semester. By next week, that journal of artist business cards will be done, and I will post pics of it on here for your viewing pleasure. (Or displeasure, depending on how it

Aside from presenting our final 3 page magainze layout/spread, we had a guest speaker -- the talented graphic designer, Wing Ngan, of Ink Design. He's done graphic design for MIT, Harvard, and Houghton Mifflin to name a few. He's also been featured in loads of graphic design magazines. But what caught me by surprise was that he's an Etsy seller. Really. Go look. He sells adorable little gocco prints. I didn't say anything about my own shop (even though he was sitting right next to me). I just stashed the knowledge away and hearted him when I got home. Haha!

I have done both printmaking and silkscreening in the past, but had no idea gocco existed. They're teeny little silkscreening machines from Japan. Now that I know they exist, I MUST have one. Alas, they're a bit expensive and I don't have the funds at the moment. But it is the newest item on my wish list. Maybe I'll make a bunch of sales at once, and then have some spare cash to spurge on printmaking supplies. Hey - I can dream, right? (o;

May 04, 2008

Dirty Little Secret

Well...ok, so maybe it isn't secret OR dirty, but I realized I never ever mention the fact that I have a second (non-Etsy) online shop.

Admittedly, I sort of ignore it. It was the first shop I ever opened, and I almost shut it down due to lack of sales. Almost as if the shop sensed this, I've suddenly been scoring occasional sales from it. Largely, it's been people buying items with my hedgehog and honeydew image on it. The original painting isn't for sale on Etsy since it's an important part of my business logo. Cafepress, however, is the perfect place for me to offer a print or reproduction. It seems people are happy to buy buttons, stickers, magnets, or anything else with Baxter's cute little face on it...which is great! So, I figured I'd give that shop a little TLC today, and admit its existence in my blog. Here it is:

Cafepress works a lot differently than Etsy. Everything on Etsy is hand-made by me. I'm 100% responsible for the creation, packaging, and mailing out of my items. Cafepress however, is not about handmade. It's much more about commercial items--buttons, t-shirts, mugs, etc. On Cafepress, all I do is upload my artwork and choose the products on which I want my art to appear. Cafepress does all the work with the actual printing and shipping, etc. I get a small percentage of what the item costs. It's not really a bad deal if you're lazy and want to make a little money. People who like your work, but maybe can't afford an original, can always nab an inexpensive keepsake from Cafepress instead. There are really cute buttons, stickers, and t-shirts etc.

I did a lot of work on that shop this weekend, and it still needs more attention. I plan on revisiting (and revamping) the rest of it later this week. Let me know what you think!

May 01, 2008

Tiny Personal Goals

Sometimes it's important to set mini goals for yourself. They may not mean a whole lot, but you have something to strive towards. Not to mention that it feels great when you acheive whatever marker you set for yourself. Yesterday I reached one of my mini-goals. My Etsy shop finally recieved 200 hearts...and then went over that! (For those of you unfamiliar with Etsy or what this means, click here.)

I've never been one to go begging on the Etsy forums for hearts. That's fine for some people, but that's not me. I like the idea that my shop was just hanging out, someone stumbled on it and said to themselves, "Hey, this is pretty cool. I'm going to bookmark it." I just quietly promoted, networked, talked a lot to people on the forums, and kept posting my work. It's not a major accomplishment or anything (200 hearts is nothing to some sellers) but I'm still proud! Especially seeing as how the first year that my shop was open, I only had 23 hearts...for the entire year. It was only after I started promoting myself and going on the forums that I noticed my hearts were going up. Woo-hoo! Here's hoping for a year of even more learning and growth. (o:

Etsy Success Story

I'll admit it...I'm on the Etsy forums most of the day. On one hand, I should probably log off and get some other things done. It is a really easy way to procrastinate. But on the other hand, I don't really think it's a waste of my time. I've learned so much by talking to other sellers about their experiences. I revamped my shop, gotten help with homework (I received the most artist business cards from Etsy folks), I've networked and increased my hearts 10 fold. (For those of you who are non-Etsians, "hearts" are a way for people to say, "Hey, love your shop!" and bookmark it in their Favorites.)

Anyway, that said, there was a great thread in the forum yesterday regarding Etsy's top (non-supplies) seller, The Black Apple. Her work is wildly popular - she's even been on the Martha Stewart Show.

I was chatting in that forum for a while but then finally logged off my computer to go work out. When I returned, I saw that The Black Apple herself had stopped by the thread to answer questions and to talk. Which, as far as Etsians are concerned, is the shop equivalent to having an A-list celebrity drop into a fan site. Everyone (me included) just thought that was really generous and nice of her to take time out of her very busy schedule to answer our questions. We can only dream of achieving the level of success her shop has gained. (I'll just have to cross my fingers that anthropomorphized animals become a massive hit

If you missed the thread, go check out the link I posted above. There's some great info in there!