365 Days of Hand Lettering: Day 202



Ready for Normal


Somebody commented that I look sad in the photo above (which was taken a couple days ago). I was actually not sad, just frustrated with work that day. Sometimes I take self portraits to help me capture these intense moments in my life when I feel like things are unraveling. They give me perspective, because inevitably things usually turn out okay (and sometimes better than okay).

Those of you who know me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter or Instagram know that my partner (eh, fiancee!) Clay has been gone for the past 11 days. It’s just been Wilfredo and me (and the cats) at our apartment. She took a long overdue trip to visit family in Florida and Georgia. Clay (who is the Director of Marketing at California College of the Arts) works really, really hard, and she doesn’t take many breaks to travel. Most of the time, we like to travel together to visit family, but I was too buried in work commitments to join her this time. Also, I’m usually the one to travel and be away from home, so this time the tables were turned.

I was, initially, looking forward to my solo time. And, sure enough, for the first few days it was glorious. I did all of the things that I used to do when I was single and/or lived alone: I stayed up late and slept in (these are things you can do if you choose when you are self-employed); I ate what I wanted (when I wanted) and socialized with friends almost every night.

Then, I realized pretty quickly, I actually like my life the way it is. I like going to bed early and getting up with the sun. I like making dinner with Clay every night. I like sharing responsibilities like cleaning, laundry and animal care. Most of all, I just like having Clay around. Period. And so does Wilfredo. A couple times I put her on speaker phone for our evening conversations and he started to cry. Sweet, right?

Clay, we are excited for your return. What shall we make for dinner on Sunday?


365 Days of Hand Lettering: Day 201



365 Days of Hand Lettering: Day 200



I’m Teaching a Book Making Workshop!


(My accordion book Ja, 2011)

My latest obsession over the past year or so has been book-making, specifically accordion books. I love how easy it is to tell a seamless visual story inside their pages (they are also really easy to display).

I’m thrilled to announce that I will be teaching three-day workshop in October on accordion art-book making. The workshop will take place in beautiful Lake Tahoe, CA at the Create Explore Discover Retreat October 12-14.

My workshop is designed for total beginners (though if you’ve made accordion books before that’s also fine). I’ll share the work of some of my favorite book artists, and some of my own creations. I’ll also show how to make your own accordion book (there are several methods and I’ll teach a couple). Then we’ll spend time painting and and gluing (and even sewing) in them (participants get to decide how to turn theirs into a work of art). I’ll help folks new to art-making with tips on composition, color, etc, etc. You’ll get as much or as little help as you desire in this workshop.

I’ll provide all the materials you need but if you want to bring your own paint or mementos or ephemera to use, you are more than welcome. You can read more about the workshop here.

A weekend sitting at a table making a beautiful book or two? Please join me!


365 Days of Hand Lettering: Day 199


-William Blake


Maintaining Focus on What Matters


You have heard me talk a lot on this blog about my busyness and how I wish I had more time for this or that, including rest and relaxation or making personal work in my art practice. {By the way, did you read this NY Times article a few weeks ago? If not, I recommend it.}

I am trying really hard to stay focused on what matters most to me — doing good work and maintaining a thriving illustration practice, of course, but also carving out time to do nothing (“idleness” is the word the author of the aforementioned NY Times article uses). And, for the record, “nothing” to most of us just means laying around in the sunshine, reading a book, hanging out with friends — just not working.

Then there is the issue of this other thing that matters to me a lot, and that’s not getting so lost in “work” (i.e. illustrating other people’s stuff, or making work that turns into a product like journals, wallpaper or note cards), that I lose sight of my own creative vision, my personal work, and pushing the boundaries of my creative practice.

Let’s be clear: I LOVE BEING AN ILLUSTRATOR. I love illustrating other people’s books. I love designing things like note cards, wallpaper and fabric. I get to work on some amazing projects where my ideas matter and my perspective and style are valued by clients. But I have to make sure I’m also listening to the part of me that wants to embark on new creative projects that come directly from my imagination. I want to make time to make the stuff that I think about in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep. Essentially I want my fine art practice (my personal work) to matter as much as my illustration practice.

So there’s some tension with that, because part of being busy with lots of illustration work is that I don’t have much time to do much else creatively.

Blah, blah, blah, I’ve talked about this before (here and here, mostly).

So what I’ve decided to do is stop talking about it and to actually do something about it. Here’s what I’ve done so far:

1) I entered my first juried painting competition. I don’t think I have a snowball’s chance in hell of my work being accepted (I picked a really prestigious one for starters), but entering forced me to make some new work to submit.

2) I’ve begun a conversation with a fantastic literary agent about making two book ideas come to life. I’ve set some goals for working on two proposals, and am really excited about them.

3) I’ll be applying for my first residency. I won’t find out till November if I got it, but just working on the application is filling me with happy anticipation.

Oh, and there’s the trip to Scandinavia and Iceland coming up shortly, which I will take by myself. I’m hoping to gather lots of inspiration while I am there that will feed the conveyor belt of ideas that runs through my brain.

I’ll report back with some updates (if there are any) as they happen. Thank you for listening, friends. I feel better now.


365 Days of Hand Lettering: Day 198


A little reminder for the anxious among us (me included).


This One


Mia when she was six in 2006.

Remember how I told you this one is coming to live with me and Clay for two weeks this summer? We’ll it’s happening very soon, and I could not be more excited. It’s been pretty grey here in San Francisco and she’s just the ray of sunshine I need.


365 Days of Hand Lettering: Day 197



365 Days of Hand Lettering: Day 196


-Edna St. Vincent Millay


365 Days of Hand Lettering: Day 195



Knot Thread Stitch


Two of my close friends have book releases this week! You may remember earlier this week I posted about Mati’s new book. Today I’m so excited to tell you about Lisa Solomon’s new book: Knot Thread Stitch: Exploring Creativity through Embroidery and Mixed Media.

Lisa (my evil twin who I wrote about here) is a master with thread (just take a look at her expansive fine art portfolio). So it is no wonder that thread is the common theme of this book of projects. The book is organized around simple projects, from tea towels to pillow cases to decorative pieces. For each project, Lisa offers her own design and then highlights the work of an artist. For example, a tea towel embroidery design by Lisa is paired with another tea towel design by artist Kate Bingaman Burt.

I was lucky enough to do a project for the book. I designed a floral silhouette pillow. It’s a labor intensive project, but really pretty easy, and one that you can adapt to your own silhouette if you like.

Wilfredo happens also to be featured in the book (who can resist putting him in their book these days?). As one of her projects in the book, Lisa designed a pet portrait of Wilfredo.

Isn’t it amazing? This project is followed by a pet portrait pillow by Camilla Engman of her late dog, Morran. The list of artists in the book is fantastic.

If you are new to the stitching arts, the also book includes loads of information on supplies, tools and technique, along with the over 30 projects.

Lisa is having a book signing tomorrow evening at The Curiosity Shoppe in San Francisco. Wilfredo and I will be there and we hope to see you!


365 Days of Hand Lettering: Day 194


Happy Friday, friends.


Tattly Turns ONE!


As most of you know, I have some fun tattoo designs over at Tattly, the fantastic Brooklyn-based temporary tattoo company started by Tina Roth Eisenberg.

And did you know that today is Tattly’s first birthday? To celebrate, they are offering a discount of 50% off your ENTIRE ORDER with the coupon code 1YEAROLD !!

Equally as exciting is the new “EVERYTHING” pack, which includes 242 tattoos.

Tina wrote a great piece over on her blog about lessons she’s learned since starting Tattly a year ago. It’s a great read.

Happy birthday, Tattly!