Frequently Asked Questions :: Do You Take Commissions?


{Painting commission I did for a client in 2011 of her daughter’s pet chicken “Fluffy”}

Today’s FAQ: Do you take commissions?

My answer: Yes! BUT, it also depends. Mostly it depends on how much time I have in my schedule, so that’s always the first thing I consider when people ask. When I do say no to commissions, it’s usually because I’m buried in other deadlines . But sometimes there are other reasons I say no to commissions. Here are some common requests:

1) Tattoos. No. I love tattoos. I have a whole bunch of them on my own body. But I’ve come to realize after about 6 or 7 in the last year, that designing tattoos for other people is not something I enjoy. Mostly I think it’s because tattoos are so personal and, well, permanent. I tend to get really anxious when I design tattoos, and I realized it’s because I feel enormous pressure to get them just right, which is practically impossible. So, mostly, I don’t design tattoos anymore.

2) Blog headers. No. More frequently lately I’ve been asked to design blog headers. This is another thing I tried out because people were asking and then realized it wasn’t my thing. Mostly, for the same reasons that designing tattoos feels hard for me. Blogs are personal. Blog headers need to show who you are, and I’m never sure my artwork can show who someone else is. Also, I’m not a graphic designer, so layout and incorporating text, etc. is not my skill set. I think it’s best to hire a graphic designer to design your blog header.

3) Dog portraits. YES. I love doing them if I have time in my schedule. Always. Need a good, clear high resolution photo, but if you got that, I’m game. Yep, I also do other pets like chickens and cats (see Fluffy, above).

4) People portraits. Sometimes. This is another tough one. People are hard to paint if you don’t know them, because you aren’t always sure you’ve captured them (and one photo doesn’t always tell you enough about a person). Worth asking, but I can’t always say until I see the photo you’d like me to use as reference (I always paint from photos).

5) General fine art commissions. YES. If I’ve got time and you’ve got money, I’ll paint you a birch forest or mural in your kids’ bedroom or whatever. I do require some art direction (you give me as much specific information as you can about what you’d like me to create for you) and a lot of lead time.

6) Wedding invitations. Sometimes. Depends on the style you’d like me to use and how involved your idea is. Always worth asking. I’ve done a few invitations lately that have been really fun projects!

Have an idea that isn’t reflected here? Email me! It never hurts to ask.


365 Days of Hand Lettering: Day 234



Introducing: Petit Lisa! My First Ever Font


You guys, it’s here. I can hardly believe it! Remember when I announced a couple weeks ago that I was collaborating with a type designer to turn some of my hand lettering into fonts? Well, the first one is live on and it’s called Petit Lisa! I’ve had the privilege of collaborating with the amazing, patient, talented Jennifer DeAngelis from Design 23. Jennifer is a fantastic type designer, and she’s helped me turn my dream into a reality. Thank you, Jennifer!

A few more images of Petit Lisa:



I have another font that should be released later this week, so stay tuned for that! In the meantime, you can purchase Petit Lisa here!


365 Days of Hand Lettering: Day 233


The third in my collaboration with Maria Popova of Brain Pickings.


Support Creative Mornings & Get a Print!


{Donate $75 to the Creative Mornings Kickstarter and get this print!}

As some of you know, I had the honor of giving a Creative Mornings talk last year about the concept of “Small Things Organized Neatly” here in San Francisco. Creative Mornings is a fantastic lecture series started by Tina Roth Eisenberg (aka Swiss Miss) in New York City. Creative Mornings has now spread to 30 cities and is still growing. One Friday morning a month, people in the creative community gather to hear a speaker share their story or talk about something that inspires them in their creative experience. The best part is that the coffee, the breakfast, the lecture — all are free.

Creative Mornings has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to create an archive of all the Creative Mornings videos in one place. Right now they are spread loosely across the internet. It’s a worthy cause and one I hope you will support! Imagine being able to go to one central location on the internet and have your choice of Creative Mornings videos to view!

I’ve created the artwork above and it’s available as an 11×14 inch print if you donate $75 to the Creative Mornings Kickstarter campaign. Just go to the right hand side of the page and you’ll see all of your donation options. I hope you will support this worthy cause!

And, if you are interested, you can watch my Creative Mornings talk from 2011 here.


365 Days of Hand Lettering: Day 232



365 Days of Hand Lettering: Day 231



365 Days of Hand Lettering: Day 230



Frequently Asked Questions :: Making Illustration Your Full Time Job


{Recent illustration work in progress}

I have decided to start a new category on my blog called Frequently Asked Questions. I get emails + tweets pretty often with questions, and many of the questions people ask me fall into specific categories. So I’ve decided to address some of them here once a week or once every two weeks. I’ll take one question at a time. If you want to read all the questions + answers as they accumulate, you can jump to the Frequently Asked Questions category here.

{Disclaimer: the answers I offer are based on MY experience. When I am speaking about art and illustration, I am not speaking for all artists and illustrators, just myself.}

Today’s FAQ: I really want to make my illustration work a full time job, but I have no idea how to get there. What do I do?

My answer:

There is no one clear path to making illustration your full time work! Here are some suggestions for getting your work out there:

1) Build your portfolio with work that you are proud of and work you’d like to do for potential clients. In the first few years of my illustration career I had very little work. So I spent most of my free time outside my job (I was still working part time when I started as an illustrator) making art that I thought would appeal to potential clients. Soon enough, this work led to jobs. And then jobs led to more jobs. Don’t wait for work to come to you.

2) Use social media to tell the world about what you do. Start a Facebook fan page, a Twitter account and a personal blog. Post pictures of your work and link to them every single day. Tell people your story. Show your humanity. Build a base of people who like what you do and are likely to share it with others. Many of the first jobs I got were from connections I made through the internet. This is still how I get most of my work today!

3) Build/design a beautiful, clean website that highlights your best work. If you can’t do that yourself, pay someone to do it. This is such an important investment. Many art directors will judge you based on your website (or whether you even have one), not necessarily the quality of your work.

4) Show up + network. Go to design, art and illustration conferences and talks. Get over your shyness and interact with people in the business. Support other artists and illustrators. Make friends. Be a nerd.

5) Write down a list of your dream clients or projects. Figure out ways to make connections with those clients. Tweet at them, like them on Facebook, find someone who knows someone who works for them. Take risks.

6) Sign with an illustration agent. This is not for everyone, but working with an agency can be a fantastic way to get new work + manage complex contracts. I work with Lilla Rogers Studio. Much of my work comes through them (clients find me through them). They also handle all my contracts (I don’t ever have to deal with money or weird difficult conversations with clients). They promote my work and provide enormous support.

7) Consider licensing your work. Get a booth at a show like Surtex. Contact companies that license artwork. But always make sure these are companies with whom you will be proud to have your work associated.

8) Work your butt off. Being a full time freelancer requires enormous sacrifice. No one is hustling work for you. You need to do that yourself. Sometimes that means giving up parts of your social life in order to prioritize and promote your work. Sometimes that means spending your extra money on a new website instead of clothes or dinners at your favorite restaurants.

9) Be as original as you are able. Develop your own style or set of styles. Be your own person. Art directors are looking for fresh work that is new and exciting. They want your unique perspective on the world. Show them what that is.

10) Be patient + positive. Making illustration your full time career takes time and enormous amount of hard work. Very few people get there right out of school or overnight. Stay positive about your own work + path and support others in theirs.


365 Days of Hand Lettering: Day 229


Have a good one, friends.


Dorothy Cross’s Ghost Ship


Tuesday evening I was at a meeting, and I had on my new Sigur Rós tote bag, which has a really lovely image of a ship on it. My friend David, who was also at the meeting, stopped me to tell me how much he loved the bag. He then told me the image reminded him of Dorothy Cross’s Ghost Ship project, and asked me if I’d heard of it. I hadn’t, but I was intrigued, so yesterday David sent me a link so I could learn more.

In 1998, Irish artist Dorothy Cross covered a ship in luminous paint. At nightfall the ship was illuminated to glow and fade in cycles over a three hour period. The Ghost Ship was Dorothy’s personal homage to the many ships which once marked dangerous reefs around the Irish coast and are now gone.


CATEGORIES: Inspiration

365 Days of Hand Lettering: Day 228


Another from my collaboration with Maria Popova of Brain Pickings. All of the Anais Nin quotes I did as part of that collaboration are for sale as prints here!


It’s a Bromance


{Diana’s new dog, Louie, along with some of her beautiful work.}

Those of you who know me know that one of my favorite people in the world and one of my closest friends and confidants is ceramics artist Diana Fayt (see her exquisite work above, on the right). Diana has had an extra special role in my life for the past five years as Wilfredo’s favorite “Auntie.” When I got Wilfredo, he and Diana fell in love with each other instantly. I was single at the time, and Diana generously offered to be his “other mom” and care for him when I traveled or needed extra help with him. I can safely say that five years later Diana has kept her word. Diana’s apartment is literally Wilfredo’s second home, and her love and commitment to him & his well-being has never waned. Wilfredo’s love for Diana is just as powerful.

Last week, Clay and I got a call around dinner time from Diana. I was chopping veggies and couldn’t answer, so Clay answered. Diana had found a little dog who “looks similar to Wilfredo” walking down the street as she was leaving her studio. He was skinny with no tags and did not look cared for. But he seemed very sweet, so she took him in her car. She was calling to see if we had any dog food or shampoo she could have to feed and wash this little guy when she got home. We did, so she stopped by, and we got to meet the puppy she’d found. “I think I’m going to keep him,” she said.

Sure enough, Louie and Diana settled in together. He was a keeper. Turns out he’s about a year old. He still needs to be fixed, but is in good health. Diana named him Louie.

We’d arranged for Diana to watch Wilfredo when we went to LA last week. We weren’t quite sure if he’d take to Louie. Wilfredo played with other dogs when he was a puppy, but hasn’t shown much interest in playing (or even sniffing) for the past three years. Would Louie drive him nuts? Would Wilfredo be jealous of Diana’s new dog? We had no idea.

When we dropped Wilfredo off at Diana’s Saturday morning, it was quite a scene. As yet un-fixed Louie wanted nothing more than to hump Wilfredo. Wilfredo (who bares his teeth and growls only under duress) was NOT having it. When we left Diana’s that day, we our best hope was that Louie and Wilfredo could figure out how to co-exist and that Diana wouldn’t lose her mind trying to keep Louie off of Wilfredo.

Within 2-3 hours of our road trip to Los Angeles, we started getting texts, photos and videos from Diana.

Louie and Wilfredo were getting along. Not only that, Louie had somehow charmed Wilfredo into playing with him (something no other dog has achieved in three years). Sure enough, there was tug of war with stuffed animals, wrestling on the bed and chasing each other around Diana’s apartment. Photos and videos proved it.

Then came the most shocking (AND ADORABLE) photos of all. Wilfredo and Louie were CUDDLING. Not just once or twice, but all weekend.

Sure enough, it was a bromance.

And we could not be more thrilled. According to Diana the relationship is so good for both of them. Wilfredo shows Louie some “big boy” boundaries, and Louie brings out the puppy in Wilfredo. Win/win.

It’s one thing to find a friend who is like a sister to you, and that’s what Diana is to me. But when your dogs are crazy for each other? That is even better.

Happy Wednesday, all.

{all photos in this post by Diana Fayt}


365 Days of Hand Lettering: Day 227


Happy birthday, Julia Child!


Hello, Los Angeles


Clay and I took a much-needed out of town excursion to Los Angeles this past weekend where we enjoyed warm weather, delicious food, friends and a fantastic Sigur Rós show. Here are some photos from our trip.

{Outside and inside of the new Poketo flagship store, which is gorgeous. Poketo is a long time illustration client of mine, and I love them dearly.}

{Delicious vegan brunch and more amazing street art.}

{Outside of Reform School in Silverlake and inside of Mohawk General Store down the street! Love both these places so much.}

{Sigur Rós show at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. If you ever have a chance to see a show there, DO IT.}