Pattern Camp with Jessica Swift



Friends, I am so excited to tell you about a new class about learning to make repeat patterns being offered by my friend and pattern designer Jessica Swift! It’s called Pattern Camp
and it’s an online e-course that will take place on October 11-12.

If you dream of learning how to make repeat patterns but are unsure of where and how to begin, this course is for you! Throughout the 2-day online workshop you will learn to design repeat patterns in both Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, and Jessica will start from the beginning. No prior knowledge of how to use either program is necessary — beginners are absolutely welcome!

Videos, tutorials, and live Q+A’s will guide you through the tools, techniques, and tricks to get you quickly on your way to proficiency in the programs + creating your own beautiful patterns. Jessica is a fantastic teacher.

If working through the course in 2 intensive days doesn’t jive with your schedule/life/time zone, you can absolutely work through the lessons at your own pace. You’ll have access to the website and all the lessons for one full month and won’t miss a thing!

Good news: the course is only $159 through Sunday September 14 (regularly $189). Register here!

Back tomorrow with my Friday post.



New Creativebug Class :: Geometric Painting


eight pointed star 843x504

Today my next class at Creativebug launches! In this new class I teach you how to paint an eight-pointed star.

Play with shape and color as you learn how to make one of my iconic star paintings. In this class, I’ll show you how to draft an eight-pointed star with a template, and then you’ll tape off sections and paint clean, crisp shapes. I’ll also demonstrate how to mix acrylic colors to create different shades for a striking final piece.

If you have a Creativebug subscription, you are all set — go ahead and watch the course! If not, you can either buy a class ala carte or sign up for a monthly subscription (a bargain at 9.99 a month!).

Learn more about the course (including the materials you need) and buy the course here.

lisa with geometric star_lowres

Have a happy Thursday, friends!


In Conversation with Design*Sponge 9/17



New York City friends! I’m super excited about my Art Inc. book launch party next week at Powerhouse Arena in Brooklyn on Wednesday, September 17. Come listen to Grace Bonney (aka Design*Sponge) and me talk about building a career as an artist, followed by a social hour (with wine!) and a book signing for Art Inc. You can RSVP for the event here. Hope to see you there!

Can’t come on this night? I’m also speaking the following evening at CUE Art Foundation in Manhattan. Or come to both events! Info on that event here.

Have a great Monday!


Portland, I’m Coming for You!



Portland friends! I’m headed your way October 10!

I’ll be giving a talk and signing books as part of Design Week Portland at The Leftbank Annex. My talk is part of WeMake Portland’s monthly sketchXchange (I’ll be discussing how I approach my sketchbooks), and will be followed by a book signing for my new book Art Inc, the closing party for Design Week (which includes tons of fun activities & live music) AND the Put a Bird in It Show!

My talk is at 5 pm sharp, so get there early for a seat. Oh, and I’ll be giving away a pack or two of Micron pens to a lucky winner or two (from the audience)! I’ve also designed a 5×7 inch notebook which Scout Books is generously donating to everyone who attends.

You can purchase the ticket for the entire event here.

Hope to see you there, Portland friends! It’s going to be super fun.


New Online Class: Become a Working Artist


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Friends, I am so excited to announce a new online class I’ll be teaching through CreativeLive starting September 30. It’s called Become a Working Artist. In the two-day class we’ll cover:

+Embracing yourself as an artist and mapping your future

+Setting actionable goals

+Understanding the fine art world

+Developing your business’s personality

+Promoting your work successfully

+Making money selling your own work

+Understanding the worlds of illustration and licensing

+Preparing for and managing success

The class is FREE if you watch live on September 30 and October 1 between 9-4 pm. It will also be available for purchase after the live taping for $79.

Want to participate in the live class as part of the studio audience? We are still taking applications. You can apply here.

The class text book is Art Inc. (order that now if you plan to participate) and you’ll also receive a workbook with extra tools and information.

Hope to see you in class! RSVP today!


I’m Giving a Talk in New York City



New York & NY Area friends: I’m giving a talk in Manhattan on September 18th at 6:30 pm called I Am An Artist: On Ownership & Other Enterprising Acts. This talk at CUE Art Foundation (on West 25th Street) will be followed by a book signing of Art Inc & cocktails. Space is limited and you can purchase tickets here (free to CUE members!).

Hope to see you there!


Words for the Day :: No. 35




One of the questions I am asked most often is how – as a working artist – I deal with things like comparison, disappointment, self doubt & rejection. I have talked before about the idea of charting your own path & living your own life and even touched on it last week toward the end of this live interview. Recently, I found the quote above by Anton Chekhov, and thought it perfectly summed up what I less eloquently try to say.

Art making, while enormously rewarding, can also be rife with disappointment and feelings of vulnerability. The idea is to make friends with the struggle and continue (stubbornly) on your own path. I’ve written before about this idea of embracing difficulty and fear (and talked about it in this lecture). I think it’s enormously important.

I also think it’s important to remember that everyone struggles with self doubt and angst, even extremely successful & well known artists like Gerhard Richter — just watch this touching documentary about him and you will see how vulnerable he is about his work.

Have a good Monday, friends.


New Class with Lisa Solomon!



Are you an artist just starting out? Are you interested in preparing yourself to enter the fine art gallery world or apply for a grant, residency or an MFA program? My friend, artist Lisa Solomon (known best for her beautiful thread and crotchet installations) is offering a workshop at KALA Art Institute in Berkeley, CA about developing your artist packet.

The artist packet is the foundation for your application to grad school, grants, residencies, gallery exhibitions, and more. In this course Lisa will take you through the components you’ll need and how to put them together in a professional and compelling way. Lisa, featured also in my new book, Art Inc. is a fantastic teacher and a prolific, experienced and successful artist. You can register for her class here.


More about Lisa She is best known for her work that questions and deconstructs the meaning of identity through the exploration of mediums traditionally associated with domestic crafts. She received her BA from UC Berkeley and her MFA from Mills College. Profoundly interested in the idea of hybridization, she is drawn to found objects and imagery altering them conceptually so that their meanings and original uses or intents are re-purposed. She uses embroidery and crochet in her work frequently. In 2012 she authored “Knot Thread Stitch: exploring creativity through embroidery and mixed media”. She has shown both nationally and internationally in venues such as the San Jose Museum of Art, the Walter Maciel Gallery in Los Angeles, CA, Nicoletta Rusconi Gallery in Milan, Italy, the Koumi Machi Museum in the Nagano prefecture of Japan, and Garson Baker Gallery in NY. Born in Tuscon, AZ to a Japanese mother and a Caucasian father, she now lives and works in Oakland, California with her husband, daughter, a pit bull, a French bulldog, a 3-legged cat, a stumpy tail cat, and many, many spools of thread.


CreativeLive Interview




As part of my book launch for Art Inc, I recorded an hour long interview through CreativeLive. Last Tuesday Meg Ilasco interviewed me in front of a live studio audience about how I got started making art, managing my workload, my personal projects, and a range of other art-making & art-career related topics. You can watch the interview for free right here (scroll down to see the video link).

I’m also going to be teaching a business class with CreativeLive at the end of September. Stay tuned for more information on that next week!

Have a great weekend.



Art Inc :: Out Today!



{My beloved dog Wilfredo posing with Art Inc!}

Friends, I am so thrilled that today my new book ART INC: The Essential Guide for Building Your Career as an Artist hits bookstore shelves and is widely available for sale online (you can even download the iBook on iTunes)! To celebrate, we’ve organized a blog tour, which will run through August 20. Check out these blogs on the following dates for excerpts of the book, giveaways, interviews and studio tours!

Today 8/12 – The Jealous Curator: Blog tour debut. Danielle is giving away a copy of the book on The Jealous Curator!
Today 8/12 – Jonathan Fields: Jonathan, the amazing guy who wrote my foreword, shares a book excerpt
Tomorrow 8/13 ; Uppercase: A story by Uppercase Founder Janine Vangool about our work together over the years
Friday 8/15 – Inc: The fine folks at Inc. Magazine are going to publish an excerpt
Monday 8/18 – Design Crush: Kelly will feature a Q&A with me about the book and also do a book giveaway
Wednesday 8/20 – Art & Lemons: Nikki will feature a Q&A with me too
Wednesday 8/20 – sfgirlbybay: Last but not least, come with Victoria to my studio for a peek into my world

I’d also like to thank Maria Popova, who wrote this fantastic piece on Art Inc on Brainpickings today.

Oh, and I hope you will take a look at this lovely trailer we made for the book based on the books gorgeous illustrations by Karolin Schnoor:

We’ve also got a few book events planned, and here’s the 411:

Today, August 12, 5 pm PST: Global Book Launch at CreativeLive. Anyone all over the world can participate in & view this event, since it will be broadcast live over the internet! The amazing Meg Ilasco will be interviewing me about my journey as an artist, the writing of Art Inc, and the lessons & advice in the book.Get all the information you need to either watch this event online here.

Wednesday, September 17, 7-9 pm, EST: In this special event at Powerhouse in Brooklyn, New York. I’ll be in conversation with one of my favorite people, Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge! We’ll discuss my journey as an artist, the lessons I’ve learned along the way, and the tips I give to other artists in Art Inc. The conversation will be followed by a book signing. RSVP’s are recommended. You can do that and get more information here.

Thursday, September 18, 6:30-8:30 pm, EST: I’ll be giving a public talk entitled: I Am An Artist: On Ownership and Other Enterprising Acts at CUE Art Foundation in Manhattan followed by a book signing. Seats for this event are limited. Tickets available here!


Have a great Tuesday!


AIGA Event: Small Studio Life in San Francisco


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Friends I wanted to let you know I’m part of a great AIGA event on August 25 from 6-9 pm. Here’s more about the event:

Join Adobe and AIGA San Francisco as we welcome Jessica, Erik, Michael and Lisa for an evening of design-centric conversation, and live-drawing with drinks and appetizers. We’ll kick the evening off with a Drink+Draw with the Adobe Ink & Slide team, where we’ll let you get your hands on the newest digital stylus and ruler from Adobe. Beer and wine will be served along with delicious appetizers. Grab a beer with one hand and try the other at sketching with Adobe’s sleek new tools. Next, we’ll join our panel as they discuss living the small studio life in San Francisco, with all of the delights and challenges this city-by-the-bay has to offer.

This is going to be a super fun night! I’ll be moderating the small studio discussion with these three awesome designer/illustrators. To grab a ticket just go here. It will sell out quickly, so act fast! You can learn more about the event and participants here.

Happy Wednesday, friends.


New York Art Inc. Events



New York friends, I have two Art Inc. events scheduled in September and I’d love to see you there! You can RSVP for the September 17 event at Powerhouse Arena here. Information about the event at CUE Arts Foundation coming soon! Save the dates!


Art Inc. Book Tour Dates!



Friends, as you know, my latest book Art Inc. is released August 12. I have a few exciting book events scheduled and I wanted to share them with you:

Tuesday, August 12, 5 pm PST: Global Book Launch at CreativeLive. Anyone all over the world can participate in & view this event, since it will be broadcast live over the internet! The amazing Meg Ilasco will be interviewing me about my journey as an artist, the writing of Art Inc, and the lessons & advice in the book. There are also live audience seats for the taping in San Francisco. The seats for this event are close to being filled, but you can sign up for one of the remaining seats here. Get all the information you need to either watch this event online OR get live audience seats here. I’ll be signing books after the interview (you can purchase a book there if you don’t have one already).

Wednesday, September 17, 7-9 pm, EST*: In this special event at Powerhouse in Brooklyn, New York. I’ll be in conversation with one of my favorite people, Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge! We’ll discuss my journey as an artist, the lessons I’ve learned along the way, and the tips I give to other artists in Art Inc. The conversation will be followed by a book signing (Grace will be signing copies of her book too). RSVP’s are recommended. You can do that and get more information here.

Thursday, September 18, evening, EST*: I’ll be giving a 45 minute talk at CUE Art Foundation in Manhattan followed by a book signing. Seats for this event are limited. Tickets will go on sale soon (the event will be free to CUE members), and I’ll keep you posted here on the blog with all the information you need.

*Please note: when I originally posted this information I had the dates mixed up! The event with Grace Bonney is on Wednesday, September 17, and the event at CUE is on Thursday, September 18. These are the correct dates, not the ones I had previously posted.

There will be more events and book signings to come, so stay tuned for updates & please email me with any questions you have about any of the events!


Sketchbook as Surface Design



{I made this spread while sitting at my friend Ron’s pool on a hot July day earlier this summer.}

I am admittedly not a traditional sketchbook user. I don’t sit and sketch the people or places I see — at least very often (though I think that is a valuable exercise for sure — and one I should probably do more of). Instead, I use my sketchbooks as a way to play around with composition, color, and design elements in my work. The great thing about sketchbooks is that they are, by nature, personal work — they are for the user, not a consumer. Sure, I sketch concepts for clients all the time, but those don’t end up in my sketchbook. The majority of people don’t even show what is in their personal sketchbooks. So your sketchbook can really be a fantastic playground for anything you want it to be — traditional sketches or abstract exploration. There are no rules.

On October 10, I’ll be giving a talk sponsored by WeMake Portland for the closing of Design Week. The talk, part of sketchXchange, will focus on — you guess it — my sketchbooks! I’ll be focusing on “sketchbook as surface design,” since 8 times out of 10 I end up filling the entire surface of a spread in my sketchbook with something — a collage, an intricate line drawing, or some random lettering like the one pictured above. I’ll talk about my process, my motivations and what is going through my brain when I am creating my sketchbook spreads. Tickets go on sale soon, and I’ll keep you posted!

While I was on vacation in Portland a few weeks ago, I spent a lot of time with my sketchbook. That’s the thing about “sketching for fun & exploration” when you are a working artist. Unless you have time to build it into your daily work schedule, this kind of fun, free form sketching only happens when you are not working. And since I work most of the time, I don’t have much time to sketch — except on weekends, late evenings and, you guessed it: vacation.

Here are some of the spreads I finished while I was there.

photo 1

This one above I made with micron pens and Koi brush pens (also by the Japanese pen company Sakura). I use these pens almost exclusively.

photo 3

This spread above I created entirely from one Ladies Home Journal Magazine from 1969, scissors and a glue stick. I did it all while sitting on the guest room floor at my parents’ house watching bad cable TV shows.

photo 2

As you know, I love drawing buildings! This time I colored them in. I drew this spread while I was visiting Astoria, Oregon.

And this one took forever! I finished it last night:

photo 4

Do you keep a sketchbook or a book of daily or weekly paintings & drawings? Email me at with a short description how you approach your own sketchbook and 2-3 images and I may include it in my talk for Portland Design Week!

PS: I post fairly regular photos of my sketchbooks on Instagram, so if you don’t already, you can follow me there.

Have a great weekend, friends!


Art Inc :: Global Book Release Event!



I’m super excited to announce that on August 12 from 5-6 pm, the official book release day for my latest book, Art Inc, Creative Live is hosting a LIVE book release event! The great news about this event is that a) it will be broadcast live, b) anyone in the world can participate because it will be online, and c) it’s free! If you are in the Bay Area, there are 50 tickets available to come to the studio audience (and I’ll be signing books after the broadcast — more on that in a minute).

In this intimate broadcast, I’ll be talking Meg Ilasco about my path to becoming a fine artist & illustrator, and the lessons I share in my latest book. You may know Meg as an amazing designer, illustrator, art director at Anthology Magazine, writer, founder of the “Inc” series, and serial entrepreneur. Meg also happens to be the editor of Art Inc. This is an opportunity to hear us talk writing the book, my personal story about becoming a working artist, the lessons I learned along the way, and more!

There are two ways for you to participate in this global book launch event!

1) RSVP to WATCH ONLINE: If you are not in the Bay Area OR cannot get to the event at the CreativeLive Studios on August 12, you can watch online. To get access, you’ll need to RSVP (which means signing up for a CreativeLive account if you don’t already have one, but that’s SUPER easy). You can RSVP here by clicking on the blue RSVP button on the right hand side of the screen.

2) SIGN UP TO BE PART OF THE LIVE AUDIENCE:  If you are in the Bay Area and would like to be part of the LIVE studio audience for this event and get your book signed after the talk from 6-7 pm (Chronicle will be selling copies if you don’t already have one), you can sign up for FREE tickets here.


Have a great Wednesday, friends!