2014 :: A Sewing Odyssey :: #7

10/20/14

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This past Friday I worked on my seventh garment sewing project of the year: a tunic made from some beautiful Nani Iro double gauze, which has been hanging around in my fabric stash since I purchased it earlier this summer. For this tunic, I used the same pattern that I used to make this dress, except kept the hem a bit shorter. [For those of you who are new to my blog, I started sewing my own clothes this past January. You can see all of sewing projects from the year here.]

To give this tunic a special pop, I used some neon pink bias tape for the neckline (also something I bought earlier this summer that I have been dying to use). I also recently purchased a serger, which I used to finish off all the interior edges of the dress (a very satisfying exersize, I might add!).

When I first started sewing clothes in January, I had no idea how much I didn’t know about garment sewing, and how different it is from quilting, the only other kind of machine sewing I’d ever done. Since then,  I have been working on refining my sewing skills every time I make a new garment. The first few pieces I made were humbling and frustrating, and I realized I needed to dig in my heals and learn some things, especially if I was going to make anything that I would feel proud to wear regularly. So I read a few books, took some classes and had lessons from my friend Sonya. And I finally feel like I am getting the hang of it, though I have so much more practicing to do, especially because I want to advance to more complicated patterns and techniques.

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This particular tunic is a very simple shape, just four pieces to construct. I know I will be using this pattern over and over again! It’s very flexible and easy to wear. My friend, pattern designer Sonya Philip, designed this pattern especially for me, but you can purchase very similar patterns of hers here.

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Have a great Monday and happy sewing!

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2014 :: A Sewing Odyssey :: #6

08/26/14

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This past Friday I ventured over to my friend Sonya Philip’s sewing studio in San Francisco to make a dress. You may remember that I am working hard this year to not purchase new clothing. My goal is to either sew for myself or buy vintage (for the most part I’ve been successful at this, except for buying a few pairs of pants and one new dress). You can see all of my 2014 sewing projects here.

I have realized the more I sew that I actually have no idea what I am doing half the time! So I’ve decided to take classes and learn as much as possible about sewing techniques. My friend Sonya is a sewing master, and I arranged two one-on-one classes with her. I had my first on Friday, and she guided me as I made the dress pictured above. I learned how to make a proper neckline with bias tape and also got to finish the edges with her serger (and promptly bought a serger of my own — they are magical).

You may also remember that last month I took a block printing class and printed the linen pictured below, which we used to make the dress.

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It felt a little scary to cut up this linen that I spent hours printing, but I am so pleased with the result! The back of the dress is plain grey (we used the remaining fabric that I did not print for the back).

If you’ve been a reader of my blog for awhile you may remember that Sonya made me this dress back in 2012 as part of her 100 Acts of Sewing Project. Since I love this dress so much (and wear it all the time), we used the same pattern (designed specially for me by Sonya) to make the block printed dress this past Friday.

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I plan to make another of this same dress next week out of some Nani Iro Japanese double gauze fabric I bought recently. Stay tuned for that. I’m on a sewing roll again.

Have a great Tuesday, friends.

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New Podcast :: While She Naps

08/11/14

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I’m so excited today to be featured with my agent Lilla Rogers on Abby Glassenberg’s awesome podcast series! We talk about working together (Lilla has been my illustration agent since 2008), our books, and making a living as an artist. You can listen to the podcast here.

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Tomorrow Art Inc is released! I’ll be back first thing in the morning announcing the blog tour for the book! Stay tuned!

And happy Monday.

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Father Jan Rossey

08/01/14

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We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep. -William James

The day before I got married last year, I got an email from someone I’d never met. This is not unusual for me. My life is somewhat public-facing — I keep a blog that many people read and I post daily images of my work & life on Instagram. I get emails almost every day from people I don’t know —  asking me questions or letting me know what they think about my work. Around the time of my wedding in 2013, I got a lot of congratulatory emails from people around the world — and I loved them all.

The email that I was most touched by, however, came from Father Jan Rossey. The first line of the email said this: “I wish you both a wonderful day tomorrow and a wonderful day every day of your married life. May God bless you and keep you.” He attached the beautifully lettered image, pictured above, to the email. Father Jan went on to explain that he was a Roman Catholic priest and monk in the monastery of Caldey Island. He also explained that he was an amateur lettering artist, letter carver and calligrapher since 1978. He learned calligraphy from the best teachers in the world: John Stevens, Brody Neuenschwander, Tom Perkins and John Nash, the Family Boudens and many others.

“Some time ago,” he said, “I came across your work and I love it very much. I like the ‘simplicity’ [which is not so simple] of your lettering work and drawings. I myself turn more and more towards the same simplicity, pencil drawn letters. Apart from some lettering I carve text in stone also. If you’re interested I’ll send you some pictures of my work.”

I was so moved by this email. First, a Roman Catholic priest and monk who lives in an abbey across the world in Wales was emailing me to wish me — and my soon-to-be wife — a happy wedding day. Second, this accomplished calligrapher was complimenting me on my lettering. It made my heart feel full, and made me feel a love for humanity. Here we were — two people from different generations, from two different worlds — finding connection. Father Jan and I corresponded a bit after the initial email, and I never forgot about him.

Fast forward to a year later. I got another email from Father Jan, this one entitled, “Happy Anniversary.” I quickly opened it. “I wish you a happy first anniversary of your wedding,” he wrote. “Lisa, I must say I’m very much inspired by your work and by the way you look at things in life. Last Christmas I had to make the Christmas crib here at the monastery and I took you [and Marimekko] as inspiration.” Father Jan attached this photo of his beautiful patterned trees. I thought I might cry that moment — how beautiful are these trees!!

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Father Jan continued: “Also your hand-lettering and drawings made me try myself. So I handlettered and illustrated one chapter of the Rule of Benedict, chapter 4, ‘The tools for Good works’.  As a token of my appreciation for you and as a late wedding-present I would like to send you a copy of the little booklet [A6-80 pages], but then I need you mail-address. It might inspire you in turn.” He also let me know that he was packing to travel to Tautra in Norway “not to make you jealous of course,” he said, which made me laugh because everyone knows how much I love Scandinavia! He was going on retreat in preparation for his Solemn Profession as a Cistercian Monk.

I quickly wrote back to Father Jan and thanked him for the offer of his book and gave him my address. I was really excited to receive it. Several weeks later I received Father Jan’s beautiful book.

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The book is called RB4 – The Tools for Good Works, and it is an illustrated version of Chapter 4 of the Rule of St Benedict, traditionally known as ”The Tools for Good Works.” The Rule of St. Benedict was written for monks, but Father Jan thinks everyone can benefit from living by the rules — or at least attempting to! Some of them are rather challenging! Anyhow, father Jan not only hand lettered the rules, but also illustrated them. The illustrations are based on everyday household tools. Here are a couple of examples:

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Even the end-pages of Father Jan’s book are beautiful!

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How does a monk living on an abbey on an island in Wales create such a beautiful book? Well, the same way any of us would: with pencils, pens, and, of course, Photoshop! Father Jan has some serious skills. If you would like to purchase a copy of RB4 – The Tools for Good Works, you can do so here.

After I received Father Jan’s book, I sent him a copy of Whatever You Are, Be a Good One, which he received last week. “Your beautiful book arrived this morning,” he wrote. “And it is a great thrill to take it in hand as it has such a tactile cover.”

I leave you with that, friends. And with these words from Herman Melville: “We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.”

Have a happy Friday.

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Block Printing Class!

07/30/14

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As you may recall, I’ve been learning & playing around with block printing recently. I have been wanting to experiment with printing my own fabric so I signed up for my friend Jennifer Hewett’s Block Printing on Fabric class at Handcraft Studio School this past Saturday. The class is designed for beginners, and most people in the class had never carved blocks or block printed before. Since I had some experience, I had grand plans for the class! My goal was to print enough fabric to make a dress. I brought some of my own linen (Jen provides fabric if you don’t bring your own) and extra rubber blocks since I wanted to carve five different shapes to make a pattern.

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Carving blocks (especially when they have intricate detail) can take time, but it’s not difficult. Most people in the class exclaimed with glee at how addictive and fun block carving is! The rubber is soft like cream cheese and fairly easy to carve (as opposed to carving linoleum for linocut printing, which is much more time-consuming and a bit more difficult). Drawing your design, transferring it to the rubber and then carving the block is an important & enjoyable part of the process, but, for me, the printing is where the magic happens. My block designs were big, simple shapes, so it didn’t take me long to carve all five and I got down to printing pretty quickly.

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{Photo by Tracy of homesteadhandmade}

I decided to create an all-over design in four colors on my fabric. I didn’t make a perfect repeat. Instead, it was more random, but I was paying attention to overall balance and composition, using the shapes and colors as my guide — sort of like I do when I paint a canvas. Block printing is, by nature, an imperfect art — every time you lay down your block to print you don’t know what you are going to get! And that’s what’s liberating about it: the beauty comes from the imperfections.

After five hours of printing (whew!) with a short break for lunch, I managed to print this giant piece of linen. Later in August, I’ll be making a dress from this fabric (if I can bear to cut it up!). I’ve saved the blocks, of course, and I plan to print some tea towels with them soon. So stay tuned for that!

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I really, really enjoyed this class & the process of printing fabric! Jen is a great teacher. She explains the process really clearly, she’s there to help if you need her, and she is very encouraging! I also loved meeting & talking to the other women in the class. Here is my friend Rae printing some fabric with a small block she carved:

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And here is another class participant with the small tote bag she made from a more intricate block she designed:

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{Two photos above by Jen Hewett}

Bay Area folks: lucky for you, Jen is offering her class again on September 6 at Handcraft Studio School in Emeryville. If you want to learn to carve blocks and print on fabric, this is a fantastic way to spend a Saturday. To boot, Handcraft Studio School is a lovely, light-filled space run by the kind & generous Marie Muscardini. I can’t wait to take a class there again. If you are interested in printmaking, I also recommend following Jen’s 52 Weeks of Printmaking project.

Have a great Wednesday, friends!

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2014 :: A Sewing Odyssey :: #5

07/28/14

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Many of you know that I am working hard this year to not purchase new clothing. My goal is to either sew for myself or buy vintage. Lately, I’ve been so busy with work that I’ve had very little time to sew. In fact, the last dress I made was in April! So instead, I’ve been hitting vintage shops and thrift stores when I have the chance. Recently, when I was on vacation in Oregon, I had the chance to do a bit of vintage shopping.

Those of you who buy vintage know every now and again when you are digging through a thrift or vintage you find a dress that was made for you — it fits you perfectly, it’s got all “your colors” in it, and it’s something you could wear every day. I had one such experience recently in Astoria Oregon, shopping at Commercial Astoria. But before I tell you more about the dress I bought there, let me say I love this shop. It’s small, which means it’s not overwhelming, and it’s well curated. And for a curated vintage shop, the prices are great. And they sell vinyl (we also bought a bunch of records while we were there).

So back to the dress. You can see me modeling it above. But the thing is, when I bought it, it didn’t look exactly like this. It was floor length and the sleeves were a bit too long also. Typical 70’s style: cute, but not something I’d wear very often. In every other way it was perfect, however,  vintage Scandinavian print and all. So I decided to buy it and alter it a bit to make it more current — something I could wear every day. I chopped a couple of feet off the bottom of it, and several inches off the sleeves, hemmed them up and voilà: a new-to-me every day cotton dress.

Besides the fit, the thing I love most about this dress is the pattern. If you know me, you know I am obsessed with all things Scandinavian, and the fabric this dress is made of is no exception.

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While I love shopping for vintage and altering vintage clothes, I am going to sew more clothing again, hopefully soon. In fact, on Saturday I block printed a couple of yards of fabric (more on that later this week) and I plan to sew a dress from that before September is over. Stay tuned.

Have a great Monday, friends.

 

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One Year Later

06/26/14

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One year ago today and really exciting thing happened in the lives of thousands upon thousands of people: in a historic pair of 5-4 rulings on the final day of the term for the United States Supreme Court, the justices struck down the sixteen year old Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal benefits to gay couples married under state law, and let stand a ruling that found Proposition 8 (a 2008 voter initiative that ended same-sex marriage in California) unconstitutional. What that meant for me was that Clay and I (along with thousands of other couples) could get legally married. Elated, I wrote about the ruling the next day here. And Clay and I did get legally married in July. It was a very exciting time in our lives and a time I will never, ever forget.

To commemorate the anniversary of this historic date and to advocate for the legalization of same sex marriage all over the country, I made a new piece of art, entitled “Love Conquers All” pictured above, which will be for sale as a print in my Etsy Shop starting July 16 (my shop is closed for the time being while I am on vacation). Sign up for my mailing list to be alerted when the print is available in July!

I wanted to also recommend a fantastic documentary, which I saw a week ago at the opening night of the LGBT Film Festival in San Francisco: The Case Against 8, which documents the fight against Proposition 8 in California. It’s a gut wrenchingly fabulous film airing now on HBO that follows the plaintiffs and attorneys in their multi-year struggle which ended this day last year. If you do watch, bring your tissues!!

Have a happy Thursday everyone! To marriage for all!

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Collaborations with Clay :: Project 2

06/24/14

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You may remember at the end of April that my wife Clay and I started a project in which we are periodically making gifts for friends & family. We made these bath salts, and have since offered them up to several people as thank you gifts. We continued that new tradition on Sunday when we made jars of Maple Ginger Almonds (information on recipe coming up). Along with making the nuts, we made labels for the jars using a simple image transfer technique.

We’ve decided to name each series of gifts we make, and this one is called “Nuts 4U” — a double entendre, of course! I hand lettered the label design and we got to work making the labels. You can learn about this transfer technique in this Creativebug tutorial by the amazing Courtney Cerruti, or you can also purchase her book on image transfer (which I wrote about here). Basically all you need are a photocopy of what you’d like to transfer, solid packing tape (I love 3M’s packing tape), a spoon for burnishing, scissors, and a bowl of warm water.

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Place a piece of packing tape over the image you’d like to transfer and burnish with the spoon (or any hard object). Cut out the piece you’d like to transfer and place in the warm water and let soak for a few minutes.

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Then peel or gently scrape the paper off the back of the packing tape. It will be wet and happens quite effortlessly. The image will remain on the tape. Let the piece of tape dry completely. And voila! You have a label! The adhesive survives the process with most packing tapes.

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Next we made the nuts. We used the Maple Ginger Almond recipe from the Pure Vegan cookbook. These flavored almonds are delicious, but they are a bit more savory than sweet in the end, so their name is a bit misleading. They use a lot of soy sauce (you could use Tamari sauce instead), and are deliciously salty with a hint of maple/ginger flavor. The recipe is super simple (four ingredients!) and we were finished making them in less than 30 minutes (though you need to let them completely cool and dry which takes several hours). We also tripled the recipe.

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We now have eight little jars of nuts ready for friends.

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We are already thinking about what we might make next. Stay tuned!

Have a happy Tuesday!

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On Change

06/23/14

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I am a summer girl. Since I was a kid, it has been my favorite season. I love warm air, swimming pools, the light that stays into the evening. The beginning of summer, like all seasons, represents change.

A few seemingly minor things have happened over the past couple of weeks that have made me realize that my world is changing. And they have reminded me that nothing is permanent — that things (even the things we wish wouldn’t) – evolve, and that they evolve constantly. And we don’t even notice most of the time. Things are always shifting and moving — in nature, in relationships, everywhere, all the time. That’s why Buddhists practice non-attachment. They say attachment is the cause of suffering. Since things are always changing, attachment can only cause pain.

We mostly notice when something changes when it begins to hurt. And then we say “WHAT THE *#$^# JUST HAPPENED?” And then we realize this thing that is causing the sting has been sloooooowly changing for a long time, and that we just didn’t notice. That circumstance we took for granted, that thing that grounded us — is no longer what we thought. And we have to start over and find new ground and create a new world view to keep ourselves feeling okay.

In very small ways this happens to us every day. Something in our reality is shaken. But most of the time these things are so small that we move through them with ease, and we might barely notice them. And other times they feel bigger and more significant. At forty-six I’ve been through enough painful evolutions in my life to know I will get through the current one, where when I was sixteen a similar situation might have made me crawl into a hole and not come out for weeks. The more change and related pain we experience over our lifetimes, the more adept we get at moving through it. And that’s a good thing to remember.

And also, let’s face it, while some change is super painful, other change can feel welcomed and exhilarating. Every dark side has a light side, or so they say. So on this lovely summer morning, I’m searching for the light in my current round of change, and feeling grateful for the stuff in my life that is, at least for today, standing still.

Have a good Monday, friends.

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Happy National Donut Day!

06/06/14

 

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{My first ever donut-themed piece of art, created in 2012}

Its NATIONAL DONUT DAY, friends.

I grew up in a home in which donuts were deemed inherently evil, my mother citing “zero nutritional value” as the reason they did not ever grace our table. They were basically deep fried dough covered in sugar, she said (um, hello MOM, that sounds DELICIOUS!). The only treats we got for stretches of time in our home were homemade cookies made with whole grains and fruit juice. Occasionally on extravagant occasions my mother would make whole wheat cinnamon rolls drizzled in a powdered sugar glaze (the use of actual refined sugar was rare). I love my mom, and while I really appreciate my mother’s attempt to feed us a healthy diet now (and she was/is a great cook), then I was only pining for the stuff I couldn’t have. Which also might explain why I gained 25 pounds my first semester of college when my entire diet was finally up to me & the dining hall options. But that is another story.

Anyhow, the only way around this dearth of donuts was to sneak out to Dunkin Donuts whenever we could. So my brother and sister and I (and some combination of other recalcitrant church-going teens) figured out that we could conveniently drive or walk away from the church parking lot on Sundays — just during the time when we were supposed to be in Sunday school — and return just before the ending time. This served two purposes: donuts and not having to participate in church youth group activities.

And so we did. And we ate donuts. This was also my introduction to coffee — doused with packets of dry creamer and sugar, of course. The combination of donuts and coffee, (and the buzz they made me feel), sitting in our Sunday best inside a booth, the smell of donuts around us, the sun streaming in from outside, giggling and gossiping, the thrill of being insubordinate — they are some of my best memories.

Earlier this winter I was asked to be part of a book about hand lettering. And the editor requested just one thing from me: a donut alphabet. And so I gladly obliged.

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And you may recall that I made this poster for the PSU GoodShop recently (which you can get here). A smokin’ deal at $25:

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Have a great weekend, friends. And don’t forget to eat a donut today!

 

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On Marriage :: A Year Later

06/02/14

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One year ago, on June 1, 2013 I got married. I wrote about marriage a lot last year — what it felt like to be getting married as a gay person and as a 45 year old, what it felt like the day it happened, what it felt like when the ban on same sex marriage was struck down in my state, and what it felt like when we got legally married in July. And now I am going to write a little bit about what it feels like to be married, a year later.

First, let me provide some context. Last year was — aside from the wedding, our legal marriage and honeymoon, and short periods of time surrounding those events — one of the hardest years of my life. It was rife with challenges. From the beginning of the year, I was working a lot outside my comfort zone artistically (which I advocate for, but ain’t always easy). I wrote a book (which I am now quite proud of, but the process of writing it was grueling). And last fall, I went through a fairly public issue regarding copyright infringement of my work, during which time my own work was scrutinized. And that particular experience was so dark and so painful that I almost did not come out of it. It was, for me, the single worst three months of my life. I almost quit making art. I wanted to move far away and never go on the internet again. I was this close –> <– to giving up.

But I didn’t give up. Not on writing the book and, most notably, not on my work as an artist. And that is because of my wife, Clay.

Some people say that marriage doesn’t actually change your relationship too much, that it’s just a piece of paper. And maybe for some people that is what marriage is — mostly a legal agreement. Countless unmarried couples live committed and beautiful lives together.  I do not think marriage is necessary for intimacy or commitment. My community hasn’t been allowed to marry until recently (at least legally). But for me, the act of getting married, expressing my vows to Clay, in the presence of our closest family and friends, was an act of saying to the world: I will do everything in my power to protect this person from pain, comfort this person in her grief, love this person with every bone of my body, honor this person in every way possible, and to be absolutely truthful to this person.

So I knew marriage would change me. I knew that I would be a better, more thoughtful, more truthful, more loving, more accountable partner because of what I had committed to. But what I hadn’t given too much thought to was how marriage might change Clay. Let’s be clear: I married Clay because she is one of the most thoughtful, grounded, spirited, genuine, easy-to-be-in-the-presence-of humans I’ve ever known. And she’s pretty adorable, to boot. But I had no idea of the bounds of her love and the seriousness with which she took our relationship (er, marriage) until last October.

If you have ever gone through something so horrible that you could not sleep or eat or concentrate and where crying and panic attacks were regular occurrences, you know something of my state between October and December of last year. And you might also know that often when you are in that kind of state, all you want is for someone to tell you, maybe every 10 minutes if necessary, that everything is going to be okay. You don’t want them to necessarily fix it or tell you what you should be doing differently or tell you what might make you feel better. You just want comfort. That’s all.

And that, my friends, is exactly what Clay gave me, every single day for three months straight. She didn’t tell me I had to get over it. She didn’t make me feel worse about what was happening. She stood by me (often taking time off of work), without complaint, and provided me love and comfort and a sense of safety. She also helped to handle many of my legal matters, aspects of my business, and communication with important people in my life. I have never felt so loved or protected by someone, ever.

So I am not sure if the vows Clay made in marrying me are what caused the depths of her commitment to me last year. But I do know that something felt different during that time, and has continued to feel different since that experience faded. Instead of destroying us, the experience bonded us in a way I never thought possible with another person (and I also learned a lot of valuable personal and professional lessons). And that is the thing: often the most beautiful things come out of the most ugly piles of crap-shit.

So, yah, I love being married — and not just because I have a wife who is the bomb-diggity when it comes to being right there for me when things feel scary. I love being married, because I love Clay. I love everything about her, even the stuff that annoys me. Every day I cannot wait for her to come home from work. I never tire of her. She is my joy, my comfort, my world.

Here’s to marriage. May every single couple who wants marriage get to experience its beauty!

Have a good Monday, friends.

(Photo credit: the amazing Bonnie Tsang)

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AIDS Life/Cycle Designs!

05/30/14

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(In 2012, as we are about to embark on the 545 mile bike ride from SF to LA}

You may recall that two years ago in 2012 I rode my bike from San Francisco to Los Angeles as part of the California AIDS Life/Cycle. It was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Earlier this year the folks at AIDS Life/Cycle contacted me to create a hand lettered route map for them that would adorn a bandana and tote bag — for riders to purchase in the camp store. I was so honored to do work for this great organization, and after chatting about iconic stops along the route, I came up with this design:

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The route travels down the California coast and the various spots are either famous rest stops (places where riders stop for food and water) or camps or cities along the way. They even made a t-shirt from my drawing of two bears eating otter pops from the famous Otter Pop Stop (rest stop) on the way from Santa Cruz to King City on Day 2 (the longest day at around 109 miles of cycling).

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If you are riding this year, you can buy the merchandise I designed at the ALC camp store. And good luck riders! They leave Sunday for the 7-day ride.

I’ll be back Monday with a special post reflecting on a year of marriage (yes, it’s been a YEAR!).

Happy weekend! I’m off to Mendocino for my anniversary with Clay.

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New York Recap No. 2 :: Class & Book Signing

05/29/14

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One of the most enjoyable parts of my latest adventure to New York City was teaching my Professional Illustration Class at the new Makeshift Society in Brooklyn. It was a packed house and we chatted for over two hours about the life & work of a professional illustrator — how to build your career, executing assignments, contracts & billing, staying organized, agents, self promotion and more. I’m teaching the same class in San Francisco next week, and that class is sold out, but I plan to add a class in August, so stay tuned! I have added an August class! Register here.

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The following evening I had a book signing for Whatever You Are, Be a Good One, also at Makeshift Society.

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Grace Bonney and my wife Clay getting are all smiles getting ready to sell books before the event!

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The thing I love most about book signings is connecting with people – and book signings are always a beautiful combination of familiar and unfamiliar faces. Below I’m chatting with my friend Carrie, who I’ve known online for years but had never met in person. It was a highlight!

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Kimberly showed up to have her book signed and also showed me one of my flower drawings she had tattooed on her arm! Here I am taking a photo of it.

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Rachel, one of my oldest and dearest friends who now lives in New York came and I was so excited to see her!

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I could not have gotten through the evening without the help of Bryan and Cait at Makeshift Society, my wife Clay, and the help of my friends Grace and Julia, pictured below, who sold books as I signed them.

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If you live in the Los Angeles Area, my next book signing is June 14 at Poketo! I’d love very much to see you there. I’ll be sharing more information about that event next week. You can RSVP here.

Have a happy Thursday, friends!

 

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New York Recap No. 1 :: Surtex & Stationery Show

05/28/14

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{My illustration and licensing agent, Lilla Rogers, in her booth at Surtex; you can see my banner overhead}

For 10 days last week I traveled to New York City. For the first two days of my trip, I attended both Surtex and the National Stationery Show. I was exhibiting some of my surface design work at Surtex at my agent’s booth (see photo above) and visiting the Stationery Show to see friends in the industry and get a look at the latest trends. Spending two days at Javits Convention Center In New York is always exciting — there is always so much packed into trade shows. And it also involves A LOT of walking!

It is also visually very stimulating (to the point of being downright overwhelming). At Surtex you see hundreds of pattern & surface designs exhibited by artists and at the Stationery Show you see thousands and thousands of cards, notebooks, calendars and totebags by today’s stationery designers & companies — from large companies like Galison to tiny start-up letterpress companies. So you can only imagine how wonderful  — though totally exhausting — the experience is!

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While there, my agent Lilla gathered all of the artists she represents who came for the shows. We all ate lunch together and discussed business. I always enjoy hanging out with my fellow illustrators & hearing the latest from Lilla. Pictured above fellow Lilla Rogers Studio artists from left to right: Zoe Ingram, Daniel Roode, Lilla Rogers, Carolyn Gavin, Sarajo Friedan, Helen Dardik, me, Allison Cole and Mike Lowrey. Zoe came all the way from Australia for the week!

At the Stationery Show, I was able to visit many friends exhibiting there, along with several companies who license my work like Quarto Publishing, Old Tom Foolery, Chronicle Books, Tattly, and more. I was thrilled to see one of three coloring books I did for Quarto at the show (sorry for the blurry photo — snaps were taken quickly!):

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And I’ll be announcing all three coloring books in an upcoming blog post, so stay tuned!

The company Old Tom Foolery has licensed many of my photographs for use on their beautiful stationery. Here are my Paris Notecards in their booth, which you can purchase directly from them (see link in my sidebar!).

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In my industry, I have made so many friends over the internet (and many locally in the Bay Area too), and Surtex and the Stationery Show provide an opportunity to see many of them — and meet new friends too. I was so lucky to see friends from around the country like Emily McDowell, Ashley Goldberg, Christine Schmidt of Yellow Owl, Liz Libre of Linda & Harriett, Sarah Parrott, Cat Seto, Eva Jorgensen of Sycamore Street Press, Claudia Pearson, Lorena Siminovich of Petit Collage, Tina Eisenberg from Tattly and many others.

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Here I am with Claudia Pearson in her booth, whose work I love and whose friendship I am so happy to have! And below, I was so happy to see/chat with my friend Cat Seto of Ferme A Papier.

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Tomorrow I’ll be back with another New York Recap about my class and book signing events.

Have a great Wednesday, friends.

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Art Inc. Advances are Here!

05/15/14

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As you may remember, last year I wrote a book! It’s called Art Inc: The Essential Guide for Building Your Career as an Artist, and it comes out in August. Just last week I got a very special package in the mail, which included my very first advance copies of the book! I was unexpectedly overcome with emotion when I opened the box. They are so pristine and beautiful! The book’s illustrations are by the amazing Karolin Schnoor.

Art Inc. includes seven chapters covering things like getting down to business, promoting your work, exhibitions and galleries, illustration and licensing, and more! The book also includes interviews with 14 successful full time artists & illustrators.

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If you’ve been reading this blog for a long time, you may recall that it was a arduous process for me to write a business book. I wrote this post a little over a year ago on the pain of writing & editing (and owning all of the experience, even the hard stuff). I love to write, but I’d never given business advice before in such a detailed way, nor had I ever had the experience of having my writing (ideas, thinking, etc) edited by others. There were points in the process when I wanted to give up. Friends recall me saying, “I’d quit, except the train has already left the station, and I can’t!” Insecurity ravaged me, and I felt like nothing I wrote was right or good or worth reading. I realized how much I didn’t know about the worlds of art and illustration and how much I had to learn by interviewing people and doing research in order to write a decent book. Writing this book turned me inside out.

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I obviously stuck with it, tears, anxiety, heartache and all, and I am so glad I did. I am so proud of this book, and I cannot wait to share it with the world. My hope is that my experience — and the experience of the people I interviewed for the book — can help more and more artists figure out how to happily and successfully build a career.

Art Inc. comes out August 12. In the meantime, you can pre-order a copy here. I’ll be going on another book tour this fall, so stay tuned for stops in your city. If you are interested in hosting me at your organization or bookstore, I’d love to hear from you.

Have a happy Thursday, everyone!

 

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