Portugal & Spain Sketchbook Spreads



“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.”
― Anita Desai

Hello friends!

As many of you know, I traveled with my wife Clay to Portugal and Spain during the month of October. We had an amazing trip. You can see many of the photos I took in the six cities we visited on Instagram. Since we traveled between six different cities (and had two stops on our way to Portugal), I spent a lot of time on buses, trains & airplanes and at cafes drawing in my sketchbook. I think there is no happier place for me than being on a train in a foreign country with my headphones in (playing my favorite music, of course) and drawing! Nothing fills me with such bliss. Some of the trains were a bit bumpy, but somehow I managed to pull off some detailed spreads! Here are some of my favorites from my adventure. You can see more of my sketchbook spreads here.


{I made this spread at a cafe; it was inspired by all of the beautiful ceramic tiles in Lisbon!}



{Portugal was one of the most colorful and pattern-rich places I have ever been.}


{A sketch of the view from the Duoro River in Porto, Portugal}




{A rendering of the beautiful hillsides of Granada, Spain}


{The beautiful windows of Madrid!}




{And, finally, things I saw in the visually-rich city of Barcelona!}

Now that I am back home, I am settling into my routine again, to working, painting, keeping my life organized. I am also planning the content for my upcoming online course for artists, which I am very excited about!

Happy Thursday, everyone!


I’m Off to Portugal and Spain!


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I just wanted to say ¡Adiós! I am leaving for a three week trip to Portugal and Spain! I will return back to regular programming on November 2, 2015. I will be documenting my trip in drawings and photographs over on Instagram and you can follow me there. When I return I’ll post highlights from my trip here.

I am incredibly excited for our adventure. We will visit Lisbon, Porto, Sevilla, Granada, Madrid and Barcelona.

Have a wonderful month and I’ll see you over on Instagram while I’m away from the blog!


Illustration for Joie De Vivre Hotels



As an illustrator, sometimes I get to make art for really cool clients. Recently I did an illustration for the amazing Joie De Vivre Hotels! Let’s call them JDV for short. I love travel and rendering city icons, so this job was a treat for me.

My illustration was focused on four of the most popular JDV locations: California (they have hotels in both SF and LA), Chicago, Miami and Honolulu. The very first JDV hotel was the iconic, super funky Phoenix Hotel in San Francisco, which opened waaaaay back in 1987 (where I actually spent some time sitting by the pool in my 20’s!). I also stayed in a JDV hotel on the final night of the AIDS Lifecycle (which I rode in 2012) and in another JDV hotel on my wedding night! I’m obviously a fan. Today JDV comprises the largest collection of boutique hotels in California, and they also have  locations in Washington D.C., Chicago, Miami, Honolulu and Scottsdale, Arizona.

I loved working with Joie De Vivre on this illustration. They are not only a company with a very cool brand of hotels, they are also company who has their own super cool blog (with fantastic imagery) called Joyride (I also love the name!). You can also follow them on social media for all of their latest info:  Twitter (@JDVhotels) // Instagram  (@JDVhotels) // Facebook

Speaking of a joyride, I am off on Monday to Portugal and Spain for a few weeks. Tomorrow will be one of my last blog posts for awhile! But you can follow along on my adventures on Instagram!

Hope you are having a great Thursday!


New Work for Airbnb


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Every now and again I get to work for a serious dream client — a company who has a really great mission & vision, a clean aesthetic & beautiful brand, and is filled with nice people. Recently I got to work for one such company, Airbnb, the community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world. I used Airbnb when I traveled to Scandinavia back in 2012 and had a really fantastic experience. I plan to use them again when I travel to Spain and Portugal later this year.

Yesterday Airbnb posted an interview with me on their blog about the work I did for them & my own thoughts on travel in their Makers profile series. They also shared some of the work I did for them, which you can also see below. Pop over here to take a look!







Have a great Tuesday, friends!


New York Recap No. 3 :: Art!



{Abstract painting by Amy Sillman (whose work I love in general, which was one of my favorite pieces in the 2014 Whitney Biennial}

One of my absolute favorite activities in the universe is looking at art in NY. Clay and I had a busy week with many commitments when we were there, so we didn’t get to see as much art as we’d normally like to, but what we saw was stellar. We were able to catch the Whitney Biennial, which was jam packed (with people and with art), each floor curated by a different person. I enjoyed the fourth floor the most, which was curated by Michelle Grabner. She featured many female artists, and the most paintings & textiles (which of course I love).

Another highlight was the Lynda Barry show at Adam Baumgold Gallery. The show was chock full of original cartoons and really old stuff by Barry. For Barry fans, this is a must! They are also for sale and the folks at the gallery are wonderfully kind and helpful. I didn’t buy anything but, boy, did I want to!


{One of Barry’s original cartoons on display at Adam Baumgold}

We also went one day to the Brooklyn Museum, where we saw both the Ai Weiwei exhibit (Ai Weiwei: According to What?) and the Swoon installation. Both were phenomenal.


The scale of Ai Weiwei’s work is something you must witness in person. Here I am observing “Ye Haiyan’s Belongings”. You can read more about the show here.


{Ai Weiwei Installation made from rebar recovered from the earthquake in China a few years ago.}


{Above: if you are a Swoon fan, you will love the gigantic installation she made in the museum’s rotunda.}


{Clay and me outside the Dia: Beacon}

Last but not least we went to the Dia: Beacon with our friends Anna and Evan who have a home nearby. I’d heard about this place, but it is also something to behold in person. A former Nabisco box factory, it’s been transformed into a place for large scale modern art. I cannot wait to go back.


{Agnes Martin at the Dia}


{Clay inside a Richard Serra installation at the Dia.}


{Sol Lewitt wall drawings were fantastic!}

Have a happy Tuesday, friends. I’ll be back tomorrow with a preview of work I made for my upcoming book signing and show at Poketo in Los Angeles.


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



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.


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


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


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!


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.


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


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.


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!



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



{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!


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!):


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!).


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.


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.


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

Have a great Wednesday, friends.


NYC, Here I Come!



Every May I travel to New York City for Design Week.  I didn’t go last year because it was the week before my wedding, but I’ve been going for many years. I leave tomorrow for 10 days and I’m bursting with excitement. I love New York so much! I’m hoping to post some photos of our adventures here next week.

If you live in or around New York and you want to say hello, I’ll be having a book signing at Makeshift Society Brooklyn on Thursday, May 22, from 6:30-9 pm. You can get the address and all the info here. I’d love to see you there.

I’m also teaching a class on May 21 about the business side of Illustration. I think there are a few spots left. You can learn more about that & register here.

Have a great weekend, everyone! I’ll see you in New York!


Wildsam :: San Francisco



Every now and again an illustration job comes to your desk that makes you jump out of bed in the morning wanting to get to work. One such job came my way last year via Taylor Bruce, founder, editor and writer of the Wildsam Field Guides. Taylor was making a SF Guide and he wanted me to illustrate it. I could not have been more excited.

Wildsam Field Guides are not like regular travel guides. They are small books (they could easily fit in a large pocket) filled with local lore, interviews with local characters, hand-drawn maps, personal essays, lists of local “must knows” and more. “Equal parts travel guide and tribute, the field guides suit both weekender and native,” says Taylor.

In all, the book includes about 15 of my illustrations. I had never drawn a map before taking the Wildsam SF assignment (gasp!), but had so much fun drawing the six maps in the book. The maps are clearly not to scale, but designed more to highlight different aspects of the city’s culture, landscape and history. Here are two I drew for the book that I love:



Part of what made working on Wildsam SF so great was working one-on-one with Taylor Bruce. In addition to making Wildsam Guides, Taylor is a writer. He’s written for magazines like Men’s Journal, Budget Travel, Southern Living, Oxford American, Paste, Travel + Leisure, National Geographic Adventure, and others — so he’s obviously pretty smart. Taylor is also incredibly gracious and kind. And he was great to work with because he took every illustration so seriously, but at the same time he let me guide the look and feel of each drawing with my own flair. For example, he allowed me to infuse my own quirks into each map based on my own memories and knowledge of the city.


Wildsam Guides are perfect little books and you can get them here. The San Francisco Guide is also sold in many stores around the city. If you are planning a trip to San Francisco, I highly recommend bringing one along.


Rumor has it both Detroit and Brooklyn are on the short list for upcoming Wildsam Guides. Stay tuned for more!

Happy, happy Thursday.


Iceland & Alvar Aalto in UPPERCASE 19!


#19 cover preview




As you may remember, about a year ago I’d just returned from a three week solo adventure to Scandinavia, including Iceland, Denmark, Sweden and Finland. For this month’s UPPERCASE Magazine, I’ve written two articles — one about my love affair with Iceland, and the other about my trip to the Alvar Aalto studio. The Iceland article features pages from my travel sketchbook/scrapbook and some of my artwork. Both articles include original photos I took on the trip.




I highly recommend a subscription to this gorgeous magazine. You can look at and read the entire issue here online, but it’s really 1000 times better in print. For a list of stockists in your area, check here.

Happy Tuesday!


On Prioritizing Travel, Part 2



{I have a thing for passport stamps}

A year ago today, I got up at the crack of dawn, went to SFO, boarded a plane and flew via Boston to Reykjavik, Iceland. For three weeks, I traveled by myself in Iceland, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark. It was a trip I had been dreaming about for many years. I’d long been obsessed with all things Nordic (the landscape, the design, the architecture, the folk pattern), and so going was almost surreal. For the first few days I felt like I was living in some alternate reality, pinching myself to see if I would suddenly wake up. The dream-like quality of my experience is a testament to the almost unreal beauty of the places I visited.

At the end of the adventure, I reflected about how moved I had been by the experience, both of traveling by myself and of traveling, period. I had caught the proverbial travel bug, and there would be no stopping me. Since then, I’ve been to Paris (this past July for my honeymoon), and I am already planning my next adventure–a year from now I’m heading to Portugal by myself for two weeks and then Clay will join me in Spain for another two. I’ve never been to either Portugal or Spain and I’m already giddy about the trip, which is a whole year away. I’d leave tomorrow if it were not for the need to sock away cash to make it happen. Saving money for travel has trumped even spending money on clothes or books (two of my greatest loves). I first wrote about prioritizing travel here.

I’m not sure at this point in my career I’ll be off to Europe or elsewhere abroad more than once a year unless I am lucky, but I do know that ever since I took that trip a year ago I’ve been filled with a new sense of adventure and wonder that follows me wherever I go–even to Oakland, where I just moved early this year or to Cleveland, where I traveled last month. There are beautiful sites, buildings, restaurants and shops everywhere, you just have to find them–and then, if you are like me, you take pictures of them.

Have a happy Thursday. The weekend is near.



Paris 2013: Shopping



There are so many incredible sights in Paris, and the shops are among the best. We spent many days in shops, most of the time just looking. Plenty of shops in Paris are like museums — beautiful things beautifully displayed — and often looking is enough. I wasn’t able to take photos in every boutique, but I did get a few, and I’ll share some of my favorites here. Where possible, I’ll include the name of the shop for your reference (in case you are heading to Paris soon).

Enjoy & happy Thursday.


Illustre Boutique, located on Passage du Grand Cerf, one of the great shopping arcades in Paris, was a treat. As you can guess, they sell illustrated prints and cards, many limited edition by French artists. A fantastic place.


Boxes of Monogram Ribbon from one of the weekend brocantes, which are small flea markets in different parts of the city (not to be confused with the large Les Puces). When you arrive in Paris, look for signs indicating where that weekend’s brocantes will be held.


Do you enjoy galleries? There are many gallery hot spots in Paris, and one of our favorite areas was in St. Germain des Pres.


Gallery windows are like eye candy.


Department stores in Paris are fantastic. They are pretty inclusive, and in addition to clothing and homewares, many include art supplies, stationery and even tools! Our favorite was BHV.


Wall display in the homewares section at BHV on Rue de Rivoli.


Perhaps our favorite shop was Astier de Villate on Rue St. Honore. The shop is filled with 18th century inspired ceramics made of black terracotta clay (glazed in white), along with candles, paper goods and other delicate goodies. It is incredibly expensive, but worth a visit for the experience alone. One of the most inspiring places I visited there.


Stacks of beautiful ceramics at Astier de Villate


Another favorite shop was Merci on Boulevard Beaumarchais in the Marais. The stunning entryway will stop you in your tracks.


Merci is filled with beautiful, modern linens, kitchenware, clothing, furniture and books. The entryway includes the best, most current Parisian souvenirs. The bookstore/cafe is totally charming as well.



Linens at Merci.


Chairs at Merci.


Another fantastic, historic and beautiful department store is Le Bon Marché. My favorite departments were the furniture and the separate grocery store chock full of French treats and delicacies (salt, condiments, etc).


Last but not least, Deyrolle on Rue du Bac, a shop filled with incredible taxidermy (they include only animals who have died of natural causes) and scientific posters and books. Part cabinet of curiosities, part museum, this place is a sight to see.




A spread from a wonderful book of scientific posters I got at Deyrolle.

I hope you have enjoyed this mini-tour!

Bonne journée!


Paris 2013: Street Art



One of the joys of being in Paris is just walking around. Yesterday someone asked me on Instagram for advice about what they should do on an upcoming trip to Paris. And I said to him, just walk. Nearly everything in Paris is eye candy. The streets are filled with gorgeous storefronts, signage, doors, architecture,. restaurants, and, the topic of today’s post, street art. Look up, look and look down, and you will find wonderful street art in the most peculiar places. Here is some of what I caught. Enjoy.








Happy Wednesday.


Paris 2013: Marche Aux Fleurs



{On my rented bike on Île Saint-Louis in Paris}

During our second week in Paris, we rented bicycles and rode all over the city on them. Paris is a very bike-able city, since it’s fairly flat and there are bike lanes on most streets. One of the most exciting discoveries we made on our bike adventure that day was the Marche aux Fleurs, the flower market on Île de la Cité that is open to the public. It is comprised of a set of buildings topped with glass ceilings off the Rue de la Cité. If you love vintage signage, birdhouses, pots, garden trinkets, greenery and beautiful flowers, you will love this place! Enjoy.









Happy Friday, friends!


Paris 2013: The Medieval City of Tours




One of the highlights of our trip to Paris was getting on a high speed train and traveling to the medieval city of Tours. We originally decided to go to Tours because the Tour de France was rolling through, and it’s been on our “must do before we die” list to see the bike race in person. And while it was pretty awesome to see the Tour de France finish that day, it turned out that the town itself — situated in the Loire Valley — is incredibly beautiful, and worth a visit on its own. Clay commented more than once walking through the oldest parts of the town, “It’s like we’re on a movie set!” And it’s true — the place is so old that it’s almost unreal. We also took a side trip from Tours on our second day there to visit two different nearby chateaus on the Loire, but I’ll save that excursion for another blog post. For now, I’ll leave you with some photos I took in this gorgeous old city.


















And last but not least: the TOUR DE FRANCE!…


Happy Tuesday, friends.