My New Website is Live!



Friends, I am so happy to announce that my new website is live! Head over here and take a look. We are still working out some glitches & working to make it more responsive for mobile devices. but it’s up an running and I couldn’t be happier. I worked with the amazing, patient and talented Sara Jensen Design again on this one (Sara also designed this blog). There is information on my new site about books, classes (I have a new one launching tomorrow, so stay tuned), public speaking, my portfolio and clients, and so much more.

Happy Monday, friends!


Whatever You Are, Be a Good One



When I made Whatever You Are, Be a Good One, I honestly didn’t expect much to come of it. I have learned to take each book or product launch with a grain of salt. You may want something to resonate with people and sell well, but any artist or designer who’s been making, launching or selling books or products for any amount of time will tell you, it’s really hard to predict what will and what won’t take off. Things I thought would be a slam dunk have failed. And now, things I never expected to sell much are selling really well. Every now and again something happens in your career that surprises you, something totally unexpected — and sales of Whatever You Are, Be a Good One have really, really surprised me (in a good way, of course).

In the past two weeks alone the book has been named not once but twice as a top Art/Design book of 2014: once here by Maria Popova on Brain Pickings and then this week here by Fast Company. The book appeared on the homepage for the Today Show in the U.S this week also. It is a top selling book in all its categories on Amazon (for awhile at the #1 spot for quotation books).

For me, it’s a humbling experience when something I make sells well or gets attention. The sales of Whatever You Are, Be a Good One have felt great, of course, but there is part of me who is also re-making the book in my head, because all I can see are the ways I would make it better if I could make it over again. I am a true artist I guess — never totally happy with my work!

I have just finished a sequel to Whatever You Are, Be a Good One, and it comes out later this year. It’s called Fortune Favors the Brave, and I cannot wait to show you the cover! For now, that will have to wait.

I am also having another book signing for Whatever You Are, Be a Good One coming up on January 10 in Los Gatos, California, my home town. I’ll be signing at Village Books on Main Street from 1 pm to about 2:30 pm. If you live in the area, I hope to see you there! EVENT CANCELLED!

Here’s to the unexpected!

Happy New Year, friends!


2014 :: Some Things I Learned



It’s the last day of 2014, and over the past few days I have been reflecting a lot on the past year. I just finished reading Lena Dunham’s new book, Not That Kind of Girl, in which she recollects on what she’s learned so far as a young woman in her late twenties. I wonder if (and hope) she’ll continue to write memoirs. Because every decade (every year, in fact) we (and by we I mean YOU and ME, all of us) — if we are conscious human beings — learn more and more about what matters in life, about acceptance, about humility, about how to be ourselves and so many other things.

For some context, in two weeks I turn forty seven years old. Here are some things I have learned at forty-six:

1) Not everyone will like me or my work or my process or what I have to say, and that is okay. I am beginning not to care as much, and not because I have any plans to be lazy about kindness or treating others with respect. I realize that usually the reasons people don’t like you or your work have nothing to do with whether you are a kind or good person anyhow.

2) All of that said, I have also learned that, for the most part, most people are good and kind. And it is goodness and kindness that matter most. So I choose to surround myself with good and kind people.

3) I can survive a difficult experience. In 2013, I went through something quite traumatic — the most traumatic in my life, in fact. And it did not destroy me. In fact, I am better for it. What I learned made 2014 much richer in ways I could not have imagined.

4) I like being married. A lot. I am so grateful for marriage equality and what it has done for me and for my gay and lesbian sisters and brothers everywhere.

5) I can’t do it all in my career. Choosing the stuff I like to do the most and the stuff that brings me the most satisfaction (even if it’s not the most lucrative and even if it means I have to say no to prestigious opportunities) is what makes me happiest in the end.

6) That said, I don’t ever want to stop trying new things as an artist, expanding my practice, pushing myself, experimenting, keeping my everyday world exciting and new.

7) Life is not perfect and it will never be. Understanding that has changed me.

8) Showing up everyday and doing the work is what will get you to your goals and dreams as a creative person. Also: success does not happen overnight. Even once opportunities begin to arrive, being an artist/designer/writer/maker continues to be hard work every day, so you must find love in it and be dedicate yourself to enjoying the process or you will be miserable.

9) My unique path as an artist & my work are legitimate and worthwhile. And so are yours.

10) Nothing matters more than the present moment. Worrying keeps us stuck in the future. Lamenting keeps us stuck in the past. Today is for living.

And with that may you truly live every day of 2015.

Happy New Year!

With gratitude,



Words for the Day :: No. 54



A little lettering & illustration work I did for my client Airbnb this past year.

Have a happy Monday, friends!


Happy Holidays & Thank You!



{Above, white gel pen on black paper, 2014}

To everyone who comes to this blog: thank you. My career as an artist would not be possible without you and others who buy, commission, share, write about, and otherwise support the work I do everyday. I feel very grateful. Thank you, thank you!

May you all have a wonderful holiday!

Stay warm and cozy and have a happy Wednesday!


2014 :: A Sewing Odyssey :: A Recap



If you’ve been reading this blog for the past year, you may recall that in January I made a goal to consume less. As part of that goal I allowed myself new clothes for the year if I a) made them myself or b) bought them second hand. As a result, I started a little project called 2014: A Sewing Odyssey, and you can see all of the projects here. In a moment I am going to report on how I did with that goal.

But first, let’s review the sewing projects from the odyssey, pictured above, left to right in order. There are few things to notice: 1) I like dresses 2) my hair grew longer over the course of the year 3) Wilfredo appears in three photos and 4) I got new glasses this month! You can’t tell here but my sewing skills & attention to detail also improved exponentially. But the most important thing to notice is that that was honestly NOT a sewing “odyssey”. While I intended to make many more than eight new articles of clothing (and #5 was a vintage upcycle at that), I just didn’t have (or make) time with my busy work schedule to sew as much as I planned. So maybe not an odyssey (Sonya Philip’s 100 Dress project was more of an odyssey). However, it was a) more than clothing than I’ve ever sewed before and b) I’m hooked. And those two things feel great.

Now to report on how I did with my goal of consuming less by not buying any new clothing this year (my goal was to make new clothes and buy only used). With a few exceptions, I stuck with it. I did buy a handful of brand new clothing items, mostly a couple of workout clothing items which I use almost every day and leggings & t-shirts that are harder to find in good condition second hand. I also bought one new dress for a special occasion. Overall, though, I purchased fewer articles of new clothing than I have in one year since I was a poor college student. I did buy lots of vintage and used clothing, so I did get to happily satisfy my shopping appetite.

So what does 2015 hold?
1) More sewing. I love making my own clothing, from choosing patterns to finding the perfect fabric and notions. I love the process of sewing and the satisfaction of making things I can use. I also want to try more altering and restructuring of vintage like I did in Project #5.

2) A new sewing machine. I did purchase a serger and it has been helpful (and opens up so many options for me). But I do think if I want to cut down on frustration I need a new general machine that doesn’t give me problems every 10 minutes. This is something I didn’t discuss here, but I had regular fights with my sewing machine, which my mother generously handed down to me 10 years ago when she got a new one. Perhaps its time to invest in my own brand new machine? Saving my pennies.

3) Starting in January, I’ll make one new article of clothing with each print from my new line of fabric from Cloud9. I’ll be posting more about that fabric line  soon, along with sewing projects using my new line over the course of the year. Stay tuned for that!

Thank you for following along, friends.

Have a great Tuesday!


2014 :: A Sewing Odyssey :: #8



If you’ve been following along on my blog this year, you may know that I made a commitment last January to consume less. As part of that effort, I committed to only sewing new clothes myself or purchasing used or vintage. On Friday I completed my eighth and final sewing project of 2014, and, thus the odyssey. The result is pictured here!

It’s the “Rae” skirt from Sewaholic Patterns, which I purchased through Fancy Tiger Crafts (for the win, Fancy Tiger also carries yardage of my new Revelry line of fabric and has an awesome array of patterns and fabric). For this skirt I used African fabric that I purchased over the summer at a local fabric shop in Oakland.


I made the “B” view skirt, which is a bit fuller than “A” and shorter than “C”. The directions for making the skirt were really well written and easy to understand. This pattern is great for someone just learning how to sew. All you need is fabric, 1 inch elastic, thread, a machine and basic sewing skills (and the pattern, of course)! Here’s a close-up of the skirt.


Tomorrow I’ll be back with a recap of my year long “odyssey” and how I did meeting my goal of consuming less. Stay tuned!

Happy Monday!


Words for the Day :: No. 53



Have a good Thursday, friends!


Block Printing E-Course!



Friends, I’m so excited to share a new online ecourse by my friend Jen Hewett. In this sure-to-be-fabulous two day class, Jen will use videos, photos, and downloadable notes to guide you through the process of block printing on fabric. At the end of this class, you’ll know how to print your own custom fabric, which you can then use for tea towels, bags, quilts, or other fabric and sewing projects. Awesome, right?


The course will take place online on January 31st and February 1st 2015 (PST), and will be accessible to you until March 3rd, so if you can’t take the class on that weekend, or if you want to work at your own pace, you’ll be able to access all the course materials through March 3. You will also have access to an exclusive Facebook group, where you’ll be able to ask Jen questions, as well as network and get feedback.


And from now until December 31, 2014, you’ll get the early bird price of just $99 for the course! The price will go up to $109 on January 1st. Go get it!

I can vouch for Jen’s fantastic teaching: here I am earlier this year taking a block printing class from her in which I made some fabulous yardage that I used to make a dress.


You design and carve your own blocks, so you can make your patterns unique to you. To learn more about the course and what supplies you need and to sign up, go here!


Happy printing and happy Wednesday!


Recent Interviews


Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 8.03.58 AM

Friends, I’ve done several interviews lately and wanted to share the links with you in case you are the interview-reading kind!

+First, this interview out today from the magazine Dirty Laundry – all about starting in the art world late in life, imposter syndrome, self promotion, illustration vs. fine art and other nuggets.

+Next up, this interview with Stephanie Reagan for her series Material Studies (Stephanie started this series recently and already has several great artist interviews up on her site).

+Recently Caitlin Bacher of Little Farm Media posted this interview with me about the role of social media in promoting my work and on my art career in general.

+Here’s an interview I did with Mohawk Paper about PERCEPTION.

+I already linked to it in this post last week on Rejection & Criticism, but here’s my interview with Susan Muldar for her series The Rejection Chronicles.

Thanks for reading and sharing.

Happy Tuesday!



Words for the Day :: No. 52



Wise words from Augusten Burroughs. This and 99 other quotes on bravery will appear in my second book of hand lettered quotes, due out from Chronicle Books in 2015! You can purchase my first book of hand lettered quotes here.

Happy Monday, friends!


Shop Closes Tuesday!



Friends, there are just five more days to place your holiday orders in my shop! I’ve got loads of signed books, prints, notebooks, and small original paintings for sale. Head over here to place your order before end of the day, December 16! And if you don’t see anything there, you can check out all the other places my work is sold. Thank you for supporting my work!

Have a happy Friday.


On Rejection & Criticism



One of the most common questions other artists and writers ask me is this one: how do you deal with rejection and criticism?

I think the reason that people ask this question is that it is a real point of pain for artists and writers. In fact, it may be “the” point of pain, besides dealing with creative blocks, which are often caused by fear or rejection and criticism. So this question really is at the heart of the artists’ psyche, all the time, whether we are conscious of it or not.

Art is subjective. Not everyone will like what we do. Also, we are human. Sometimes we are going to make really shitty work, especially in the beginning of our careers. And what’s worse is that even as our work gets better, we get our work into the world and we become known, the likelihood that our work will be criticized or that we will experience rejection only increases exponentially.

One thing it’s important to understand is the universality of the experience: all artists deal with rejection and criticism — from the very subtle kind (no one “liked” that painting I just posted on Instagram), to more overt (my work didn’t get accepted into that juried show and the judge said it wasn’t developed enough), to mean spirited (someone publicly criticized my work, said it was crap), to self-inflicted internal rejection and criticism (I’m a terrible artist & my work sucks).

We are all looking for relief from this point of pain or a way to ensure that it will never happen to us. But the truth is, while we can gain some perspective and some thicker skin and most importantly, some self love, we cannot ever escape it. Sure, you can avoid ever being rejected or criticized by deciding never to put your work into the world, but where does that leave you?

Recently I talked to artist Susan Mulder about rejection and criticism for her series called The Rejection Chronicles. She asked me lots of questions about my experiences with rejection and criticism, my take on how to deal with them and some lessons I’ve learned. In turn, I talked about taking responsibility, listening to constructive feedback, ignoring mean spirited criticism, and not taking things personally (super hard, yes).

And if there is one lesson I’ve learned it’s this: rejection is always humbling. Situations that humble us and remind us of our humanity make us kinder, more conscientious people. And that’s always a positive thing. If seen in a good light, rejection and criticism can teach us where to focus, what we are good at, what we need to work more at, what we want to own, how strong we are and all kinds of other amazing things.

You can read my interview with Susan here. I also talk about rejection (and 14 hours worth of other content about making a living as an artist) in my online course Become a Working Artist, which you can purchase (and watch at your own pace) here.

Have a great Thursday, friends!


New Print // Last Week to Shop!



Don’t forget: this is your last week to shop in my Etsy store before the holidays!  My shop will be closed from Tuesday evening of next week until early January. All remaining orders will ship Wednesday, December 17.

Good news! Just in time, I have added a new print to the shop, pictured above. You can snatch it up here.

Have a great Wednesday, friends!


Words for the Day :: No. 51



Words of truth from Ursula LeGuin. These particular words will appear in my next book of hand lettered quotes, which comes out next Fall from Chronicle Books.

Have a great Tuesday, friends.