Monday, December 3, 2012

Getting back on track

My self imposed deadline to finish my e-book "Basel Bear's Big Birthday Bash" has suddenly reared it's ugly head, and I find myself scrambling to get the finishes, well, finished!!

As I mentioned in my last post, I became distracted with several new techniques, and a crazy desire to make Christmas cards and tags, and other crafty things. However, I am buckling down to finish this book before Christmas. My hard deadline is the 22nd, and I am determined to make it!

In the meantime, her a few pictures of what was distracting me, along with another image (the optically challenged ostrich) from the book. This will likely be the last finish I will show. If you want to see more, check Amazon in a few weeks when the book will be (fingers, toes, eyes all crossed) released for the Kindle.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Getting distracted

Once upon a time, I had no ideas for projects. If an instructor said "Do whatever you want on this project", I would draw a blank. Now I have so many ideas, they often wake me up at night. Ideas come to me mostly as I'm falling asleep, but also when I'm walking to or from work, in the shower, when I'm looking through a magazine, when I'm watching movies. In other words, I'm CONSTANTLY being bombarded with new ideas.

I'm not really sure when or how this change came about, nor am I bothered by it. I LOVE it! The only negative (if you can even really call it that),  is that I now have so many ideas that I have a hard time sticking to one thing and seeing it through. That is the situation I currently find myself in.

I have very recently (last weekend) decided to embrace my inner craftiness. It's something I've been fighting since Martha Stewart and scrap-booking became all the rage. Secretly, I would flip through Martha Stewart Living and drool over the cool projects I would never have thought of on my own. But for reasons too numerous to mention, I fought my desire to do crafts tooth and nail.

About 6 months ago, my friend Spring (check out her AMAZING work was talking to me about crafts, and card making, and showing off her Martha Stewart punches. I poo pooed her and her scrap-booking nonsense, and continued my full time job as an unknown, struggling illustrator. But something stuck, and continued to tickle at the back of my mind.

Last month, I participated in APE (Alternative Press Expo), where our table-neighbor was Charlene Kelley otherwise known as Glitterside ( I was really impressed with her work, and wanted to try it out. So I trotted down to the art supply store and purchased a slew of Martha Stewart glitter, some elmers glue and a wood board, and sat down to take a stab at this glitter thing. And man was it HARD! There was far more glitter on my face, and in my hair than there was on the board. But in the end, I had a not too bad representation of Papa Smurf. I was intrigued enough to try again, but I wasn't really sure what to try next. More on that in a moment.

In the meantime, because my job requires me to purchase products (art, candles, etc), I have been spending a great deal of time on Etsy. As I have been looking for items to put in the shop, I have been learning some of the ins and outs of selling crafts, and the sorts of things people buy. What I ultimately came to realize was that crafts SELL! That was all it took. My inner craftiness refused to be hidden away any longer. I ordered some books and a few things from Etsy (so I could deconstruct them), and spent about an hour (much to my boyfriends chagrin) wandering around Flax, and reveling in the world that was now open to me. I also watched You-Tube for about 12 straight hours, and at the end of that marathon, I knew how to make a wide variety of greeting cards, and candles (among other things).

The very next day, I opened my own etsy shop. I have nothing to list yet other than my original illustrations, but I have been thinking about what I want to sell, trying to narrow down all the options. I know I want to make greeting cards, especially considering the holidays are coming, but I'm not sure I can get enough practice in and make enough actual product to sell before the holidays really get going. So, what could I make that would still be Christmasy? That's when I remembered the glitter, though I wasn't sure what to do with it.  Then it came to me; the Grinch!

Because I inevitably make things harder than they need to be, I decided I couldn't do just the Grinch. I needed to do Cindy-Lou Who and Max the dog too.

My first attempt at Cindy-Lou was a disaster. Started out well, but it went down hill very quickly (I'm still looking for a hole deep enough to bury it in). I had to re-group and try something else. I also felt like I was stealing Charlene's technique, and I definitely didn't want to do that. I needed to find a way to make it my own. After some serious thought, I decided to combine it with pastels (my chosen illustration medium), watercolor and color pecil. I'm MUCH happier with the out-come, though it's not quite finished.

I plan to do more of these, and hopefully sell them to parents who want to decorate their kids rooms.

All of this new-found craftiness has been a bit of a distraction where my book is concerned, but I am planning to get back to it with a vengeance this coming weekend. In the meantime, here's the title page, which I finished last weekend.

Check back next week for the last peek at the book, and the finished (hopefully) pieces of the Grinch.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

This past weekend, I participated in The Alternative Press Expo, otherwise known as APE. Prior to this, I had never attended a convention. I wasn't entirely sure what sort of promotional materials to bring, or what I might be able to sell. To be safe, I decided to stick with business cards to hand out, and 2 types of postcards to sell. I also brought a promotional postcard to advertise the release date of my e-book. I considered selling prints, but decided against it. I was planning to make prints of my newer artwork so I could update my portfolio. Unfortunately, as I was preparing to do that, I decided to try printing out a few postcards on my HP printer and Staples standard size postcards.
When I put the postcard in the machine, the paper jammed and there was a sickening burning smell. When I finally managed to remove all the paper and tried again to print, the printer made a horrible, loud ticking noise, and the paper all jammed into one corner. No matter how much I shook it, or screamed and cursed at it, no amount of banging on it, or shedding of tears was going to bring that printer back to life.
Several hours later, I gathered my courage and took my flash drive down to Kinkos. They made 4 extremely dark prints that I regretfully shoved into my portfolio, knowing all the while that they were not good representations of my work, but still feeling the need to update the portfolio. By now, of course, I was really nervous for my convention debut, but by Saturday morning, I was feeling much better.
The only reason I was able to go to the convention in the first place, was as a representative of the Academy of Art Children's Book Club ( I shared a table with 3 other girls from the club (Joie Brown (, Alexandria Gold ( and Kelsey Heckenkamp). It was a bit of a challenge to arrange all of our personal art as well as the book representing the club members on that incredibly small table, but we managed. I settled in and waited for the sales to come rolling in. And roll in they did. For Joie and Alexandria. I sold NOTHING! Nada. Zip. By 4pm, my ego was seriously bruised (as you can probably tell in this photo; I am the one in the striped shirt in case you didn't recognize me), and I packed it in and went home.

I considered not going back the next day. I could not imagine suffering through the doubts and the embarrassment I felt watching people pick up my free items and instead of putting them in their pockets, putting them back on the table!
After tossing and turning, and getting very little sleep, I woke up early on Sunday, and grudgingly decided to go back. Since our table was against a staircase with a nice railing, I decided to take several of my original pieces. They were enormous, but there was a fair amount of space behind us. Selling one of those would have made everything all better!
Unfortunately Kelsey couldn't come on Sunday, and Alexandria was coming later in the afternoon. That freed up a significant amount of space on our table, so after the donation of a table easel from our amazing neighbor Glitterside (, I put one of the original pieces on the table. That seemed to make all the difference. There was much more interest in my work (though people still didn't take many of the freebies), and I almost sold the piece on the table.

By the end of the convention on Sunday afternoon, I was exhausted, but happy that I came (notice the vastly different expression on my face). I learned so much from the artists around me about table presentation as well as what to sell and how to sell it.
I met some truly amazing artists (too many to list here), but the highlight was meeting Andrea Alzman, the wife of Christian Alzmann (, one of my absolute favorite artists. She was SO nice, and very friendly. Thanks Andrea!
I am already planning for APE next year, and possibly CTN., as well as the SCBWI conference in Asilomar. I think I am a bona fide convention junkie!

Monday, October 1, 2012

It's been quite a while since my last post, but that's because I have been feverishly working on my children's e book "Basel Bear's Big Birthday Bash".

Initially, I thought I would be able to finish the entire book (from concept to final illustration) in about a month, maybe six weeks. I should have known better. Many of the initial drawings came quickly, but as soon as I started working on the cover and opening page, I knew I was in trouble.

Originally, the main character was an alpaca. As it turns out, alpacas are very difficult to draw, and actually just not that interesting. Never-the-less, I am incredibly stubborn, and I continued for weeks to try and make it work. Eventually I realized that if I was ever going to actually finish, let alone release this book, I needed to scrap the alpaca and choose another animal for the main character.

I don't remember exactly how the bear came about. I think it was one of those half awake half asleep moments. As soon as I drew him for the first time, I knew I was on the right track. Since then, all of the drawings (with a few exceptions) came together perfectly.

In a few weeks (October 13th and 14th) I'll be sharing a table at the Alternative Press Expo with 3 other people from the Academy of Art children's book club. I've never been to any sort of convention,  let alone participated in one. I'm terrified, but super excited. I knew that I was never going to finish the book in time for the convention, but I at least wanted to get the cover done, so I could hand out postcards announcing the release of the book. I am setting a firm deadline of December 1st to release it for the Kindle Fire. That gives me 8 weeks to finish 16 illustrations. It's a little crazy, but I think I can do it.

As I am working on the illustrations, I also half to be mindful of how I complete them, because I also want to make a separate interactive version of this. That means I will have to do several parts of all of the illustrations (except two) on separate layers and composite them in Photoshop. It's a very hard thing to wrap my head around, but I'm trying to remain calm, and just do what I have to do.

Enough of my blabbering, here are the pics. The cover went through several versions before I finally settled on one.

When I tried to make a color rough of this, I realized I didn't like the layout. I was also having a really difficult time fitting the title and credits in this composition, so I went back to the drawing table (literally), and came up with this idea.

A color rough followed, and text was added.

After about 10 hours of furious pasteling, here is the final illustration, with and without text.


I'm pretty happy with the results. It came out exactly the way I hoped it would.

So keep checking back. I will post a few more illustrations from the book, and I'll continue updating information about the actual Kindle Fire release. 




Friday, February 10, 2012

Exciting things happening...

I have been woefully negligent to this blog, but that is all about to change.

For awhile, I was drifting, unsure of which way to turn. It seems that children's book publishing is becoming more and more insular and therefore much harder to break into. I posted that thought to facebook, and lo and behold, lightening struck, the spark was relit, my eyes were opened, or  however you want to characterize it.

Chuck Pyle (the Director of the school of illustration at the Academy of Art) told me to check out ebooks. Now, I've heard all about this idea of self publishing and ebooks, blah, blah, blah. What I wanted was an actual print on paper book that I could hold and see on store shelves. Not to mention the enormous cost of self publishing (clearly, I didn't get it) said book. And as for ebooks, well  just flat out didn't understand that at all.

Chuck pointed me in the direction of Spacedog books (, and mentioned that they had a video up on you tube (; perhaps I would find some inspiration there. He had no idea how right he was!!! Watching that video has literally changed my life, and the work I want to do. As we speak, I am working hard on my first book, with plans to publish for the Kindle Fire and Barnes and Noble Nook by the end of March, or tyhe beginning of April. I am also spending a great deal of time teaching myself Flash and attempting to learn app development. Thanks  to Will Terry and his AMAZING and informative blog (, I am well on my way.

In the mean time, here are some illustrations for a project that has temporarily been put on hold.