Friday, August 22, 2014

Palm Springs Mini-Collection {Happy Happy}

I am so excited to share my latest group project from Happy Happy Art Collective! This summer Lauren taught a class geared towards art licensing at Watkin's College of Art, Design & Film. She thought it would be fun to assign the Happy Happy ladies the same project as her students - creating an mini collection using a city as inspiration.

My first thought was Seattle, since my family was headed there for vacation. And though I truly loved my time in Seattle (what a fun city!), I had a hard time coming up with a theme for my collection - sure, there's coffee and rain and music, but those themes just weren't ME. 

As I was contemplating other cities, I decided to do something more architecture-based. Usually, my illustrations are pretty organic - so I thought focusing on buildings could be a nice change. Then I started thinking about different types of architecture, and of course, I decided to do something from the 1950s/60s. What city is known for their mid-century architecture? Palm Springs!

I've never been there, but I'd love to go some day. And once I started researching the Desert Modern Architecture and Eichler homes, of course I HAD to check out the going rate for one of them on Air BnB. Yikes! I'll have to start saving ASAP. :-)

First I started out by drawing the Palm Springs Houses.


I couldn't stop!


Those rooflines! The textures! The patterns! Even the landscaping was perfectly proportioned. I decided to focus on the different elements.


And just for fun, I did a quick pattern using my Pentel brush pen:



I intended to create my main pattern utilizing the houses, then create two more inspired by the elements. I envisioned a warm, pastel/coral palette, inspired by the desert. 

And without further ado, here is my Palm Springs Mini Collection!


Here's a closer look:





If I ever get the opportunity to visit Palm Springs, I am DEFINITELY making myself a bag out of this fabric!

Please, please please head over to the HHAC blog to see the rest of the city collections. They are amazing!!

Have a fantastic weekend,






Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Sh*tty Barn Poster {Spirit Family Reunion 2013}

Recently, I got the opportunity to design another gig poster for the Sh*tty Barn. This was a fun one : Spirit Family Reunion! Their music is so full of energy, it is almost impossible not to clap or stomp along while listening to it.

They paint some beautiful imagery with their lyrics, so I decided to focus on a phrase from their song, On That Day: "...like the clothes upon the line...". I thought it would be fun to create the letters of their band name out of pieces of clothing hanging on a clothesline.

Here's the sketch:


And here's the final poster!


I played with texture in the knockout areas of the clothing which adds a bit of visual interest and balances the linework pretty well. Also, I made myself use colors that weren't red or pink or turquoise! It was tough, but I think it speaks to their music better than my typical bubblegum pop color schemes. 

Unfortunately, I had to miss the show this year, which was a bummer. Fingers crossed that I'll get back to The Barn sometime this season yet!

Have a great week!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Desktop Calendar {August 2014}

Late again! I just cannot manage to get a calendar out on time these days...

This month I decided to focus on a theme that is near and dear to our family:



As you probably know, biking is a big part of the Balsley family. Stephen and I met at a bike company. Stephen raced very seriously for years, and I raced [not so seriously] for a year or two. When Stella was born, our riding became more commuter/recreational, but it is still our favorite mode of transportation. 

Earlier this year, I did a post about Stella learning how to ride her 2-wheeler. Last week, after breaking her little bike several times, we decided the universe was telling us that we probably needed to get her a bigger bike.

Stella and her new bike
Well, she loves it and has already put about 15 miles on it in the last week! Over the weekend we decided to take her on the trails to see how she did. We had a blast!

The biking Balsleys

I have to say - I am super excited about this new chapter in our lives. Having Stella bike with us is going to be so awesome. I wanted to commemorate my excitement with a desktop calendar full of bikes bikes bikes!



To download the August calendar, you can click on the above image and save it to your computer, or you can also find it herePlease note that this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. 

Happy biking!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Women in Baseball {Wisconsin Storytime}

I recently got to participate in an ongoing collaboration all about the history of Wisconsin. The guys that brought you Project Wisconsin [365 towns : 365 logos] decided to delve even deeper into what makes Wisconsin a great state by focusing on its history. Each Wednesday, Wisconsin Storytime pairs a different designer with a different story from our state's amazing past. 



My assignment was exploring the All-American Girls' Baseball League, which was right up my alley! It was fun poring through the old photographs from the ladies on the original teams - and drawing them was even better! What a great exercise in different body positions.


And here is the final illustration! Please head over to Project Wisconsin to see more info about my story and read all the others from the first 6 months of 2014 - you'll learn a lot, I promise!




Friday, July 11, 2014

24-Hours in Madison {Design*Sponge}

Hey hey!

As you may know, I currently live in lovely Madison, Wisconsin. I adore Madison, and all it has to offer. I am certain I will be spending many more years here, possibly the rest of my life!

I recently had the opportunity to share my love of Madison on the fabulous Design*Sponge blog. Contributing to their well-known City Guides column, I was tasked with describing my ideal day in Madison. This was such an honor, considering I've been reading Design*Sponge for a LONG time!



As you'll read in my guide, I had a really tough time narrowing down my favorites to encompass just one day. I am still thinking about local establishments that I didn't mention in my guide - there are too many things that make Madison awesome!


sketchbook drawing

Head on over to Design*Sponge to read through my ideal day in Madison - and if you ever visit - I guarantee you'll have a fantastic time!



Thursday, July 3, 2014

Desktop Calendar {July 2014}

Well, hello!

It has been a while since I've been around these parts - actually, the last time I posted was the June desktop calendar... yeesh!

I hope y'all are having a lovely summer so far.

The July calendar, inspired by the summer sun, is a bit of a departure from my typical illustrations:



If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen a few of my daily doodles during the month of June - I called them #doodleshapes, because I started with a solid shape of color, then transformed that shape into an object with just a few strokes of black pen. Because I have been so swamped with work, I didn't get a chance to explore a lot of doodle shapes, but I wanted to incorporate that idea into July's calendar.

Utilizing blocks of color, negative space and sparse line work, I was able to illustrate these bathing beauties. I have to say - I LOVED this challenge. Plus, it has been a while since I've focused on the human form and it was a nice change from my usual subject matter.

I like this one so much, I might turn it into a print - or a series of prints. What do you think?

To download the July calendar, you can click on the above image and save it to your computer, or you can also find it herePlease note that this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. 

If you're reading this in the U.S., have a wonderful 4th of July holiday!



Monday, June 9, 2014

Desktop Calendar {June 2014}

Wow, I think this is the latest I've posted a desktop calendar! My apologies. By now, you are well aware of the new month, but just in case you are still need of a new calendar, here you go!

Last week I created a space-themed pattern for a Spoonflower contest. I was going between a mid-century style and a fun, dog-themed pattern. I ended up going the more sophisticated route for Spoonflower (which I'll share in a later post), but I still wanted to flesh out the doggy idea.



Here we have Dogs in Space, complete with a rubber ball planet, a meatball moon, and alien squirrels zooming around. This pattern also fulfills another of my creative goals - creating more boy-centric art. Whenever I get a moment, I'll try to put this together as a formal pattern and/or print.

So, again - I am sorry this is so late, but hopefully you get a few weeks worth of use.

To download the June calendar, you can click on the above image and save it to your computer, or you can also find it herePlease note that this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. 

Have an awesome June!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Surtex 2014 {Walking}

Hello!

Well, it has been a week since I've been home from Surtex 2014. And I'm STILL processing it all! Wow, what an experience.

I decided to check it out after I learned all about it in Make Art That Sells - Surtex is a tradeshow where artists sell or license their work to companies who will, in turn, use it on their products. The art consists mostly of surface pattern designs, but there are some stand-alone images featured as well. Since one of my goals is to some day have my own fabric line, I thought it would probably be worth my time to see what it was all about. I didn't necessarily want to have a booth YET, since it is quite the investment, so scoping it out was Step 1 of the process.

Since I was walking the show as an artist, there was some etiquette to keep in mind - most importantly, don't linger too much in the booths. The artists who were showing spent a LOT of time and money on being there, and they were there to generate business and make connections with potential customers. Having long conversations with walkers could potentially detract customers from their booths, so out of respect, we needed to make our chats short and sweet. And if someone walks up who looks like they're there for business, excuse yourself and come back another time.

Though I knew there would be some dream clients there, my goal wasn't to get business - since they were there for the Surtex artists. I didn't carry a formal portfolio, though I did make a few "mini" portfolios which consisted of twenty of my Moo business cards clipped together - to hand out JUST IN CASE I happened to meet a potential client. There were a few moments I could have taken advantage of, but I was too much of a wimp to sell myself. NOTE TO SELF: Work on pitching my art; have confidence in myself!


My "mini" portfolios and shoulder bag, created just for Surtex
I also made a quick shoulder bag consisting of my Science Fair fabric from Spoonflower. I figured that might generate some attention, so why not? Plus it was fun to sew again. It has been too long!

Lauren and Tammie, two of my fellow Happy Happy Art Collective artists were there showing their work for the first time (woo hoo!) so it would also be a good opportunity to support them (not to mention MEET them)! I ended up rooming with Muffin (another Happy Happy artist) in an Air BnB apartment just a ten minute walk from the Javits Center where Surtex was located. It was a great location, not only close to Surtex, but within walking distance of Times Square where we hung out in the evenings. It sounds like many of the Surtex participants found hotels close by Javits - which is ideal, since they were most likely hauling stuff to and from every day.


Muffin and I in front of the Javits Center on Day 1
Once we got into Surtex, we made a beeline to Tammie and Lauren's booths to say hi. We had never officially met, after all! Both ladies had wonderful booths. It was obvious that they took a lot of care and consideration in selecting what art hung on the walls and how they showcased their portfolios. Again, being conscious of blocking potential customers, Muffin and I set off through the aisles of Surtex. 

It didn't take us long to bump in to some of our classmates from Make Art That Sells! We anticipated a sort of MATS "reunion" (can you call it a reunion if you've never actually met?), but I was still blown away by how many people I recognized from class. It was so fun meeting our fellow "Matties" in real life. There was a lot of business card exchanging and hugs, and I loved every bit of it. I also got to meet several of my illustrator crushes: Helen Dardik, Elizabeth Olwen, Zoe Ingram, Dinara Mirtalipova and Allison Cole, to name a few! And I got a hug from the one and only Lilla Rogers. Wow. I was surrounded by greatness!


Elizabeth Olwen, Muffin, Jill and I
On Day 2, Jill joined us from Massachusetts! After doing our round of hellos, we decided to buckle down and walk the show with intention. Aisle after aisle, we took notes about the decisions artists made when designing their booth. Some of the things we noted:

  • Portfolio : Loose prints vs. bound book
  • Booth sign :Standard Surtex sign vs. design your own
  • Products with your art in the booth
  • Flat wall vs. bracketed wall
  • Corner booth vs. middle aisle booth
  • Tall table vs. short table
  • Code or number all your art for future referencing
  • Brand every print
  • Walls : Banners vs. framed art
  • Show personal work or original art 
  • The buzz : License or buy outright

Some of us also had an opportunity to participate in Lilla's MATS meet-up. A few things I learned from that session:

  • If buying outright - What is the life of the product? In other words, when can I get it back again?
  • As you make money, invest it back into your business
  • When you have a large body of work, display some on your website, but save some to only show potential clients. 
  • Have a worksheet for your customers which lists all the categories/sub-categories so they can check off their interests.
  • Always ask for a little more.

MATS meet-up with Lilla Rogers
On Day 3, Muffin, Jill and I walked a bit of the National Stationery Show, which was right next to Surtex. Talk about overwhelming! We were there for a couple hours and I don't think we got through 1/3 of it. I would have actually liked to have spend more time there, but my flight back to Wisconsin was beckoning me. I did see enough, however, to realize there are a lot of independent stationery companies - and many of them are wonderfully creative. Oh - and gold foil is trending. We saw it everywhere! 

Now that I have had time to process my Surtex experience, I know that it is something I can definitely handle. I will be able to produce a body of work to have a successful show. My hesitation at this point, aside from the expense, is whether or not I want to put all my eggs in this particular basket. There are many markets of which to focus my illustration, but dedicating a better part of my year in preparing for the surface pattern and licensing segment kinda makes me nervous. I have been hearing from various Surtex artists, that there is the potential for work outside of licensing, such as publishing, so that is good to know. My other option is sharing a booth with the other artists in the Happy Happy Art Collective, which I know would be amazing. Ah! So many decisions! 

To wrap up, I am very happy I got to experience Surtex. It was complete eye-candy, and it was delightful meeting so many of the artists I've admired over the last few years. I loved hanging out with my Happy Happy sisters (we missed you, Denise!) and I'm glad I was able to share the experience with them. On the other hand, it has given me a lot to ponder, and I think it's going to take me a while to figure out my game plan. 

Until then, thanks for sticking through my super-long Surtex re-cap! If you're interested in learning more, be sure to check out Lauren's, Tammie's, Jill's and Muffin's blog posts about their Surtex experience.



Thursday, May 15, 2014

Tiny Green Worlds {Spoonflower Fabric}

Life has been crazy-busy here. But when I realized the Spoonflower theme was terrariums, I had to make time for it!

But I didn't have time to do all the research and preliminary drawings like I usually do. I decided to jump right into Photoshop and start drawing. This is the first time I've ever skipped the sketching process and started on the computer. It is not my ideal, but I have to say, the spontaneity was a bit exhilarating! And since the design was very organic, it worked well with drawing on the tablet - I didn't have to worry about super straight lines or perfect spacing. I could just roll with it!


This was my final pattern block. When I set it up as a repeat it looked like this:


I think it turned out pretty well! There is a lot of detail in each of the terrariums, so I have to keep the design on the bigger side in order to appreciate it all. 

There is still a bit of time to vote in this week's contest, so head on over to pick your favorites!

And speaking of patterns, I am heading to NYC this weekend to check out Surtex - the surface pattern & textile licensing show. I am looking forward to seeing the setup to see if this is something I'd like to pursue at some point in the near future. Not to mention I get to finally meet my Happy Happy Art Collective friends and other artists I've met online the last few years. It should be a fantastic experience!

I'll be back next week to tell you all about it!



Friday, May 2, 2014

Desktop Calendar {May 2014}

Hello and Happy May!

According to the calendar, it is Spring here in Wisconsin, though winter sure has taken it's time moving on. We thankfully don't have snow anymore, and there have been a few gorgeous Spring-y days, but in general, it has been a cold, rainy Spring. 

One of my favorite parts of Spring is when those first flowers break through the ground (and even snow!). For this month's desktop I decided to focus on said flowers : crocuses, snowdrops and scilla to be specific.



Something I realized when drawing these flowers, is even though I incorporate a lot of flowers in my work, I have never done a 100% floral pattern. Crazy, eh? I'm going to create a pattern out of this calendar next. 

To download the May calendar, you can click on the above image and save it to your computer, or you can also find it herePlease note that this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. 

Have a great May!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

K is For... {Happy Happy}

Oy. I haven't been posting much, have I? April has been kinda crazy. I have been traveling a bit, and I am working on a few client projects that I am VERY excited about, but unfortunately I can't share much!

But I did have a chance to work on another project for Happy Happy Art Collective - the Letter K! I thought I would keep it simple with a knitting kangaroo, but once again, my naïveté got the best of me! You'll see what I'm talking about:


Look at all those stitches! What was I thinking?!?

You can find the rest of the Happy Happy letters here.

Silly me.


Friday, April 4, 2014

Walter the Whale {Spoonflower Fabric}

I'm back with another fun Spoonflower pattern! This week the theme was Whales. Apparently, whales are going to be the next big thing in 2014...

I liked the idea of making a happy whale with a big, toothy smile. That's when I decided to sketch Walter the Whale. Since whales have such a big expanse of nothingness, I added a little dotty design element for visual interest. 



We were given a color palette. Initially I liked it, but when I started putting the colors together I had a hard time getting them to gel how I preferred. So I decided to forego the cream all together and used the rose-y color sparingly. I was hoping for more contrast with the rose and raspberry, but unfortunately, it got kinda lost...


And here is my final piece!


As you can see, Walter is having a blast frolicking in the sea. If you're feeling inclined, head on over to the weekly Spoonflower contest and give Walter some love! There are a LOT of super whale designs - apparently everyone wanted to get in on the whale trend!

Have an awesome weekend,



Monday, March 31, 2014

Desktop Calendar {April 2014}

Hooray! It's finally Spring here in Wisconsin. After what seemed like the longest winter ever, our snow has finally disappeared and the kids are zooming their scooters up and down the block.



For April's calendar I decided to illustrate a little fox jumping in the puddles. 'Cause, you know - April showers bring May flowers!

To download the April calendar, you can click on the above image and save it to your computer, or you can also find it herePlease note that this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. 

Oh - and if you haven't already, please sign up for the Happy Happy newsletter - a new one is being sent out tomorrow!

Happy Spring!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Mad Science {Spoonflower Fabric}

I was super excited for the latest Spoonflower challenge - it was a Science Fair theme! Something you may not know about me is my love for Science (biology and anatomy, specifically). I took several science classes in college, and thoroughly enjoyed drawing things I saw under the microscope. At one point, my Zoology professor actually suggested medical illustration as a career path for me. I was really interested in that idea until I found out there were only a few universities in the U.S. where I could get that highly specialized degree. Oh well. Such is life.

Fast forward to last week when I was working on sketches for this pattern. I was having a blast creating little Science-y icons!



For this composition, I wanted to create a more organized pattern. Rows of icons could be cool...but how could I make it more interesting? I decided to first create a hex pattern which was a nod to molecular structures, THEN fill in the hex shapes with my icons.


When I was working on my sketches, I had a pale yellow - red - light blue - black color scheme in my head. I applied it to my pattern, and I was very happy with how it complemented my icons. It has a sort of vintage feel which I love.

If you're feeling inclined, head on over to Spoonflower and vote for your favorite Science Fair designs - it is so interesting seeing everyone's interpretations!

Have an awesome weekend!



Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Letter I {Happy Happy}

Just finished up another letter for the Happy Happy Art Collective alphabet! 


Head on over to the Happy Happy blog to see the full post - I shared my process for this piece!


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