I Love My Hair!

Andrea Pippins’ eclectic, and joyous new coloring book celebrates the natural beauty of the afro. But the book has a more important message: Embrace your own identity. Celebrate who you are.

For years, Andrea Pippins’ embrace of her natural locks has demonstrated to her friends and admirers that the natural afro is the way to go. Fun, frilly, doodles, and intricate coils blended into words in funky letters are the key ingredients to this joyful celebration of individuality her new coloring book. The book is a concept that has been marinating in her mind for many years. It is much more than your off-the-shelf doodle book: It delivers a visual and powerful statement about why women of color should embrace their identity by celebrating those things that make them unique.

Pippins’ idea for this book began while working on her MFA graphic design thesis at Temple University. “Our thesis topic was Social Awareness,” she recalls. “This inspired me to focus on the revival of the natural hair movement at the time. I was intrigued by the black beauty industry and the amount of money black women worldwide spend on hair care. My book grew from this fascination and my research into the subject.”

At that moment, Pippins had been natural for seven years, and she loved it. She wondered how the hair products industry would change if more black women embraced their natural coils and went natural as well. How would product makers respond to demand? How would they market natural beauty to African American women? How would that affect the perception of African American women and afro wearers everywhere?

Pippins began to explore these questions visually, and soon after, elements of her work became art prints and T-shirts that she made available on her website. There were many buyers. Random House published the coloring book  I Love My Hair this past November. Read the rest of the article here.

pippins collage

Hypno-Baco-Tool-Rific!

Many design shops create calendars that get sent out once a year, or drip campaigns that are more frequent but typically no fun. Fifth Letter in Winston Salem, NC combined the best of both worlds and had some fun doing it, creating quarterly calendars that celebrate under-rated holidays in a beautiful, tactile format.

According to Fifth Letter’s ringleader, Elliot Strunk, his team started working on this concept in fall 2015, researching a list of odd holidays, and finding ways to loosely tie them together. “We tried to find ones that would not only be fun to spotlight but would also fit together into some sort of theme,” he says. Who knew people worshipped their tools on March 11? Read the rest of the article here.

fifth letter collage

Featured Maker: Annie Howe

Annie Howe
Annie Howe Papercuts
Baltimore, MD
Business founded: 2010

Annie Howe has always loved playing with paper. She worked in community arts for many years, creating and contributing to the Baltimore art community with large-scale puppetry and shadow puppets. “As my love for storytelling grew through this large medium, I found my focus as an artist shifting from large 3D objects to that of the smaller more intimate medium of paper,” Howe says, adding, “I spent years and years using a simple knife and blades to cut out elaborate shadow puppets with an organization called Nana Projects. One Christmas I decided I could try cutting paper as gifts for family and friends. The papercuts were a hit and I slowly started making more.” Here she tells us how she transitioned from a part-time paper obsession to full-time gig.

What was the process of starting your business?

Encouraged by friends I started seeking out places to sell my work from local restaurants, to shops and craft shows. As I began showing my work, people took an interest and asked me to do commissions and special projects. I was still working full-time so it was a challenge to really grow and get things done in the beginning. It would take me forever to get projects complete. Then the organization I was working for closed, and I had to decide if I was going to apply for another full-time job or pursue papercutting.

The holiday season was approaching and I decided to try and make it through doing craft shows, retail, and custom work. By making more time for my work I was able to grow my business into a full time job! Read the rest of the interview here.

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Good Taste: Letterpress Posters Whet Appetites

Hot, Fresh, Wholesome & Delicious!

Handmade Tortillas, Fresh Baked Bread, Letterpress Posters? Yes, Please!

When Mi Rancho opened its doors in 1939 in Oakland, Calif., it was the only Mexican grocery store in the area, providing handmade tortillas and other specialty items. This family-owned business has since grown into a supplier to restaurants all over the country, churning out nearly 4.5 million tortillas a day. The owner wanted something special to commemorate the anniversary, so he hired designer Steve Epstein to create a poster to share with his vendors.

Epstein, who has been a designer since the late ’70s, starting as a print designer, then moving into broadcast design and animation working for ABC in Hollywood, then a CBS affiliate in San Francisco. For the past 14 years, he’s focused on photography and print design. Read rest of article here.

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5 Sharpie Art Exercises from Timothy Goodman

Sharpie art has a unique appeal and an ever-growing field of contributors. It tends to feel improvised and disruptive in the most pleasant way. If you’ve only ever used your sharpies for labeling CD-R’s and (accidentally) making notes on a whiteboard, we’re happy to tell you that there’s so much more to explore.

Timothy Goodman is a highly accomplished Sharpie artist whose new book, Sharpie Art Workshop (Rockport Publishers), offers lots of valuable ideas and techniques for anyone who has a Sharpie and a blank surface to draw on. In addition to his own work, he featured 22 artists from around the world who are making their marks with Sharpies and more. Below are five of his favorite sharpie art exercises from the book to help get you started on your Sharpie drawing kick. Read the rest of the article here.

Timothy Goodman