From Vacation to Vocation

It started in 2010 with a crate of figs, some fetuccine, butter and balsamic vinegar.  The next thing they knew, they had spawned a community of food and illustrations around the word. Salli S. Swindell and her brother Nate Padavick of Studio SSS—were on vacation.

“Nate was cooking fettuccine with figs in butter balsamic sauce—sounds amazing, right?” recall Salli.  “While he was cooking, I was at the counter drawing the crate of fresh figs and sipping wine. It was an ‘Aha!’ moment. Drawing food is fun! I told Nate we needed to find more food illustration jobs.”

They Draw and Cook first began as a printed book of illustrated recipes they’d give away to friends, family, and clients. Nate had the idea to invite other  friends to contribute to the book. Weeks and months passed. While awaiting one submission for the book,  Nate grew impatient. On a whim, he posted eight of the illustrated recipes to a blog he and Salli decided to brand They Draw and Cook.

Word spread. Others began submitting illustrated recipes. In a short time, they had hundreds. Then thousands: more than 250,000 follow the blog on Facebook; more than 40,000 follow it on Instagram. Schools are using these sites for classroom assignments. “Some of our finest illustrated recipes are from students attending MICA, CCAD, and SCAD,” adds Salli. “We welcome a range of styles and skill level, and especially like it when we see an artist improve their skills one recipe or map at a time.”

The site’s popularity has inspired Nate and Salli to think of fresh ideas to unite illustration and personal interests. The compiled a list of “They Draw and …” variations.  Nate’s love of travel includes an interest in map design. The brother and sister added a map feature to their site to enable visitors to find other illustrators around the world.  Then they created They Draw and Travel—a companion site that is just as fun as their food site. Read the rest here.

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A Bearded Lady & A Hoarsefly Walk Into a Bar

Whoa, Nelly!
Zombies, Cannibals, and Blood Lust Bambie?
Abi Daniel  is Out There. Waaaay Out There.

Whether mixing inks at Bearded Lady print shop or crafting logos at Hoarsefly Design & Illustration, Abi Daniel is constantly refining and reimagining her creative output. You’d never know that illustrator/designer Abi Daniel started her career drawing zombies, wookies, and spaceships, as a concept artist at Sony Online Entertainment, as much of her work now has a broader, more ephemeral appeal.

After leaving Sony to find her own creative voice, she discovered that she really loved printmaking and etching. She eventually met and married designer Josh Chalmers in Austin, Texas, who runs Bearded Lady, a screen printing shop. She now helps him run the print shop and does client work under her moniker, Hoarsefly. Read the rest here.

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Featured Maker: Alexia Liatsos

Alexia Liatsos
Stamford, CT

Business founded: 2015

Alexia Liatsos creates playful abstract paintings on canvas, wood, and paper, working mainly with acrylics and oils. Growing up in Greece, she was always an artist at heart, but when it was time to decide on a college major, she went the practical route and studied engineering, although it didn’t last, as she explains, below.

How did you get started as an artist?  

I gave up a promising engineering career in Europe, moved to the U.S., got married, went back to school to pursue art, textile design, and fashion and had my two bundles of joy at the same time. I attended the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston and Parsons School of Design in NYC. I am very thankful to my husband for his immense support. He always says “You shouldn’t wait to chase your dreams.” He is my biggest fan.

After graduation, I interned and worked for established NYC brands including Michael Kors, Christian Cota and Children’s Clothing Companies, where I gained extensive experience. Being driven by the need to feel free, I immersed myself in painting full-time and set up my studio. Nurturing my own creative life, while staying committed to my children’s needs has been a dream come true. Read the rest of the interview here.

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Lettering for Beginners: A Guide to Getting Started

Lettering for Beginners: 5 Tips to Get You Going

From street signs to chalkboard menus to national ad campaigns, hand lettering is everywhere. But it’s also intimidating for those of us who are just getting started. It takes practice, so luckily we have two lettering experts, Annica Lydenberg and Roxy Prima, to give us some tips to get started.

1. Choose Your Pens & Pencils

Having the right supplies will help make hand lettering easier, but you don’t have to go out and spend a fortune on pens and pencils right away. There is an extensive range of devices, depending on what kind of style you are going for in your lettering.

Pencils: Mechanical or Lead In

Prima notes, “I like to use mechanical pencils because they always stay sharp. My favorite is the Koh-l-Noor Mephisto Pencil.”

Lead in pencils can be hard or soft, ranging from 6H (hard) – 6B (soft), with HB being middle of the road. Lydenberg says, “I typically sketch at first with lighter pencils—meaning harder lead—and then move on to softer lead, darker pencils, once my design has taken more shape.” Take a look at this pencil hardness guide for reference. If you’re just starting out, you can grab just about any drawing pencil set from your local art supply store. Read rest of article here.

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Roxy Prima

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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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.

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Sketch a Doodle Do

Artist Gemma Correll‘s quirky worldview is captured in the pages of the thousands of sketchbooks she has always kept close at hand. A lifelong doodler, her sketches and musings have led to a successful career as an illustrator and cartoonist.

In grammar school, her teachers couldn’t stop her. “In school, teachers would give me old notebooks books to draw in to prevent me from doodling all over my classwork. At home, I filled old notebooks with stories and comics and illustrated diaries,” she says. The childhood habit became her life’s work, bringing smiles and inspiration to thousands.

Her work is narrative based, using humor and clever wordplay. An astute observer of the world around her, her doodle books for art book publisher Walter Foster include techniques and prompts to guide users. Ostensibly, the subject matter of her doodle books are about cats, dogs, book worms, foodies, fashionistas, and tree huggers—things dear to her.  Her pugs, Bella and Mr. Pickles, both are featured prominently in her doodle books and Daily Diaries. Read the rest of the article here.

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The Canadianist: Highs and Lows

Our friends to the North, Everlovin’ Press in Kingston, Ontario, have created a new series of fine letterpress prints called The Canadianist, featuring five illustrations from select artists to comment on Cananadian culture, from high to low .

Illustrator Tom Froese and Everlovin’ conceived the series to promote the Canadian design and illustration community and showcase the beauty of letterpress. They had previously collaborated on a postcard series entitled Greetings From Canada with a similar tongue-in-cheek mandate.  The Canadianist is their sequel to that. Five artists were invited to address one theme each: Fashion, Food, Flora, Know-How, and Colloquialisms.

Froese says, “Vince and I have a passion for letterpress, and of course would like to establish Everlovin’ as the choicest letterpress printer for designers in the country.” They chose the artists and assigned them themes that they thought would suit their styles and would provide lots of potential for ‘assemblages of Canadiana.’” Read the rest here.

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Cultivating Creativity: Inside Kate Bingaman-Burt’s Studio

Kate Bingaman-Burt is a busy woman. She’s written books on our culture’s consumption obsession, she teaches design at Portland State University, and she creates compelling designs for a steady list of clients including Chipotle, Hallmark, Uniglo, IDEO, VH1, and the Gap, among others. We recently visited her studio to watch her make stuff, and we absolutely loved her set-up, so we asked her for advice on setting up a design studio that is not only fun to work in, but functional.

Tell me about your workspace and why it works for you? 

I share a space with four other illustrators/designers in an old Ford factory in Portland. Some of my favorite things about this space: high ceilings, good light, working amongst friends, and our ridiculous bean bag chairs for the occasional nap. Read the rest of the interview here.

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Case Study: Designing a Logo for a Start-Up

Logos can be tricky beasts to design, especially for a start-up. You have to understand the client’s needs, their products and services, and the personality they want to project to their customers, and then figure out a way to graphically represent all of this in a single mark.

Experienced logo designers, like Tracy Sabin, understand the nuances inherent in this process, and what it takes to come up with a compelling design that resonates with his clients’ customers.

With more than 40 years of logo design experience under his belt, Sabin’s hand-crafted style and attention to detail bring his logo designs to life. Recently he was hired by Steve Falen, art director at Partners Creative, to design a logo for their client, Fenek Outdoor.

Fenek is a new, start up company created by two longtime outdoor product sales representatives. They make hunting blinds, carts, and other accessories for avid outdoorsmen. The name is derived from the Fennec Fox, which inhabits the Sahara Desert.

“It’s the world’s smallest fox living in one of the world’s harshest environments, and its oversized ears and fast reflexes exemplify the company’s emphasis on listening and being responsive to customers and their needs,” Falen explains. “The change in spelling is an association with the fox, but also a unique brandable handle.”

Read the rest of the article here.

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