Stage Struck

I recently had the great opportunity to work with Sleeping Bear Press on a new middle-grade book series, “Stage Struck” by Anya Wallach. I designed and illustrated this cover for the first book, including the hand-lettered branding that will be carried over to future books in the series. The series is closely based on the real-life experience of Wallach, who began a summer theater “camp” in her parents’ basement when she was just sixteen years old and formed Random Farms, which has launched the careers of many of today’s youngest stars on Broadway.

Many thanks to AD, Jennifer Bacheller, for this fun project!

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A “Wonderlandiful” book project!

Very excited to finally get to share a big project I worked on earlier this year—a whimsical “Wonderlandiful Doodle Book” for Little Brown!

The 128-page activity book for tween girls tied into one of the publisher’s licensed properties—Mattel’s Ever After High. So I was to incorporate the style guide art into my design, but also create lots of original illustrations and hand-lettering, as well as concept each page—and write the entire text! Projects with this kind of integration of the entire package and so much creative freedom are absolutely my favorite, and it was my first time authoring, so I was thrilled to dive right in! Here’s the cover and some spreads from the book—all character illustrations, logos and some background elements are from Mattel, but all other artwork by yours truly. On sale now!

Many thanks to wonderful AD, Christina Quintero, for such a truly fun project!

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Blissfully busy

I’ve been sort of hibernating from social media for the last couple of months, but I have a good excuse (kind of!) … I got married!!!

Aside from packing in as many projects as possible these last few months so I can take some time off for a honeymoon, I (of course!) designed all the little touches for the wedding like my invites, programs, menus, etc. So it’s been a little hard keeping up with sharing updates along the way, but the big day was last Friday so now I finally have a chance to catch my breath and share a few of the details!

New York is a city I am in love with, and where I fell in love. I’ve lived here for over a decade, and my entire relationship with John unfolded here. This is where our story is, so we always knew this would have to be where we tie the knot! We got engaged last November 1st, so the timing just kind of naturally led us to have a Fall wedding (bonus that autumn in New York just happens to be my favorite!) I didn’t really pick a “theme” for the wedding—after spending about 10 minutes on Pinterest I realized I just liked way too many different & unrelated ideas! But all the things I was drawn to had a simple elegance. And because we were having a city wedding with lots of guests who would be first-timers to NYC, I wanted to capture a sophisticated & classic New York-esque vibe overall.

My save-the-dates sort of subconsciously set the tone for everything else. I initially had a very illustrative look in mind, but my style is too feminine & whimsical for what I was going for to represent our wedding. I wanted it to be elegant, but still have a lot of personality. As I sketched, things just kind of evolved and I ended up with a type-based design, incorporating 2 of my very favorite things to do: hand-lettering and letterpress.

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2-color letterpress on Crane’s 110lb pearl white

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Lots of hand-trimming, too!

When it came time to make the invitations, I spent ages trying to decide what direction to go. The possibilities are endless, and I had WAY too much fun sketching out ideas! In the end, I decided these should also be type-based, drawing inspiration from art deco and art nouveau styles. The result was something, that to me, was a little reminiscent of old vaudeville posters —that perfect mix of fun & elegance I wanted. I also letterpressed these and I couldn’t resist myself in the paper store, picking out pocket fold envelopes and patterned liner papers. I saw the Mad Lib RSVP idea somewhere in my inspiration search, and immediately knew I wanted to incorporate that. Everyone who knows me, knows my love for Mad Libs—plus, what a fun way to get our guests interacting with us from the start! I also hand-calligraphed all my envelopes, using gold gouache to give an extra special feel.

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A glimpse of the assembly line! Thankful for help from my mom and John to get these all signed, sealed & delivered!

The very first thing I knew I wanted for the look of the wedding was bright orange flowers—so I went the bold, complementary route and used a deep peacock teal as a secondary color. Gold became an accent color, and I used this palette throughout to tie everything together. I repeated some of the decorative elements I’d created for the save-the-date and invitations on the programs & menu cards. For table numbers, I wanted to use NYC places that had special meaning in our relationship—everything from where we met, to our first date, to our favorite pizza joint. I hand-painted signs on illustration board and used gold wire stands to group with our floating candle centerpieces. The place cards corresponded to the table number design.

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I used the lettering from my invitations to created a large vinyl cutout for the door. I’d hoped to get some fun photos in front of this, but my florist hung it very late and I actually ended up not even seeing it that day. But it seemed to be a touch that my guests liked, and was helpful in finding the otherwise unmarked entrance to the venue.

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Instead of favors, we made a donation to the American Cancer Society in honor of my father who passed away 8 years ago. We also had a photobooth—which I personally think makes the best take home momentos for guests! But, I did create totebags to welcome all my out-of-town guests as a thank you for coming to celebrate with us. I based the design off my save-the-dates, and had my best friend (and bridesmaid extraordinaire!) help me screenprint them. They were stuffed with goodies, a “hangover kit”, and a few guides I designed to share the weekend itinerary and recommendations for getting around NYC.

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Our wedding was at the Tribeca Rooftop in downtown Manhattan, and we lucked out with the most gorgeous 70-degree fall day, with a stunning sunset. It was absolutely magical, and the party that followed wasn’t too shabby either! It truly was the most amazing day of my life—and over flowing with love! Here’s a few snapshots from friends and family. I’ll share some of the pro photos once I get them.

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Now off to South Africa for the honeymoon adventure of a lifetime!!

One day I’ll get back to work ;)

 

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Field of flowers

I was recently commissioned to create a set of 26 illustrations  of various wildflowers and prairie grasses for a poster for a new elementary school. The school district is one of the first of its kind in the country— 80% sustainable on reusable energy with solar, wind, and thermo power with a surrounding prairie reserve on the grounds. The client wanted to create a poster that could be used as a guide to teach the students what kind of fauna is growing in the prairie.

Here’s the full set of images as well as the poster they created using the artwork. Thanks to wonderful AD, Craig Bieri for the very cool project!

 

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A Sweet Surprise

I was super excited to get a private commission last month for a custom wedding illustration. In the midst of my own wedding planning, love is definitely in the air and on my brain—so I was in the right mindset!

I was contacted by the couple after they saw this piece I created for a friend last year. They described themselves as  “explorers” and each other’s “navigators and co-pilots” with “an unhealthy inclination to sweets”. I immediately fell in love with them, and was totally on board to create something special for their big day! This was to be used as an opening page of the guest book at their wedding, later to become a journal of sorts to document future important moments and celebrations in their lives together.  I drew inspiration from vintage flying machines and a candy-colored palette to create a whimsical image that felt just right for them—and they loved it!

I loved creating this—the themes were right up my alley! Plus, because most of my work is a combination of traditional and digital media, I loved getting back to full-on painting. Wishing many many years of love and happiness to this very “sweet” couple!

 

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Wait…summer’s over?

Happy September! Can’t believe we’re already 2 weeks into it, feeling crisp fall air and seeing beautiful orange sunsets. I even got that first exciting chill in anticipation of Halloween the other day! Hard to believe summer went by so fast—it always does, but this year I just couldn’t fully grab onto it before it was gone.

To say I have fallen behind on blogging and posting on social media over these last few months is a huge understatement. I embrace it all as a way to share and connect—but I truly got too busy living life to keep up with it all. (Though I have to admit I haven’t minded being off the grid for a bit!)

My last post was back in early July, right before I left for ICON—which was fantastic! Not only was the conference inspiring and exciting, but I participated in the Roadshow marketplace and spent a few extra days in Portland with good friends (and experienced the Oregon Country Fair—woah!), all of which deserve their own separate posts. More to come on all of that…

Work has been very consistent and busy all summer long, and with my one-year mark of full-time freelance life just coming up next week, I’m thrilled about that. I’ve truly been able to dig my teeth into a variety of exciting projects—using a full range of my design, illustration and lettering skills much more than I was ever able to in an in-house position. I cannot wait to share some of the cool projects I’ve been working on—books, logos, calendars, paintings, & letterpressing. Will be posting a lot in the upcoming weeks, and have updated my web portfolio in the meantime.

I also am getting married in just over a month! (eek!) So I suppose that’s kept me a teeny bit busier than usual! Aside from the planning & organizing, bridal showers & bachelorette parties, dress fittings & honeymoon planning, I’ve taken on quite a few personal wedding design projects : letterpressing my save-the-dates & invitations, hand-painting table numbers, designing programs & menus cards—all which have been SO much fun and made me think much more seriously about moving in that direction with much of my work. I will be sharing some photos and process posts soon!

In the meantime, here’s a little Fall-inspired piece. I started a sugar skull series months ago, aiming to create 4 pieces, each inspired by one of the seasons. They’ll eventually all be letterpressed and for sale in my Etsy shop. Cheers to the most wonderful time of the year!

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ICON8 or bust!

It’s been a crazy & chaotic, but wonderful start to the summer!  I’ve had little time lately for updates, but have been busy illustrating editorial assignments, creating logos for small businesses, designing a slew of new book covers, writing & illustrating a super fun doodle book for tween girls—and designing + letterpressing my own wedding invitations! I couldn’t be more thrilled with the variety of opportunities that have come my way, and would have never dreamt that just 9 months into freelancing full-time I’d be so busy with work—but I’ve been very lucky. I am super excited to share some of the projects I’ve been working on as soon as I’m allowed!

In the meantime, I’ve also been preparing to head out west to Portland for the Illustration Conference, July 10-12. I’ve attended 5 of these in past years—but this is the first one as a full-time freelancer, so I expect to reap even more inspiration than ever before! I can’t wait! The line up of speakers is so awesome I can hardly contain myself—Carson Ellis, Steve Simpson, Lisa Congdon, Jon Klassen, Lilla Rogers, Paula Scher—and that’s just the start! And as if all that isn’t exciting enough, I was also accepted into the Roadshow—a portfolio review & marketplace showcasing over 60 artists to kick off opening night! I’ll have my portfolio on view as well as a bunch of letterpress prints and greeting cards for sale. Here’s a little snippet of some of the latest goodies that I’ll be taking with me.

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I’m Pittsburgh-bound tomorrow for a fabulous family wedding over the 4th, then will be heading straight out to Portland! Not only will I get to soak in all the ICON excitement, I’ll also be staying with some dear friends that I don’t get to see nearly often enough. With all this joy and inspiration, I’ll be sure to have oodles of great stuff to share once I return!

Hope everyone has a fun and safe holiday weekend!

 

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Dust Chronicles book covers & hand-lettered type design

I was recently commissioned to redesign a really cool YA post-apocalyptic thriller series for Skyscape. The art director had a fantastic vision for these, with a focus on hand-lettered title type design that would turn from orderly and a bit futuristic to “deviant”, swirling and splitting off into different directions that would snake around the cover. Laying the decorative type over an atmospheric stock photo would give these books a  futuristic, dystopian feel.

I sketched out a bunch of different type styles for these, and we developed one into something that has a sort of decorative circuit board feel that conveys the sci-fi tone of the series. I really love how the final covers turned and it was SO fun to get to create custom lettering in such a decorative, elaborate style! Many thanks to Katrina for the project and great art direction!

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The cutting room floor…

I don’t think most people realize how many versions a book cover goes through before it becomes the final product they see on the shelf. Designing a book cover is a very collaborative process, and though it can also be a very challenging and loooong process at times—it’s always fascinating to see the evolution. Often, a designer’s best or favorite concepts are not the ones that make the final cut, so it’s fun to share what was left behind.

Here’s a recent cover I did for Egmont. Another opportunity to mix my own illustration and lettering into the design, I dove right in and really enjoyed hammering out these first comps.

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Ultimately, the publisher preferred a more commercial photographic approach, but I was still able to incorporate a whimsical illustration into the final cover:

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This is Mary Amato’s second YA novel, and is available for pre-order on Amazon.

 

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