Anyone who knows me, knows that Halloween is my absolute favorite holiday & time of year. So I was thrilled to be invited to participate in “The Month of Fear“—a weekly art challenge created by fabulous fantasy illustrator Kristina Carroll as a follow up to her Month of Love last February.
The blog includes over 20 illustrators, each posting an image weekly in response to a given challenge topic related to fear or Halloween. Kristina also asked me to create the blog header lettering & background image, as I had for Month of Love. October ended up being quite a busy month for me, so I wasn’t able to complete every challenge, but wanted to share a few pieces.
Be sure to check out the blog—there’s tons of fabulous work up! monthoffear.blogspot.com
Hand-lettered blog header
Skull background pattern
Week 1 Challenge: What Lives Under Your Bed?
Week 3 Challenge: What’s your favorite horror story?
Week 4 Challenge: Illustrate a random phobia
Halloween Challenge: Illustrate a favorite Halloween Memory
In my nearly 10 years of living in New York City, Autumn has become my favorite season. The slight chill on a sunny day, the crisp evening air, and the bustling people out and about fills my whole heart with excitement—almost like I am seeing the city with fresh eyes each September. I created this little image as a new promotional piece for my Facebook artist page, and as an opportunity to experiment a bit with technique. I played with watercolor and gouache washes with my line work, and old linocuts to overprint the leaves. The hand-lettered text come from the lyrics to one of my favorite Billie Holiday songs—a classic, celebrating this amazing time of year.
I’ve always loved letterpress. It just feels like the perfect medium for all the things I love most about both illustration and design——delicate linework, texture, graphic shapes & color, beautiful typography and a vintage, tactile quality. About 5 years ago I took a semester of Letterpress 101 through SVA’s Continuing Ed. program with the amazing Dikko Faust (founder of Purgatory Pie Press, and a master in the art of letterpressing). I immediately fell in love with the whole process, though it was a fairly large class and with a full-time job it was hard to get into the studio for press time during out-of-class hours. So I only produced a few projects and lost access to the studio once the semester ended.
But ever since, I’ve been itching to get back to exploring it a bit more. I only recently became aware of The Arm in Brooklyn—a public access letterpress studio run by Dan Morris, who, along with the other staff there are all-around awesome & super helpful guys. I took a day-long intro workshop there a few months back, and now am able to book time to go in to print my own projects.
Last night was the first time I was able to get in the studio and spend a few hours on the press. I got a couple plates made of some lines drawings from awhile back and experimented with different paper weights and 2-color printing. I was in heaven! Felt so good to be away from a screen and get back to getting a little down and dirty making some stuff with my hands—Super excited to go back for more!
This was a drawing I’d revisited from my Month of Love sketches, after a woman contacted me about using the image on her New Orleans wedding save-the-dates.
2-color print on Cranes Lettra 110 lb. cover stock in pearl white
Revisited a hand-lettered piece I’d created after the Sandy Hook shootings—I love this beautiful quote. Printed on Cranes Lettra 220 lb. cover stock in pearl white
Detail. Loving the deep impression on the 220 lb stock!
I’ve been thinking about process and development a lot in my work lately.
A couple months ago, I had my portfolio reviewed by Charles Hively (Art Director and Publisher of 3×3 Magazine). His great professional feedback, and just having a fresh eye look at my work, was a re-energizing experience for me. I think it’s easy for anyone to lose sight of their work and the direction it’s going if there’s never a moment to reflect on it or consider it from a more objective angle. I think for me especially—since I juggle a creative full-time job where I design and art direct illustrators every day—what I am doing in my own work can feel clouded and even over-influenced by what I am constantly surrounded by. And the pressure I put on myself by comparing what I do to what I see, and trying to “speed up” to get to where I really want to be in my career, has created a lot of burn out and frustration for me.
Mr. Hively’s feedback suggested that I spend (a lot of) time figuring out how to allow more of my personal voice to shine through, as any artist has to do to really improve: Try new mediums, palettes, and/or subject matter; Study non-illustration & design work; Look at European illustration; Tap into the things that most interest & inspire me on a personal level—and let all these influences find their appropriate place in my work until that day when I “get goosebumps” because I’ll just know I’ll have found that really special thing in my work that sets it apart from everything else.
I agree that growth comes from stepping out of the “safe” zone, and I’ve been trying to slow down in a way —thinking less about “finished pieces” when I make new work and get more involved in my process. I took advantage of the extra time away from the office grind this long holiday weekend to experiment a bit with medium and process.
I love music and also love illustrating & hand-lettering quotes that inspire me. These words by Bilie Holiday seemed especially fitting for the things I’m thinking about at the moment, so I decided to revisit this drawing I’d done awhile back. Here’s some shots of my process:
Original drawing and inkjet transfer to toothed paper
Blocking in color with watercolor & goauche
Final art with inked line
I’ve been having so much fun with the daily art challenge I’ve been participating in—”The Month of Love”. It’s such an inspiring group of illustrators, and each day truly is a fun challenge to post something new. Some days are open to any love-themed imagery, others days have a challenge topic that everyone has to create from.
I find some days allow time to really develop an idea and a more finished piece of art, but most days are more of a conceptual exercise that allows for experimentation with sketch process. It’s been a great experience so far, and we’re only one week in! With 20 new pieces of art posted each day, be sure to check it out and visit often! monthoflove.blogspot.com
Here’s a few pieces, including the blog header, that I’ve contributed so far:
I’ve been working on setting up a shop on Zazzle to sell some products featuring my art & illustration work, so I’ve spent time over the last few weeks organizing old files and pulling some images to re-purpose in various formats and applications. In digging through some old projects, I came across a few spot art pieces that I wanted to share— just for fun! (since they aren’t on my website).
The black and whites food spots are from various novel interiors, and the sock monkey is an image I’ve used for several baby cards and gifts for friends & co-workers.
Who knows, maybe they’ll end up on some future stationary or notecards…you’ll have to check out my shop when it’s up and running in a few weeks! 🙂