Friday, October 31, 2014

Spooky Vintage Halloween Polaroids

This tiny Polaroid Land Camera album has been tucked in a cabinet for a long, long time. Finding it again was like finding money in an old jacket pocket! These pictures may have been taken in 1962, a guess on my part, based on its design, and because the number '62' is written on the cover. They are shown below at actual size, and in the order in which they appear in the album. Enjoy, and have a Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The 2015 Tea Towel Calendar Contest Is Here!

Last weekend I was sifting through some old envelopes to find one I could reuse and I came upon a small, white Tyvek one with a piece of paper inside. That piece of paper was a receipt from my very first Spoonflower order, dated November 11, 2010.

Included in the order was a swatch of the first tea towel calendar I ever designed, which was also my first entry into a Spoonflower Fabric-of-the-Week contest (and it ultimately placed second, which became fuel for the fire…). Finding this little bit of nostalgia was quite timely, since this week kicks off the voting for the 2015 Tea Towel Calendar design contest! And here is my entry this year:

This time around I decided to dig into my collection of vintage ephemera: playing cards, labels, seals, stars, milk caps, stamps, envelopes, seed packets, flash cards, dictionary clippings, playing pieces, price tags, receipts, and more! I combined them with some retro Dymo labels and homemade washi tape to create 12 monthly collages. They hang across a chalkboard with hand-drawn chalk illustrations, each tag attached by a clothespin to vintage string from an old toy wooden bead set. Put it all together and you have one scrappy new year!

Below are closeups of each month. I'd really appreciate your vote in this year's competition, and all of the entries can be viewed here. You can vote for as many designs as you like, and you don't even have to be registered on the Spoonflower site to do so! Thank you so much!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Artists Around the World Blog Hop

Wow—this is the longest post I’ve ever written, but I think you will find it enjoyable, as it is, for the most part, not about me, but three people whose work inspires me. I am lucky to have them as peers, friends, sounding boards, leaders, and followers, even though we have never met in person...yet! They have introduced me to new things, brought me back down to earth when necessary, and even taken me to places I’ve never been. I hope you enjoy reading about them!

OK, let’s get started…
Recently I was asked by Nicky Ovitt to participate in the Artists Around the World Blog Hop. My jaw dropped. Me?! Needless to say, I am quite flattered, and humbled to know that an artist I admire actually follows my work!

Let me tell you a little about Nicky. I first noticed her work over a year ago when I decided to take a look at the finalists’ designs in the surface pattern design competition called The Printed Bolt. I quickly started following all of her social media feeds and bookmarked her website for inspiration. Since then, we have struck up a conversation via email, bouncing ideas off of each other about fabric and licensing.

Nicky’s hand-drawn illustrations and typography are both honest and charming. Her new fabric collection, Homestead, ClothworksFabrics, is fantastically homegrown, modern-yet-primitive, and evokes a bit of the pioneering spirit. Perfect for fabric that is entirely American-made! And her style is so versatile that it has been used on everything from clothing and product packaging to greeting cards and paper goods, for clients like ChronicleBooks, Smith & Hawken, and Speedo

Check out more of Nicky’s work in her Spoonflower, Etsy, and Society6 shops. She also has a fun Instagram feed, featuring works in progress, vintage goodies, and snippets from her life in Northern California. In addition, Nicky and her home are featured in the November 2014 issue of the U.S. version of Mollie Makes, on newsstands now!

Now, here’s a little bit about me…
As part of the Blog Hop, I am supposed to answer a few questions about myself, so here goes.

1. What are you writing/working on?
This past week I finished updating the News and Gallery sections of my website, which hadn’t been current since March 2013! I have already made a New Year’s resolution (three months early!) to update it regularly from now on! Now that I have been able to cross that off the list, I am going to focus on designing a 2015 tea towel calendar for the annual Spoonflower contest (my favorite one of the year!). In the background I am doing research and compiling ideas for two collections I’ve had brewing in the back of my brain all summer.

2. How does your work differ from others in your genre?
I would say a major difference is that I don’t have one particular style. I am inspired by so many different things that I design in whatever style seems appropriate to the subject matter, and/or what the design will be printed on. I think that comes from my background in graphic design, always following the mantra <i>Form Follows Function</i>. I also tend to go with very bold color choices. This could be attributed, in part, to the fact that it’s cloudy and rainy in Seattle nine months of the year.

3. Why do you create?
I don’t know if I can answer that. I have always created, for as long as I can remember. Even when I was writing the ABCs with black permanent marker on the side of the house when I was five years old… All day long all I think about is what I’m going to design when I have a few minutes of free time.

4. What is your creative process?
Right now, with a five year old son, my creative process is pretty broken up into segments that fit into his preschool schedule, weekend outings with dad, and occasional late nights when I just can’t stop the creative juices from flowing. I start with lots of research, using books and the Internet. Then sometimes I do some sketches (especially if the idea includes hand-drawn elements), but many times everything is in my head and then the computer becomes like a sketchbook. While half the time I would love to be computer-free and go back to working with older techniques, I do love how quickly I can change and move things around on the computer screen. Many times what I end up with is different from what I originally had in mind.

Now here are two people I’d like to introduce you to.
(…if you don’t know them already!)

I first “met” bubbledog almost 15 years ago, when we were both obsessively bidding on vintage stickers on eBay. I purchased one of my very favorite sheets of 1981 Hallmark metallic rainbow stickers from his shop, and we have been emailing and talking on the phone since. While he is a few years younger than me, we both grew up in the ‘70s and ‘80s and have a profound love for the pop culture of both decades. I continue to be in awe of his ability to find the coolest retro things, both from garage and rummage sales, and eBay and Etsy, which he usually documents on his blog.

In 2005 we spent countless hours on and off the phone (he is on the East Coast and I’m on the West) writing, editing, designing, composing, and publishing the Vintage Scratch & Sniff Stickers Collector’s Guide. It was a total labor of love, and we hope to perhaps update the book someday.

All this time, while also working a full-time job in a totally different field, bubbledog has been crafting in the background, maintaining a successful Etsy shop and booths at weekend craft shows all over the East Coast (his stall is so dreamy!). I credit him with introducing me to Spoonflower, which changed my life. He continues to inspire me with his wonderful knack for color, and his ‘80s-inspired-but-on-trend choices of subject matter for his work. He has an innocent illustration style and has created a cast of animal and fruit characters, which decorate everything from stationery, buttons, and belts to pins, magnets, and pillows. Recently he expanded his product line to include sculpted versions of these adorable characters. I hope to someday collaborate on a fabric project with him, perhaps an alphabet design, mixing some typography with his adorable imagery.

Check out these fabulous Star Wars figures bubbledog crafted from clay, and the mockup of the Luke Skywalker figure packaging!

Ceri Staziker
I’m cheating a little bit on this one, because Ceri doesn’t have a blog, but I have really wanted to feature her work for some time now. I figured this was the perfect opportunity.

Ceri’s work first caught my eye about a year ago when voting opened and designs were revealed for the annual Spoonflower Tea Towel Calendar contest. When I saw her entry, my heart sank, because I knew I no longer had any chance of winning. In the end, Ceri didn’t even place (and neither did I), and I felt compelled to write her a quick message to tell her I had thought her calendar was a shoe-in and couldn’t believe it hadn’t placed in the Top 10. Since then I have been so glad to keep in touch with her, via email and through social media.

Ceri did, however, win the One-Yard Costume Pattern Design contest a few weeks prior, with her “Fantastic Feathers” pattern; and this year she was a finalist in the Robert Kaufman Fabrics-sponsored Fabric8 contest on Spoonflower, with the theme “Cosmic Voyage”. The “Far Away Folk” collection she submitted for the competition was out of this world (pun intended), and she has since expanded it to include 12 beautiful, coordinating, folk art-inspired prints. While she has told me multiple times that she considers herself to be a graphic designer and not really an illustrator, I beg to differ. Her work is crafted with an incredible amount of meticulously-rendered detail, and in such lovely color palettes.

Oddly enough, even though Ceri lives in Wales, several years ago she spent some time in my neck of the woods while doing an internship for Microsoft. It’s fun to see her comment on Instagram photos I post picturing local Seattle-area landmarks! I love following her Instagram feed, which includes not only images of her work, but daily views from her morning walk through the Welsh countryside, photos that could be mistaken for oil paintings.

Ceri has agreed to answer the same four questions, so you can find out a little more about her.

1. What are you writing/working on?
I’m a graphic designer by day, fledgling fabric designer by night — which makes for a very busy and varied working week! I’m just getting back into the Spoonflower weekly challenges after a long break over the summer. I’m new to surface design and I find that entering these contests gives me plenty of opportunity to test out ideas and learn new skills, all to a brief which is usually way outside my comfort zone. It’s amazing how much work I have generated and how far I have progressed over the past year, just from participating in these regular challenges. I also have a few sewing projects in the planning stages (always in the planning stages — I’m a terrible fabric hoarder and hate to cut into my precious stash). Even though I have been sewing since I was a little girl, I have never been a quilter. That is something I would like to rectify.

2. How does your work differ from others in your genre?
Well, that is such a difficult question to answer. I feel like I am still searching for my own unique style (I think it’s buried under many years of corporate graphics, struggling to get out) — although I do feel like something resembling ‘me’ is beginning to emerge. Friends do tell me that they can spot my work amongst others, and that is very heartening. I hope that one day I will be known for a style that is uniquely and recognizably mine.

3. Why do you create?
I create for the same reason my husband has jumped on his bike, or gone for a run every day that I have known him. It’s simply something that I love to do. The process of engaging my brain and hands to make something beautiful is immensely satisfying. It can be an enjoyable, frustrating and even exhausting process, in equal measures, but I’m compelled to do it every day. And then get up the next day and do it again!

4. What is your creative process?
Despite many years on a very ordered brief-to-deadline schedule, my clandestine life as a fabric designer is pretty chaotic. Maybe it’s because I have so much unexpected freedom of expression in this part of my creative life — without the constraints of my clients’ wishes? I can spend days or even weeks agonizing over a potential design before I actually start working on it! To be honest, I find this part of the process quite painful and not always enjoyable. Eventually, when I see things coming together in my head, I relax and I start to sketch — always pencil on paper. I work out all of the design elements and a rough repeat, and when I’m happy that I’ve got it all thought out, I start to digitize my sketches. This is the fun part where I get to see my ideas take shape, colour, and become ‘real’. This is also the stage that sees me working long into the night because I just don’t want to stop. The one thing I have learned to do is that when I am satisfied I have finished a design, I need to step away from it for a day or two. When I come back to it with fresh eyes, there are ALWAYS tweaks I want to make. And they are usually for the better. So I try to build in this extra ‘tweaking time’ at the end of every project.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Thanks so much to bubbledog and Ceri for participating, and again to Nicky for inviting me to join in!

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