Make Art That Sells


ahk! I'm like a nervous 3rd grader the week before school starts (who am i kidding?!- i was nervous/excited EVERY school year). Next week I am starting up Lilla Rogers's Make Art That Sells (Part A) online course. It's a big investment in both time (5 weeks for part A and 5 weeks for part B) and money. It was not an easy decision to sign up for the class- but I'm at a spot with my art where I need some directed assignments and I want to find out the best way to put my art out there for specific markets. The way the course is set up is that each week focuses on a different kind of illustration market (surface design, wall art, children's books, etc.). I've been so fortunate to not have to do much to go after the jobs I've gotten- people have found me. But I also realize that this might not last forever and I don't want to be sitting around, making art, and not knowing how to present it to specific markets. So in I go!

One of my main concerns going in is that I'll come out of this course with 10 strong pieces that don't feel like Katie Vernon. If you've followed any of Lilla's contests or bootcamps it can seem like a lot of the artists have a similar vibe. Lilla's illustrators that she reps have a vibe- so it will be a challenge for a teacher-pleaser like me to stay completely true to my aesthetic. I've been doing loads of sketching/painting/playing this past week to work out my art muscles and try to figure out what that aesthetic is (more on that in another post).

Thankfully the other week I met with Emily Balsley - a fellow illustrator and kindred spirit in Madison who went through MATS A+B and survived. She had an overall great experience with it, met a wonderful online community of artists through it, and has done great things with what she learned. Yay Emily!

Anyhoo- I'm going to be blogging weekly about the course/my process/finished pieces. So stay tuned!

(the ship illustration above is a combination of various illustrations/sketches that I've done over the past 5 years- it was fun/challenging to try to piece them together)

White + Black + Gold


I just spent many a hour gold leafing this year's batch of Season Calendars. Most of them are headed to the sweet NYC shop Catbird- but I will have about 25 for sale in my etsy shop (they'll be up on Monday- so act fast). This is the third year for this calendar and I still love it- simple, unique, and GOLD! There's something about gold leaf that makes everything more awesome. Although it's a mess to work with- it's ultra-satisfying to see something that's hum-drum black and white turn into wham-bam-glam- white, black and gold (W-B-G)! I'd say the only negative for gold is that a scan or photograph doesn't do it justice.

I guess all this gold leafing rubbed off on me- the other day i was doing some painting exercise (gotta keep the muscle going!) with just black ink and before i knew it a gold paint pen was in my hand and taking over! W-B-G!

2015 Calendars in shop!


If you follow me on instagram (thekatiev) - you'll have seen snippets of these over the last few weeks. They are finally done! I've used herbs, plants, and colors that promote specific positive outcomes and intertwined them all in lovely "Healing Wreaths." I'm very please with how they turned out and haven't picked a favorite yet. 

These 11x14 wall calendars are available right now in my etsy shop ($25)- and prints without the calendar will be up soon. 

moving forward


I've been working on a few pieces for a show at Gather back in Bloomington. The theme is "Home" and I was crazy-inspired by the nests of sociable weaver birds. The structure itself as well as its function is incredible. I envisioned a very simple ink painting with a few details. While I was picking up paper I noticed some wood boards that looked interesting and decided to grab a few to try them out. Instead of ink I went with acrylic/gouache/pencil- materials i used back in undergrad. It was enjoyable going back to them- but they weren't creating the feel i wanted. I continued to push forward and layer and layer until i really just had some blobs on wood boards. Here's the blobular evidence:

Although I could have just sent these to the gallery and been done with it- I realized i was missing an opportunity to move my work/portfolio forward. I've loved working with acrylic ink and am at a point with my website where things are all starting to almost feel happy-cohesive. So here are the new versions of the sociable weaver nests- the first two are each 5x7s and the last one is 11x14. If you're in Bloomington this fall- make sure to pencil in October 3rd to see the group show at Gather and check out these arts in person (so much prettier!)... 

I love giving up some control with how the ink moves around and mixes with the main shape and then re-introducing some control/restraint with the smaller details. Hooray for moving forward! 

for reals


At the beginning of the year I decided to make a play kitchen for Juniper out of this weird wicker cabinet, some wood, and a few other goodies. Here's the before and after:

The after is nice and shows all the fun details- but I wanted to style it with all the cute food and sweet little wooden cook set that J got for her 2nd bday in May. I thought about trying to style the perfect shot- but that's been done over and over- just check out pinterest. Instead here is her play kitchen in its natural habitat. And yes- she's naked on the couch, enjoying a cold one, and probably watching some Daniel Tiger. This is our life- for reals!



whoa. what a crazy summer. we put all our belongings in a truck that drove away (for all i know our couch might have been hanging out in mexico for a long weekend!). we stayed with my mom for a bit, drove out to colorado to get away for two weeks, came back to my mom's, moved to dubuque, and now we're entering our last week of summer.

I feel so fortunate for so many things surrounding this summer- a hubbie who worked so hard last year, never letting his dad duties slide, and was happy to put work on hold for a bit this summer so we could all have this adventure. A two-year old who (for the most part) was incredibly flexible, didn't drive us too nuts, and re-learned how to nap in the car. A mom who took us and our doggie in when we didn't have anywhere to go. And so much more.

I thought I would get so much done (art-wise) this summer. Spoiler alert: i didn't. Thankfully I've been bitten by the productivity bug this past week and am feeling very motivated. I have a few bigger projects that I need to keep chipping away on- more on those later. For now- here are some pics from our time in Colorado.
did these two little map illos after some nice day hikes. working quickly and loosely was just what the art-doctor ordered!

The house we were renting was a hippie-haven. We were surrounded by nature inside and out. It was just what the nature-doctor ordered! (our fake doctor bills are out of control!)

We saw 3 moose! A moose trifecta!

Juni loving the mountains. No filter/adjustment needed on this pic. 

Perhaps my favorite pic of the summer. Perfectly sums up how cool the people I love most are. (yes- Juni is wearing a cape while playing the recorder)

new studio


For a while the hubs and i were thinking about renting a small apartment in downtown dubuque. Instead we decided on a 3-bedroom house closer to suburbia. boy am i glad! it's so nice to have a decent sized room with windows and a door to close so I don't have to look at the mess that will (soon) ensue. I didn't move with my old long table (hollow-core door on two shoddy shelves) so I went for two IKEA tables with adjustable legs. Since I have to move from thing-to-thing while filling etsy orders i decided to make it more of a standing desk/table- which I'm kinda excited about! In the old basement studio everything was kinda haphazard- printer on one side, trimmer on the other, mailers in another. And while I LOVE that people want my art in their homes- my least favorite thing to do is printing prints. Now I feel like there's a good flow for getting prints out the door- huzzah!

I also have two shelving things- once that is fairly organized...

and once that is not... 

also- though it's nice to have's my "nicer" view...
guess i could open up the blinds :)

I'll have more updates on the other things I've been doing this summer in a later post. For now my etsy shops are back up and running- so treat yo self!

just a reminder...


This Saturday- May 31- is the last day to order prints or originals until early August. We're packing up our home, moving temporarily to the home I grew up in, vacationing, and then moving again to....??? We're still not 100% sure. I'm trying to embrace the unknown. 

If you've been following my #dailywreaths on instagram- you've noticed that they've become more like #everyonceinawhilewreaths. Don't worry- I hope to get back to the #daily part of it soon! 

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