Thankful indeed


Wow- so I ended up making 22 new illustrations for my #25thankfuldays thingy I did during this holiday season. Somedays I made two a day to prep for going on vacation, most days I made one a day. It was fun and enriching to think about just a few of the things I am thankful for (this could have been #1,000thankfuldays). Anyhoo- here are my faves from this little series:

Thanks for following along- hope you have wonderful holidays! I know 2015 is going to be full of exciting new adventures- can't wait!

MATS Part A - Round-up


Welp- here they are. My first five weeks of Lilla Rogers's Make Art That Sells course. Looking at them all together- i feel proud of what I made. My favorite is week 2's whistling goat plates and I think my weakest is week 1's root veggie pattern. I feel so fortunate to have been in 4/5 of Lilla's reviews (week 1 did not make it). I went into the course knowing that there was a high likelihood of not having any of my work reviewed. She talks about 15-20 pieces every week and with a class of about 200- well- you do the numbers. I truly feel like I learned so much while she talked about other people's work- that even if my work was not talked about- I would not have felt too disappointed. Creating this work propelled me into mega-productivity. Besides these 5 pieces I made a bunch more work in the 5 weeks:
The recipe, teeth, gems, and reef illos were re-worked from illustrations I had already made. Space cats and doll patterns were completely new, and the botanicals were for Audi Magazine. I also did a site-redesign and kept up with sales from my etsy shops and wholesale accounts. Basically the past five weeks proves my theory that I am most productive when I am juggling lots of gigs. Although I don't think I can quite keep up this pace 100% of the time- I am starting a 25-day holiday thankfulness countdown. I'm illustrating 25 things I am thankful for this holiday season. You can follow along on instagram. Here's the first one:

MATS WEEK 5 - gift market


The final week of Make Art That Sells focused on the gift market. So fun! We illustrated "hyper lush" zippered pouches and were free to also include a few other products. Lilla had us gather and illustrate our collections (or things we love) early in the week to use for the final. Since I don't really collect anything I ended up illustrating bouquets I had made back during my florist days. For my extra products I didn't want to just re-use the same bouquets from the pouch so I created 3 little critters to "wear" the bouquets on their little noggins! Here's the first version where I included basically everything I had and the kitchen sink:
I felt so fortunate to have Lilla review my piece and make some suggestions on ways to improve. I needed to focus on one color-way and design the page a bit more. Here's what I came up with:
I really love the more muted version- and the page layout feels fresher. It was a great note to end on and I feel really excited about the months ahead! (And MATS part B in the spring!!)

MATS Week 4 - Wall Art


I am in disbelief that four weeks have already gone by. Last week was wall art- I challenged myself to stay away from my typical process of paint/scan/photoshop collage/edit/add detail. I wanted to do it all by hand. I found last week fun, invigorating, agonizing, and difficult. For some reason- even though this was supposed to be our "free and easy" week- I really struggled. We each had a color scheme based on our bday (mine was blue/green), we needed it to be square, abstract, include some floral imagery, and a word or phrase. We were also encouraged to use collage elements. To me this felt like more "restrictions" than the previous week's "illustrate Tortoise & Hare, use hand-lettering" assignment. But I can see how many people found the wall art more enjoyable.

I'll show you what I ended up with- and then the steps that got me there...
There are many layers of gesso on this bad-boy- but I actually really like how it turned out. Although it feels different than my other work- it still has aspects of it that resonate with the other pieces. One of the hardest things for me was choosing a word. I didn't want to go super-inspirational and I didn't want to go too obscure. "Forage" fell perfectly in the middle between "Discover" and "Paidia & Ludus" (hub's suggestion). 

I started three canvases at once- all covered in a patchwork of green/blue inky squares. Here are parts of the two that did not make the cut:

There are elements in each that I like- but I'm so pleased with the minimal imagery and maximal texture I was able to get in my finished piece. I'm currently in the home stretch of week 5- can't wait to show you how this Make Art That Sells part A ends up!

Also- if you haven't seen my website update (full of new work)- check it out HERE!

MATS week 3 - Children's Books


I was probably most nervous for this week of Lilla Rogers's Make Art That Sells course. First of all, I haven't drawn characters (aside from my chipmunk cheek animals) in a long time (really ever?!). I also don't really do scenes. Characters + scenes = children's book. Anyhoo, coming off feeling great about last week's assignment- I decided to push my fears aside, create an illustration that felt like "me" and that I would be drawn to on a book shelf. The first part of the assignment was creating a tortoise character. I did a few pages of sketches/paintings- and felt like I landed upon something with these guys:
I really liked their texture, awkwardness, and googly eyes. For some reason I didn't want a green tortoise. I knew that for the final illo I wanted the colors to be informed by the scene/season. After doing these I felt like they belonged in a desert. The assignment was to illustrate the cover or a spread of The Tortoise and the Hare incorporating some hand lettering. Once I had them in the desert- I knew I wanted my lettering to be more "western" styled. Here's how my final turned out:
I love this color palatte! I experimented with some different textures/brushes in photoshop and really enjoy the result. I was able to complete this with a few days to spare (I worked hard early on because I felt a cold coming on and really wanted to just rest up this weekend). But in my experience work begets work- so I took the extra time I had and worked up this little pattern...
I think I have conquered my fear of characters (the googly eyes were key is this!). This idea of space cats was just floating aimlessly around my brain earlier in the week- so I had to follow through with it. The hubs thinks it would make a great sheet set and i have to agree. 

MATS Week 2 - Home Decor


Week two - BAM! Man this is flying by! This week's home decor inspiration came in the form of suzanis. These are gorgeous embroidered textiles from Uzbekistan. Right away I thought I really wanted to do something celestial. This changed to doing the zodiac- which eventually led to whistling goats. So how did I get from point A to point G? I was working hard on making the zodiac work- but it felt like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole- and the results were not feeling fun, quirky, or effortless. So i took a deep breath and simply changed direction...

NOT AT ALL!! More like I freaked out, stayed up way too late scouring the interwebs, and made furious doodles in my sketchbook. I was not going to be able to sleep unless I had a new direction. Then I met this dude:
How could I not be inspired by mr. Markhor the wild goat of Uzbekistan?! I quickly began doing some large/medium/small ink paintings of forms inspired by suzanis. I wanted the large ones to feel very loose and have a real "inky" quality to them. From the get-go I envisioned my plates being sold as dessert plates in Anthropologie- they do not shy away from quirky, hand-painted work. Here's what I ended up submitting: 
While I was first making these I had the plants and markhors different colors but once I unified them with the blue everything else fell into place. 

Since I didn't want to have these plates on my website (I kinda feel like unless they are actually made into plates- they should be presented as an illustration- therefore could be used for different applications) I merged them together and created this:
now someone could look at it and see wallpaper, fabric, plate, or any other application. Thank you whistling markhor for making this week's assignment really enjoyable!

MATS Week 1 - Bolt Fabric


Ok- so week one is done. We focused on the bolt fabric market- which to be honest I had never considered for myself. I even went into the week thinking "well- i'm more interested in wallpaper- so that's what I'll design my pattern for." Thankfully I got that thought out of my head or else i would have missed out on really learning about this exciting and fun market. The week started out with sketching root veggies and pyrex. Not being terrible excited about the shapes of pyrex casseroles- i focused on root veggies and pyrex patterns. here's some of that preliminary work:
As you can see- the icons on the left were the ones I narrowed in on for the final pattern. I felt like I needed to figure out my color scheme before refining the pattern itself- so I did a few rough color-way studies:
At this point in the week I was approached for a small (5 spots) illo job and we decided to travel to chicago for the weekend. I was feeling pressured to just finish up the main pattern and coordinates so I worked hard on wed/thurs to get to this:
I love how dramatic the colors are- it really stands out. I'm not sure if it would appeal to customers looking for kitchen fabric- but I do enjoy the play between bold shapes/delicate lines. It also would fit into my portfolio- so that feels nice. In looking back now and after listening to Lilla's final lesson I would change up the coordinate patterns and make those more special/hand illustrated (though I do like the geometric against the illustrations).

Anyhoo- I had a few free hours on Saturday to do some work so I took those veggies and turned them into their own separate recipe illustration:
kinda fun eh? 

Overall thoughts on Make Art That Sells so far? I think it's great. There is so much inspiring talent, so much encouragement and support, and a ton of enriching information. I'm so thankful I worked really hard the two weeks before MATS to get into my making art groove, re-look through and edit my website, and hone in on what makes my art mine. Looking forward to next week!

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. 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)

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