Journal

Honest to gumption.

Time for pumpkin spiced lattes and other tricky treats. Click image to download this month’s donkey desktop calendar.

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ALT TITLE: LONGEST BLOG POST EVER… (but worth it)

I’ve been invited by one of my very favorite children’s illustrators, Denise Holmes to join this giant artist’s blog hop. I don’t know the history of it but quick research gives me the idea it’s like a many years-long chain letter and you know how we don’t like to break THOSE… right?

First, I get to show off some Denise’s work. She reminded me that we met online on a freelancer board. I remember being so smitten by her drawings of little girls with incredible expressions, sweet scenes of daily life, and her really refined style. I would know Denise’s drawings ANYWHERE! This summer her second book was published called, If I Wrote a Book About You. It’s an award-winning, touching story with a forever mommy message and Denise’s way of combining words in her illustrations is no small feat. She is also a member of Happy Happy Art Collective, sells her illustrations on Etsy and The Ink Nest, and was a semi-finalist in the 2013 Lilla Rogers Global Talent Search. Oh, and I love this cute video she made. Last month I got to meet Denise as she traveled the west coast on an epic trip with her family. I know we’d hang out a lot if she lived nearby, but I’ll take whatever Niseemade I can get!

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Now I answer the requisite questions:

1. What Are You Writing/Working on?
This week I’m finishing some lettering work for packaging/drink labels, designing a friend’s brand and business cards, developing and drawing out new ideas for a 2015 tea towel, hand painting some cards I want to sell at a boutique downtown, and preparing long overdue packages and thank you mail.

2. How Does Your Work Differ from Others in Your Genre?
I guess the pen and ink technique that I use is a bit distinct. There are other blobby line artists but we all have a particular drawing style. I’d say I have a particular style in drawing elements (actual icons or people) but maybe not a signature look to my “characters” as that is somewhat new to me.

3. Why Do You Create?
Probably like a lot of folks I don’t have a perfect answer for that. My gut wants to say: “Because it has to come out!” Before going freelance this last time I used to hear artists say something to that effect and think, “Oh yeah, right.” But maybe now that I’m older and have more to say I can better relate. I’m very interested in the NEED to create. I would watch it in my parents, the endless ideas and shifting direction and focus, but they had incredible curiosity and I think that’s part of where the NEED comes from.

4. What is your creative process?
Think. Drive kid. Draw. Pick up kid. Get on Computer. Drive kid. Just joking! But in my days there is a certain amount I’ve learned to DO in short and concentrated spurts. And some weekends. When I get a project I almost always research what else is out there on the market that covers the same subject. For ideas, but also to avoid any comparisons or see what I don’t like. I have a small library of books that I use often but like most designers now, it’s Google the magic word combo. Then I always sketch out my ideas. Often, they are little thumbnails only I would be able to see any potential in— deciphering and getting my thoughts down to make room in my head for new ones. When I’m happy with an idea I enlarge the sketch to a size I know will work well with my pen and ink and then trace or refine the sketch by drawing it over and over. I will mark the best ones, scan them in the computer and then use Illustrator to fix/finalize and color the illustrations. In process, I like to show sketches to clients I know will be able to imagine where I’m going and who have selected to work with me based on a certain style. Other clients I just show the final product to and it’s a more efficient way to get the idea accepted.

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Next, 2 artists that I’ve been following for a while. I’m pleased to call them my online friends and share their work that makes you feel good: Roxy Marj and Amy Peppler Adams.

Roxy Marj is an artist I stumbled upon a couple years ago and has one of those very deep blogs that will take you down the rabbit hole of distraction for the rest of the afternoon. Roxy enjoys an outdoorsy life in Utah now after graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design. Like Denise, I think Roxy’s style is so incredibly strong. Her folky, native-inspired look is truly original and enchanting— not the least because she sees faces on everything. Her blog is where everything happens. On her blog you’ll find new product announcements, freebies, recipes, DIY and home projects, some philosophy and sincere life lessons. Part of what I really like about Roxy’s writing is that she’s always storytelling… little snippets of her day and chats with her sweet dog, Harley become animated happenings. Maybe this is because she spends a lot of time working alone, like me.

After one of my first real successes as a freelancer, I treated myself to her hand-painted bear blanket that I wrote about here. She also makes a brilliant lion version of this bear blanket using twisted fringe for the mane. In her shop right now are handmade totebags, cushions, banners, prints and accessory cases. Sadly for us, Roxy will be closing her Etsy shop at the end of December, so scoop up her beautiful goods while you can! Here is a link to her Society6 shop where you can find her gorgeous iphone cases. In the new year Roxy will be concentrating on some other important life work and children’s illustration. Roxy’s Instagram is also a good place to see her life. Good luck to you, Roxy! You’ve cheered my day many times… I’m very much looking forward to your next creation!

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Amy Peppler Adams of Penny Candy Handmade uses the tagline, Art  |  Craft  |  Vintage. Seattle-based Amy knows herself well and as a fellow child of the 70s and 80s this appreciation and vintage influence is clear. She’s been an entrepreneur since the age of 10 when she would sell things she made from her garage, like stickers and stationery, to buy penny candy!

I remember seeing Amy’s 2012 winning Spoonflower calendar and thinking just how very incredibly perfect it was, one of those; “wow— wish I had thought of that.” She’s a bit of a Spoonflower superstar with over 449 prints in her shop! I especially love Amy’s sense of color, the unexpected and well-researched themes and lighthearted retro fun in all her work.

Amy is also a co-author of Vintage Scratch & Sniff Sticker Collector’s Guide, a licensed fabric designer for Riley Blake, and sells her designs and goods through Etsy, Society6, and her very extensive Spoonflower shop. Recently, her Geekly Chic line for Riley Blake was chosen to cover the newest Rag and Bone Bindery albums. Her works have been published in Uppercase magazine, the Handmade Sewing book, and featured on some of your favorite lifestyle and design blogs.

Here is Amy’s Instagram link and check out the Penny Candy Handmade blog—it had me hooked early on with the rich resources of DIY crafts and design research and appreciation shares! Amy also sews and she’s been posting some great coin purse tutorials. Lastly, anyone who puts Charles Nelson Riley on their about page has my heart. It’s so nice to be your surface design pal, Amy! Continued success to you!

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The good month of September got even better as our house and my studio were featured in the November issue of Mollie Makes USA— out on stands now.

I am so thankful for this opportunity. Not the least because I took on the task of REALLY cleaning our house for the shoot. Since I wasn’t sure what they would want to focus on, I attacked every corner, cubby, and dust bunny for 2 weeks. It was a great chance to get some stuff out of here, take on little projects I had been wanting to do, and start fresh. During my obsessive revamp, my 10 year old daughter asked why I was working so hard and I explained that basically when she was born, everything stopped— we did only the necessary rearranging and upkeep to keep chugging along in life. This grand attention to the house has created a new slate and even if the magazine had called it off, I would have thanked them for getting me to the task.

There are a lot of other great reads and eye candy in this issue: an interview with Liberty Fabrics designer, Keighley Shepherdly, my buddy Cathe Holden’s Tartlet Tin Pincushion tutorial, and a tour of some cool spots to shop in Portland.

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I’ve been an avid reader of local journalist and author, Frances Rivetti since discovering her quite a few years back. She’s one of those people who’s name and good reputation you hear around town and in her case, someone I associate with the foodie crowd. Frances blogs at Southern Sonoma Country Life and writes a regular column for our local paper, The Argus Courier. She has a gift for capturing so well the human interest and local-ness of living in Sonoma County: quality, crafted and community-minded.

This past Spring, Frances contacted me to talk about her first book project. She had seen my Oh Petaluma tea towel and was assembling a local team to help with her Kickstarter book project which launched today!

Please consider supporting this Fog Valley Crush campaign. With Sonoma County stories, history, and recipes from this British transplant’s love for the area, Fog Valley Crush will make an excellent gift for anyone on your holiday list!

Lastly, when a client is someone so very nice, who likes what you do, and who’s dream you also believe in, it makes a project that much more tasty. My glass is raised to you, Frances! Congratulations!

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In sending out promotions for Homestead I was enthusiastically greeted by the support of quilter, teacher, pattern maker, blogger and fabric designer extraordinaire, Pat Sloan. Pat is known as “the voice of quilting” and has been interviewing an incredible range of quilting-related guests since 2011! Her podcast guest list a giant quilting who’s who. Lately, I have enjoyed following Pat on Instagram and she REALLY IS as busy as that sounds— she’s on the road a lot and showing tons of new projects all the time.

Pat was intrigued by the story of Homestead came to be so she has invited me on her show to chat a little about the process of creating the collection. Next Monday, Sept. 15 at 4:00 pm Eastern, 1:00 Pacific time I’ll be speaking with Pat on the American Patchwork and Quilting Radio show. Please tune in live or subscribe to her podcast series and listen to it later. Thanks so much for the opportunity, Pat!

American Patchwork and Quilting Pocast Nicky Ovitt Sept 2014

Give peace a chance. September 21 is International Day of Peace. You can read about the history and planned world events like tree plantings and flashmobs here. Click on image to download this desktop calendar. #peaceday

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It’s a small world… with some big opportunities! My full entry to the 2014 Lilla Rogers’ Global Talent Search. Although I didn’t make it into the top 50, I’m glad I pursued it and really like what I experimented with for this challenge. So, as my great redhead friend Susan says with gusto: “ONWARD!”… and as Lilla says in her video, consider entering next year, the growth will be evident.

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This month, along with a couple juicy lettering and illustration projects in process, I’ve created a piece to submit to the Lilla Rogers Global Talent Search. Lilla is a renowned illustrator, teacher, mentor, author, and artist’s agent studio owner. This contest will earn someone 2 years of representation (!) and a host of licensing and other “prizes.” A connection with Lilla’s well-connected, hip studio with it’s stable of unique and talented artists is a common aspiration for so many of us looking to license work. One of her oft-quoted phrases which sums up her philosophy of creating art for the licensing world is: “PEOPLE BUY YOUR JOY.” I understand this to mean; make from the original expression that we all are and the delight in your work will be evident and enticing.

Last year was Lilla’s first time running the course, Make Art that Sells and the subsequent GTS contest. By all accounts, both were a huge success and growth experience for so many of my artist and illustrator friends. But this time last year my heart and mind were with my mom. I had traveled to New Mexico to cheer her spirits and lift her up from the daily ordeals of chemo treatments so needless to say, my hopes and wishes were of a different nature.

This year my mom is in remission! For quite a few months now! And she’s well and I had the time and desire to enter the Global Talent Search! OH JOY! I’ve been back to prepping my art and website to approach agents in earnest. I don’t know if I’m 100% ready, but more and more I can see where forward movement without perfectionism is what I need to accomplish. Ready or not, maybe I’m ready.

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I really enjoyed the extensive 13-page brief and Lilla is indeed inspiring in her words and art direction of what to consider. The theme for Round 1 of the GTS contest is “Little Terrariums” and the market is wall art—for adult or children. The requirements also specify a hand-lettered word or phrase.

My first wording idea was “Room to Grow” but that’s pretty much the opposite of what’s going on in a terrarium so I nixed that. A few of my initial sketches and inking are here. I knew I wanted to include a little gnome or gnome home and a fairy girl with some cactus illustrations I had been developing for my next fabric line with Clothworks felt the most right— after all, I’m a high desert girl at heart. I took my time developing the concept and changed final details over a few days time as I encouraged myself to imagine it as a piece of art for mass sale. I’m pleased with the final result and it feels monumental to have accomplished this delayed goal.

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The gallery of 999 entries and my final submission goes live on Tuesday, Aug. 26th. 50 artists will be chosen to move to the next round, then culled to the final competitors for assignment 3.

I had so much fun with this project and I know I’ll be in awe of the other entries with their fascinating, varied solutions to the same theme. Below is a sneak peek of my final submission. Good luck to everyone who entered! MAY THE JOY BE WITH YOU!

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Back to school time. Are you book smart or barn smart… or both? Click image to download the calendar for your desktop.

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I dunno what will happen for 2015, but for now I’m still on the donkey trail, so to speak. My love for donkey images and art have brought some lovely gifts into my life that I wanted to share.

1 ||  The first you see here being a painting by my incredibly talented friend, Ginny Hautau of Urban Cowgirl Design. Ginny absolutely floored me when this sweet little painting was dropped off after one of our epic coffee chats. The product maker in me is dying for her to get these licensed for wall art or to sell on Sundance! She also has a way with home design— look her up. I was very touched to receive this treasure and feel blessed by her friendship all the time.

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2 ||  You may know my mom is an oil pastel artist and when I visit New Mexico we usually get together with one of  her pastel friends named Sally Prince. When Sally heard about my love of donkeys, she gave me this adorable miniature in sunflowers that I framed for my desk. She also sent me this card with an image from a painting she did a while back. Aren’t these so full of personality?

NickyOvitt_Donkeyblog_SallyPrince3 ||  These next two images are from Katherine Dunn of Apifera Farm in Oregon. She is an accomplished illustrator who runs a farm of rescued “misfit” animals and earlier this year I supported her 2nd Kickstarter campaign to publish another book seen here on the right. It’s a gorgeous publication and I have yet to read it but I’m so happy to have these unique donkeys in my life. The original drawing (with hair bow) has yet to be framed, it was a mother’s day present from my husband who appreciates a good gift hint. Originals like this can be found at Katherine’s Etsy shop.

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4 ||  Choreography! This poster was a present from one of my oldest friends who attends Sundance Film Festival every year. Robin said this award-winning short film was fantastic and she went through some pretty great effort to get me this poster. Not only is she always thinking of what someone else might like for a “prezzie,” she WRAPS said gifts in the most beautiful ways— almost too cool to open. Robin is a prolific collector and master of assemblage. She will be announcing some beautiful assembled art boxes for sale soon so I’ll update you on that when it happens. Her graphic design work and blog can be found at 314Gallery.

5 & 6 ||  These two books were gifts to myself. Our local library has a children’s book sale every few months. If you’ve never read the story of Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, you should request it from your local library— it’s quite philosophical and deep: “Oh how I wish I were my real self again.”

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