UPPERCASE reader Isabell Seidel has an excellent urban sketching project underway: "A sample of postcards and two booklets which will show a selection of Ourense´s culinary scenery. The visits down "in the capital" to have tea have already started." She draws these on location from various cafés in Ourense, a town in northern spain.
Isabell put the back of an UPPERCASE magazine subscription cards to good use! "I'm a slow reader of your magazine," she writes. "I like to taste it page by page because it´s one of the few that deserves attention in each detail you place so carefully. As an addict to all kind of paper stuff I especially liked the last issue =). In one of the previous issues I found a subscription postcard with a beautiful frame that invited to be filled. Today it'll go on its journey from bucolic Galicia/Spain to urban Berlin/Germany."
To see more of Isabell's work, visit her Flickr sets.
The submission deadline for my 100 artists is nearing, so my inbox is bursting with questions, artwork and downloads. While I'm busy sorting, here are some images of Lea Vervoort working on her illustration for the forthcoming Work/Life book.
From her home studio in the Netherlands, Lea answered some of our questions on her illustrated life:
Has being an illustrator affected your personal life? (ie the choice of where or how you live?) Actually I can live where ever I want to. My work is international orientated. As long as I have a roof, my computer and my paper with pencils I can work.
Does your personal life (i.e. children, working from a home studio) affect your career? Working from a home studio sometimes affects my career. I would love to work at a studio away from home, but I'm not able to afford it (yet).
How do you maintain a balance between your work and your life? (or not?) Illustration is a really big part of my life. It’s my passion and it's my work. And even if I’m not working I’m thinking about it, so there's not really a balance between work and life here. But I don't mind, it makes me happy.
What is your ideal day? A day with lots of sun! Living in the Netherlands with all the rain can be a bit depressing sometime.
Where do you work? Do you have a studio at home or somewhere else? How is your workspace enhance or hinder creativity? I work at home. I live together with my boyfriend. He is an animator and works from home too. We share the office, a room (15m2) next to our living room. It's quite nice to have company of another creative soul.
Is your image-making inspired by personal interests or do you prefer to be driven by specific assignment? Mostly my image-making is inspired by a specific assignment, but I always try to put some things of own interest in it too. And when I have some spare time I love to make personal work.
How is your creative vision expressed through your work? Because of my imagination I love to create/make up worlds. In my work you are likely to find things like environments, surroundings and cities with a certain atmosphere or characters such as animals, people or non-existing beings. Sometimes I’m still a kid who thinks that grown-ups are boring. With my work I hope to surprise and bring back a little sparkle to dusty lives.
Another highlight of last night's event was meeting illustrator Kelly Angelovic who lives here in Boulder. Kelly is one of the 100 illustrators that I am profiling in Work/Life 3. I am honoured that so many talented people like her have invested in this project.
In order to create a unique assignment for each Work/Life participant, I sent everyone a fairly extensive list of questions about their life and career. Here is an except from Kelly's answers:
How would you describe your illustration style?
Specializing in digital illustration, my style is layered, sophisticated and whimsical.
How is your creative vision expressed through your work?
This life is big and wonderful. And full of pain. Through my work, I hope to infuse the world with a little more joy. A little more fun.
Do you keep a sketchbook or journal? How does this inform your work?
I have a journal that I write and sketch in. Some artists have sketchbooks that are works of art in themselves. Mine do not look like that. They are rough, scratchy, and unrefined. But I take those crude drawings and start drawing digitally until I have something that I like.
What inspires you?
Colour. Graphic design. Athletes. TED Talks. Musicians. Other people that have gone after their dreams and found success. Other illustrators. Artists. Interior design. Fabulous kid’s books. Architecture. UPPERCASE magazine. Letterpress. The creative potential of the human race.
Do you have hobbies or special interests? Do they relate to you career in any way?
I couldn’t rightfully call myself a Colorado native if I didn’t love to ski and do all things outdoor (cycling and hiking are at the top of the list). Yoga is a big part of my life. Creating. Writing. I don’t know what I would do without music. I get a lot of ideas when I am out moving my body. And it helps me decompress, an important counterbalance when I am up against a deadline and working into the wee hours of the night.
What would be your dream illustration assignment?
I would love to illustrate a beautifully written, whimsical children’s book. Or the cover of UPPERCASE magazine.
What is your benchmark for success as an illustrator?
Being able to work as an illustrator, without having to take on another gig, and make enough money to enjoy my life. Not in a fancy, huge house kind of way. Just in a ‘I can pay the mortgage, take care of my children, and go on vacation once in awhile’ kind of way. The artist in me rejects that notion that success should hinge on financial metrics, but the realist in me knows that if I can’t pay the bills, then it doesn’t work.
Why did you become an illustrator or artist?
When working on a project that I’m really excited about, I get this buzz...an electric current of excitement that lights me up from head to toe. I am an illustrator because it makes my soul sparkle.
The cover of the latest issue of Covet Garden was illustrated by Work/Life 3 participant and regular UPPERCASE contributor Alanna Cavanagh. Covet Garden is interested in spaces that have not been styled by interior decorators and that reflect the passions and interests of those who live in them. In a happy coincidence, Michelle, one of Covet Garden's participants, happens to be a fan of issue #16.
Congratulations to Work/Life 3 illustrator Ekaterina Trukhan. Her second children's book is out this month:
"Patrick wants a dog! But when he asks his mum, she doesn't hear him and his dad is always too busy to say yes. So Patrick decides he'll just have to go and find a dog himself. But he gets more than he bargains for when he comes across a monster instead . . ."
Finley and I are also fans of Ekaterina's first book, Me and My Cat.
Work/Life artist Lesley Barnes wrote in to let us know about these illustrated rugs available at the Design Museum. They are made by Node Rugs, a fair trade company founded by illustrator Chris Haughton who partners with Nepalese carpet makers. Intriguingly, Node offers illustrators and designers the opportunity to have their own work made into rugs. See the guidelines here.
I am still accepting portfolios in consideration of Work/Life 3: the UPPERCASE directory of illustration. The book is filling up nicely with 60 fabulously talented people already included. Here is a sampling of the quality of talent that has been accepted into this curated book, presented in pairings of objects and concepts curated from their portfolios.
I'm pleased to announce the open call for participants for the third edition of Work/Life: the UPPERCASE directory of illustration. This fee-based group promotional publication goes beyond typical directories and awards annuals by presenting each artist in a personal way through a bespoke illustration assignment, interviews and peeks into their studio, sketchbook and personal lives.
Please click here to to read all the details and to apply.
From Caldecott's press release:
In this darkly humorous tale, a tiny fish knows it’s wrong to steal a hat. It fits him just right. But the big fish wants his hat back. Klassen’s controlled palette, opposing narratives and subtle cues compel readers to follow the fish and imagine the consequence.
“With minute changes in eyes and the slightest displacement of seagrass, Klassen’s masterful illustrations tell the story the narrator doesn’t know,” Caldecott Chair Sandra Imdieke said.
Mark Cesarik is a designer and artist in New York who collaborates regularly with Freespirit Fabrics on fabric collections. "I'm very happy to be partnered up with Freespirit — it's a great outlet for people who love sewing and quilting but also have a higher fine arts sensibility. My background is fine art, illustration and design and I'm not a quilter or sewer, but fortunately my wife Cara is really locked in to whole craft/DIY thing."
In the images above, Mark shares a preview from a forthcoming collection inspired by the colours and activities of Summer Camp. "My design process starts off in a sketchbook and then is brought into illustrator for vector and repeat creation. It's a really enjoyable process."
I had the best of intentions to photograph all the amazing Christmas mail that I received these past few weeks, but alas—migrating to a new database took over ALL my time. I was even working on it on New Year's Eve. At last, the big mailing list for issue #16 is at the printer and all new systems seem to be working well. Perhaps I will just put all the mail in one terrific pile and post a picture of that!
My first destination once arriving in Schipol airport was to visit illustrator Mirthe Blussé, who had cordially invited me to visit her studio. Her studio is on the the 6th floor of the Volkskrantgebouw building, formerly the headquarters of the newspaper Volkskrant. Now housing dozens of tenants of creative industry plus a nightclub restaurant on the top level, the Volkskrantgebouw was kind of gritty in a cool art college-meets-industry sort of way.
Mirthe's studio, shared with illustrator Puk, was light-filled and punctuated with colourful bits of paper and collage. Mirthe's work has a wonderful unconstrained freeness about it, with playful yet elegant sprawling handwriting, simple graphic collages and more conceptual ones. Mirthe started out with a degree in copyright law, but her lifelong passion for creating art was too strong to ignore.
Thank you, Mirthe, for such a nice way to start my adventure in the Netherlands!
The Elegant Cockroach is an illustrated storybook for whimsical adults and sophisticated children. Makes a sweet, calorie-free Hallowe'en treat for those with a soft spot for romance, bookstores and beautiful collage.
If you were a kid sometime between 1955 and 1975, you likely remember the Golden Nature Guides. They were pocket-sized books filled with incredible drawings of animals, plants, rocks and minerals. The first one, Birds, was printed in 1949 and was illustrated by James Gordon Irving.
So begins Leslie Fandrich's excellent article in issue #15 about illustrator James Gordon Irving. Personally, the Golden Nature Guides had a big impact on me. I used to check them out of the school library religiously... I loved how the small-size guide fit in my hand and that you could collect multiple topics. When I was little, I dreamed of being a botanist or geologist and used to copy drawings and diagrams out of these guides into my own notebooks. As I grew older, I realized that I liked making the drawings and the experience of the books themselves more than the scientific topics.
When Leslie presented the idea of profiling one of the illustrators of the Golden Nature Guides, I was very excited. She describes her personal connection to the books and how the article came to be:
My husband found his old copies of these beautiful books in his parents’ basement and my two young sons immediately loved them. It sparked a desire in me to find out what had become of Mr. Irving. I wondered if he was still alive and what other work he may have done. Searching online yielded limited information, but I found an article that said he lived nearby in the town of Haworth, New Jersey. We contacted a librarian there, who said she knew of him and thought he had died recently, but, after making a few phone calls, she learned that he was still alive at the royal age of 98 and he would love to hear from us.
It took at least nine months to arrange a meeting. Mr. Irving was hospitalized with pneumonia for a few months, and when he returned home, communication over the phone was difficult. We finally called the librarian and asked if there was anyone who could help us set up a meeting. She got us in touch with his son Bruce, who had been spending every day taking care of his father since he had come home from the hospital. He felt that it would be a real pleasure for his dad to bask in some attention for a few hours.
Finally, the day had come to interview Mr. Irving, and I was excited about the conversation. Arriving at the modest white split-level house on a warm, sunny morning, we were let in by Bruce, who answered the door. Hung throughout the main floor of the house were at least 13 paintings of Mr. Irving’s signature flowers and birds, along with a few portraits. An amazing oil painting of chrysanthemums hung over the mantle.
We are grateful that Leslie had the opportunity to meet with Mr. Irving and to write such an informative and interesting article about this important artist. Sadly, Gordon passed away in August and the article is now a printed tribute and celebration of his talent and impact.
The Ben the Illustrator Collection includes fabrics, lampshades and pillows created by Ben and Fiona O’Brien. Ben (aka Ben the Illustrator) creates the fun artwork and his partner Fiona does the product design. These days, it is very common for illustrators to have such side businesses such as selling prints and products to supplement their freelance careers. For some, these self-initiated products overtake a freelance career and the illustrator becomes his or her own brand.
Ben has some engaging articles posted on his website. "I Don't Recommend Becoming A Freelance Illustrator or 'How to become a freelance illustrator right now'" in particular alludes to the adversities faced by illustrators:
1 - It doesn’t pay straight away, no matter how amazing you are, it can take months, or years, before you get enough regular commissions to make a living. And even once you’re established and well-experienced, you’ll still go through dry patches. Then even when you get your first commission, there’s a chance you won’t see the payment for a month or three!
2 - We all lied to you, I’m so sorry, we all lied, we made it look so easy. Magazines, blogs, professionals, we all went on Twitter and did some interviews and just talked about how much of a blast it is, how easy it is, how busy and rich and satisfied we are. But that was a lie, I’m sorry. Just because someone is appearing to be super busy and showing some amazing projects, it doesn’t mean all is well behind the scenes, it doesn’t even mean they’re paying their rent.
Read the full article here. >>>
Purchase some pillowy illustrations here. >>>
Alice Hoffmann is a German art director and graphic designer living in Zurich, Switzerland. She recently launched a new venture, an online poster store called Maison Alice. Curating a small selection a few times a year, the posters are by contemporary illustrators and designers with a nod to the heyday of vintage advertising posters.
"Quite recently I discovered my passion for illustration," shares Alice in her subscriber profile featured in issue #15 (October). "All day long I am searching for cool illustrations: old or new, coloured or black and white, 3D or linedrawed, on paper or on textile, in advertising or on bookcovers, on packaging or on the street, for children or adults, from China or from TImbuktu. Doesn't matter. Through all theses different styles and influences I get my everyday inspiration."
"At Maison Alice, we are passionate about beautiful art created by illustrators, graphic designers and typographers—and we think that their works should be part of stylish apartments. This is why we set up an online store where we sell art prints. The prints are all produced in limited editions, as we truly believe that quality should be more important than quantity. Maison Alice is positioned between the high-priced art market and the low-priced poster galleries and we collaborate with selected artists from places such as New York, Great Britain, Sweden, Finland, Japan and Switzerland.
We print our collections using offset and silk-screen printing processes and high-quality paper. We also collaborate with long-standing printing shops in Germany and Switzerland, who turned their craft into art."
It's a lovely bit of serendipity when your work life and hobby collide. My major form of making is knitting. I love how two simple stitches—knit and purl—can be combined to create the most intricate lacework or simple, practical pieces. UPPERCASE friend Blue Sky Alpacas has released a new set of patterns featuring illustration instead of photography. When I first saw these they reminded me of flipping through Simplicity pattern books with my mom.
These stunning packages were art directed by Blue Sky owner Linda Niemeyer, designed by Amy Westburg, and photographed and illustrated by Nate Hager, Creative Imaging Specialist at Blue Sky.
The projects use one or two balls of Blue Sky's Royal Petites—perfect for holiday knitting projects! I took the samples that the Blue Sky team sent along up to the mountains on a recent holiday. This lovely, soft and luminescent yarn is an absolute joy to work with.