Are you having trouble figuring out what your career should be? I know I struggled for a time before landing on design and illustration. It's hard to decide on your whole life's work when you're 18..21..even 40. I really dug this illustrated video about how to go about making the right choice for finding fulfilling work.
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If you've glanced at my blog before or follow me on Twitter and/or Instagram, then you probably already know that I like to draw. Buildings, people, patterns, dogs...whatever. Every once in a while, when the cosmos align just right, I get the chance to simultaneously draw and get paid. When that happens, it's really pretty much one of the best feelings in the world. It's special...like building a house with your bare hands and whole heart and then someone saying, "That's a really pretty house. Can I live there too?" That made more sense in my head, actually, but I'm not sure how else to explain it.
So recently, one of these types of opportunities came across my path and I was, and still am, pretty psyched about it. I was asked to do a full cover illustration of Writer's Digest magazine to go along with some illustrations I had previously done for the interior feature package of the July/August issue! You can see the cover above along with some close-ups and interior shots from the feature package below.
Starting work downtown has been a huge change of scenery, and change of pace for me. Busy busy & loud, hussle bussle. At first, it was a bit overwhelming but I'm getting more and more used to it. I've been snapping a few photos here and there while wondering around on my lunch breaks. There is definitely no shortage of interesting things to look at.
I generally don't believe in making New Year resolutions for myself because, and I'm sure most people can relate, I never seem to obtain them. This year, I've just tried to set a few simple goals for myself...things I'd like to work on here and there. Nothing outrageous or unachievable, I don't think. Recording memories both visually and by the written word (in cursive, at that!) through the use of my sketchbook is at the top of my goal list! Here are some of this year's attempts so far. Hope to keep them coming. :)
It's almost Christmas, and then comes the new year. Much like everyone else around this time of year, I find myself reflecting on the passed months and start to think about the ones ahead. To put it blatantly, it's been a difficult year at best. Back in July, I put up a post about my Grandma who had passed away unexpectedly up in Ontonagon, Michigan. However, I never made a post about my Mamaw Lois who also passed away 1 short month before my Grandma did. At the time, it was far too painful to write about her. She was one of my closest friends. I'd like to take today, Christmas Eve, to honor Mamaw's memory by sharing some of what I read aloud at her funeral service. I've tried to, but can't seem to say it any better than I did then.
When I think of Mamaw, and I think others will agree when I say this, I remember that she was a YES Woman. Rarely would you ever ask her something where the answer wouldn't be yes.
Although I know she really didn’t want to, I remember Mamaw Lois saying "YES" to 8 year old Travis, 10 year old me and 14 year old Chrissy when we wanted to go outside to play in the snow in the dead of winter. She’d throw her hands up, "Fine, go out there. I don't care if you freeze to death," she would say. Little did she know, us kids were completely immune to her reverse psychology tricks, and so we took her up on her offer of freezing, and we joyfully went outside to play. When we would return with tears in our eyes and stories spilling out of our mouths of how we had hit and beat each other with wooden spoons that were actually meant for digging, she would not shout at us with anger like you might think. She would smile and laugh. The slight anger and annoyance that had been in her voice before would be gone, and she would clean us up, readying us for our next adventure.
And I remember Mamaw Lois saying YES to supporting our dreams of becoming professional crafters. She would take us shopping for supplies at Michaels. Us grandkids had this harebrained idea that we, as small children, could actually make a decent living selling handmade crafts with nothing more than some lace, wooden hearts, acrylic paint, and premade wreaths. Mamaw Lois would let us pick out our supplies and when we were short the cash at the checkout register, she would cover us…knowing she’d never see a dime of that money again. We would all return to her house and diligently start building our crafty masterpieces. After a day of hard, laborious work, we would have our finished pieces at hand, but then realize that we had no market base in which we could sell them…other than Mamaw Lois, of course. She would compliment our efforts and tell us that our crafts were very pretty and we would interpret her compliments as an interest for a cash transaction. Let’s just say that any money we ever made from our hideous crafts came from Mamaw Lois.
I remember Mamaw Lois also saying "YES" to adventure and things like site seeing, traveling, and even simpler things like thrift store shopping and Elvis memorabilia collecting. She loved Elvis. But she said yes to life, and by doing so, she influenced others around her to want to say yes too.
Her eldest son of 3, Larry, is a self-taught mechanic and electronic mad man genius. Her second oldest son, Danny, has had a successful military career and is now a top executive for his company. And her youngest son, Gary, is a self-taught musician who has worked for a family owned business for over 30 years.
Those 3 boys went on to have children of their own, all of which have also been influenced by Mamaw and her Do It Yourself take on life. My cousin, Chrissy, is a mother of 3 and is currently pursuing her Masters degree in Business Administration. My brother, Travis, will be starting is college career in just a couple short weeks, hoping to one day make films. I graduated with a fine arts degree and have a successful career as a Graphic Designer for a publishing company. Our younger cousins have not yet begun their life journeys but because of the values and the DIY attitude that Mamaw Lois has instilled in us all, I know that they will go on to have bright, fruitful futures.
After you leave here today, and you settle into your homes tonight and watch some tv…or eat a scoop of ice cream, I’d like you to think of Mamaw Lois as doing the same. Do not think of the elements in this world that took her-don’t give them a single second of thought, but instead, picture her at the kitchen table wearing her beloved red housecoat. Underneath that, her favorite silk pajamas. She’s drinking her White Castle decaf coffee and probably eating a cremehorn, listening to the day you’ve had.
From there, I read Death is Nothing At All from Henry Scott Holland. You can read that poem here, if you like, but today I'd like to leave you with a short film that I found a few weeks ago. Mamaw, I'll think of you today, tomorrow on Christmas and every day after. With me, I'll carry your strength and guidance; although I'm without the same holiday cheer that was always brought out of me by you, I know that one day I'll get it back. Again.
So, a while back, Fred and I saw film crews out and about with lights and fancy cameras around our hometown of Norwood. They were filming what we found out later would be a movie called A Strange Brand of Happy. How cool is that? In this movie poster, the (now closed) cafe they are in front if is actually 2 blocks from our house, called the Speckled Bird Cafe. We just saw the film at the Kenwood theater last night and it was so cool to see parts of our town on the big screen. The movie had a really great story line too, and it was very unique in that it incorporated little animations throughout. I'm a designer and love to do little illustrations of my own, so of course I consider it a real treat to see the meshing of 2 creative mediums. It was really a breath of fresh air. Anywho, we really liked the film a lot.
I only cried twice, but they were good tears. :) One of those times was when Anis Mojgani performed Come Closer, a spoken peom. His words really got me in the guts...
Drawing. It's an essential part of any artist's or designer's career and really, their life. I believe that if creatives don't sketch or draw or doodle, whatever the hell you want to call it, ideas will turn stale. Creative juices will run low. And growth in a positive direction just won't happen. With that said, I'll be the first to admit that I've gotten lazy. We all have and we all do at sometime or another.
So. 42 days ago, I made myself promise to do at least 1 daily drawing. It started out partially as a personal experiment and also as a way for me to rejuvenate my creative mojo...to keep my brain and my ideas fresh. Somehow, it turned out to mean more than that.
- Drawing everyday turned out to be a great way to record memories. As I mentioned in my last post, I recently traveled to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Some of these were drawn there-in the middle of sight seeing and people watching. I'm so happy that I have drawings from there to remind me of the good times that were had on our trip. Pictures, of course, are great ways to record memories too, and boy did I take a lot of them, but there is something about bringing back a piece of something handmade and created on a trip. It feels...a little more special.
- These drawings were drawn in so many different places. One in a car. One in a plane. One on a beach and some in coffee shops. Naturally, different surroundings brought different inspiration and really had an affect on what was going down on paper. This, in turn, leaked into my own side projects and other work-having a great effect on what I was producing all around.
- Drawing on the daily allowed me to really laugh at myself. Out of the 42 days I did the drawings, a few of those days were really crappy...I would be grumpy or stressed and draw some really funky looking things. Those funky things turned out to be some of my favorites out of this whole collection! If you couldn't already tell - #'s 19, 21, 26 were the bad days. (You have to click the images to view them in the light-box with numbers).
So yeah. This was a pretty cool experience. I think I might carry it on a little longer...or maybe forever? We'll see. :)
I can never quite get enough of travel. I've never thought about why, I've just instinctively known that I loved it, and that was the only reason I've ever needed. As I've gotten older, that's not a good enough answer for me anymore. I feel like I owe it to myself to understand why I like the things I do, so I can make sure that positive mojo keeps coming my way.
Last week, I found out (part of) that answer. Fred and I were on a public transit bus in Puerto Rico. We were traveling from new San Juan to site see in Old San Juan. I sat there and stared at the people riding in the same metal can that I was. In that moment, in some way, I felt a sort of connection with those strangers. I thought about the lady sitting next to me. We were breathing the same air, which at the time seemed pretty amazing to me because we live over 1,5000 miles from each other. I was looking at the same exact streets as the young Puerto Rican father who fed his baby while he waited patiently for his stop. He made me think of how I used to bottle feed my brothers when they were little. I shared a smile with the older lady in front of me who reminded me so very much of my Mamaw Lois, a very special woman my family lost only 3 short months ago. I saw these people and I felt like I understood a part of each of them. Everyone of us on that bus had troubles, laughs, worries, and who knows what else waiting for us at our next destination. In one way or another, all of us are traveling...we all have stops and we're all in this life, together. If you sit down and think about it, that's pretty special.
The Streets of Old San Juan: Kick-ass molding. Gorgeous tile. Unique architecture. Typography. Alleys. Cobble stone streets. Bright colors. Potted plants. Wrought iron gates and rails. Tall doorways and ceilings. These are the things I loved the most whilst traveling the streets ofOld San Juan.
Touristy shops. Creepers who followed us. Those are the things I liked the least.
Nature life in Puerto Rico
Nature, in general, in Puerto Rico was pretty crazy. For one thing, there were lizards everywhere. EVERYWHERE.
One thing I really really loved about Puerto Rico was that there were plotted plants all around. They were around houses, on sidewalks, in front of office buildings, in alley ways, etc. The locals there really find it important to incorporate nature and plant life into their daily lives. It was really, very refreshing.
During our time in Puerto Rico, we were lucky enough to be able to rent a car to travel an hour away to see El Yunque National Forest. It was there that we saw 2 waterfalls, and we actually even swam in one of them.
The plants and trees in the rainforest were also pretty amazing!
Beach life in Puerto Rico
Ok, so, doing a post about Puerto Rico is almost impossible without mentioning the gorgeous beaches there.
So, for the past 5 or so weeks, I've been doing a drawing for every day that passes by. I started this for several reasons, really, which I will explain in a later post where I gather all of my drawings and display them together. Anyway, I continued this new tradition while in Puerto Rico and I'm so glad that I did! I'm going to keep this going for every trip I take from here on out. It was really cool to be able to get away from the SLR and iPhone camera and record things by hand.
All in all, we had a pretty awesome time in San Juan. There were infinite things to do and see there, and everyone we met was so very nice. Oh, and these photos don't even scratch the surface of the amount that I took while I was there, so keep your eye out for more down the road! Happy travels, and happy weekend everyone!
Everyday, I'm amazed by the beauty that surrounds me-everywhere. These are some iPhone nature captures I've taken recently.
Ontonagon, Michigan. That's where I was for a majority of last week, and what a truly beautiful place it is to visit. Unfortunately, I was there for grievous reasons. My Grandmother passed away unexpectedly while visiting her family there, and the service was held right there in her home town of Ontonagon. Despite being there under very sad circumstances, my family and I managed to have a decent amount of fun. Following in my Grandma's footsteps, we all took full advantage of what this little town had to offer, and drank in as much of it as we could.
We tried Pasty's for the first time. They are very popular in that area. If you've never heard of a pasty, let me tell you that it is one of the most delicious things you will ever eat. As my mother described it, "It's basically like a pot pie only without the gravy." I'm not huge on gravy, so that's probably why I enjoyed it so much. I'm sure there are plenty of different recipes, but the pasty I ate had beef and potatoes inside. Back in the day, the copper miners up there used to pack them for lunch often.
We (my husband and I) took a lighthouse tour. Having never been inside or even close to one before, we were pretty excited about it! We geared up and went to the local town museum and payed our $5 for the tickets. A bus then arrived shortly thereafter to take us to the Ontonagon Lighthouse. The guide was amazing, informative, and so very courteous. The tour was well worth the money and we got to learn a bit about local history.
While in town, we also visited a few local shops where Fred and I spent monies on postcards and bring back gifts for our nieces and nephews. Our favorite shop was called Gitche Gumee but the Nonesuch Gallery had the best signage. Check out that hand drawn, hand painted type. Daaaaaamn.
We had a bonfire on the beach right behind the little caboose-turned-vacation-home that we were staying in. We made s'mores and waited for the sun to go down so we could see all the stars. I didn't realize this, but this time of year-it doesn't get fully dark until 12 or 12:30 in the morning in that part of the country! Needless to say, it was a late night for us. The wait was worth it, though. I saw more stars in the sky than I had ever imagined even existed.
My family and I went on a boat ride on our very last night in Ontonagon. My 2nd cousin Scott took us out. This was probably my favorite outing as a family. We drank. We made fun of each other...and we laughed. It was good to get away from dry land for a while to free all our minds, even just for a little bit. My 2 brothers, (hopefully one day) sister-in-law, and husband all stripped down to their suits and decided to go for a swim in Lake Superior. It was so freezing cold, I could barely stick my feet in. I heard that the ice just fully melted only a month ago!
So, this concludes our trip to gorgeous Ontonagon, Michigan. Although the passing of a special lady brought us to the tiny town, there was precious time spent reconnecting with intermediate and extended family. Farewell, Michigan and farewell to you too, Grandma. I'll remember our travels together and I'll always still think of your face when I eat Caramel Nips.