Turn, Turn, Turn

September 15, 2014 § Leave a comment


Hard to believe, but summer is officially over here in Kansas. I will miss the long, hot days, but let’s face it, it is a lot easier to get to work when the weather gets colder. Plus, fall is an inspiring time of year. I love the colors of the leaves, the changing landscapes, the perfect running weather, the amping up of preparations for winter and holidays. Fall just feels like a big perspective shift from summer. Different priorities, different horizons. I live in a college town, so back to school time is really noticeable – more people, more traffic, more talk of sports – I just nod and smile – and more noticeable patterns of movement between day and evening, week and weekend.

This year I’m getting inspired to make more leaf-inspired fall art – that’s what that mood board above is for. The photo I took in 2009 in Seoul, of the ginko leaves on my street. I guess fall is kind of a sentimental time of year, as well.  But I’m not just looking back – I’m getting back in touch with some of my art heroes! Below is Andy Goldworthy’s Elm Leaves 1978.  I’m just so envious of Goldsworthy’s ability to make such epic works of art from just the natural materials he finds around him and his own sense of observation.


So far, my fall is looking good: I’ve wrapped up some projects with companies I med at Surtex, so now it looks like I will have time to turn back to creating new collections and illustrations. It’s not all work though – fall for us means camping, hanging out by our makeshift fire pit, and running a lot. What is your favorite part about fall?

Inspiration: Doorway Confidential

July 10, 2014 § Leave a comment


Above: Insadong, Seoul, 2010.

Lately I’ve had doors on my mind. Doors, gates, windows…portals. I guess what I find fascinating about them is their ability to frame a picture and add an element of mystery or confidentiality. I have always been fascinated by cities and all the little nooks and crannies and openings that make them awesome to explore.  Like the photo above of the chefs having a smoke – the super narrow passage really gives the image an intimate mood. Walking on the (extremely chaotic) street at the end of the passage felt l got a glimpse into another state of mind


Above: Kyoto, Japan, 2011.

Some doorways just make me too curious – like this place in Kyoto. What’s going on with that shopping basket, and the electronics in the bike basket? I’m also a big fan of anything cheerful with a darker side to them – and this place definitely had that vibe.

So why am I so into doors at the moment? Well, naturally I’m starting all kinds of new projects now that it’s summer, and some door and window illustrations are in the works! It’s been a while since I’ve really had a chance to make full-on illustrations (vs. surface design). I can’t wait to share the process of making them, and the final images!

P.S. I’ve been reading that bloggers should always end their posts with a “call to action,” usually a question. SO: Have any of you ever trespassed (or felt a strong urge to trespass)? What was that place like and why was is so appealing?



INSPIRATION: Desert Landscapes

April 28, 2014 § Leave a comment


Hello hello! I’ve been super busy getting ready for Surtex, and it’s just like me to try to squeeze one last collection in before the big day! This one is a desert collection – lots of beautiful cacti, interesting geos, floral shapes, and a maybe even a vicuña or two! Of course, I was inspired by my travels – this time in northern Argentina and Chile, a region where I totally fell in love the with the rusty desert hues and interesting plant forms.

Inspiration: Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinski

January 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

Lately I’ve been swooning over Maps by Aleksandra and Daniel Mizielinski. It’s got more than 40 beautifully detailed hand drawn country maps. Check out the gorgeousness:






Inspiration: Jee Young Lee

December 16, 2013 § Leave a comment

One artist that’s been really inspiring me lately is Jee Young Lee from Korea. She creates dream-world like installations inside her tiny studio:





Studio Time: Color Obsession

November 13, 2013 § 1 Comment




Choosing colors is one of my favorite aspects of creating art, and over time I’ve amassed a bounty of resources to enable this obsession. My favorite are my color collage sketchbooks (seen above). Sometimes I leave pages unfinished for weeks or months before finding the right color combination to complete the collages. Having these is like having a secret stash of mood boards at the ready! I also love to go through my old photos on flickr for good color palettes, as well as browse Pinterest for inspiration. I always take in a lot of color inspiration for each project, but in the end, I can usually find one or two images that really hit the mark, color wise. From there I work out a basic palette and adjust as I go. Below are a few of my favorite color palettes, side by side with patterns I made with them:




Of course, there’s lots of other great resources on the web, which I use regularly. ColourLovers, Kuler, and Color Collective are a few of my favorites. I also love flipping trough the inspiration books in the paint section of my local hardware store, leafing through my Pantone book, and checking out art books from the library for further inspiration. There’s no end to the color love here!


INSPIRATION: tribal trends, “nomadism,” and vagabonding

November 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

As a designer, I’m naturally interested in following the trends that come and go in fashion, home decor and other arenas of product design and popular culture. This subject comes up often on designers’ blogs and pinterest boards – what are the colors for next spring? What holiday motif will all the big retailers be shopping for? As I immerse myself more and more into the world of fashion, trends, and Pantone colors of the year I get more and more interested in the trends behind the trends – the actual reasons why so many of us seem to gravitate toward the same colors, patterns, and images at a certain time. It might be possible that sometimes a trend is simply a popular thing and people like it because it’s popular, but I do believe that sometimes trends in design arise from forces in society, politics, the economy and world events.

One trend that’s close to my heart right now both visually and socially is the embrace of global patterns and designs. This includes so-called ‘tribal’ patterns, ikat, paisley, Japanese washi tape, and Russian needlepoint, and Mexican day of the dead and papel picado. I think it’s so interesting how all of these trends all seem to be popular all at once, and seem to be taking over all levels of retail and product categories:

sources: eclectic a, urban outfitters, and red uk (clockwise)

sources: eclectic a, urban outfitters, and red uk (clockwise)

Trend Tablet refers to this trend to draw inspiration from all places and movements in history as “Nomadism.” I’m no trend forcaster, but I consider myself a bit of a nomad and I wanted to write a bit about my insights into this trend. As it turns out, I’m also being inspired by all places and moments in history at once! (yikes. hard to know what to make first!)

I really believe that an increased interest in global/tribal designs stems from increasing global travel, both by Americans to other places and by global citizens to America. Here in America, it gets easier and easier to find global cuisines, music, dance, sports, and festivals all the time. This gives consumers a chance to have their interest be piqued by new, exciting colors and patters. Conversely, it is easier to travel abroad than it’s ever been, and there’s more and more reasons to travel abroad. As I myself experienced, many people struggling in a weak economy find they can get more lucrative jobs abroad.

In addition, I think this trend reflects the fact that many young people (Millennials, I suppose) are placing a higher value on experiences over physical possessions. There’s a lot of griping about how Millennials (of which I am one) are taking too long to buy houses and cars and establish settled lives. I feel very strongly that this has to do with many of us wanting to invest in experiences first, travel the world, and gain perspectives on other ways of life. Okay, and escape for a bit. And see a whole lot of beautiful things.

some beautiful things I've seen

some beautiful things I’ve seen

In short, I think the desire to travel around the world is very similar to the desire to surround yourself with designs from around the world – it’s a desire to continually gain perspective, seek new experiences, and appreciate diversity.

Do you have any global or tribal trends you’re in love with? Does that have anything to do with your travel or cultural experiences? I’d love to hear about it!



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