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?

Surtex 2014: Return of the Backpacker

May 29, 2014 § 1 Comment

As always, it starts with a backpack. And a plane ticket. And an oversize dream:


Me and my backpack are a compact – but PACKED – package with a lot of ideas. Nearly full to the brim but still saving room for extra adventures and last-minute detours. It took a lot of hours to pack this baby – to make the things, polish them, pick over everything and find the best stuff – only what’s really worthy – and print them and roll them tight. That part got to me a little bit…it can be stressful feeling like so much is on the line.

And then I took that sucker on the plane, and the bus, and the subway. And then I unpacked it – and there is no better feeling than letting it all roll out and expand and breathe:


You might not even guess all that was in a 60L backpack, right? And this year was a little more complicated than last year. I brought some paper and fabric mock ups to flesh out my collections:



I liked the paper mockups because they felt really “me” – and it’s fun to create a little illusion once in a while. I felt like they were at the right intersection of “realness” and playfulness for my art.


Another new/improved thing this year was branding – last year I was totally new at the business and hadn’t had time to really consider branding, and how that would affect how (or if) people remember my art – this year it came together more for me and I realized that I actually am building an audience and relationships with companies. Several companies remembered me from last year, or from my web presence. I got to see lots of exhibitor and artist friends and meet many new ones. Best of all, this year I had great support from Smashotron Scott, Jee, and Madison:


Surtex for me this year took on a huge importance – for most of the past year I feel like I’ve been on the cusp of gaining traction with my business, and I’ve felt that a good showing was the key to moving forward. And honestly, yes, I think it was a great show – we were steadily busy, talked to several dream clients, and had better location, portfolio and displays over last year. But as anyone who’s exhibited knows – no one really knows how well it went until a few months down the line.

So for now, I’m still hiking down my own art licensing trail!

2014 Look Book Sneak Peek!

May 2, 2014 § 3 Comments





Preparations for Surtex are rolling right along! One of the things I’m most excited about this year is the debut of my first look book – I’ve spent the last few weeks concocting mock-ups of products with my designs on them, and bringing them to life with the magic of paper craft and photography. I’m eagerly awaiting the arrival of the hard bound version! Keep an eye out on my website for the final PDF version to be posted next week!

New Work: Sleep or Swim

February 3, 2014 § Leave a comment


I was recently inspired to make this illustration by the book The Secret World of Sleep by Penelope A. Lewis. Like a lot of creative people, I have a pretty fraught relationship with sleep. I’m always vowing to go to bed “on time” and then realizing that I have so many ideas I can’t sleep, or that I have to sacrifice sleep to get something important done. The book was a fascinating look at what our brain is actually doing when we sleep, some theories about how dreams are fabricated, and why sleep is so critical. It was fascinating and I highly recommend it!

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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