London Design Festival 2017 highlights

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Hi! U.K. finch Albaquirky here taking over the blog... Each September in London there is a city wide Design Festival called the 'London Design Festival'.  It has grown over the years and is a very big event now in it's fifteenth year.  Brands use it to profile new lines and start-up companies use it to launch, along with all sorts of exhibitions and quirky installations related to design. It is always on my calendar to visit! As a designer I can get lots of inspiration and find out about new trends in contemporary surface design and more broadly interiors and home decor.  I wanted to share some highlights of the show with you in this blog...

Installation at Graham & Brown's 'House of Wallpaper' in Soho.

Installation at Graham & Brown's 'House of Wallpaper' in Soho.

So lets put on our pattern hunting shoes and head off to be inspired!  

Turkishceramics present 'Gateways' by Adam Nathaniel Furman

Turkishceramics present 'Gateways' by Adam Nathaniel Furman

My first stop was Granary Square, in the Kings Cross area.  The building you see behind these amazing gateways by turkishceramics is Central Saint Martins College of Art and this area often has something interesting going on for those with an interest in the arts. The gateways were clad in ceramic tiles and the designs were celebrating the history of Turkish ceramics.

One of the main shows in this area is Design Junction, focusing on contemporary interior design. Lots of big brands profile new collections here, but my favourite section is where some of the smaller up and coming designers and businesses show their work in the 'canopy' area of Granary Square. A couple of stands that caught my eye were Laura Spring's bold bright geos and Granby workshop's 'Splatware' ceramics launch.

Laura Spring's booth (left) and Granby Workshop's 'splatware' (right)

Laura Spring's booth (left) and Granby Workshop's 'splatware' (right)

There were lots of fresh takes on geometrics at Design Junction, broken and fragmented lines, new takes on Terrazo and textured, fragmented, abstract Geos trending. The pink and green colour scheme you see in some of Laura Spring's work was absolutely huge in many of the shows at the festival. 

Timorous Beasties shop window

Timorous Beasties shop window

The next stop was Timorous Beasties shop in Clerkenwell, where they had a collection launch. Timorous Beasties are a brand who are massively inspirational to me as a designer, with their bold, quirky signature designs and their Scottish roots.  Like many I discovered their work through their innovative and ironic design 'Glasgow Toile' created in 2004.  They were founded in 1990 by Alistair McAuley and Paul Simmons, working from Glasgow on wallpaper and interior textile pattern designs and they are still based there today, but now retail internationally. I spent a lovely long time in their shop rummaging through the collections and chatting with the shop manager about the work and business. I'm in love with their new 'Urban Jungle' collection – these boys go from strength to strength!

On display at Timorous Beasties

On display at Timorous Beasties

Following on from some swooning in Timorous Beasties, I headed East to Broadgate to see if Camille Walala could bring me to my senses...

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Camille Walala trained as a textile designer, but is now more well known for her installations and immersive pattern based experiences. She had taken over a public square and gone to town with her fun, bright, bold designs!

Villa Walala by Camille Walala

Villa Walala by Camille Walala

Continuing East I headed on to the London Design Fair.  This is another big exhibition previewing collections from loads of exciting brands. I was lucky enough to have work on show at this festival two years ago when Feathr showcased some of their wallpaper collection including my 'Machair' design. There were over 500 exhibitors at the show this year, so I will share only a few highlights and trend observations!

Tropical leaves - on the festival map (left), in pots all over the show, on the classy display at the Tuppence Collective booth (middle) and in the Cole & Son 'Fabric Fantasia' installation.

Tropical leaves - on the festival map (left), in pots all over the show, on the classy display at the Tuppence Collective booth (middle) and in the Cole & Son 'Fabric Fantasia' installation.

First up - tropical leaves, they were everywhere! Monsteras (thats a Cheese Plant to us Brits) are STILL massive, but I was also seeing palm leaves, rubber plants, banana leaves... the jungle feel was very real.

Pink and green - Bujnie (left), Hilary Grant (middle) and Linwood (right)

Pink and green - Bujnie (left), Hilary Grant (middle) and Linwood (right)

Secondly - pink and green were huge! They were showing up in various shades on almost every booth.  I loved funky, modern, geometric steel work of Polish brand Bujnie - my house needs some of these wall planters! As always the Scottish exhibition area was delivering beautiful design from the North - Hilary Grant's contemporary knitted textiles were stunningly stylish. I was impressed both with the bold and intricate geometric wallpaper and textile designs on display at the Linwood booth.

New geometrics - Custhom (left), Half Drop (middle) and Alissa + Nienke (right)

New geometrics - Custhom (left), Half Drop (middle) and Alissa + Nienke (right)

Lastly new takes on geometrics were on show in lots of places.  Memphis style has evolved and gone all sophisticated and grown up! Custhom were offering a bold minimal take with their beautiful embroidered textiles and wall-coverings.  I enjoyed Romanian brand Half-Drop's contemporary take on traditional patterns. The geometric patterns in the 3D wallpaper of Alissa + Nienke were intriguing and slightly disorientating in a Bridget Riley op-art sort of way! 

Time check...

Time check...

With an hour to go before the festival closed for the evening we hot footed it over to Soho to check out Graham and Brown's 'House of Wallpaper'.  They had taken over a building to share their story and collections.  I loved how this metalic geometric worked on the stairs.

Graham & Brown - House of Wallpaper

Graham & Brown - House of Wallpaper

Conveniently located a few doors up from the House of Wallpaper was our last stop for the day... Milroys of Soho; a bar dedicated to Whisky. I think I'd earned a wee dram after chasing pattern inspiration all over town!

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Let me take you for a walk…

by Nataša Kaiser

Very often I'm asked "Where do you find inspiration for your work?" or "What sparks your ideas?". Well, nature has always been a big inspiration for me (not only for me I guess). And I spend lots of time outside with our dog called "Buddy". That's him:

Buddy in the morning fog…

Buddy in the morning fog…

Autumn is my most beloved time of the year. Unlike some people who feel autumn is the time of evanescence and therefore supposed to be dark and sad, I enjoy the turn of the season from hot (in Germany also often very humid) summer days to the more calm and crisp mornings in September and October.

Beautiful foggy morning mood in Frankfurt/ Bergen-Enkheim – my hometown.

Beautiful foggy morning mood in Frankfurt/ Bergen-Enkheim – my hometown.

 

I love to watch the leafs turn from all shades of green to all shades of yellow, orange, red and brown. It's like the "grand final" of the lush summer season, before winter arrives and the landscape looks grey, cold and naked (at times very muddy, too, since winter hasn't really been what one would imagine to be winter for the last couple of years, sadly).

Also I hunt for all kind of decorative stuff during my walks.. I love to gather interesting flower pods, twigs to put in a vase, colorful berries and rose hips and I take pictures of objects that I can't take home with me, but that are still beautiful to look at:

All kinds of mushrooms…

All kinds of mushrooms…

Bushes of rose hips or a delicate spider's web…

Bushes of rose hips or a delicate spider's web…

Gnarly stock of a tree and dreamy perspective…

Gnarly stock of a tree and dreamy perspective…

Looking at all this and being surrounded by not much more than the fresh air and my dogs company, images and ideas just come to my mind. Usually I can't wait to come home, grab a cup of coffee and start scribbling and sketching ideas.

Lately I thought it's about time to send another "snail mail" package to my favorite and dream clients. I did that at the beginning of the year (you can see the mailing here) and got some lovely feedback and even also a commission for a shopper bag design by Moses Verlag.

Being in that autumn mood I imagined a little booklet of illustrated recipes, that people would enjoy looking at and maybe have fun trying out the recipes for a nice dinner with friends or family. (Because autumn is also the time where we enjoy snuggery and delicious food in nice company, have a glas of something good, chat and laugh and all that stuff…don't you think?).

So here's what I came up with:

A mocktail recipe 

A mocktail recipe 

Hearty mushroom butter as an appetizer…

Hearty mushroom butter as an appetizer…

My all time favorite Pumpkin recipe :-)

My all time favorite Pumpkin recipe :-)

Salad as a side dish

Salad as a side dish

…and a sweet finish of course!

…and a sweet finish of course!

I'm really happy with the printed results! Over the next couple of days I'll be packing those, do some hand lettering on the envelopes and write some matching greeting cards to go go with the mail, that I just picked up at the printer today. 

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Greeting Cards saying "Hello Fall"

Greeting Cards saying "Hello Fall"

Thanks for reading, I hope you liked the stroll through my creative process!

Trends and Textiles

By way of introduction my name is Adrienne Kerr and I am a relative newbie to the Finch and Foxglove collective. I exhibited with the F&F team at PrintSource, New York in January as an artist in residence which was an amazing and rewarding experience.  I knew three of the girls previously, Adriana, Lisa and Tanya from the online MIID courses. I have also worked with Tanya Paget twice when we were motivating each other on two occasions previously, on course to exhibiting our work together with a Scottish Collective at Premiere Vision, Paris. My main area of interest is surface pattern design and print for textiles.  I particularly love designing for the home ware market although i am a sucker for fashion prints too, So I'm giving a "sneek peek" into a bit of work in progress and how trends can influence my work from the very start of the research and development stage of the design process.

FASHION VIGNETTE AND PATTERNBANK - GREAT SITES FOR COLOUR AND TREND RESEARCH https://fashionvignette.blogspot.com https://patternbank.com  

FASHION VIGNETTE AND PATTERNBANK - GREAT SITES FOR COLOUR AND TREND RESEARCH

https://fashionvignette.blogspot.com

https://patternbank.com

 

I know that trends do not appeal to everyone but I like the positive way it helps me focus down on a particular theme or colour palette and choose an initial direction for my work which I can then build out in many different directions depending on my drawings . I usually have so many ideas it does help me make quick decisions to move forward from, rather than wasting huge amounts of time wondering and deliberating what to do.  By choosing a future trend it gives me a bit of an anchor which helps me focus and make a positive start. I find thematic research helpful and it is usually the foundation of most of my collections, so to speak. I don't want to be a slave to it of course but I like to use it as a starting point to allow my drawings/ideas/concepts/textures to develop from these influences for my initial sketchbook work to digital development. Not everyone wants to work to trends but I do because I exhibit my work at international trade shows and I know that buyers are looking a predicted colour palettes, themes and trends for their selections so I feel that this is an important factor to keep in mind when creating new work to be commercially viable.

So! my go to site for inspiration is "Fashion Vignette", WOW!! what an amazing inspirational site this is. There are just some fabulous mood boards and colour palettes to spark and ignite your creativity and passion. One of the contributors to the site is Marieke De Ruiter who is a trend forecaster and fashion designer based in the Netherlands. Her mood boards are directional and curated. Pop over to the site at some point and check out her up and coming trends and colour palette predictions. Patternbank is also another great inspirational resource which is a platform online for trends and colour direction also.

 My pictures from Abbotsford House, Melrose,  influenced my colour palette for my "Victorian Glasshouse" trend collection of prints as a starting point for drawing.

 My pictures from Abbotsford House, Melrose,  influenced my colour palette for my "Victorian Glasshouse" trend collection of prints as a starting point for drawing.

Ok! So where do I start when I am working on trends. Once I decide upon a trend and colour palette and in this instance I have chosen the "Victorian Glasshouse" trend depicted by Marieke on the Fashion Vignette blog, I usually take a lot of my own pictures to create further points of reference to work and make some personal connection to the trend and which belongs to me. I then feel comfortable using my own source of photographs and developing drawings and ideas from these. In this instance my photographs are from a "Fairytale Castle" in the Scottish borders called "Abbotsford" which was the home of renowned writer and poet Sir Walter Scott and the house and gardens are so lush its an ideal source of inspiration for this trend. Please check out Abbotsford House online, you will fall in love with it too!

http://www.scottsabbotsford.com

Sketches!

A few sketches from my sketchbook, I usually start in pencil then ink it all up using a fine liners or calligraphy ink nibs.

A few sketches from my sketchbook, I usually start in pencil then ink it all up using a fine liners or calligraphy ink nibs.

Colouring!

I like to colour sketches in photoshop using "kyles brushes" as it gives me flexbibilty to change the colours easily.  

I like to colour sketches in photoshop using "kyles brushes" as it gives me flexbibilty to change the colours easily.

 

Creating Repeat Patterns and Placement Prints!

I can spend endless hours at this point trying to work on the "perfect" layout or repeat in photoshop or illustrator for my pattern collections. My work is always set up in repeat or as placement prints for cushions or specific items. I would normally set up a repeat quite large scale so that it is suitable for wallpaper or large scale upholstery so that the quality and sharpness is spot on, then scale down for smaller scale projects or items.

I can spend endless hours at this point trying to work on the "perfect" layout or repeat in photoshop or illustrator for my pattern collections. My work is always set up in repeat or as placement prints for cushions or specific items. I would normally set up a repeat quite large scale so that it is suitable for wallpaper or large scale upholstery so that the quality and sharpness is spot on, then scale down for smaller scale projects or items.

Finally!

Product Mock ups. It's nice to get a sense of how the pattern will work on product so I like to create mock ups which can be shown to potential clients.  

Product Mock ups. It's nice to get a sense of how the pattern will work on product so I like to create mock ups which can be shown to potential clients.

 

Table Runner

Thank you so much for taking time to read my first blog post for F&F and hear how trends and colour predictions influence my textile design work and collections from the go to.

I hope you have enjoyed how I have broken down my process for my print which I have called "Anastasia", I now need to build on this print by creating complimentary designs and patterns on this given theme of "Victorian Glasshouse" and my first intention is to use the lovely green shade which is part of that colour story. I have slightly got carried away working in pink this time around but hey ho! that sometimes happens.

Great to connect on the F&F blog today.

Adrienne x

SURTEX is just around the corner!

Unbelievable how fast one year went by – but now it's so close we can almost smell it! Some of the Finches are on their way to NYC already, we will finally meet up on friday to set up the booth and get everything sorted. The last weeks of course were packed with preparation and checking off our to do lists. And it was great to receive packages from printers and other companies, who made our swag items – so juicy that we're really looking forward to give them to you, when you're visiting us at booth #3026!

We love the beautiful flower pin by Lisa Kirkbride, the super fresh collection of buttons by Bryony Clarkson and the fanciful bookmarks by Laurence Lavallée (akaflo). 

We love the beautiful flower pin by Lisa Kirkbride, the super fresh collection of buttons by Bryony Clarkson and the fanciful bookmarks by Laurence Lavallée (akaflo). 

Who doesn't want one of these? Lush buttons in her very own painterly style by Sharon Montgomery

Who doesn't want one of these? Lush buttons in her very own painterly style by Sharon Montgomery

Nataša Kaiser invites you to take notes and also offers you a cup of tea – if that's your cup of tea? ;-) 

Nataša Kaiser invites you to take notes and also offers you a cup of tea – if that's your cup of tea? ;-) 

Courtney Beth has something beautiful to accompany you through the year 2018!

Courtney Beth has something beautiful to accompany you through the year 2018!

A couple of trifolds by our artists Lisa and Nataša – just a sample, we have more!

A couple of trifolds by our artists Lisa and Nataša – just a sample, we have more!

This year we've decided to make one portfolio book each and also have lose sheets of paper with our designs ready for you to browse by category. This was a learning from our last years debut and we hope, this will make it most easy for you to find the topic, image and style you are looking for at Finch&Foxglove.

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Prints by Lisa, Nataša, Adriana and Laurence.

Prints by Lisa, Nataša, Adriana and Laurence.

We are very much looking forward to seeing you at Surtex this year! Safe travels and a successful stay in New York!

Adriana, Bryony, Courtney Beth, Lisa, Nataša and Sharon

Tools for the trade

by Courtney Beth Keller

I recently had the pleasure of trying out a new tool: the apple pencil. My folks came to Colorado for a visit, and my mom brought her apple pencil and ipad along. As I played with the pencil and made all manner of sill swirls and marks, I was enthralled. This was like paint - only digital! My mom laughed that the apple pencil had barely been used and decided to leave it for me to play with. It has since become an integral tool in my workflow. I like to work quickly, getting my ideas out of my head and onto paper (or in this case, "paper") - and this digital drawing tool is perfect for my pace! This month I'm working through a 30 day lettering challenge. I also decided to jump on the "100 days of..." challenge on Instagram, and have decided to complete 100 days of lettering. I'll share a bit of my process for today's challenge:

Today's challenge is to letter a congratulatory phrase. I am playing with some new metallic and glitter brushes, which offer amazing shine and depth. First, I set up a new document and add a quick pencil sketch showing my approximate layout idea.

Next, I'll start with a base layer of medium-gold. This will allow me to both add shadows / shine, and glitter highlights. 

While I'm really still very new to procreate, the app I've found most conducive to lettering, one of the most helpful features I've discovered out of the box is the ability to isolate what's on each layer, similar to the magic wand tool in photoshop. This feature is my friend! I've placed each word and the star on its own layer, and this will help when I show some depth, and decide which pieces overlap and need to shine or hide. 

I work on each layer, adding a base medium gold, a darker foil and the bright glittery shine.

When it comes together, my little lettering congratulations message is ready to share! I look forward to sharing many more of my greetings with you if you're coming to Surtex next month - stop by booth #3026 and say Hello (or maybe, if you like the booth, 'way to go!'). :)

Congratulatory greeting by Courtney Beth Keller

Getting Ready for Surtex (despite life's hurdles)

by Bryony Clarkson

Ask any of my fellow artists what they are doing this week, and you will pretty much get the same answer, "Getting ready for Surtex." Surtex 2017 is May 21st-23rd this year, so a mere 7 weeks away.

I have been with Finch and Foxglove for two years now, but last year I wasn't able to do the Surtex show as my daughter was very sick. So way back in Summer 2016, I decided that 2017 was going to be my year. I am lucky to be working with this great bunch of artists - they are so knowledgeable and professional, and we are planning on show based on their experiences of exhibiting last year. So I have lots of helping hands all the way through this somewhat daunting process - phew!

 

Those of you that have already mastered Surtex will have a good idea of what is needed to pull this show off, but for those of you that are thinking about it, you will need LOTS of design collections (including Christmas, Halloween, birthday, valentines, hand lettering....). I have heard various estimates of how many collections ( 70 is a number I have definitely heard somewhere) but when I posed this question to the Finches, their wise answer was that quality is better than quantity, so show the work you love. 

Once you have got all of your work together (notice how breezily I make that statement!), you need to design a banner for the back of the stand, a portfolio book for an easy overview of your illustrative style, and print outs of each collection in a loose leaf format for the group portfolio. Oh, and update your website, keep a consistent presence on your social media platform of choice (I Instagram most days @bryony.clarkson), design a press kit, send out promotions to your dream clients, book flights and hotels, make small giveaways to hand out at the show, design social media flyers - oh my word, the list is exciting but endless!

Here is my studio with piles of designs on paper that all needed scanning, uploading and editing before the show!

 

What has been amazing at keeping me on track has been a timetable of deadlines produced by our collective, which allows me to stress about only a couple of things at a time. Otherwise , all of this show prep would be far too overwhelming. We know when things are due, so we're not trying to juggle a thousand things every day. 

Some promotion postcards I made to send to dream clients before the show.

Some promotion postcards I made to send to dream clients before the show.

Things were going well, but for me the curveball landed in November last year - my daughter was seriously unwell again and was going to need a bone marrow transplant at the Children's Hospital in Seattle (home for me is Oxford, England) The sensible thing to do at this point seemed to be to  quit the show for a second year running, but after long talks with my family, we decided that I would go ahead with it. So I flew to the other side of the world with my daughter and a mobile studio in tow - boxes of paper, my favourite art kit, iPad Pro and iMac. I knew I wouldn't be home before Surtex, so I found myself making decisions like 'what am I going to wear at the show', WAAAY earlier than I would have had to otherwise do and trying to think of every last little thing to pack for a show that was still 7 months away. 

Fast forward 5 months and I am SO glad that I made the decision to keep going. It hasn't been easy juggling family and work (I do 24 hours in the hospital, followed by 24 hours at home sleeping and working, and also have two other children back in England to check in with), but I am happy that I am still making art on a regular basis and I honestly don't think I would be doing that right now without a deadline like Surtex looming. My current mantra is "Done is better than perfect" - I don't have the luxury of being able to procrastinate over every decision and that is probably beneficial in the long run. And when I do drop a ball, I have a team of finches ready to catch it and carry it for me (I LOVE our teamwork!)

I'm really excited for New York and hope that you will come by and see the Finches on stand 3026. We will be updating on how the show goes for us afterwards, so be sure to check back here to find out if I actually made it!

Bryony x

Follow your instincts

Here is a step-by-step showing each stage of my creative process and how I realized that sometimes you need to follow your instincts in order to create something wonderful!

The assignment was to create a piece of abstract collage-style wall art for a shop like Anthropologie or Urban Outfitters for the 25–45-year-old female consumer during the course, Make Art That Sells part A. The assigned colors were: RED & YELLOW.  

I started by collecting different objects around the house to make my own marks and I created textures with pastel, watercolor, pencil, ink pens and other. Then, I transfered my artworks onto the computer and experimented a long time by moving things around. Nothing was working, so I decided to put this first attempt aside and started again with a new approach.

I fixed myself a new goal and decided to fill one page with everything that comes to my mind combining different medias. I was having a bit more fun adding watercolors on top of cut-out and scattering various shapes and doodle around the sheet. I made a happy mess! That night I went to bed feeling very relaxed visualizing my assignment and felt I was going in the right direction!

When I woke up the first thing that I did was to go straight to my office to see my artwork. I look at it but I felt confused. I didn’t like it and because I used a office paper, there was no way I could build up more layer of paint on top as adding more would turn the freedom mess into muck. I left the house and drop my kids to school and as I was walking back home I had an idea: I am going to cut my artwork into long strip and mix and match them. “I can’t wait to go home...walk faster!” Even if I didn’t really like my mess, it was hard at first to let go and cut through it but after a while it was very gratifying. Some motif and texture started emerging from my stripes as I was moving them around to try to create something new.

I took multiple pictures of different arrangement and uploaded them on my computer. I was very excited to see the result on the screen.  I played with the hue and saturation and I have to admit that the restricted color palette I was given, even if I didn’t like it at the start, was helping me to not get carried away by spending hour deciding on which color option was the best. I was having so much fun doing a digital mess now!

I stepped back to look at my artwork and asked myself what emotion and feeling do I get by looking at my work? “DREAM! I am making and building a dream. Make your dream come true! Here is my quote!”  I started gathering flowers from my flower bank (every time I make a sketch of a flower I scan it and add it to a Photoshop file that I named flower bank).I found a lovely little portrait that I made a month ago which I have been dying to use. Everything started to take shape and I felt very happy about it. “I am now done! Go to bed and tomorrow you can add the finishing touches and upload it. Wow that was quick!” Bedtime... 

The following day, I was very positive when I sat down to finish my artwork. I was feeling like I wanted to play more with it. So here I go again trying different things when EUREKA! “This could go there and this can become a kimono dress and I can add this texture at the background...” I was unstoppable, playing, singing and making my dream come true. I loved it! I was having fun making art and following my instincts! This creation was building up very fast, like if I was making a puzzle. It felt so natural, like nothing was forced because I was adding and building my artwork using pieces, texture and motif that I LIKED. I even managed to incorporate some texture and shapes created during my first exploration. I am actually very proud of the final result. 

Will you be Mine?

 Hello! I'm Sharon Montgomery and I'm super pleased to be the newest Finch here. I thought I would use this opportunity to introduce myself and describe my working process a bit. And since this is Valentine's Day, I'd like to show the creation of some Valentine's cards.

I'm not much of a Valentine's gal personally, but being in the art biz means I make an effort. Did you know that the Greeting Card Association estimates that 145 million Valentines Cards are sent out each year in the US? That does not include the classroom kind! And that Americans spend an average of $130 USD per person on Valentine's Day? Yikes! I find that hard to believe. It's time to admit that I'm Canadian and have never spent more than 10 bucks on Valentine's Day. My husband confirms this.

My process starts with sketches that the never look anything like the finished product. Just messing about with an idea.

I paint by hand, usually in acrylic. I will work on anything from wood to canvas to paper. Just depends on what's available. But I always start with the same vermillion ground colour. I find a ground colour unifies my art in a way that painting on white doesn't and you'll notice you can often see the ground colour show through in my work.

Then I start painting. I often paint icons and motifs individually and then assemble them in Photoshop so I can play around with placement and scale and change any colours I need to. 

Until I'm happy with the final results:

Occasionally I just make a traditional painting with no digital collage. I love to paint flowers.

This year, my son's class has 27 kids in it. Guess how many Valentines cards came in the box he wanted? 24. Drives me mad! So I printed out 3 copies of a card I just happened to be working on. Ta Da! Being an artist has its advantages. Happy Valentine's Day!

Mailing my dream clients

By Nataša Kaiser

Usually around the middle of December, I have one of my favorite Christmas Illustrations printed as a postcard, and I send it out to my dream clients. 

Here's a mockup of my card from 2015 – sorry, no printed version left!

Here's a mockup of my card from 2015 – sorry, no printed version left!

Not so this year. There were two reasons that made me choose a different approach, and in the end it turned out to be a good idea...

First: After taking the MATS class "Illustrating Children's Books" I learned that Art Directors at publishing houses receive tons of gorgeous pitches from very talented artists out there that would love to work with them. Zoe Tucker showed some examples that really impressed me. From beautifully wrapped packages ( in self-illustrated wrapping paper of course), illustrated envelopes (so beautiful, that they are a piece of art themselves), to a finished printed and hand bound book – you name it! So it seemed clear to me, that a simple postcard would not make much of an impression on an art director.

And second: Christmas is a very common time to send greetings and all kinds of small gifts. The amount of mail that clients receive is certainly huge during this time and it's likely not every postcard gets the attention the sender would like it to have. So I decided to wait just a couple of weeks longer and send a New Year's greetings instead of Christmas mail this time.

I wanted to show a range of my work, too. On the one hand I enjoy designing decorative patterns and on the other hand I simply love developing characters and drawing imaginative little scenes. And, I wanted to mail a package with a little bonus to it. So not just a "simple" portfolio piece, but something one could use for a longer time if they like the illustrations on it.

I decided a folded birthday calendar would do the trick:

The birthday calendar is meant to be pinned to the wall and filled in with all your friend's and family's birthdays. It has no weekdays, so it can last for years – if desired..

The birthday calendar is meant to be pinned to the wall and filled in with all your friend's and family's birthdays. It has no weekdays, so it can last for years – if desired..

I also wrote a greeting card with a short introduction and the link to my website, so art directors could see more of my work, if they liked what they received in the mailing:

I had some spare stickers and trifolds left over from my last self-promo-action and where I thought it might fit I popped a sample in the envelope. Last but not least: a little bit of careful hand-lettering goes a long way. I spent one afternoon with hand lettering and decorating the envelopes, because I remembered that Zoe Tucker spoke about the importance of the first impression. I sent out 12 mailings, got response from three companies within the first couple of days, two more responded after one week.

All the feedback was really nice, and eventually I got commissioned by Moses Verlag (verlag = publishing house) to design a textile shopper bag. I loved that job and the client was absolutely great to work with! Unfortunately I'm not allowed to show the design yet, but later this year I certainly can and I'm looking forward to sharing the result with you! ;-) 

Red, White and Blues

By Mara Penny

 

After a torturously long, ugly and bitter election, America prepares itself to usher in the 45th President of the United States.  Here is a brief visual history of this election from my perspective...  A true blue liberal woman from the San Francisco Bay Area.

Democratic Nomination

Democratic Nomination

Susan B would be proud

Susan B would be proud

Russia

Russia

Aftermath

Aftermath

There is no doubt that a dark cloud looms over the US that will surely affect the entire Earth. It is our duty as citizens of the world to stand up to all forms of bigotry and hate.  Tyranny has no place here. It needs to be stamped out before it can take hold. Put on your boots, there is work to be done.

Printsource 2017 (JaN 10+11 NYC) - here we come!

Now that the festive season has been and gone, decorations are packed away for another year and children are back to school, it can only mean one thing - PRINTSOURCE!

I've been pattern mad the last few months preparing a visual feast - from florals (of course) to kids patterns, geos, occasion and the ever popular festive art. Here's a small selection of the patterns on show:

My designs along with fellow finches - Adriana Bergstrom, Adrienne Kerr, Courtney Beth Keller and Albaquirky (aka Tanya Paget) can be seen on January 10th and 11th, 2017 Booth no. A19 at the Metropolitan Pavilion, New York. We are all very excited to be making our Printsource debut. As a group we have such a wide selection of subject and styles - there's something for everyone! So pop along and meet the finches - Tuesday 10th and Wednesday 11th January -  we'd love to see you there!

Brownstone Pattern

I grew up in a suburb of Chicago, and always loved the Chicago brownstone style homes. For this blog post, I decided to do a mini process blog, and share the beginning to end process of making a pattern. I'll keep it brief but if you have any questions please post them in the comments and I'll check back to answer. 

First, I always start out with my sketchbook. I'll begin by just jotting down my concept and a few visuals. I then collect reference material. For this particular pattern, I knew I wanted it to be loosely-drawn and simplified, so I wasn't as concerned with details as I was with the overall shape and style of each house. 

For this project, I limited my drawing time and used one pen for all the details. Here's a few of the sketches I did before scanning my blackline drawings into the computer to digitize and colorize. 

When I begin working with color, I typically do it in Adobe Illustrator. I like to work at a brisk pace so I see results quickly. Part of what I love about Illustrator is how efficiently I can make things happen, and finally get to the point where I play around with pattern and layout. Which is obviously the BEST part. :)

Here are some of my in-progress colorizing:

The final fun step for this piece was to work with textures and paint in Photoshop. I cropped the pattern down to a size I love, and began painting and adding depth and texture to the houses, so no two look the same. The end-use of a pattern sometimes means that I don't do this step - but when I've created it for fun, I can paint to my heart's content. Here is the final brownstone pattern painted, and envisioned as a pair of gift bags. 

Brownstone Pattern ©2016 courtney beth keller 

Brownstone Pattern ©2016 courtney beth keller

traditional and digital media - how I fell in love with both

By Bryony Clarkson

Those of you that are familiar with the work I have been producing over the past few years will know that I am a massive fan of traditional media, especially paper collage, as a way of creating my designs. I LOVE the hands-on process of cutting and sticking the bits of paper, the flexibility to move the design around before I glue it in place and the ability to add scribble details with pens and pencils. Very often, a design will emerge that is very different from one that I set out to make, and I love that too. It all helps my drawing to evolve and gives it a distinctive style that is all mine. 

So when I was required to travel away from home and pack light, recently I had a work dilemma. I couldn't take a full on studio of boxes of paper, scissors, pencils and glue, so I was forced to think differently. My solution was the iPad Pro with digital pencil. 

I was already familiar with photoshop, as I use it to edit my collage work, so using the Procreate app feels pretty intuitive. It works on the same principle of layers and there is a great range of brushes that are very adaptable. It is super easy to carry around and I find that I can work for a long time without needing to recharge the battery. 

Here is one of the early pieces that I made, just to test out the brushes and mark making available. 

Once I had got to grips with my favourite brushes, I quickly got straight into designing. My process is to sketch straight onto the iPad screen and then create a layer in which I block out the basic shapes in colour, followed by adding layers with markmaring and details. I love the clarity of colour that I can get on the screen and the flexibility to make changes to the design by editing layers. 

I have been working on a series of festive designs for the upcoming season, and when I look back at them, I can see elements of my own style coming through that chimes well with my traditional work, like a handwriting that carries through all of my work.

So what next? Well, I won't be working purely digital, as I sometimes miss the hands-on nature of traditional work, but I think that the ideal for me will be to combine the two processes in one design - scanned collages with digital detailing. Watch this space, once I am back to my studio...! 

 

 

The concept of beauty and my quest for perfection!

 

Bonjour (Hello!) 

My name is Laurence Lavallée or Flo. I am a new member at Finch and Foxgloves. I am so pleased to be part of this amazing group of artistes. 

Who is Flo?

Quick introduction: I started calling myself an artist only last year but I have been working on building my illustration and pattern skills for 3 years. Mum of 2, I lived in Manchester in the United of Kingdom for 10 years before moving back to the motherland, Montréal in Canada last May.

This big move was the best time to declutter not only the household but my life in general. Starting fresh and taking my art career seriously was also at the top of the list.

Because most of our personal items were shipped by boat, we were living for 3 months with the bare minimum and I have to admit I loved it. It just forces you to be resourceful. Fewer objects-toys-clothes-dishes = less mess = less cleaning!

However all my art materials, sewing machine, paint and papers were on the boat. I only brought with me a couple of ink pens and a very limited watercolour palette. Plus for 3 months I was computer-less…meaning I was lost. 

I put my positive pants on and I started to draw and paint everyday. At first, I was very uncomfortable as I alway finish my art on the computer so I can modify and erase mistake and make it perfect. I was getting very frustrated because I was constantly trying to achieve perfection so I could post on my social network beautiful and finished drawings. Maybe it’s my background in Architecture that was dictating this quest for perfection, no wobbly lines and the perfect symmetry.

Series of 3 Portraits: experimenting with ink and watercolours...no computer!

Series of 3 Portraits: experimenting with ink and watercolours...no computer!

I started to question myself: why do I want everything to be perfect? 

Is it more beautiful? 

What is my definition of beauty? 

As a matter of fact, I define a beautiful person as somebody who has charm, whose little imperfections makes them different and quirky, somebody who has a unique style and who has a magical and contagious smile. So if this represents beauty to me, I should than apply the same rules to my art. What a revelation! I felt like a heavy weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I felt free! No more worry, no more thinking when drawing, just letting myself go. Leaving the word perfection at the door when creating opened a new world, and I am now happy to say I finally found my voice and a style which I am comfortable with! Being ME through my art and forgetting about perfection was the missing puzzle on my quest to find MY style and for the first time I feel comfortable drawing a wobbly line!  

Here are 3 sketches embracing my imperfections...

People buy your joy! as Lilla Rogers said. That means if you enjoy the process of creation then your art will shine! I am ready to make my art shine!

- Laurence (aka Flo)

Harvest Time! (Or What to Do When You're Stuck)

AdrianaB_800pxOCT.jpg

We all have those days when we feel like we cannot make anything new, or that our work is not working... those are symptoms of Artist's Block. And it is not a permanent condition, I promise!

November happens to be the perfect time to refill your creative cup in my opinion. It's the seasonal harvest time and you can harvest the fruits of all that art you've labored over throughout the year. It's the time to tap into past work and refine it 'til it's finished.

I love doodling and painting throughout the year. I try and make art every day, but some of it gets lost in the mix and I can't get to finishing it right away. For example, these leaves were painted in September, and I finally took the time to isolate all the icons, and imagine them as a Home Décor Autumn Table Set.

Then, there's the deep kind of harvesting, where you dig REALLY deep into your work. I do this when I've totally lost momentum, and am much too close to my current work to figure out where to go with it. I don't know about you, but I have these waves of super-productive art- making, and then I pick just a few from those sessions to refine. Some of those I didn't pick at first, I forget that I drew! So, here's where keeping a sketchbook, or posting regularly on Instagram comes in handy... I just look deep into my stacks of drawings, or my post history to see old sketches that look interesting to me.

Examples...See this rough dipping pen illustration in the gallery below? I drew it last year, and last month was the perfect time to finish it! See the rough watercolor? I finished up the leaves, added hand-lettering, and made a wreath!

And then there's burnout! You want to avoid getting to this point by giving yourself a break now and then (and also recognizing the signs of impending burnout in your demeanor). Know yourself and know your world

  • Leave your studio.
  • Take a walk or a jog.
  • Look at something totally different - a movie, performance, museum, the sky outside, the inside of your eyelids.
  • Make something different - knit, sew, cook, or just do something completely different.
  • Maybe you're the type of person who gets sensory overload. Try a bit of sensory deprivation for a bit to let things percolate. Then take a nap or just close your eyes for a bit (meditate), take a shower, or bath, or a swim.
  • Try a new art medium.
  • Talk to someone.

I hope these tips and tricks help you out when you're having a hard time making art. Sometimes artists just need a break from making. That's okay too. Don't forget you're not alone in this business of art-making. Every artist and creative struggles with these things.

-Adriana

 

Illustrating Children's Books with Lilla Rogers

Hello! My name's Nataša Kaiser and today I want to tell you about my experience as a student in Lilla Rogers' very first online class about illustrating children's books.

Since I heard the rumor about an upcoming MATS class "Illustrating Children's Books" I wanted to be a part of it. I have taken various MATS classes until now and loved them all, one of the best parts is getting to be part of a wonderful artists community (and by the way that was also how I first got to know most of my fellow finches!). Not to mention the huge amount of information and insights about the market you get – really a lot to take in and absorb.

Illustrating for children has always been one of my big passions and most of the kid's books I've bought for my daughter I actually bought because I admire their art and simply wanted to own them (my daughter didn't mind me spending money on these books though).

So, the #matskidbook class is structured in 5 assignments over the course of five weeks. There are three different texts to choose from, in this class the texts were "The Owl and the Pussycat", "The Gigantic Turnip" and "Ada Lovelace" (written by Zoë Tucker, who is the Art Director at Lilla's side, giving all the specific insides about the market). I chose "The gigantic Turnip".

First week is about character development: The task is to determin the main character of the story and visualize it.  The second week is about facial expressions and illustrating emotions. The third week we were dealing with our characters in different poses. Week four just ended today and the topic was "environment". Next and sadly last week will be dedicated to cover design and as such will also include some lettering exercises, which I'm really looking forward to! Alongside all the infos, videos, inspirational texts and images and artist's interviews we get a sketchbook prompt each day to get us into the habit of regular drawing.

Some sketchbook prompts of the first week were accessories for our characters e.g.:

Accessories like hats, glasses or boots…

Accessories like hats, glasses or boots…

More hats. Another great thing about the sketchbook prompts is that you get to experiment with different techniques – if you wish. I was playing with oilpastels and watercolor on the right side of this page (on the left is ink and watercolor, which I do more often).

More hats. Another great thing about the sketchbook prompts is that you get to experiment with different techniques – if you wish. I was playing with oilpastels and watercolor on the right side of this page (on the left is ink and watercolor, which I do more often).

I think it's so interesting how you really get to know your characters over time and by drawing them over and over. I feel like I can really see the development from week one to week four. The exploration of facial expressions and poses in particular fills them with life and the more you draw the same figure the more believable it becomes.

 

Final for week one

Final for week one

expressions old man

expressions old man

expressions old woman

expressions old woman

expressions turnip

expressions turnip

My final for week 2: facial expressions / emotions of my main characters.

My final for week 2: facial expressions / emotions of my main characters.

In week three we were on vacation in denmark. I was thinking about what poses to draw and my first idea was to illustrate some of the characters pulling the turnip. I had our friends posing for some reference pictures and even our dog became a photo model:

Eventually I decided to show the old man and woman as a couple in different poses for this assignment – but I'm looking forward to putting these reference images to good use at a later point in time.

My final for week 3: The main characters in different poses. By this time I felt that I know my characters so well I wanted to give them names. So please say hello to Paul and Alma :-)

My final for week 3: The main characters in different poses. By this time I felt that I know my characters so well I wanted to give them names. So please say hello to Paul and Alma :-)

This week (4) was all about the environment in which the story is taking place. The story about the gigantic turnip is an old russian folktale. My ancestors are from slovenia (former Yugoslavia) and as a child I spent all of my holidays there. My grandparents had a small farm in the picturesque slovenian countryside and I remember many details of the farmlife, that seemed pretty romantic to me as a child. My grandma used to plant and sow and also to harvest according to the moon calendar. That inspired me to draw the old man planting the turnip during a full moon's night. That might be the reaon why it eventually grew so enormous:

My double page spread shows a sequence of images from the turnip being planted to growing enormously big during the turn of one day – just for the fun of painting different daytimes.

My double page spread shows a sequence of images from the turnip being planted to growing enormously big during the turn of one day – just for the fun of painting different daytimes.

This class has been both very challenging and a whole heap of fun until now and I'm a bit sad that it's coming to an end next week. But there is still all of the material in the classroom to download and go through again, which I will certainly do. If you're interested in learning while connecting to a whole lot of great artists and shamelessly neglecting your household and other social life for the short period of five weeks I highly recommend enrolling in "Make Art that sells – Illustrating Children's Books". Have fun!