illustrator

Designer Spotlight: Jessica Hogarth

HELLO, PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF:

Hey! I’m Jessica Hogarth from Whitby, a picturesque fishing town on the North Yorkshire coast of England. I spend my days working from my studio on the east side of the town, and my free time socialising with friends and playing hockey! My coastal upbringing has had a big influence on my work and I love being so close to the sea. 

HAVE YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO BE SURFACE PATTERN DESIGNER/ILLUSTRATOR?

Since I began my degree in Printed Textiles and Surface Pattern Design I have been very passionate about illustration and surface pattern, but I wasn’t focused on art during my upbringing despite taking a fine art A level. I was sporty and musical, and after studying one semester of classical music I left to reassess my options and I discovered the surface pattern course. Looking back on my A level work, it was always quite pattern led, but since I didn’t really plan on following an artistic career I had no idea just how many different types of creative courses were out there until I started looking for them! 

WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY/WEEK LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?

My weeks are really varied, depending on deadlines and how many emails I have coming in. At some point you can guarantee I will be packing orders, doing some accounting, utilising social media and responding to emails. The odd week does go by where I don’t even pick up a pen to draw, but that is happening less and less which is good! 

IF YOU COULD GIVE YOUR 10 YEARS YOUNGER SELF ONE KEY PIECE OF ADVICE OR AN INSIGHT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Homesickness subsides eventually! It took me quite a while to settle in to university life but by the end of third year I didn’t want to leave! I definitely feel like I made the most of my time studying, but I wish I had worried less at the beginning. 

WHEN YOU FEEL STUCK OR IN A DESIGN RUT, HOW DO YOU GET YOURSELF OUT OF IT AND BACK ON TRACK?

Taking a break is definitely necessary for me. I find it hard to work when surrounded by clutter, which is something I have only recently realised. I tidy up my work space when I am feeling in a rut, take a break from looking at my work and come back to it hopefully with a fresh pair of eyes later. 

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN TOOLS?

Definitely paper and my 0.38 muji pens. Other than that, I sometimes use ink and brushes for creating little patterns, but the colouring of my artwork is done on Adobe Illustrator, so I definitely need a scanner, my computer and wacom tablet! 

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR DESIGN PROCESS? 

My design process is fairly simple. All of my illustrations begin as black pen on paper before they are scanned in to the computer. I occasionally tidy them up in Photoshop, but all of the colouring is done in Illustrator. I also use this program to put illustrations in to repeat, or decide on the final layout for a piece of work. When I was at university I was a little more experimental, but this way of working has been successful for me, and it feels like the most natural way to create my art. Other than that my favourite app is Instagram. It’s addictive and I spend more time on there than I probably should! 

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN PROJECTS TO DATE?

I was thrilled to work with the RNLI in 2014, when I created multiple fish illustrations and patterns for use across a variety of textile and stationery products. 

A different but really fun project was designing the art for a salad bowl used in a giveaway by Florette. My face went on to the packaging of salad bags in shops across the UK, and winners won a contemporary bowl, with the illustrations on it done by me! 

Repeat pattern is my passion, so it’s a pleasure to be collaborating with UK based company Deva Designs. I have created every day and Christmas art for them since 2014. The designs are put on to gift wrap and bags and sold in independent outlets across the UK, as well as some high street stores including Waterstones and John Lewis. 

WHO ARE YOUR DREAM CLIENTS OR WHAT IS YOUR DREAM PROJECT?

 I worked with the Wall Street Journal a couple of years ago, and created an illustration for an article in their Mansion magazine. I would love to create more work for editorial. I’d also love to work with Anthropologie (who wouldn’t?!) and Fishs Eddy, to create some quirky illustrations for their homewares. 

THERE HAS BEEN AN ART SUPPLY SANCTION IMPOSED AND DESIGNERS ARE ONLY ALLOWED TO POSSESS 3 ITEMS/TOOLS, WHAT DO YOU CHOOSE?

Loads of paper, pen and ink.

WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?

Here, there are everywhere! I love getting out and about, and think being out of the four walls of my studio is good for getting creative ideas going. When I am in work I like to use Pinterest to look at visually exciting work, which always makes me feel inspired to get creative myself and push my own ideas.

WHO WOULD YOU SAY THE GREATEST DESIGNER IS?

That is an impossible question to answer! I love everything that Anna Bond of Rifle Paper Co is about so I am going to say her if I must pick one, but really there are loads I could mention.

WHEN I'M LONG GONE:

I hope people remember me for being a happy and thoughtful person.  

Designer Spotlight: Puck Selders

HELLO, PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF:

Hi!

I’m Puck Selders, a freelance designer and illustrator living in Leiderdorp, the Netherlands, with my partner and 2 wonderful children. 
I love all things cute, children´s books, dancing mambo, theatre, the beach, being outside, art, fashion and everything food related :D

 

For as long as I can remember I've been passionate about drawing, painting, fabrics and beautiful colors. 
I studied Fashion and Textile design at The Royal Academy of Arts, The Hague. 
After graduating in 2000 I started working in-house as a babywear designer for several companies. 
In 2013 I became freelance, so that I could focus on surface pattern design and illustration. 
Creating cute and joyful art just makes me really really happy and I´d love to share it with others.

HAVE YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO BE SURFACE PATTERN DESIGNER/ILLUSTRATOR?

Well, when I studied at the art academy, I honestly had no clue about what I wanted. I only knew that I wanted to do ‘’something creative’’ and that I was crazy about fabrics, beautiful colors and drawing. But I didn’t even know I could draw the way I can draw now, until I started working at Sign-D, my first in-house job. I discovered I really loved to create cute and funny illustrations and patterns and learned how to work with computers! I was so afraid of computers during my study, hahaha!

WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY/WEEK LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?

That totally depends on if i’m on a commission or not. But Monday is my day off, I spend it with my little one Jimi, he’s 3, so he’s not going to school yet. On Tuesday and Wednesday I’m working all day, most evenings too, when the kids are asleep and if I don’t go to the gym. If I’m on a commission, I also work on thursdays and fridays. If I’m not on a commission I’m working on building my portfolio and trying to get new clients. But each day starts with a large cup of coffee!!

IF YOU COULD GIVE YOUR 10 YEARS YOUNGER SELF ONE KEY PIECE OF ADVICE OR AN INSIGHT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Be more self- confident!

WHEN YOU FEEL STUCK OR IN A DESIGN RUT, HOW DO YOU GET YOURSELF OUT OF IT AND BACK ON TRACK?

I’ll do something totally different, like going to the gym or doing the dishes. Something that clears my head. Or, I’ll take my paint and pencils and have some fun with that, just without thinking or any pressure, making some simple stripes , dots or structures.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN TOOLS?

My Wacom tablet and pen.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR DESIGN PROCESS? 

Sometimes I make some little doodles and sketches with pencil and paper. Without looking for reference first, just using my imagination. Scan it into Illustrator and work from there. But mostly I start gathering reference first (not too much!) and then just start drawing in Illustrator, I do have a lot of fantasy so ideas just appear while drawing. I usually draw way too much icons, hahaha. 

Favourite program: Illustrator. Favourite Apps: Instagram and Pinterest

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN PROJECTS TO DATE?

I recently designed some colouring pages for Zeeman, so much fun! I also designed artwork with a circus theme for Zeeman, they create a lot of cool products with it, like toys, greeting cards, stickers.

WHO ARE YOUR DREAM CLIENTS OR WHAT IS YOUR DREAM PROJECT?

I’d love to see my work in Paperchase! Or design tableware for Rice! Land of Nod, Lilipinso…also on my list. But just as long as I can draw cute things I’m happy!

THERE HAS BEEN AN ART SUPPLY SANCTION IMPOSED AND DESIGNERS ARE ONLY ALLOWED TO POSSESS 3 ITEMS/TOOLS, WHAT DO YOU CHOOSE?

Laptop, tablet and pen.

WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?

Everywhere! Nature, food, just a combination of colors, my kids, watching dancers, Instagram and Pinterest. But also sad things, like when my sis was diagnosed with cancer last year. She asked me to design a card for here so I did..

WHO WOULD YOU SAY THE GREATEST DESIGNER IS?

Tough question! Can’t name just one designer, but lately I’m absolutely in love with Noëlle Smit’s work, a dutch illustrator, so colorful!

Designer Spotlight:Nataša Kaiser

HELLO, PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF:

I’m an Illustrator from Frankfurt/Germany. I’ve been working as a Graphic-designer in advertising for the longest part of my business life, but followed the calling of my heart a few years ago and now spent most of my days illustrating children’s imagery and also love to play with pattern design and hand lettering.

HAVE YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO BE SURFACE PATTERN DESIGNER/ILLUSTRATOR?

Actually: yes! But for a long time I didn’t follow that dream, because I wasn’t convinced I could earn a living by just doing what I love. I thought, payed work has to be something „more serious“ and so I studied Communication Design and ended up in advertising. It wasn’t bad at all and I had a good time – but this little voice inside of me kept calling me and so I drew and doodled whenever I found the time. I even took painting classes, that I thoroughly enjoyed!

WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY/WEEK LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?

My ideal day looks like this: When everybody left the house for work and school I walk the dog and shop for lunch. Back home I make myself a big cup of coffee and sit down to check my emails andtodo list. Right now I’m busy with prepping my second exhibit at Surtex, where I will be in May together with our art collective Finch&Foxglove. So I’m working on my portfolio book, booth banner, promotion items and so forth. At around noon I start cooking lunch for my daughter and husband who are usually home for that time. We enjoy eating together and updating each other, and afterwards everybody turns to their businesses again. I go to my studio in the basement and try to get some more work done. When I’m satisfied with my achievement for the day I love to have a glas of whine on the couch, where I’m accompanied by our dog and the two cats – and my husband, when he’s home. I love drawing on my iPad pro. Many projects start out as a sketch here and are taken further on my computer afterwards.

When the day is not so ideal I have to do a lot of errandsin the morning and I am my daughter’s taxi driver in the afternoon. So I eventually start my design work in the late afternoon and stay up late.

IF YOU COULD GIVE YOUR 10 YEARS YOUNGER SELF ONE KEY PIECE OF ADVICE OR AN INSIGHT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

I think I’ve just answered this one: Listen to your heart, follow your dream and work hard towards it. 

WHEN YOU FEEL STUCK OR IN A DESIGN RUT, HOW DO YOU GET YOURSELF OUT OF IT AND BACK ON TRACK?

I flip through old sketchbooks, while listening to music or audiobooks. I keep a list of things that I want to draw and sometimes I’ll pick one, start drawing and see what happens. If I don’t feel like creating at all, then I don’t force myself too much. Usually a one-or-two-day-break is enough to miss pen and paper again.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN TOOLS?

Inexpensive paper, mechanical pencil with 0.9 lead „B“, kneaded eraser. Caran d’Ache Gouache and Kuretake Gainsai watercolor. When painting I use a DIN A 3 paper pad with heavyweight paper and pretty smooth surface. It scans really well and I don’t have to remove a lot of grain when working in photoshop. Lately I’ve enjoyed drawing directly on my iPad pro a lot!

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR DESIGN PROCESS? FAVOURITE APPS AND PROGRAMS

Usually I brainstorm an idea and draw some thumbnail sketches. Sometimes I’ll sketch straight on the iPad and manipulate the sketch till I like it. When using paint I dedicate some hours to playing with paper and paint. I scan in and clean up all my icons and then arrange everything in Photoshop. I’m a pixel gal. I love experimenting with different media just for fun, such as potato print and mixed media. The output can be very inspiring…

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN PROJECTS TO DATE?

I’m a MATSIE and thankful for many great experiences and learnings I had in that classes. (The biggest plus for me certainly was being connected to „my tribe“ and especially to the girls from Finch&Foxglove.)

The last class I’ve taken was the first „Illustrating children’s books“ that was great fun! I learned, that I really enjoy the process of developing imagery for a story, bringing characters to life and working on the same topic over a certain period of time.

In general developing characters is what I love most. Also drawing little scenes and trying to show certain expressions is great fun to me. 

Last but not least: the FolioFocus challenge is super and certainly one of my favorite portfolio building projects!

WHO ARE YOUR DREAM CLIENTS OR WHAT IS YOUR DREAM PROJECT?

I would love to illustrate a children’s book with animal characters and a fictional story. Also it would be great to see my art on stationery or in the gift market.

THERE HAS BEEN AN ART SUPPLY SANCTION IMPOSED AND DESIGNERS ARE ONLY ALLOWED TO POSSESS 3 ITEMS/TOOLS, WHAT DO YOU CHOOSE?

My Japan Sakura SumoGrip mechanical pencil, paper and my iPad pro.

WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?

Watching people in cafes or on the train, study their poses and expressions is very inspiring to me. 

The turning of the seasons is something I’ve been observing much closer since we have a dog and I’m outside everyday – nature is very inspiring and the greatest artist to me.

WHO WOULD YOU SAY THE GREATEST DESIGNER IS?

Really hard to point out only one. There are so many fantastic designers out there and each of them is great for another reason. And if only I knew all the names…

When I'm long gone, I hope people remember me for this one super beautiful children’s book that every child and their parents want to read over and over every evening before going to sleep…

Where you can find me:

www.natasakaiser.com

www.facebook.com/natasakaiserart

www.instagram.com/natasakaiser

Designer Spotlight: Miriam Bos

HELLO, PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF:

My name is Miriam Bos. I am an illustrator and surface designer from the Netherlands. I live in Apeldoorn, a city that's located in the middle of the forests and moorlands of the Veluwe. I really enjoy living here, as it gives me plenty of inspiration for my illustrations.

IF YOU COULD GIVE YOUR 10 YEARS YOUNGER SELF ONE KEY PIECE OF ADVICE OR AN INSIGHT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

I would tell myself to try and go to bed earlier, instead of working late nights to catch up with deadlines. I still need to remind myself that this is often very counterproductive in the end. You exhaust both your body and mind at some point, which, in the long run, slows down your productivity during the day. But it's hard to get it out of your system once you get used to it. I still struggle with it sometimes because I'm also by biological design more of a night owl than a morning person. But going to bed early makes me feel better during the day, which means I'll get more done in the end. :)

WHEN YOU FEEL STUCK OR IN A DESIGN RUT, HOW DO YOU GET YOURSELF OUT OF IT AND BACK ON TRACK?

Sometimes there is no time for it, but if I can, I will put away that design and do something totally non-related. Which usually means I start working on another creative project, haha. But it can be anything, really.

One of the things I like to do is going to the gym and work out on a cross-trainer for an hour straight. It's not as much fun as working on a creative project, but when you are trapped on a cross trainer, there is just no other way to go. It's just you, your body and your mind. To me, it works wonders most of the time. I like the exercise and the routine. It keeps the blood flowing.

When I am working out, most of the time I'll get all kinds of fun and creative ideas which I tend to write down in the little notebook I bring along. Or I use the time to brainstorm when I am stuck on a project.  I can't do this at home for some reason :) (Too many distractions, I guess.)

Another thing I like to do is going for long walks. It kinda works the same way as a work-out, though I always get distracted more easily by my surroundings.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN TOOLS?

Definitely my gouache paint and my Wacom Cintiq

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR DESIGN PROCESS? FAVOURITE APPS AND PROGRAMS

My design process can be quite impulsive sometimes.

It can start with a sketch, but more often I sort of brainstorm, and simply start drawing randomly until an idea comes to mind. 

Then I start working on a composition and work out the details. 

A lot of the time I start with gouache on paper (and any other material that's within my reach). Then I scan it in, and when needed I will cut out elements and adjust the composition on the computer. Enhancing or changing colours is also part of the process. 

Photoshop is the program I go to most of the time. And Adobe illustrator comes in 2nd. 

My favourite app is definitely instagram. I love to see what people create and it's a great medium to share my own artwork as well.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN PROJECTS TO DATE?

I like a lot of the projects I've worked on, but if I have to choose, then I think it will be my Hidden Garden collection for Birch Fabrics (http://miriambos.com/the-hidden-garden-birch-fabrics-2) and the Mistigri game with cats and dogs that I made for the French publisher Auzou (http://miriambos.com/jeu-de-mistigri).

In 2015, Birch Fabrics approached me to create a fabric collection inspired by ‘The Secret Garden’. A classic novel (1910) by Frances Hodgson Burnett. The collection has been released in December 2016.

'The Hidden Garden' is a beautiful story about the friendship of a girl and two boys who find a secret garden and work hard to make it bloom again. I was listening to the audio version of the book while working on this collection. If you look carefully through the designs within this collection you will notice that I've hidden the old padlock key among the characters a couple of times. It's the same key that the girl is holding in the main design with the old entrance door that leads to the garden.

The Mistigri game was a lot of fun to work on. French publisher Auzou approached me to illustrate the so-called 'old maid game with cats and dogs', and of course I couldn't refuse. 

The game contains playing cards with pairs of dogs and cats, and it was a pleasure to create all these fun little characters. One of the dogs, the little dachshund who's drawing cute butterflies, was named after me by the art-director. 

In French the game is called ‘Mistigri, de chats et chiens’, and it's available on Amazon.

WHO ARE YOUR DREAM CLIENTS OR WHAT IS YOUR DREAM PROJECT?

Someday I'd love to have a product with my design on it with Anthropologie or perhaps Land of Nod.

I realize these are two very different clients, but both work in categories I really love. I personally don't feel bound to either adult or children's themes.

My dream project would be a set of dishes or pottery with my artwork on it. Or perhaps a collection of Tin Tea cans (which I collect myself).

And for the Land of Nod I would enjoy designing a whole room for children that includes bedding, furniture, plushies, playtents, whatever would be fun. Who knows... someday? You'll never know. :)

THERE HAS BEEN AN ART SUPPLY SANCTION IMPOSED AND DESIGNERS ARE ONLY ALLOWED TO POSSESS 3 ITEMS/TOOLS, WHAT DO YOU CHOOSE?

A large tube of gouache paint (W&N Ultramarine blue), a fine cat tongue brush and a big moleskine watercolour sketchbook. 

WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?

Everywhere I look. Designs I see on people's bags or Clothes. The flowers and trees in the gardens and, store windows or sometimes simply a combination of colours.

WHO WOULD YOU SAY THE GREATEST DESIGNER IS?

Hmm that is always a tough question because for me that changes all the time. But I guess I've always been a fan of our Dutch Fiep Westendorp.
She was an illustrator who was pretty famous here (and still is). She is from the same period of Marie Blair, and you may find some similarity in their techniques, though they both had their own styles.
And lately I discovered my fondness for Gustav Klimt, technically not a designer, but his work is so gorgeous.

When I'm long gone, I hope people remember me for someone who made art that leaves you with a warm happy feeling or a smile on your face.

Designer Spotlight: Elizabeth Olwen

HELLO, PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF:

I’m a surface designer and sometimes illustrator from Toronto. I create patterns and illustrations and license them out for all sorts of different products, like bedding, rugs, pillows, aprons, floor tiles, stationery, fabric and so much more. That’s one of the things I love most about what I do — I never know what new kind of product collaboration is around the corner.

IF YOU COULD GIVE YOUR 10 YEARS YOUNGER SELF ONE KEY PIECE OF ADVICE OR AN INSIGHT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

There will be many challenges, but if you push through, work hard and devote yourself to something you love, they all make you stronger, and your success is so much sweeter. Celebrate what makes you different. And always trust your gut.

WHEN YOU FEEL STUCK OR IN A DESIGN RUT, HOW DO YOU GET YOURSELF OUT OF IT AND BACK ON TRACK?

Top tip: don’t freak out. After many battles with this, I have come to accept that there are ebbs and flows with my creativity. When I’m in a rut, I remind myself that creativity is like a boomerang — sometimes it feels like it’s getting far away, but it always comes back to you. And sometimes it comes back with gifts, like new ideas or directions you might not have had if you didn’t have a bit of space from it.

That said, sometimes I find the hardest part is just getting started. I find myself avoiding work for fear that I might not create something I like. I simply make a deal with myself: just start and spend 15 minutes. If it doesn’t happen in 15 minutes, you’re free to walk away. But usually I sit down, and within 15 minutes I remember how much I love what I do, and am having a blast.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN TOOLS?

I love my ipad Pro and apple pencil, as well as my Wacom Tablet, for drawing motifs.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR DESIGN PROCESS? FAVOURITE APPS AND PROGRAMS

I usually start with good old fashioned pen and paper, away from my computer. I find that I feel most free when I’m away from my computer. I sketch out lots of ideas really loosely and get them out of my head and onto paper. Then I’ll either go back and explore them further on paper, or lately, I find I love just hopping onto my iPad Pro with apple pencil and exploring there. Lately, I’m obsessed with the Adobe Illustrator Draw app, but I also rely heavily on Inkpad — both apps export vector files, but Inkpad also retains strokes so you can further adjust once I’ve exported to my computer. Ultimately, I take my artwork into Adobe Illustrator, where I lovingly assemble all of my patterns.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN PROJECTS TO DATE?

I always love designing fabric — I work with Cloud9 Fabrics who are amazing and always really let me do my thing and support my ideas. I absolutely love seeing how people then take my fabrics and create something new… I think creativity is essential to happiness, so it feels so special when I have a part in someone’s creative play, it’s a privilege. My most recent collection with them is called Underwater and it’s based on my first foray into snorkeling on the Mayan Reef.

I also love working with the Land of Nod who always gives me super interesting and creatively challenging projects. Last year, I got to design a set of wooden baby blocks. A big undertaking, each of the 26 blocks had 6 sides and required a different illustration, and I had a blast working on it. I also love doing bedding with them. I have some crib sheets with a nest theme, and I’m always seeing pictures on Instagram of people’s babies curled up in the nest motif and it warms my heart.  

And some projects are just so interesting and unexpected, things that I wouldn’t have dreamt about working on… floor tiles, or lamps, carved wooden chests, paper dolls. You just never know what’s around the corner.

WHO ARE YOUR DREAM CLIENTS OR WHAT IS YOUR DREAM PROJECT?

I would love to do a wallpaper collaboration, pretty office products, or gardening products like cute plant pots. I’d also love to a cosmetics collaboration, doing packaging!

THERE HAS BEEN AN ART SUPPLY SANCTION IMPOSED AND DESIGNERS ARE ONLY ALLOWED TO POSSESS 3 ITEMS/TOOLS, WHAT DO YOU CHOOSE?

Pen, paper, ipad.

WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?

I find inspiration everywhere I look… I think it’s important to always have your eyes really truly open to what’s around you. I’m inspired by my city — Toronto is an amazing city with a pulsing creative energy, and I have lots of talented friends here! Sometimes it’s the pattern on an old mattress waiting for trash collection, or the shape of a leaf in my neighbour’s garden. I love used book shops and flea markets, and pick up things to bring home to my studio — I think it’s important to surround yourself with beautiful things. I take a lot of pictures when I’m out and about and somehow all of those images culminate in my brain and come out when I’m doodling. And I’m endlessly inspired by nature so I try and escape the city and get out into it when I can. Travel is also a huge inspiration for me — the inspiration from those adventures constantly fuels my work.

WHO WOULD YOU SAY THE GREATEST DESIGNER IS?

William Morris

When I'm long gone, I hope people remember me for spreading beauty

Designer Spotlight: Inga Wilmink

HELLO, PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF:

Hi, I'm Inga - I'm a freelance illustrator and surface pattern designer specialising in quirky, colourful designs and illustrations for products. I'm originally from Germany, but studied Graphic Design in England and started my career in the design team of a large UK retailer/stationer, which is what sparked my passion for stationery and the surface design world. I love to draw happy, colourful characters and make them into repeats.

 

IF YOU COULD GIVE YOUR 10 YEARS YOUNGER SELF ONE KEY PIECE OF ADVICE OR AN INSIGHT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Stop looking at other artist's work (so much) and trust yourself more, girl! It can be very disheartening looking at other people's amazing pieces, which look so effortless when presented in their final form. You don't know how much sweat and tears have gone into that piece. It's also very important to design for yourself, not for others. I've worked in a big company years ago, with everyone from the art director to new product development, buyers and project managers wanting to have a say in the design. If there's one thing I learnt there it is that if you try and please all the others your work will get pulled apart and diluted - design for yourself and the results will shine, because the process was un-pressured, instinctual and because you had fun with it.

WHEN YOU FEEL STUCK OR IN A DESIGN RUT, HOW DO YOU GET YOURSELF OUT OF IT AND BACK ON TRACK?

I try to look at something completely unrelated - this might be something on Pinterest or a piece of furniture or art in my flat or a flyer that's popped through the door - and try to relate that to my current project. It's a little bit like random idea generation that I learnt in college: You imagine or look at a completely random object, and you attribute 5 words to that object. Then you try to separately relate those 5 words to your original problem or concept. Sounds surreal but it really works in getting some varied, quirky ideas on paper that you would have never thought of otherwise.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN TOOLS?

Oh I'm a pencil and paper girl all the way. Mustn't forget the eraser, either! I think I like this way of working because I'm a bit of a fiddler, often erasing and re-drawing parts of my design until it feels right. I think this is also why I prefer working in Illustrator to digitise my designs, it doesn't feel so final because it's very easy to move things around, scale them, adjust shapes. This process also comes in handy when working with clients who change their mind a lot :) 

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR DESIGN PROCESS? FAVOURITE APPS AND PROGRAMS

Most of my designs start by doodling with pencil. I draw on loose pages of layout paper which are semi transparent, so I can trace over my designs and improve them that way. Once again I like this way of working because nothing is set in stone, but it also means it's usually quite messy on my desk! Then it's scanning and then tracing the whole thing in Illustrator. For colour inspiration I often use Pinterest, or I just start sliding CMYK values until the overall outcome evokes a sort of happy feeling in my stomach. This might sound dumb but it works for me :) Then it's on to the pattern tool in Illustrator if I'm designing a repeat, I love that tool!

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN PROJECTS TO DATE?

I've designed a few patterns for Jo-Anne's which I'm very fond of, they're just so very cute and playful. I've also designed some letterpress cards recently for elum, I really liked working with a limited colour palette and the use of metallic and even holographic foils. Another project I'm very proud of is my recent illustration work for Macmillan publishers, it's the cover and inside spot art for a middle grade book called 'Sticker Girl'. It included drawing a talking cupcake, a pink pegasus and a little fairy, which are some of my favourite subject matters :)    

Oh and I tried for Lilla Roger's Creative Talent Competition a few years back - even though I didn't get through the first round - this piece of work, which had to feature a terrarium (in my case a light bulb), is very special to me as it really made me push that little bit harder with my work.

WHO ARE YOUR DREAM CLIENTS OR WHAT IS YOUR DREAM PROJECT?

If I was to drop big names I would probably mention 'The Land of Nod', 'Paperchase' or 'Lilipinso'. But generally I would say I like to work with clients who are open in their design approach, clients who don't micromanage and leave a lot of room for artistic freedom.

THERE HAS BEEN AN ART SUPPLY SANCTION IMPOSED AND DESIGNERS ARE ONLY ALLOWED TO POSSESS 3 ITEMS/TOOLS, WHAT DO YOU CHOOSE?

Pencil, Paper, Illustrator

WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?

Normally I put on the right kind of music to put me in the mood. I design a lot for the juvenile market so sometimes I put on very cheesy, catchy music to get me there. Some very, very guilty pleasure listening reserved for those afternoons when everything around you is that little bit grey and you can't seem to come up with anything useful. Generally I just really enjoy doodling and seeing where that takes me. 

WHO WOULD YOU SAY THE GREATEST DESIGNER IS?

The greatest designer to have lived... oh, oh there are so many! I'm a little obsessed with fairytale illustration, so for me artists like Arthur Rackham or Edmund Dulac spring to mind. Looking at those 'Golden Age' book and magazine illustrations evoke so much in me and I think that's the most important part of art, it's got to stir something in you.

I would like to be remembered as someone who left a positive and inspirational legacy. But that's a little high-brow so maybe I'll just settle for the freckly girl that didn't take herself too seriously, who enriched someone's life by making it that little bit more fun and colourful.

Where you can find me:

website: www.ingawilmink.com

pinterest: uk.pinterest.com/ingawilmink

facebook: www.facebook.com/ingawilminkdesign

instagram: www.instagram.com/ingawilminkdesign

Designer Spotlight: Jane Moore Houghton

HELLO, PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF:

Hello! My name is Jane Moore Houghton and I am an artist and illustrator living and working in Central Massachusetts, USA. I am an exhibiting fine artist who's latest works feature at-risk and endangered species as well as Heritage Breed large, mixed media portraits. 

These works incorporate my unique process of embroidering on tissue paper as an integral part of the surface of the acrylic, oil stick, colored pencil, gouache and graphite mixed media works. 

I am currently working towards building my children's book illustration portfolio. I recently completed an independent children's book project, "Gracie Brave", a story written by authors who hope to bring awareness of childhood depression and anxiety through their Gracie Brave heroine. I recently completed the Lilla Rogers Studio Make Art That Sells online course, "Children's Book Illustration" to support my goal of building my children's book illustration portfolio. 

I have an undergraduate degree in Studio Art from Skidmore College and a Masters in Educational Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. 

I have been making work professionally since 2006 - turning forty was pivotal for me! 

WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY/WEEK LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?

To supplement the ebb and flow income of being an artist, I have two part-time non-art jobs on Mondays and Tuesdays. I work in the studio after dinner with my family (I am married and we have two teenage boys at home and a daughter in a local college).

On Wednesdays - Sundays I work 4 - 10 hours/day in my studio or run errands and research trends, go to museums, walk in nature to support my art and any project that I am working on at a given time.

I have an active commission practice so I will meet with clients and work on commissions intermittently between working on personal work and illustration jobs. 

If I am getting ready for a show I will work daily on new work. Currently I am focusing on illustration work so I do not have a show in the books. 

I teach art to adults once a month and plan unique and challenging classes each time. We go on several "field trips" a year: to an art museum or local botanical gardens to practice watercolor plain air techniques. 

I have a shop on my website so at this time year I am running back and forth to the printers to stock cards and my newest product: an advent calendar I designed and launched last year. 

Several times a week I volunteer at a children's grief counseling center outside of Boston. Children's grief and art therapy are additional interests of mine. 

WHAT’S THE MOST REWARDING PART OF YOUR JOB?

When I am trusted with a commission and can deliver a piece that delights the client and know they will cherish it for years/generations to come. I love to create commissions that reflect the unique family or child it is going to live with. I enjoy getting to know special memories, quotes, etc... that I can incorporate into the piece. 

In the same way, I love taking a text and bringing it to life through a careful understanding of the text and communication with the author or client. I enjoy the process of creating a collaborative project. 

Finally, I love the "happy accidents" of mixed media work.

IF YOU COULD GIVE YOUR 10 YEARS YOUNGER SELF ONE KEY PIECE OF ADVICE OR AN INSIGHT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Oh boy - this one touches a nerve for this fifty-something artist! I spend an embarrassing amount time beating myself up for not focusing my efforts earlier in my career! I have taken quite a few detours! For example, I have a Masters degree in Educational Psychology and have spent a good portion of my professional years as a counselor and mother. I actually started painting and selling my work ten years ago after being inspired by the art students I was teaching in my (then) private art school I was running out of my home five days a week to ages 3 - 13. So - ten years ago I would encourage myself to stay focused on my goals and find a community of like-minded artists in my area (something I am still working on). I would encourage myself to hold my head up high when I say, "I am an artist" . I would remind myself that people respond to the joy that I paint with so keep it fun and be open to growth always.

WHEN YOU FEEL STUCK OR IN A DESIGN RUT, HOW DO YOU GET YOURSELF OUT OF IT AND BACK ON TRACK?

Nature! Nature has always been my greatest inspiration. I find I get more excited about creating new work by visiting a natural history museum than even an art museum. My current favorite place is the Natural History Museum at Harvard University. 

I also love the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. It is a spiritual experience for me to visit a place that celebrates children's book illustration in such a beautiful and meaningful way. 

Another favorite museum is the Peabody Essex museum for it's variety of exhibitions. 

Finally, my last nightly practice is to feast my eyes on the visual eye candy of Pinterest! I find the images we can all see there inspires ideas as I sleep and often wake with new ideas and energy to face the day.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN TOOLS?

A good black ink pen: my favorite, Pentel hybrid Technica. My light box to refine sketches. Photoshop - I am a recent convert and learn new ways to use it weekly. 

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR DESIGN PROCESS? FAVOURITE APPS AND PROGRAMS

I often start my research on Pinterest and google image  - creating mood boards of color palette, historical references, photographic resources. 

I will sometimes make a physical mood board on the wall of my studio - cutting out images and color swatches from magazines and catalogues. 

I then begin some loose sketches as I listen to calm music or in silence. I try to brainstorm ideas in a list form and allow myself to get as "out there" as I can.

I sometimes use a technique I add to all the time: I have a small box of little notes to spark unusual ideas. For example, the notes might say: " plaid", or "paper dolls", "prayer flags" (all sampled from my collection) I might use the sparks literally or they may help me come up with something completely unexpected related somehow to that idea. 

I've found that I am trusting my instincts more and more and will force myself to relax and know that the solution will come even if I feel lost in the beginning of the process. 

I then sleep on an idea. When I come back to it the next day I try to see it with fresh eyes and pick up from there.

I also have come to view the thinking I do as I exercise (6x a week) or drive my boys to and from school as key in supporting ideas and solutions. I've come to realize that my time away from the work is integral to it's success and growth.

WHO ARE YOUR DREAM CLIENTS OR WHAT IS YOUR DREAM PROJECT?

Illustration: My dream client would be to illustrate books for British publishers of children's books. I find the British-design sensibility to fit with my style and I think would help support my brand to places I see it going. 

Dream project would be to publish the book I started years ago and that I have begun looking at with fresh eyes since taking the Make Art That Sells Children's Book Illustration course this fall. 

Fine Art: My dream client would be to be represented by a gallery in Northampton, MA where I feel the vibe is a great match for my style. 

My dream project would be to create art with the intention to support children healing from trauma and loss. 

DO YOU FOLLOW TRENDS?

Not generally - I try to learn from them - but, generally I try to be true to what inspires me and to my brand. I tend to feel that if something is an obvious trend then by the time new artists create, i.e. the next great image of a llama - it's been over-done. 

I do get weekly trend and color reports for potential inspiration. 

DO YOU ATTEND ANY SHOWS AND EXHIBIT AT?

I attend shows at local galleries and museums. I belong to the Worcester Arts Association where I attend opening receptions for local artists as well as workshops on things such as book keeping or legal insights for artists.

I have exhibited several times with the Worcester Arts Association. Most recently, a solo show at the Hanover Theatre in Worcester of  my "Beasts series".

I am not currently represented by a gallery but I am interested in finding the right fit. 

THERE HAS BEEN AN ART SUPPLY SANCTION IMPOSED AND DESIGNERS ARE ONLY ALLOWED TO POSSESS 3 ITEMS/TOOLS, WHAT DO YOU CHOOSE?

- sketch pad with quality paper (my current favorite brand - Bee Paper "super deluxe" square format. 

- Hybrid Technica Pentel black ink pen

- gouache and 2 paintbrushes (that's more than three :-) ) 

WHO WOULD YOU SAY THE GREATEST DESIGNER IS?

My cousin, Lane Myer - an industrial design professor at Rhode Island School of Design and my greatest role model for becoming an artist

When I’m long gone, I hope people remember me for creating art that brought joy and the unexpected to daily life.

Where you can find me:

website: http://www.janemhoughton.com

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/janemh/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/janemhoughton/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/arkgirl21

Designer Spotlight: Asa Gilland

HELLO, PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF:

Hello, my name is Åsa Gilland, I’m a Swedish illustrator and surface designer based in Jakarta, Indonesia. I started out studying fine art and interior design and later worked for many years in graphic design/packaging design.

IF YOU COULD GIVE YOUR 10 YEARS YOUNGER SELF ONE KEY PIECE OF ADVICE OR AN INSIGHT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Perfectionism is not something to strive for, it is a sure buzz kill for creativity. There will always be people with more skill, better technique, more original ideas, so you need to let go of every though that your work doesn’t measure up and carve out your own little spot for yourself. Take every opportunity to learn something new, if it tickles your interest, go for it. Continue to try to learn new things, to approach the unknown with curiosity and an open mind.

WHEN YOU FEEL STUCK OR IN A DESIGN RUT, HOW DO YOU GET YOURSELF OUT OF IT AND BACK ON TRACK?

I will try to force myself out of my comfort zone, take a course, a workshop, anything to get a new spark.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN TOOLS?

I have embraced the digital side of art with an enthusiasm that continues to puzzle my kids. I am old enough to have started out at a time when all work was done manually on a drawing table using mechanical pencils, tracing paper, a scalpel and my trusted Rotring pens. I can sometimes get a pang of nostalgia for those times but then I remember what happened when you spilled coffee on your work or made a drastic mistake that could not be easily undone. I was absolutely giddy when my employer at the time brought in computers into our graphics department, revolutionary. Nowadays I am the tech geek in our home.

At the moment my best design aid is my Ipad which I gifted myself on my last birthday. I commute a lot and spend much time in the Jakarta traffic and it is a great little thing to bring along to make good use of the time. At home I work mostly with vectors but also dabble with acrylics and gouache.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR DESIGN PROCESS? FAVOURITE APPS AND PROGRAMS

Procreate is quickly becoming one of my favorites. Normally I work in a combination of several programs, Affinity, AI and PS, and every now and then I bring out traditional media. My design process is fairly straightforward and usually begins with amassing an abundance of reference photos and inspiration. I am not a person who sketch, mostly because I find that it suits me better to dive straight in. I find that the hardest part of the design process is editing, weeding out the excess stuff that I inevitably end up having. I admire minimalistic, clean artwort, but tend to go the opposite route. 

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN PROJECTS TO DATE?

Recently I collaborated with Linoluna, an Indonesia boutique store concept, to create a range of kid’s cushions and posters for their new children interior line:  http://linoluna.co.id/designer/asa-gilland/ . I had a blast working on this project and was really happy with the final products. I also very much enjoyed creating some greeting cards for Trader Joe’s and a coffee cup series based on the traditional Indonesian shadow-puppet legends.

WHO ARE YOUR DREAM CLIENTS OR WHAT IS YOUR DREAM PROJECT?

I like having a mix of small and big project, variation is the fun part. The dream client can sometimes be something of a surprise. It’s not necessarily always the most well-paid projects that linger as favorites, but the fact that the client is someone with whom you can collaborate and share a vision with.

THERE HAS BEEN AN ART SUPPLY SANCTION IMPOSED AND DESIGNERS ARE ONLY ALLOWED TO POSSESS 3 ITEMS/TOOLS, WHAT DO YOU CHOOSE?

If forced to chose I’d be alright with a drawing pad and a couple of ink markers.

WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?

I walk a lot and love observing people around me, a lot of my work is inspired by my Swedish background as well as cultural themes of my adopted country. I spend a lot of time browsing and collecting vintage photos and posters that later potentially becomes inspiration for new work.

WHO WOULD YOU SAY THE GREATEST DESIGNER IS?

I have a great admiration for the works of the Swedish designer and artist Stig Lindberg. He had such groundbreaking ideas for his time and his work still feels very contemporary.

When I’m long gone, I hope people remember me for being brave when it counted and compassionate when it was needed.

Designer Spotlight: Stephanie Fizer Coleman

HELLO, PLEASE INTRODUCE YOURSELF:

Hi!  I'm Stephanie Fizer Coleman and I’m a children's book illustrator, designer, and Photoshop teacher.  Usually, you'll find me in my home studio, surrounded by books, stacks of sketches, and many cups of tea.  Having worked fulltime as an illustrator and designer for nearly a decade, my client list includes:  American Greetings, Papyrus, Sellers Publishing, Noel Tatt, Mudpuppy, Chronicle Books, Highlights Magazine, and Ladybird Books. 

HOW DID YOU START YOUR ILLUSTRATION BUSINESS?

My illustration business grew from my Etsy shop.  As my Etsy shop grew, my work was noticed by art directors and I slowly started getting freelance work and licenses.  Actually, for several years, my shop kept me so busy it was difficult to fit freelance work in.  About 3 years ago, I decided to scale my shop back and spend more time focusing on illustration and design jobs instead.  Early last year, I signed with a children's publishing agent and since then have been happily illustrating books and kids' magazine spreads. 

WERE YOU ALWAYS DRAWN TO CHILDREN'S BOOK ILLUSTRATION?

My journey to an illustration career was a fairly long and winding one, but I think children's illustration was just a natural landing spot for me.  Books were such a big part of my life as a kid (and still are as an adult, of course) and children's book are such a beautiful mode of expression, loved by both kids and adults alike.  These days, I illustrated mostly nonfiction picture books, about animals, birds, the ocean, etc, so to be illustrating the same sort of books that I loved most as a child, well,  it makes me tear up just writing about it.  I love this work.

you tech a photoshop class at atly's. could you tell us a little bit about that?

Yes!  I teach a series of classes on Atly called Photoshop for Illustrators.  There are two classes right now, with a third in the works.  You know, I just felt strongly that illustrators could benefit from a Photoshop class designed just for them.  I spent so many hours searching for tutorials and trying to figure out the correct search terms for what I wanted to do back when I was first learning Photoshop.  Now, with nearly a decade of Photoshop experience, I felt compelled to build Photoshop classes that pared this massive software down into manageable chunks for illustrators and designers.  I love being able to share my knowledge and getting to see art that students have created using my Photoshop techniques is almost as rewarding as creating art myself!

what kind of work do you do these days?

My days tend to be a fair balance of illustration work and licensing work, which is perfect for me because I am easily bored and enjoy the challenge of balancing both ways of working.  My illustration jobs are usually intense, requiring research because they are nonfiction, and requiring lots of time as well.  Finding time to work on my licensing portfolio, or being commissioned to design greeting cards or wrapping paper, is refreshing and challenging in its own way.  I'm definitely never bored!

IF YOU COULD GIVE YOUR 10 YEARS YOUNGER SELF ONE KEY PIECE OF ADVICE OR AN INSIGHT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Be more brave about putting your work out there.  No one will ever enjoy your work or hire you for a commission, unless you're actively sharing your work.

WHEN YOU FEEL STUCK OR IN A DESIGN RUT, HOW DO YOU GET YOURSELF OUT OF IT AND BACK ON TRACK?

Exercise and fresh air are usually the key for me, so I'll head out for a nice walk with my dogs or run a few miles on the treadmill.  Really, anything not art or design related usually helps sort me out when I'm feeling stuck. 

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN TOOLS?

Photoshop and my Cintiq 22HD are my true loves, but all of my work starts with my favorite mechnical pencil and a stack of copy paper to scribble on.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR DESIGN PROCESS? FAVOURITE APPS AND PROGRAMS

Because I'm an illustrator and a designer, my process varies a bit depending on what I’m working on.  My children's book illustration work usually requires a bit more prep as far as research and sketch studies.  My design work usually begins as some sort of doodle in my sketchbook that leads me along a trail to an idea I want to develop.  From there it's really the same process for illustration or design, for me:  thumbnail sketches to figure out layouts, lots of notes to myself scribbled all over sheets of copy paper, a more refined but not very neat sketch, then I take it all into Photoshop where I work on color and texture for the final art. 

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE DESIGN PROJECTS TO DATE?

 I've worked on several kids products for Mudpuppy over the last few years, mostly puzzles, but also sticker sets and finger puppets.  Those projects are always fresh and fun, and the final products are always just lovely.  I'm always excited to see a new Mudpuppy job pop into my inbox. 

I got to design some dog-themed gift wrap over the summer and prettymuch any project that allows me to draw animals is my favorite project at that moment.

WHO ARE YOUR DREAM CLIENTS OR WHAT IS YOUR DREAM PROJECT?

Land of Nod, of course!  Also Madison Park Greetings and I'd love to work with Chronicle Books again.  I worked with Chronicle a few years ago on a couple of personalized children's books with coordinating suites of products, but now I'd love to illustrate a picture book with them or even design a stationery series.

THERE HAS BEEN AN ART SUPPLY SANCTION IMPOSED AND DESIGNERS ARE ONLY ALLOWED TO POSSESS 3 ITEMS/TOOLS, WHAT DO YOU CHOOSE?

If we're talking digital art, I need my Cintiq, Photoshop, and probably my iPad Pro.  For physical media, I need my Moleskine sketchbook, my favorite mechanical pencils, and some watercolor brush pens.  I totally cheated and choose six things, didn't I?  Oh well, it's too late now ;)

WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?

For me, inspiration seems to come mostly from nature.  As a kid, I was forever dragging home leaves or flowers to press and save, clomping through the woods around our house with my father, and reading every single book about animals I could find at the library.  Now, as an artist, I pretty much still do those things, but I have an outlet to express my love for all the things that grow and wander.

WHO WOULD YOU SAY THE GREATEST DESIGNER IS?

He's more of a design-y illustrator, I think, than a designer, but Charley Harper has been the greatest inspiration to me.  His ability to distill complex bits of nature into simple shapes, lines, and colors was and is unparalelled.  Also, he was from WV, like me!

When I’m long gone, I hope people remember me mostly for my work, that it made them smile, or brightened their life, or just added a bit of beauty.  And I hope that people see my animals or bird paintings and it makes them curiousabout and more respectful of nature.