Today is a quiet day

I don’t know how to say much about today, just that yesterday my company announced I’m quitting my job.

It was a long and hard decision, not one made lightly. I’ve been at my current gig for almost a year and a half, and I realized that I need to branch out to improve my design skills. I hit my point there where I realized that although I’d still be able to learn, my learning has already slowed down, as I’m working on the same product day in and day out. I can’t slow down, though – I need to accelerate my skills, and move faster!

It wasn’t easy to make this decision, and it’s not easy to quit a job not knowing what’s next. But I have plans – big plans. I’ll be doing some freelance work, some personal design challenges, and sharing what I learn here on this blog.

For now, though, today I will mourn the job that taught me so much and I loved so much – I will miss everyone there and my last day will be sad!

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Tour of my studio – Part 2

Last time I showed you my primary workspace. Now time to show you the rest of the studio!

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So, standing at my floor desk, if you turn around, you see this! In the far left bottom you can see my RADIO (as you remember, I LOVE radio and listen to it nearly every day). It’s on the floor so I can reach it easily while… sitting on the floor. Also my dress form, which has been invaluable (I make or thrift-and-alter most of my clothes these days). Then, my TV and SNES. Don’t judge – you wish you had that setup too. Nintendo used to make absurdly long cords, so the controllers reach nicely to the floor table and chairs (though not all the way to the window seat, darn it). I also keep a raspberry pi up there as a media machine for movies and TV shows.

Then, my printer, scanner, cheapy laser printer for printing out plane/train boarding passes and e-tickets, and storage – tons of storage! Namely, it’s all my paper and crafting supplies, mostly for bookbinding, which I love and do to relax. I also dabble in a ton of other stuff like crocheting, origami, and of course printing out my art. So lots of paper! Don’t worry though, half these bins are for Rob’s storage for his projects – his photograpy and his electronics projects with old cheapy phones, raspberry pis, and a billion different cables.

Oh, and my primary means of transportation. I ride my bike almost every day – it’s what I use to pick up supplies, get to and from work, run errands, and meet friends.

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My shelves are just to the left of this, behind where I sit at the floor table. I keep all my frequently accessed art supplies here – left to right on the top shelf, my sewing box, some junk, all my spare/filled sketchbooks and my “how to draw” books (and my collection of Hi Fructose magazine). On the bottom shelf left to right, all my water-based paints and mini canvases (and 3 mini-paintings in front), pens/pencils/markers/paintbrushes, bookbinding supplies, a jar of water and painter’s tape, snacks, books, a box of jewelry making stuff I got off Alibaba for ridiculously cheap and at some point I need to resell them because they’re not what I expected, and my acrylic case full of tiny things like erasers, lead, stamps and with some copics and microns on top.

Whew! Basically, tons of art supplies. It seems like a TON, but this is YEARS of collecting and getting a ton of stuff as gifts! Every year for birthday/Christmas, my family always gets me some art supplies. So I filled up very quickly! Outside of gifts, I don’t allow myself to purchase new art supplies unless I use up something first. So, filling up a notebook lets me pick out a new notebook or a set of markers of similar price. But I can’t just go out and buy new markers because I feel like it. It works out pretty well.

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To the left of the shelves is the window seat and my easel, also on the floor! You can see my almost-finished painting here. I haven’t had time to work on it with all the relatives visiting and all the travel. You can see a ton of finished paintings here and a pack of unused canvases. Also my giant art board – it was required for an art class I took in college, and it’s come in handy for large paper pieces. Ughhh, it’s a mess in this corner – I need to figure out a better solution!

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And, of course, my other helper! Sorry about the blurry photo, she’s squirmy and always hard to get a photo of! Kiki is our lap cat. She actually hates the studio and rarely hangs out in it, but will happily keep you company anywhere else!

So that’s it – that’s where I do 100% of my side art/design work and about 20% of my full-time job! Lots of time spent in here for sure. I’m so grateful to have such a big, bright (and it was super gloomy/rainy when I took these photos), and spacious room that is exactly to my liking to do my work in!

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Tour of my studio – Part 1

Hey guys, hope you’re enjoying the beginning of the end of this summer weather! Summer is honestly my favorite season – I know it’s in vogue to love fall, but I just love beaches, London lemonades, picnics, bike rides, swimming in the lake, and warmth. In Boston our winters can feel pretty long, so it’s nice to be VERY far away from all that.

Anyway, I thought I’d share some photos of my studio! It’s pretty basic and simple, just took over a spare room where Rob and I work and create things. We’re lucky enough to HAVE a spare room for this – back when I had a tiny apartment, I just carved out a corner of my living room and got really sneaky about storage! So it’s nice to have space now to spread out, and to have all my things in one place! Not have to hunt and dig for art supplies that I swear I have.

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Here it is! Where I do 90% of my work… sitting on the floor. Ha! I’ve just always been a floor sitter from the time I was very small. Feels natural to just plop down on the floor and have a nice big surface to work on. The floor table is an Ikea coffee table called the Lack, which everyone knows from their first-apartment days. However, this big square coffee table has been discontinued! Sucks, because it’s the perfect size. I got this one off craigslist.

You can see Rob’s desk to the left – he actually uses the floor table almost as much as I do. We might end up moving this desk to the basement and getting something smaller to hold office supplies. Far to the back you can see the greatest thing ever: the window seat. It’s HUGE and really comfy – full of pillows. It’s the size (though not the shape) of a queen size bed! Two people could sleep on this fairly comfortably. Also – we built it ourselves with nothing but an electric drill and a hand saw! One of my favorite things about this apartment.

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My typical work setup. Yes, that’s an “ugly Thinkpad”, but don’t knock it. It has a built-in Wacom tablet and the hardware is all completely 100% removable and replaceable. At some point I’ll upgrade, as this one is rather heavy, the resolution isn’t great, and it’s about 5 years old now, but in the meantime it’s working out really well for all my side design work and art. You can see my enormous amounts of pens/pencils – I take all of those with me everywhere. And my notebook with a certain character from a certain game – bonus points if you guess him!

And of course, a cat.

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My buddy, Augustus, in a tiny tiny box. Love this little guy, even if he’s really annoying. He’s been with me since college! He helps me with all my projects, of course, and NEVER ever ever does things like sit on my papers or bat my pens away or step in paint and track it all through the house. He would NEVER do these things. Ever.

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So anyway that’s part 1 of my studio tour! I love seeing people’s live/work spaces, so if you feel like sharing your workplace, please do and let me know!

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Happy birthday to me!

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind. I did the following things:

Celebrated my birthday! Hooray! I’m now the big 2-9!

Whew! I got some AMAZING presents, including a bunch of art books. My brother and his wife flew up for a week so that we could celebrate. It was so fun having them, and we had an amazing time visiting NYC and playing way too much Kingdom Hearts. I didn’t do any art, buuuut I’m finally getting back into the swing of things, and feeling new inspiration from all the books I got!

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In order:

  1. 101 Things to Learn in Art School: Kit White. This book is REALLY good but I’d say borrow it from the library or your friends and just take notes, because it’s a quick read for the money.
  2. Dark Inspirations 1 and 2, published by viction:ary. This is a collection of paintings/sculptures/art for all your inspiration needs. They’re both super great, but if you can only get one, I recommend you get the second one. The selection is just far better. I plan to do a master study from these books (hey, who says the master study has to be by someone who’s dead…?)
  3. How to Sketch People and Plants by Matt Pagett. These books are GREAT if you’re a beginner. They come with sketchpads too to practice the lessons. They’re also funny and really informative. They provide a lot of practice for things like tone/lines/etc, which people always forget about. Drawing isn’t just about drawing a person or a thing, it’s also about the quality of your lines and shading, so these books dedicate some time to those too. Definitely recommended for any level.
  4. Stan Lee’s How to Draw Comics. This is the quintessential comic how-to. I’m really excited about this because I’ve had a comic idea brewing in the back of my brain forever. I plan to read this cover to cover, while taking notes, before I start. Can’t wait to dive in.
  5. The A-Z of Visual Ideas. This book is basically a how-to for solving creative briefs. My day job is as a designer, and I’ve been getting more and more into the world of illustration, so this has already come in handy for my day job. It breaks down the most important thing for an artist or designer: BRAINSTORMING. Brainstorming is a skill we are NEVER taught, and one that we’re expected to just “pick up.” The first part of the book is a how-to for brainstorming a creative brief broken down into 16 steps. The second part is an A-Z for inspiration. I have a strong feeling this book is going to be my design bible, and I really want to do a post about brainstorming soon.

Went to NYC and to the Met and the Natural History Museum

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As a Bostonian, I don’t LOVE New York. It’s fine. I like going for some things. But I don’t LOVE it. Still, it was nice to visit and see the Natural History Museum, which I love. My favorite section is the section nobody’s ever in – the dioramas! I did a TON of sketching while I was there, and took a TON of pictures to compile into my inspiration/reference gallery.

Otherwise, we did all the touristy things, which was fine. By the end, though, I was so ready to be home!

Oh, I also bought a giant beanbag from Muji, and managed to sneak it on the train, despite the fact that it took up an entire set of seats!

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Went to Cape Cod with Rob’s family

And apparently took 0 photos while I was there. It was nice to get away… AGAIN. But after just getting back from NYC, I was exhausted.

We did swing by the Curiosity Shop, which I mentioned in my last post. And guess what? I sold 50 stickers in 3 weeks, and it was only open for 4 days a week. That is NUTS. I’m seriously so proud of myself! Now I’m trying to decide what the next steps are for this. Open an Etsy? Try to get a table at a festival? Approach some other local shops to sell my stickers? What do you guys think?

Anyway, it’s been crazy busy! Glad to be home and relaxing though. And it’s time to get back into art!

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Lazy summer days and art popup shops!

Long time no see! I’ve been basically The Busiest Ever. Endless summer days and nights of fully trying to enjoy my summer. We’ve been hanging out at the beach and the park and going on long walks basically nonstop. This is the perfect time of year for that kind of thing. It’s been super hot over the past couple of weeks, but that only adds to it, because it’s perfect beach weather (even if I’m still too chicken to get in our freezing north Atlantic water past my ankles…). Anyway, here are some photos from my phone!

Park picnic
The empty tupperware held dill/rosemary popcorn, which I promptly ate all of in like two seconds
A bird joined our picnic!
A little bird joined us, in search of that delicious popcorn! But I didn’t have any left – it was so sad.
Mohegan Sun skywriting
Of course the Mohegan Sun did some skywriting, because it’s ridiculous. For those who don’t live in New England, it’s a casino, and it’s ridiculous!

Okay now the real reason that I’ve been so busy. I’ve been working and helping out my friend Judith Klausner create an art popup shop in Somerville called the Curiosity Shop! It’s REALLY excellent. I’ve been helping out with building/arranging/moving furniture, working in the shop on weekends, and just everything else that needs to be done. Seeing Judith achieve something so stunning and wonderful has been basically the best thing ever.

The Curiosity Shop being set up!
In the middle of setting up. It looks so much more beautiful now! This was a really fun day though.
Almost complete sandwich board - just needs the chalkboard!
Rob and I built a chalkboard sandwich board out of two picture frames. He did the painting (the chalkboard part wasn’t finished at this point), and I did the drilling/assembly. It was REALLY fun.
Two sheets of bug stickers, ready to be cut out
I made a ton of little bug stickers in watercolors…
A dish of the stickers, with a label that says they were made by me!
That are now featured in the Curiosity Shop!

If you live in the Boston area, please come check it out! It’s REALLY amazing – part art gallery, part natural history museum, part antique store… It’s worth coming to at least dig around in the piles of treasure! And if you come on Saturdays or Sundays, chances are you’ll see me, come say hi!

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