Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Super Star Interviews: Anne Bollman

Welcome to my monthly interview feature! I’m so excited to be interviewing all the fabulous artists, illustrators and designers I’ve meet over the years (both personally and virtually!) and sharing their artwork and experiences here on Bird Meets Worm. Look for a new interview on the first Tuesday of every month.

This month I’m pleased as punch to be catching up with the delightfully darling Illustrator, Anne Bollman! Anne is the illustrator behind Anne Was Here, a studio, which provides art and illustration for products and publications, designed with humor and style, that is meant to make you smile. Anne's artwork can be found online and in stores internationally on a wide range of products including stationery, fabric, gifts, apparel, home decor and more. Anne is best known for her iconic illustrations of peeking dogs. You can view more of her artwork here!

How much do you love these fancy ladybugs?! 
Q: As a working designer & illustrator, you have faced head-on more than once the challenge of having your original artwork stolen, copied and reproduced without your permission. What advice would you give fellow artists about how to protect their intellectual property?

A: Most importantly my advice would be don’t let it stop you from sharing your work. Exposure means opportunity. The more places you share your work online, the more opportunities will come your way. That being said, only YOU can decide what is more important to you: reducing your risk and consequently reducing positive opportunities OR being vulnerable and prolific and enjoying a lot of opportunity! I choose the latter.

Some more practical advice would be to always include a copyright symbol on your work, wherever possible, and if you find that someone has used your art without permission let them know it is not ok. If they refuse to remove your copyrighted work, use a DMCA notification to report them to whatever platform they are using. I routinely do this with Amazon, Etsy, Ebay, Instagram, Facebook, Shopify and the infringing images are always taken down. Websites from countries without strong copyright protection laws are more difficult to deal with. You can do reverse image searches on Google to check where your images are being used online. Click here for a YouTube demonstration on how to do this.

In cases where you feel someone has copied you but it is not exactly the same, I would advise you to proceed with caution and kindness. It is easy to get heated and upset in the moment of discovery and want to take it public, but that course of action never ends well. If it is just similar and looks inspired by your work, it is probably best to just walk away from it. There is a chance that it was overly inspired by your work and there is also a chance that it was a coincidence. It is helpful to get confidential and honest opinions from designer friends about how close they feel it is to your own work. Make sure to ask people who won’t just tell you what you want to hear and will truly give you their opinion.

If it is so very similar to your own work that the icons, details, color palette and layout are all the same, but just drawn in another hand, you may want to reach out to the other designer and express your concern. Regardless of their reaction, at the very least they will be less likely to copy you again.

If it is a large company that has copied you, and you feel it is a clear case of infringement, get a lawyer’s opinion. There is also a service that I was recently introduced to and will be using in the future that can help you without any upfront costs called Copyright Armor. I spoke at length with the owner and lawyer of Copyright Armor and they know their stuff!

Such lovely colors! Love these teals & pinks & neutrals!
Q: You are well-known for your delightfully whimsical pet and animal illustrations. Tell us all about what inspires these works and how you approach creating them.

A: I have been an animal lover from the beginning. I swore I would become a vet or zookeeper when I grew up until I realized that those jobs don’t consist of hugging animals all day long! Drawing animals really makes me happy, and that is the main reason I keep doing it. I like to draw things without faces too, but if I go for too long I begin to go through withdrawals and quickly draw a puppy to make myself feel better. I think my addiction to fat cute little animals got really serious when I got my first dog in 2012. My parents never let me have a dog growing up so by the time I got one as an adult I was primed for obsession. My dog, Midji, inspires so much of my work I should probably start to pay her. When drawing animals I always start with the face, which is my favorite part. I like drawing faces that make you wonder what mischief they are up to. I just started teaching a class on Skillshare that walks students through my entire process for illustrating a pet. You can check it out here. Midji even makes an appearance!

Sweet birdie - chirp, chirp, love!
Q: Even though Surtex tends to get all the buzz when talking art licensing trade shows, there are a LOT of other great shows throughout the year. Give us the scoop on your experiences exhibiting at the Art LicensingExpo in Las Vegas earlier this year. And do you consider trade shows worth the investment of resources?

A: The Licensing Expo was very exciting to be a part of! It is very different from Surtex in that the majority of exhibitors are big brands or big brand representatives. The Art & Design section is very small compared to the rest of the show, but I thought that made it so much easier to stand out. Because of the big brand aspect of the show I also met contacts that I doubt I could have at Surtex, such as executives from major cartoon networks and publishers. I have several new contracts from exhibiting and many more exciting contacts that I hope to work with in the future.

The show also opened my eyes up to new exciting possibilities for my art, such as developing a character with a story, and how that can expand licensing opportunities beyond just products and into publishing, gaming and animation.

Tree trunk cross-section forest florals! Brilliant!
Q: You work with clients across a wide variety of markets, from gift and paper products to fabric and children's items to so much more! How do you approach marketing yourself to such a wide variety of clients? How frequently would you recommend sending out new work? And what avenues of contact do you consider most effective—email, traditional postcards, face-to-face meetings, social media, etc.?

A: One of the great joys I have found in working for myself is that I can create a career filled with diversity! I enjoy working on a variety of projects and tend to focus my marketing on one industry until I get a good partnership and then move on to the next. So for instance, if I want to design for home decor, I would create some art that I think works really well for that market and then create a presentation including artwork swatches and mock-ups to show my ideas. Then I send the presentation out to companies that I want to work with in that market that are also a good fit for my style. I’ve been fortunate to be able to find great partnerships this way but I also think that it is partially because I am very strategic about who I submit to and making sure that what I am submitting is appropriate for their products. Once I have work in one market, I move on to the next.

I recommend sending out new work as much as you possibly can and I need to take my own advice, because like many artists, it’s one of my weaknesses. One of the things on my to do list is to start a newsletter so that I can send a sneak peak of my latest work out to my contact list once a month.

For me the most effective form of contact is a combination of those that you listed. My top three marketing tools are probably email, social media and creating a robust online presence. I use email to directly contact art directors and submit new art, I try to post creative work to instagram, facebook and twitter daily and I also aim to have my work
found online in as many places as possible. This includes my website, client websites, portfolio sites, designer directories, magazines, blogs, shops, social media, and tutorial sites. It may seem daunting if you are just beginning, but if you tackle your online presence one place at a time, it happens organically. Having a good online presence brings some partnerships to you that you may not have been able to find or think of on your own.

Autumn leaves are forest magic!
Q: Describe your most perfect Sunday.

A: Wake up without an alarm going off and take a walk to the local coffee shop with my husband and my dog. Paint something for the fun of it (and not for work!) in the morning. Do something outdoors and active with friends in the afternoon to enjoy the beautiful Southern California weather. Go out for an ocean view dinner and drinks with my husband in Manhattan Beach. Watch a movie or one of our favorite tv shows as we fall asleep.

Thanks so much for catching up with us here at Bird Meets Worm, Anne! We LOVE your work and will be keeping an eye out for it in our local shops! 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Artist Appreciation Month: Super Jane Smith Interview

Hello, hello! This month I am pleased as punch to have been asked to participate in an Artist Appreciate Month Interview, conducted by the lovely, multi-talented Patience Brewster. Patience is an Artist/Illustrator/Designer, who specializes in art licensing and product design. She is well-known for her ornament collections and greeting cards. You can discover more about Patience & her artwork here.

© Super Jane Smith • Robot City 

Patience Brewster: As a child, do you recall a significant moment when you felt truly affected or inspired by any particular artwork or artist?

Super Jane: Growing up I often visited the Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio where I lived and there were several pieces in their permanent collection that I loved to visit (still do when I am back in town!). They have a fantastic Louise Nevelson sculpture—huge and black, it is a veritable hidden picture of found objects—that I could spent hours staring at. I also had a deep affection for Edward Hopper’s Morning Sun painting (the light is gorgeous!) and the Henry Moore sculpture that graces the front lawn of the museum. Additionally, the museum’s great work highlighting local artists exposed to me to the works of Elijah Pierce, Aminah Robinson and George Bellows. Each of these three artists fueled my passion for art at a young age and have stayed with me.

© Super Jane Smith • Woodland Babies main repeat

Patience Brewster: As an artist, what do you hope to convey with your work?

Super Jane: I hope to impart a bit of whimsy, lightheartedness and beautiful color to the viewer. I want my work to be a spot of brightness that lifts you up.

Patience Brewster: What memorable responses have you had to your work?

Super Jane: This is SO hard to answer! As an artist, the nature of my business is such that I spend a lot of time alone in my studio and am often sending my artwork out into the world all on its own.

I think that the most memorable response I ever had to my artwork was during a business trip to NY. I had a meeting at a publishing house with an editor & an art director who were interested in my artwork. An editorial assistant was send out to greet me when I arrived and to usher me back to the meeting. And that editorial assistant was THRILLED to meet me! She said she couldn’t believe that Super Jane was actually there in person and when we passed her desk, I could see that she had hung up all my postcard mailings from the past couple years. I was deeply gratified to know that someone was watching, absorbing and dreaming of my artwork!

© Super Jane Smith • Kitty & Doggie Pets

Patience Brewster: What is your dream project?

Super Jane: At the moment, I am actually living my dream project! I am currently writingand illustrating a 6-book series of children’s picture books for Albert Whitman& Co. The first 4 will be released in Spring 2016. Stay tuned to Bird Meets Worm for more details over the coming months!

© Super Jane Smith • April Showers Bring May Flowers repeat

Patience Brewster: What artists, of any medium, do you admire? (Famous or not!)

Super Jane: There are SO many—too many to name them all!! My long-time loves include Robert Rauschenberg, Franz Kline & Mark Rothko, as well as the photography of David Hockney, Ben Shahn & Edward Weston.

In the commercial illustration world, I adore the artist stables of Lilla Rogers, Cinnamon Joe and Pink Light Studios. I also can’t get enough of the following children’s book illustrators: Eric Carle, Elisa Kleven, Melissa Sweet, Oliver Jeffers, Lois Ehlert, Richard Scary—& that’s just who I can think of off the top of my head!

© Super Jane Smith • Lightning Bugs

Additionally, I am truly blessed to be living in Los Angeles among so many friends and family, who are genuinely gifted artists, writers and designers. I find myself constantly in awe of all the amazing talent that is out there to be enjoyed and celebrated! And in fact, every month it is my pleasure to share an artist I love with the blog readers by doing monthly artist interviews. Always check in on the first Tuesday of the month for the latest! Thank you for stopping by! And thank you, Patience, for your enthusiastic interest in me & my artwork! XOXO

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Super Star Interviews: Sara Franklin

Welcome to my monthly interview feature! I’m so excited to be interviewing all the fabulous artists, illustrators and designers I’ve meet over the years (both personally and virtually!) and sharing their artwork and experiences here on Bird Meets Worm. Look for a new interview on the first Tuesday of every month.

This month I’m delighted to be chatting it up with the lovely Designer/Illustrator, Sara Franklin! I first came across Sara’s fabulous artwork during Lilla Rogers’ MATS class and was enchanted by her luminous colors and light touch. Sara Franklin is an illustrator, artist and surface pattern designer living in Los Angeles, who loves whimsy and watercolor. She spends her creative energy making artwork for greeting cards, fabric, magazines, wall art and more. You can see more of her fabulous artwork here.

How fabulous are these boldly graphic cards?!

Q: Give us the full scoop on your sweet line of greeting cards, Paper Loop! What started it all? How did you go about the launch at the National Stationary Show? And where is it all now?

A: There were so many influences for me leading up to starting Paper Loop! It was very organic really. I remember growing up and pouring over the greeting card aisle for the perfect birthday card when I was young. I also wrote letters to my overseas relatives and spent time embellishing them with drawings. After graduating as a graphic designer, I was working full time designing music packaging and would find a way to add my illustrations to projects whenever possible. At the end of the year, my favorite project would be working on the company holiday card. I also started taking classes and learned more about painting and watercolor techniques. I remember my art teacher telling me when he saw my first watercolor painting that I should make greeting cards. I was also really inspired by some of the local card shops in LA. By then I was ready to illustrate full-time. I talked to a local shop owner that my boyfriend (now husband!) knew and we decided to debut at the National Stationery Show the following summer. I signed up for my booth and began designing. I was SO excited!

Exhibiting for the first time at the National Stationery Show was really challenging and exciting at the same time. I had never even been to a tradeshow before so it was hard to imagine what it would be like. I really just went for it! I spent the majority of my time designing the products, and designing a very basic booth design. I wanted to focus on the cards. Once we got to the show and set up, it was really great to meet with buyers and sales reps. I loved it. I always had a business side to me and this show confirmed it. Even though it was a lot of work, launching my line and exhibiting at the show was just the beginning! The real work was yet to come. My husband and I have been hard at work on this business for the past 8 years. I've created over 600 designs (I’ve lost count) selling exclusively in boutiques, independent bookstores, gifts shops and flower shops across in the US. You can also buy the Paper Loop collection online atwww.paper-loop.com.

This collection is a like a breath of fresh ocean breeze!

Q: I adore your Socali beach-inspired "Sunnyside" collection with Windham Fabrics! Tell us all about how this project developed from first inspiration and contact thru to the finished product.

A: Oh, thank you! I’m so glad you like the collection :-) It all started while I was taking The Art and Business of Surface Pattern Design with Rachael Taylor. I was working on a geometric collection called Sunnyside using watercolors and colored pencils inspired by golden shades of yellow. It was very loose and layered. This was just the beginning for me working in watercolor patterns at the time! Then later that year I started a self-imposed project of a pattern a day for the month of January. Not long after that, Uppercase magazine was having a call for entries for surface design. I submitted some of my patterns from the pattern a day project and was one of 100 surface pattern designers featured! When Windham saw my patterns in Uppercase they contacted me for the Sunnyside collection. I expanded my watercolor prints to include the beach theme. I remember going to Santa Monica for lunch one afternoon and being so inspired by all the surroundings. I took lots of pictures and began drawing the seahorses, beach umbrellas and seaweed patterns to round out the collection. I had a lot of fun making it! I wanted it to capture the feeling of a warm beach breeze and the cool sea air. 

SO gorgeous! I love California!

Q: You create a lot of luminous editorial watercolor maps with hand-lettering. Take us thru - step by step - your approach and process for designing and illustrating a map.

A: Sure! I start by outlining the shape of the map for the background loosely in pen. Then I make a list of all the icons I need to draw. I do a bit of research on each item and go down my list drawing all the things I will need for the map. I always create more icons than I will use. I draw everything with my black Flair pen. I don’t use pencil because I find that it slows me down by adding an extra step of redrawing things later. After scanning in my drawings, I will pick my favorites and arrange the black and white drawings and lettering over the map until I find a layout that I like. To add color, I will start by creating some very loose watercolor textures. I have 4 mixed media sketchbooks that I work in simultaneously. I find that this speeds up the process as I can have them out all at once and paint on all four in one sitting. While those are drying, I will print out my black and white map, then loosely go over my drawings on a blank page with colored pencils and markers. Once I have all my bits and pieces scanned in, it is just a matter of assembling the textures inside of the black and white drawings and overlaying the watercolors onto the map until I get the exact look I want. This last step is the fun part, where it all comes together. Some maps come together more quickly than others! That is the challenge! Seeing how it all works together in the end is very fun and rewarding.

Lovely muted colors! Delightful shapes!

Q: What do you know now that when you first began your design & illustration career you wish you'd known about: art licensing? business? self-promotion?

A: Oh, wow! Where to begin? The most important thing is to enjoy what your doing. Figuring out where your art fits into the world is golden. I believe there is room for everyone and every style in this world so no one should have to compromise. You’re allowed to change your mind and make mistakes. It’s ok, because it's all part of how you learn! Self-promotion gets easier over time. The important part is to decide how and when you will do it, and stick to it. It’s really important to try new things and diversify. Markets are constantly changing, so it’s important to dip your toes in a few different ponds.

Butterfly blue beautiful!

Q: Describe your most perfect Sunday.

A: Oh, I love Sundays!! My most perfect day would start with plenty of coffee, followed by a great yoga class. Then I would go for a nice lunch and head to the beach, go paint or find a sale and continue hoarding more art supplies! Dinner would include fancy salsa and guacamole, of course. :)

Thank you so much for catching up with us here at Bird Meets Worm, Sara! We adore your fabulous artwork and can’t wait to be delighted by what you create next!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Super Star Interviews: Jill Howarth

Welcome to my monthly interview feature! I’m so excited to be interviewing all the fabulous artists, illustrators and designers I’ve meet over the years (both personally and virtually!) and sharing their artwork and experiences here on Bird Meets Worm. Look for a new interview on the first Tuesday of every month. (Special Note!! Bird Meets Worm will be taking an artist interview summer break in the month of August. But, be sure to check back in September because you don’t want to miss all the fun interviews coming in the Fall! Cheers!)

This month I’m so happy to be catching up with the fabulous Designer/Illustrator, Jill Howarth! I first came across Jill’s delightful artwork during Lilla Rogers’ MATS class and instantly fell for her whimsical characters and imaginative typography. Jill grew up in a tiny town in rural Pennsylvania, and always loved to draw. She attended Penn State University for Graphic design. Upon graduation, Jill took a job as a Junior Designer at Hasbro, in their corporate design department. She eventually became an Art Director for their Playskool brand, but when she started a family, she happily turned to freelancing. Since then, Jill has gradually shifted her focus from design to primarily illustration. You can view more of her artwork here!

Happy as an adorable pear! Love it!

Q: You are a master of typography and hand-lettering! Dish with us about your inspiration, process and approach to type.

A: Ha, I so wish I was a master, but it's a field that is heavily loaded with talent these days! I don't really know why, but I've always liked playing with lettering and truthfully, it is a very learnable skill. My comfort level with it probably has a lot to do with my background as a graphic designer. In college, one of my typography professors made us hand paint all these super long quotes. It seemed ridiculously tedious at the time (and it was!) but it really made you pay attention to relationships between letters, X height, kerning, ligatures… all that fun stuff, haha. But really, there is no substitute for practice and observation. It was tedious work at times, but I guess I enjoyed it and I'm glad I had the experience. In many ways, I like lettering because even though there are tons of choices and approaches, it's still finite...a "b" has to look like a "b," a "w" is a "w," and so on. There is a certain set of parameters when working with type that is different than say drawing something from scratch and getting past that blank page stage, that we all hate. It becomes a puzzle that you can go about solving…choosing the best forms/variations of those letters that support the intent of the word or the larger quote and making them all fit well together. 

As far as inspiration, there are sooooo many wonderful lettering artists that I admire. I'm constantly finding more to follow on Instagram! From technically perfect, to brush/ calligraphic masters, to expressive, I could never name names, since there is so much talent out there. I'm also inspired by the founders of modern graphic design, particularly Pushpin, with Seymour Chwast, Milton Glaser and so on. 

So sweet, so darling! Love the soft palette and little black bear!

Q: How has your time at a Senior Designer/Art Director at Hasbro Toys influenced your freelance illustration career—both artistically and business-wise?

A: Well, I didn't graduate from college, hoping to work for a toy company, but I think there are a lot of advantages to working in a corporate design department that a lot of young designers overlook. Like so many graduates, I hoped to land something in some hot design studio or boutique agency. When that didn't happen right away, I applied for a junior design job at Hasbro. Working in a corporate environment gives you an inside look at all the facets of getting a product to market. You have to work with all the major corporate players from marketing, sales, legal, copywriting, R&D, packaging, merchandising, etc. It really gives you a broad spectrum of experience, plus you have the opportunity to work with freelancers and see the other side of the coin, so to speak.

Artistically, you need to work in a way that will satisfy your creative vision, while keeping all those aforementioned departments happy. It's not always easy, but it's "real life" design work. Plus, as an art director, you have to work within budgets and source out vendors, so there is business experience to be gained as well.  

Q: Give us the scoop on your MOST favorite illustration project you’ve created—one from the past and one from the present.

A: Ohhhhh...that's a tough question! I'm not sure I can fairly answer that, ha. As far as personal projects, I really enjoyed working on my letters for the group alphabet project we did over at Happy Happy Art Collective. I recently did a book cover of Alice and Wonderland for Scholastic that I'm especially proud of. It combined both lettering and illustration, so it felt like a perfect fit. I also worked on some Christmas board books recently, so I'm super excited about those coming out. 

An autumn woodland fantasy rocking out with the squirrels & bunnies!

Q: You exhibited for the first time at Surtex 2015 with your art collective Happy Happy. (And your booth was SO fabulous!!) Tell us a bit about your experiences before, during and after the show.

A: Well, Surtex was a whirlwind! And a great experience for me as part of a collective. I'm usually the one standing on the sidelines, so this was the perfect opportunity to work with such talented artists that I am proud to call friends as well. We worked together pretty seamlessly in designing the booth, as well as all the other nitty gritty details of show preparation. My biggest issue was the super late start I had on making new work. Because of that, I didn't have the time to do as much promo as I would have liked to. I went into it with low to no expectations and came away very happy with the wide range of contacts and some deals. Plus, it was a ton of fun!

Q: How do you approach marketing yourself as an illustrator to both existing and potential clients? What marketing advice would you give fellow illustrators wishing to generate a steady stream of work?

A: I don't think I'm the best person to ask about self-marketing, but I'll try. I'm a strong believer in just getting your work out there, on your site, social media, wherever! You never know where someone might come across your work. Also, just ask! Don't be afraid to send some samples to a dream client who you think might be a good match for your style. You have nothing to lose and you might be surprised with a positive response. And pay attention! I follow a lot of cool shops on Instagram to seek what is popular and trending and who they are working with. And with existing clients, it goes without saying, be on time or ahead of schedule and if time allows, give them more than they asked for. 

Can you say adorable boy bedding? Yes, yes and yes!

Q: Describe your most perfect Sunday.

A: Hmmmm...being off on some exciting vacation sounds pretty good right about now! Short of that, maybe a great breakfast out with some good coffee, followed by watching some baseball at Fenway (even though I am a lifelong Yankee fan, I still like the park), followed by dinner at my favorite tex mex restaurant in Cambridge! Lots of eating and no cooking!

Thank you so much for chatting with us here at Bird Meets Worm, Jill! We love your fabulous artwork and can’t wait to see what you create next!