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!